The Digital Journalist
A Letter from Central America: So Near And Yet So Far

by James Colburn

When I planned a long-delayed vacation to Europe last year little did I think that I would be in a place where so many things would be happening ... at the same time. Itís supposed to be a relaxing 10-day visit to Paris and now it looks as though things are happening everywhere. Everywhere except Paris that is.

First, the Pope died and theyíre going to have a huge funeral in Rome on Friday. Any chance of a flight? Ha! Any chance of a room? Double ha! Would it be worth renting a car, driving the 850 or so miles (one way) to spend a few days sleeping in the car for the chance to wade through a crowd of two million to try and get a shot of a funeral that would be better covered by a bunch of pool cameras? Triple ha! How would I go about explaining to the man at the Avis counter in Rome that not only was I very, very sorry that my rental car had been towed away and blown up by Italian security forces (How was I supposed to know that the sign meant ďfuneral procession routeĒ?) but that I very much needed another car so that I could drive back to Paris in time to make my flight back to the United States?

Okay so letís skip the whole Papal thing and check out Charles and Camillaís wedding in Britain. Itís going to be on Saturday and my flight home leaves on Sunday morning. Thatís a little tight. Itís going to be at the Guildhall in Windsor (just west of London) and, surprise, surprise, security is going to be very tight. The cheapest train (through the Channel tunnel) will cost 350 Euros (about $450) and then thereíd be a car to rent in London and thereíd be an ice cubeís chance in hell of getting anything interesting so ... Forget it.

Wait! Breaking news! The Prince on Monaco has died! His funeral would surely be a star-studded (yet solemn) event and itíll be held Ö five days after I leave for the U.S.

So much for turning this vacation into a busmanís holiday. It looks like itíll just have to be a vacation.

Still, this morningís Le Parisien tells me that thereís going to be a big demonstration this afternoon of public school students protesting funding cuts. It looks like itís going to be a decent-sized march from the Place De La Republique across the River Seine and down the Boulevard Saint-Michel and could make for some interesting photos.

I guess Iíll go shoot that and leave the other stuff to the pool cameras.

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer