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  • My knuckles were white from one hand gripping the seat in front of me and the other strangling my camera. Right there, on a dry June night in the back of a taxi with a deranged driver, a part of my brain was certain that I was going to die. The other, more sensible, part of my brain was telling my arm to steady so I could take the damn photo.

    It's my last night in Rome. I wanted to head out with something memorable. So I got in the back of a cab and told the driver to take me to the Colosseum so I could take some night shots of it. Before the sentence was halfway out of my mouth, we were flying the wrong way down a one way street. He hardly spoke English, so I kept my mouth shut.

    The craziness of his driving became rhythmic. It settled me to the point where I could regain my bearings and remember why I was doing this in the first place. As I was adjusting the camera settings, I was thrown out of my daze in a flash when he hit the brakes so hard that I nearly slammed my face on the back of the seat.

    I looked up to see why he had stopped. To my horror, he had us frozen dead in the middle of the highway while other cars zoomed and honked around us.
    "Wha-?" but I was interrupted when he swung his outstretched finger to my window. Speechless, I looked out and was faced with the Colosseum in all of it's glory. In the blink of an eye, I got my photo. Every arch individually lit, the crumpling stone in all of it's might, and the fingernail moon hanging beside it. In the fraction of a second that had passed, he was driving again. I gave him one of the only words I knew in Italian, "Perfecto." We were in it together now.

    For the duration of the ride, he made death-defying turns and stops at monuments and landmarks alike for me to photograph. With a silent nod of the head and point, he became Rome's best tour guide. Our final stop was a view over Trajan's Market that only someone who had been there a thousand times could notice. With the glow of the scenery bouncing off his face, he uttered another Italian word that even I can understand.

    Making a screeching halt at the front door of my hotel, I left him my parting thank you gifts: A hefty tip, and a word that I had used earlier. Perfecto.

    Perfecto indeed.
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