I’ve wanted to do a post about the Neapolitan hospitality ever since I started this blog, and I should probably have split this into two posts starting with the 1.0 version, but an experience yesterday made me see another, perhaps darker, side of it. I’ll get back to that later.
Napolitani Ospitalità 1.0
Since I came, I’ve had so many great experiences with the Napolitani. So many people have made me feel so welcome and done so much to make me feel at home. They’ve cooked for me, taken me out to try the local food, I’ve been invited to their homes and the homes of their families as well as taking me on small trips to see some of the beautiful places here. And this is just the people I live with.
Also when I am at work, the people are so kind to me and always offer me help if I need it, show interest in what I am doing, or simply just offers me a coffee.
And when a storm hit last week, the kindness of the Napolitani also hit me again. Soaking wet as I was, thanks to the pouring rain, I ran to the nearest café close to my bus stop. Here they were so kind and first offered me some paper towels to dry myself a bit, and then pulled out a hair dryer. A hair dryer! Who has that in a café? Not that I mind at all – it should be standard in Danish cafés, given how much rain we get there. So I dried up a bit, had a coffee, and patiently waited for my bus.
I spend a lot of time waiting for the bus, and yesterday was no exception.
Napolitani Ospitalità 2.0
There I was, just waiting for the bus while people stared at me as the Alien I am, when a car stops at the indentation for the bus. He starts speaking to me. Even though my Italian is not that good yet, I understood clearly. He was asking me where I was going, telling me to go with him as I was going in the same direction as my bus.
Not really willing to jump in the car with a stranger – let alone a stranger who I cannot properly communicate with – I simply used my standard answer: Non parlo italiano – I don’t speak Italian.
The man keeps pointing and gesturing for me to get in the car, and I keep refusing. Finally I think he is driving away, when actually he only drives forward, so he can back the car even closer to me, as he had actually stopped in the middle of the road and not in the actual indentation.
He keeps asking were I’m going and if I’m waiting for the bus, pointing, etc. He really wants me to go with him. But I still refuse.
In the end after countless no’s and “non parlo italiano” he finally goes and I feel so relieved. 5 minutes later or so, my bus arrives and I gratefully get on it.
I do not know if this man had any bad intentions, but it just didn’t feel right. Maybe he genuinely just wanted to give me a ride. But I must admit that even though I’ve already had so many positive experiences with the people here, some of the stories and images from before I came still lingered in the back of my head – maybe I’ll elaborate on this another time – so I decided that taking the bus was safer.
He could have been a nice guy, but he could also have had bad intentions. I’m happy to never find out.