We always run into something unexpected when on vacation in a foreign country. When it occurs, we are often left in a state of confusion and sometimes concern. But,we often look back at it as just another funny story from our vacation. Well, we are only two days into this vacation and we have run into many such events. This one was pretty funny during, and in retrospect.

Let me set the stage for our little story. We were walking this past Thursday just prior to lunch. We were on a long walk – there is no such thing as a short walk with Kathryn! Just a side note here – we walked close to twenty (20!) miles in the 2+ days we were in Venice. That’s, well, you can do the math. I ran out of fingers. So we were getting a little tired and hungry. This usually means one thing, grouchiness. Anyway, we were walking through a nice little square, ready to head down another cool alleyway which leads to yet another bridge and onto lunch (or so I hoped).  This is Venice! We get to the entrance to the alleyway when a carabinieri (municipal policeman) stopped us.

“You cannot pass,” he says. With my recent luck with police (did the Newburgh, NY, police call ahead to the Venice police to watch out for me?), I stopped short. “What is it,” I asked innocently.

“There is a manifestation going on, you cannot pass,” he states with authority. Manifestation? Of all the words for an Italian to learn, why would they learn manifestation? How often have I used manifestation in regular discourse? Let’s see, thinking back over the last thirty years or so, hmmm, I know, no times. Zero. I have never used the word. I asked Kas the same question and received the same response. So now what in the world does this guy mean?

My first thought is to look up and wait for a gull to come crashing down and become one with the cobblestones. Then we can look to see what direction the beak is pointing to determine the fate of mankind, or at least whether we can pass. So, I looked up for a moment. No gull. I must be wrong in the interpretation of manifestation.

Then I thought to myself (I wouldn’t dare say anything out loud as neither the policeman nor my wife would be pleased with me), maybe it’s the ghost of Ludovico Manin (the last of the 120 Venetian Dogis who was forced to abdicate by Napoleon in 1797). If so, I should kneel and bow my head. Just before I bent a knee, a parade of old, cigarette-smoking men came by, blowing their whistles and wagging their flags. I can just hear one of them saying, “I’ll blow my damn whistle whenever I want, and wag my flag too!” It ‘s a parade of sorts. Maybe manifestation means parade to the carabinieri. Good thing I didn’t have to kneel as I was wearing my good pants.

We weren't allowed to go down the alley because of this?

We weren’t allowed to go down the alley because of this?

We were not allowed to photograph our carabinieri's face so I chose to shoot his ... back.

We were not allowed to photograph our carabinieri’s face so I chose to shoot his … back.

Remember, it’s all about the light.