Dear Reader,

Hello.  I am posting this evening from Rome, it is nearly midnight here.  Two midnights ago I was crossing from Macedonia to Albania on a bus.  Last night at midnight I was trying to sleep on a ferry boat from Durres to Bari.

This morning our ship arrived in Italy at around 7AM in the port of Bari.  I had expected to spend the day there, but an Albanian national who now lives in London, but is visiting Italy for medical treatment encouraged me to see Naples instead.  We boarded a mini-bus which he, his brother, his sister-in-law and their infant son, as well as three other men had chartered to take to Naples.  We changed into a Ford Windstar minivan shortly because the mini-bus wasn’t running properly.  I nodded in and out en route due to fatigue, but was fascinated by the picturesque nature of the Italian country-side.  There, on a hill, is a town which no one in the van knew the name of, which probably played a role of some magnitude in the Second Punic War.  There, up ahead, is a roofless stone structure which now houses a flock of black-birds, but once was an abbey.  Look there, windmills circle in the same sourced breeze which greeted the caravan of Ricardo dell Aquila as they toiled over the highland-like countryside.

In Caserta, my new friend Pisa and his brother Franco explained that they were heading on to the hospital, but that I was welcome to take the formerly abandoned mini-bus to the Caserta train station, which would get me to Naples.  I would have gone on to Naples with company, but Franco had explained that illegal drugs and gun-violence had made the city an unattractive tourist destination.

At the Caserta train station I bought a ticket to Rome, which is where I had hoped to end up in any event, in the hopes of viewing the Pope on Easter Sunday.  We will see if that pans out.  I should here relate that I almost choked up at a curious sight outside my hotel.  The letters SPQR are stamped into the manhole covers here, can you imagine?  I am in the city called Senatus Populus que Romanus.  This is the stamp which Miximus removes from his shoulder with a sharp stone in the film “Gladiator,” causing the beautiful Djimon Hounsou to ask “will this not anger your gods?”  Having those four letters stamped in the cast iron I was walking over gave me a sense of honor.  God has placed me now, in this moment, in the Eternal City.

I am honored to be here.  And if you are a friend of mine, I hope to honor you while I am here.  If you would please extend to a Muslim man or woman some courtesy this week.  They have helped me at every turn.  Please be kind to the foreigner you meet, because that foreigner is me.  Thank you.