Rome, Italy: Where Did the Tans Disappear To? – by Barb

Sorry, it’s been quite some time since we’ve updated our blog. And I don’t really have a good excuse……except that, well, we’re not in Africa any more! And I know for many of you, you’re thinking, “Isn’t that all the more reason for you to be updating your blog more frequently?  – Better internet. Easier access to things.” You’d be right about the Internet. We were blown away with how fast our connection was, after spending a couple of months in Africa! And yes, access to everything is easier. Public transit works smoothly and efficiently, it’s spring here so we’re not dripping with sweat whenever we walk somewhere, and there are loads of stores, restaurants, museums, art galleries, historical sights, beautiful views…….And that you see, is the problem! There is just SO MUCH to see and do! And so much to learn!

As I’ve mentioned several times on this page, I really looked upon our year traveling the world as a learning opportunity for our boys (and us). Yes, there would be lots of adventure thrown in, as there always is when you travel (sometimes when you least expect it!) and hence the name of our blog: Tan Ed-venture (an educational adventure). And we have learned tons, and tons. But while we were in Africa, the learning seemed to come in manageable chunks. We spent a week volunteering at a small local school – a great experience that we will never forget. During our time there we learned a lot about the local people and their culture. We also stayed with the Maasai people, outside of the Maasai Mara Park and experienced yet another culture which is incredibly different from our own. We spent 5 days on safari in Tanzania learning about the local flora and fauna. At the end of each of these multi-day experiences we would have a “down day” or two where we could reflect on the experience and write about it.

It takes quite a while for us to complete a series of blogs. It’s a family affair: Clay usually sorts the photos for us (and Caleb adds in those he’s taken); we assign who will write about what; rough drafts are completed and shared and then edited; finally, I add the edited drafts to the blog page and insert the photos.

Once we’d arrived in Europe (Italy, to be more precise), the number of things we wanted to see and do – and the number of things accessible to us, increased substantially. Here we were in Rome, in an apartment with a flush toilet, and heat! We had a fridge and something to cook on (other than a hot plate). The shower had hot water that was hot within seconds, AND stayed hot for more than a minute! And to top it all off, we could walk to the train station, the Colosseum, numerous pizza places, countless museums and historical sights. There was even a two-storey bookstore at the train station, with a section of English books. (For those of you who know me, you know I cannot resist a bookstore!)

My teacher mode kicked into high gear. We got a book about the Colosseum and read it together. We watched two very interesting documentaries: one explaining the intricate system of trap doors and elevators used to move the animals from the basement into the arena of the Colosseum, and another explaining the kinds of battles that were believed to have been staged there. But once we’d learned a bit more about the Colosseum we needed to know more about the people of Ancient Rome. And once we’d starting learning more about the people, we needed to know about events occurring at that time. Once we learned that……well, you get the idea! So much to learn! So many places to see! (And this was only our first day here!)

Spending time in Europe has made history come to life. I was never really interested in history in school. It all seemed so removed from day to day life. But when you’re standing in the actual place where the events happened, it suddenly becomes much more relevant. So, we’ve been rather remiss on updating the blog, but it’s certainly not because we don’t have lots to share! So, I’ve decided to stop looking for things to visit and learn about for a couple of days while we put some of it on “paper” for you. Hope you enjoy!

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