|Guido with his fellow students. Titsiana in red is a teacher.|
I (Guido) finally have my Italian/European driving license “Patente di Guida”. This odyssey has gone on for nearly a year and it has been, at times, frustrating. After the initial theory exam in Cosenza that I failed, I worked hard on computer simulations of the exam hoping that repetition would carry me. It did not. There are nearly 1500 potential computer-generated questions possible and I kept running up against new questions and/or new Italian words that stumped me. I had a 1996 textbook that helped only a little. There are references to things on the exam that didn’t exist in 1996 – e.g., mobile phones. I failed the second exam in October.
Finally in November, “my” scuola guida called to say the long-ordered book had arrived and I was then studying a 2011 text with great photos and explanations. What a difference that made. Yes, they still use language that is generally not used every day – like calling trucks autocarrie or autotreni where in life, they use the word camion. Last week’s strikes were by camionisti – truck drivers.
Three days before Christmas I headed back to Cosenza with my teenage collegues to try the exam again. We took the train in the morning because of snow on the mountain pass (returned in a Pullman later). There were a couple new people giving the exam that questioned giving a test to a foreigner who barely spoke the language, but it happened. I passed the bloody thing on the third try. Nicolo, a quiet intelligent boy, was there on his third attempt too, so even native Italians have trouble with these tests.
I got thru the 5 drive-arounds. Friday afternoon, l’engenere from Cosenza arrived to give the final inspection and by dark I was holding my patente. This is good for just 5 years because I am over 50, but renewing only means getting an eye exam.
I cannot say that hanging-out with 18 year-olds is relaxing. Between the rapid non-stop talking (that I usually cannot understand) and the second-hand smoke, it was tiring. Nicolo and the two girls Flavia and Debora were with me in December. We finished together Friday. They have been kind to me and fun. I wonder if they call me Nonno Americano when I am gone?!
|Ragazzi with owner/teacher Massimo|
|Nicolo, Debora, Flavia|
With that, I’m off in our comfy French car ready to drive like an Italian again. When I get stopped at another random police blockade, I’ll proudly present the new patente instead of the worn out card from Oregon. Ciao a presto