“Napoli is like a beautiful woman with dirty feet.”
I was told by several people.
Well, I am ashamed to say that on the first day all I could see were the bunions and dirty toenails, and all I could think was that this girl certainly needs a pedicure. My train ended at station Cavour, however this was not the central station that I needed. Confused I tried to look for train signs, but the onlysigns I could find were made with spray paint by what I would guess were the local teens. And those definitely didn’t give any direction for a lost tourist. In fact as I walked the city trying to find my way I noticed graffiti all over. As I explored Napoli that first day, I came to the conclusion that this city looked like NYC’s “bad” part of town. Only it didn’t end. It wasn’t part of the city, it was the whole city. On the street to my host’s home I passed no less than 5 prostitutes on descending corners. As I walked by, one of them climbed into the car of the middle aged man that pulled over.
I made a couple of friends on that first evening though. And they insisted that Napoli was the best city in the world. I nodded in sympathetic humor. Inside, I was counting the hours till I could leave.
But then it just “happened” to call for rain for the next three days. With the Amalfi coast as my next destination, I felt stuck. But then I just “happened” to have an American friend ask me where I was and say that he came across a free cooking class in Napoli. Well I figured if the weather was going to keep me from the Amalfi coast then I should make the best of it and try out this cooking class. However, when I looked online I realized that it was at an evangelical church outside the city. And there was no public transportation to it. So I took a shot in the dark and sent a message to the page saying that I wanted to go. Not long after, the pastor of the church asked if I could get to the central station and take the train to him by 3:30pm. The time was 2:30pm. And I was sitting at a cafe directly in front of the central station.
When the pastor picked me up he told me that he rarely checks the page, but that for some reason he just “happened” to check it that hour. And he also “happened” to be near that train station at that time though he rarely came to town. Then he took me to his family’s home since it wasn’t time for the class yet. I met his two teenage daughters and his wife. They were from the New York area of the USA, though they had been in Italy for the last 17 years and their daughters grew up in Italy.
The family was warm and inviting and we had German cookies and cappuccino before going to the class.
At the cooking class the people were friendly and encouraging. The woman that taught us how to cook had skills I can only dream of having. Immediately I felt at home. I spent the next few days with this family.
Now here is the thing. While I sat at that cafe outside the central station, I prayed. I said, “I am feeling really tired. I feel disconnected and really need to be refreshed. Please show me how to do this.” And when I sent the message to the cooking class page I prayed, “Ok God if this is where you want me to be and it is good, then please work it out. Get this message to the right person.”
That’s the thing. Happenstances happen.
In Napoli, I met some of my favorite people. I ate my favorite cheese, my favorite pizza, and learned how to make my new favorite sauce. I learned to look past the feet and I saw the beautiful soul within.
My host in Napoli asked me if I believed in magic. I said, “You mean like miracles? Yes.” And I do.
Happenstance to one, is a miracle to another.