I have to say, the only real disappointment so far is how tired I feel. Can't quite seem to sleep well enough to get my usual energy back. Then I think about the months leading up to this trip and how very stressful they were and I think, well it makes sense that I'm finally allowing myself to be exhausted. However, wanting to learn a language needs mental energy and wanting to explore a town needs physical energy too....so what to do? I guess go with it....rest and trust.
Today I thought I would finally exchange some money. Seems like a simple enough task. My language teacher, MariLena and I decided to do this together. The banks here are so secure! They have lockers outside the door so you can store any metal objects before entering their clever rotating time capsule doors (that's what if feels like).
First time I went into the time capsule, it would not let me continue. It forced me out! I could not figure out why...I could have been there all day if MariLena was not with me to suggest that I had something on my body that was metal. So, I placed everything but my wallet into the locker and re-entered the capsule with great success.
She followed me and we walked into the bank trying to find someone to give us attention. When I reach the counter I ask if I can change dollars to euro....the bank teller shakes his head with a look of pity. I'm standing there kind of stunned. MariLena intervenes to determine that if I do not have an account at the bank, I can not exchange dollars. How is this possble? They send us to another bank.
We walk about one block and now I'm familiar with the protocol. I deposit my belongings in a locker, I confidently enter the time capsule and "vwa la (sp?)" I am deposited (pardon the pun) into the lobby of the bank. Again MariLena follows me as I head toward the counter and ask this gentleman if I can exchange dollars...NO. Is this possible? Is there no place is Ascoli who will exchange my money? Okay, I'm trying to calm the anxiety that is beginning to creep into my body. He sends us to another bank.
Here we go again! Locker...time capsule...counter...NO!
Okay, now I'm pissed. Basically, if I can not change my dollars, I need to leave Ascoli for town big enough that has a bank with dollars in it...do you hear the disdain i my writing????? MariLena tells me she is completely embarrassed. It's not her fault. I had already begun to feel that Ascoli, although charming, friendly and immaculate is also small, small, small. I thought a town of 50,000 would be a good size as I compared it to Cremona of 75,000 and thought it would be fine, but I have to say, it's really too small for my liking.
We go back to the school and report our lack of progress to Daniella who sighs (not the response I was expecting). In her typical style, she begins to speak in Italian a mile a minute and then suggests that we go down the street to the Banc de Marche and tell them I am a student and they should comply.
Locker....time capsule....counter.....discussion now instead of NO! Yes, progress! Okay, they will do it but I must come back at 3:00pm so I can be "registered". Anxiety gone, back on track.
3:00pm arrives -- okay you know the drill -- the gentleman recognizes me, he leads me to a private office where a lovely Italian woman with very pointy shoes takes my passport and driver's license and begins to register me on her computer. 15 minutes later, the paper work is handed to me for signing (3 places), then I am lead to the counter and he takes my passport and records it again. The money begins to be counted, I sign more papers and I receive my euros! Bravo!
At the airport in Rome when I landed, the exchange rate was 1.37 euros to the dollar, with a hefty commission and fee (but I had no choice). At the bank today, it was 1.25 with a minimal fee (no commission).
A success, now I can spend!
Tomorrow is Friday and I am taking the bus after my lesson to a town called Offida...it is said to be quite lovely! I'll take photos!