01/31/11

Urbs serpentum is no place for a poor traveller on a strict budget. Were I a tourist looking for trinkets to bring back to my family and friends, there would be no better place. Around every corner is a merchant hawking his wares, from the extravagant to the disposable. The smell of exotic spices is inescapable. I make it a point to only bring enough money for food for the day, not only to avoid temptation, but to foil thieves. What I don't carry can't be stolen.

Hand in hand with sights and smells from every corner of the world goes language. It seems to me, wandering around the forum and commercial district that each merchant is speaking a different language. Some I recognize, some spark an inkling of familiarity that I can't quite place, and still others barely sound like words at all.

And internet cafes! At first I was surprised by them, if only because free internet access seemed at odds with the mercantile nature of the district, but of course Hermes is not only the god of merchants, but also messengers. Many of these cafes also offered courier services to deliver physical packages or would hold them for pickup by one of the various such services available in the area.

Rather than lose influence as the need for personal delivery of messages waned throughout history, here the followers of Hermes embraced the changing times. Their innate entrepreneurship allowed them to offer all sorts of services to facilitate communication using the technology of the times. Many of the shops showed signs of going through many iterations, some changing with the times so frequently I got the sense that I'd have to wrestle remodelers as soon as the next fad gained traction.