When I came to Venice to do some work, I meant to work on my book-- but today the city of Venice put me to work cleaning the Grand Canal.
No, this wasn't obligatory community service for my various infractions against the city (mini skirt in the church, iPod in the synagogue, etc), and no, I didn't find my inner environmentalist tree-hugger in this treeless city, but rather part of a newspaper article my former roommate Camilla had to write. See, today is apparently international clean water day, or something, and Project Aware was sponsoring a group of Venetians with t-shirts that said "RESCUE TEAM" on the back, big green fishing nets, and blue plastic gloves to get out there and pick up all that non-biodegradable debris floating around in the canals-- you know, plastic bottles, bits of styrofome, rubber parts, whatever.
So at 7:50 am this morning (ouch!) Camilla and I reported to the traghetto station at Santa Maria del Giglio, next to the Gritti Palace, piled into one of four gondolas, and set out in a boat with a couple of local politicians. We got to ride in a gondola for an hour! for free! all along rhe Grand Canal, under the Accademia Bridge! All we had to do was collect debris in our nets and empty the nets into plastic bags. Hopefully we didn't contract malaria or whatever diseases are floating around in the sea-green lagoon water.
It was very exciting, when we first set out. Camilla explained to the politicians, some sort of attachés to the mayor, what a French-speaking American was doing in their boat. I smiled haplessly ("Mi dispiace, non parlo italiano!").
"Una bottiglia!" Camilla cried excitedly, pointing off to the left. We were pleased to see the canal was, in fact, polluted, and it was up to us to clean it up!
"Let's go get that bottle!" the gondolier cried and steered us off in the right direction.
After awhile, though, we were floating past bottles that were too far off, and the whole mission seemed to get lackluster. Typical. At the end of the morning, between all the boats, we had collected about 100 bottles.
All in a day's work, my friends. I'll get some pictures up soon, if I can. And now I'm off to re-find, as the French say, il mio amore, as the Italians say, in Naples, as the Americans say. Ciao!