Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TOURIST ATTRACTION(S) (natural or man-made) (08/06/15)
- TITLE: Gullible's Travels
By Noel Mitaxa
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Settling into my chair, I tapped the play button and reached for a pen. Instantly, my mind began checking its dread fascination options: “Hey Jeff, I’m back from Europe." It was Eddie. "Why not call around tomorrow and check out some really interesting stuff.”
Eddie isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but though he often misses what might be obvious to everyone else, he’s devoid of any malice. Which can make him susceptible to being scammed; but he’s been a good friend since we were in high school together.
My visit the next day was memorable for his enthusiastic but slightly misguided commentary on his extended trip, and for some surprising mementos...
“Europe is an amazing country, Jeff. It’s got so much culture; and all these different languages―like Greek and French and Italian!”
Scattered among his guide books was an odd collection of souvenirs, from which my eyes fell on a model emergency vehicle. “That one was unexpected,” said Eddie. “I bought it in a French toy shop.
“People told me to prepare for Paris’ subtle ambience. That confused me a little, because I would have expected that such a big city would need a lot more than one of them. But when I saw that ambience, there was nothing subtle about its flashing lights and wailing siren as it raced through the traffic, obviously taking some poor sick person to a hospital.”
When I picked up a small bronze whistle, he turned it over in my hand so I could see the Roman numerals stamped on the back.
“You know, Jeff, everybody thinks we are saturated with sports today; but no more than way back in ancient times.
“With all the fighting between the Spartans and Athenians back then, they declared a truce that led to sporting contests every four years at Olympus. But there was so much cheating at these Olympic Games that when the Spartans were entrusted with pre-race control, they ensured that races only began with the Sparta’s gun!
“But it wasn’t just the Olympic Games in Greece every four years; or the events in the Coliseum; for there were continual sports contests all over Europe. And to ensure consistent verdicts on the rules, squads of referees travelled everywhere to officiate. They travelled so much that they were nicknamed Roamin’ Umpires. Nothing escaped their notice; – and they had an army of their own supporters.
“And you’re holding one of their whistles,” he announced, with a growing air of authority.
I could see from the photo album that he had visited Vatican City―a magnet for millions of religious and secular tourists alike. Having experienced the sight of breathtaking frescos that embellish the Sistine Chapel―where cameras are totally forbidden; I asked him about his reaction to so much magnificent artwork.
“Again, everyone told me about how you can’t take any souvenirs from there; but I did,” he told me; proudly holding up a roll of toilet paper.
What was he getting at? My furrowed brow must have betrayed my puzzlement.
“I saw no pictures at all. But there were two long rows of doors that opened into a huge number of cubicles,” Eddie cheerfully explained. “So I saw my chance to bring something back from this so-called Cistern Chapel.”
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