By Andrea Sherrodd
Naples is overwhelming. That’s what I remember about it—chaotic traffic, loud noises, crowded streets. After coming back from Capri, a place I consider paradise, Naples was quite the shock to the system.
It was 2006, and I was studying abroad in Rome. I was nearing the end of my three month Italian adventure, and for a final hoorah, our instructors had planned a little getaway to Capri for all 32 of the study abroad participants. We were on a tight time schedule—we had a limited amount of time to get from the time we disembarked from the ferry in Naples to get back to the train station in time to catch our train back to Rome.
The first bus that approached the stop was so full it looked like it might burst at the seams. Our group of 35 people with all of our luggage looked at each other anxiously—the bus clearly didn’t have room for even one more person, let alone 35 more people. It was the same situation for the next two busses.
Finally, our instructor decided the bus wasn’t a viable option. He hurriedly motioned us towards the taxi stands, shouting “Get a cab to the train station; I’ll reimburse you when we get back to Rome!”
So we rushed at the cabs, and together with three other girls, I piled into the last cab. I was riding shotgun, which meant I had a front seat to the chaos of the streets of Naples. Our cab driver was terrifying. Somehow he managed to be driving a stick, smoking a cigarette, texting on his cell phone, and driving through and around other cars, up on sidewalks, seemingly playing chicken with every inanimate object in Naples. He also kept doing something really strange—he kept aiming his phone at the backseat, towards the other girls, and opening and closing it. I was perplexed, but more worried about my imminent death via vehicle accident to dwell on it too much.
We finally arrived at the train station, amazingly all in one piece, and as I clumsily climbed out of the cab, the driver made a kissy noise and face at me. I rolled my eyes and slammed the door. I turned to commiserate with the other girls, laughing at the insanity of everything that had just happened, when I realized they were white-faced and definitely not laughing.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“No!” breathed one of the girls. “Didn’t you see what was on his phone?”
I told them I hadn’t. Then they proceeded to tell me his screensaver on his phone was an animated cartoon of a plane hitting the twin towers, and that he kept opening and closing his phone to flash the image at them.
At the time, Italy was only one of a handful of countries I had been to. In Rome, I was used to the locals being extremely friendly, open and caring towards foreigners, and I had come to feel very safe in Italy. It was the first time I had ever felt any anti-American sentiment, and now, 6 years and 10 plus countries later, it’s still the only time I’ve ever felt like being American made me somehow less safe in the world.
About the Author
Andrea Sherrodd is a writer, filmmaker, digital media enthusiast and world traveler from the United States. She has a degree in Journalism and a Masters of Communication in Digital Media, both from the University of Washington. In July 2011, she finished graduate school, quit her job as a marketing writer, got married, and moved to South Korea with her husband to teach English. She’s currently exploring Korea, traveling Asia, and planning a round-the-world trip. Catch up with her blog at www.world-walk-about.com and on Twitter @andreasherrodd,