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Tossing my backpack into the taxi, I hopped in. Shutting the door I heard, “Bonjour madame.” I looked up to greet the driver. Her short-cropped spiked hair was cherry red as were her painted nails and her broad friendly smile. She was my side of 60.

“Vous voulez aller à l’aéroport?” Reaching for the seatbelt I said, “Oui, merci.”We scooted away from the hotel in Monte Carlo, zipping around the traffic circles at times, seemingly on just two wheels.

She has children. One had been to Canada. Another to Cuba. She has always lived in Monaco. We were on the Middle Corniche, discussing Romans, the Appian Way, Via Aurelia, the Lower, and Upper Corniche as she deftly weaved between the cars, one hand on the wheel, the other punctuating the more important points in her explanation of the construction of these ancient roads.

Once on the highway, she really became animated as we talked about communism and global economics. Eying the speedometer, I noticed that she barely drove below 140 km/hr except for a brief minute or two when she excused herself, then slowed to 110 to answer her cell phone.

I was told that at that time of day it could take an hour or more to reach the airport, we had arrived in less than 40 minutes. She deposited me and my luggage at the curb outside the terminal. Kissed me on both cheeks and with a wave of her red-nailed hand, was off.