Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Getting to Cortona

My roommate here studied in Italy in college, in a small Tuscan city called Cortona. As part of her birthday celebrations last week, we planned a trip for her to show it off to us. It's about a 5 hour drive, so 7 of us rented 2 cars, and after our first staff development day, off we went! As we got in the car, Carrie assigned me the job of "capturing the hilarity." Apparently, whenever she's gone on trips like this, something crazy has happened, and she wanted photographic evidence.

Somewhere near Florence, our driver noticed that the other car wasn't behind us anymore. We had found each other before by flashing brake lights and headlights to each other, but our signal wasn't being returned. We weren't too worried, because both cars had printouts of the directions, so we continued on our way.

A few minutes later, Kristin's phone rings. "You WHAT? They ran out of gas!" We all immediately burst out laughing (sorry, guys) and started to try to figure out how to help them. Fortunately there was an area servizio just ahead, which is like a rest stop/gas station. Once we got there and made a brief detour to the bathroom, we ventured into the gas station, where Carrie successfully explained that our friends needed gas. After a debate about needing police involvement, a (possibly) Algerian truck driver offering his help, several phone calls to those in the stranded car, and many conferences between the station attendants, they agreed to sell us gas in a plastic gas can. After a few more hand gestures and some round-about Italian, the attendant also produced a funnel. That's not one of the words that often shows up in foreign language vocabulary lists.

The guys had pushed their car to an SOS, a paved area off the road every so often, and had found the kilometer marker nearby, but they still had a bit of a wait for us to find them. We had to continue on to the next exit to get off and turn around, then go past them to again get off and turn around to come back to where they were. Fortunately we were near a big city and the exits were fairly close together, so this only took us about 25 minutes. This is also a toll road, so each turn around involved a debated as to if it was even legal to turn around. We decided that even if it wasn't, it was more legal to go through the toll plaza, pay the money, and get a new ticket.
We finally arrived to save the day. I continued in my designated photography role to preserve the event for posterity, or at least for blog entry. The gas was poured into the car and we went on our way, again.
Of course, we had to stop at the gas station again so that they could fill the tank the rest of the way, and they also decided to fill the plastic can again, just in case.

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