Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Allora.... (Well....)


It seems I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
After the last blog post I started working for the English school, and got busy. I managed to get through my first lessons despite feeling super overwhelmed and thank god I had a little break right away as I was off to Florence to deal with my luggage. I had already started apartment hunting for March before leaving and had looked at a handful of places that first week of February, none of which I was interested in (one place had 6 girls and one bathroom… disastrous!!!). Then I looked at 2 more apartments the morning before I caught my flight to Pisa, both of which I liked! 

One was in an older and rougher area of town, close to the port, and with an amazing view of rooftops from the balcony of the room I would’ve chosen. The apartment was older and a little grimy, but spacious, with only one other bedroom that wasn’t yet rented. The biggest drawback was the price, especially without a roommate right away I’d be covering all the bills myself. 

The second place was in a great area, the neighborhood I’d originally set my sights on, and was being completely renovated. Out of the 4 rooms, one was already spoken for, by a girl living next door, so I expressed my interest in the other room sharing the balcony. By the end of my plane ride, I realized that I needed to lock it down so I called the woman that evening to confirm. After seeing many apartments, I knew I was lucky to find this one and it had everything I was looking for, as well as permission to apply for residency. 

Upon arriving in Pisa, I was invited to eat lunch at Giuseppe’s sister’s Veronica’s place, very close to the airport.  She made a delicious squash risotto and we had a good visit before I was on the train to Florence. Between the stress of pulling off my first lessons and carrying my bag around all day full of dirty laundry that I was taking to wash at Giuseppe’s ,  as well as my computer which I brought in order to finish off illustrations (click the link to view them) for a e-book on natural beauty care (by Caroline Cain, check it out for sale here), I arrived in Florence with an old familiar tension headache, stemming from my neck and back muscles which even my tennis balls couldn’t quite relieve (haha to those of you who know this trick of mine!). 

Giuseppe helped me get all of my straggling luggage packed up and labeled and the next day while he was at work I sent it off with the courier. Before I knew it, it was Sunday morning and we were up early for me to catch the train back to the Pisa airport. It was a dramatic and movie worthy goodbye from the train window, as we had accepted that from that point on, we wouldn’t be in contact, at least for awhile.

Back in Palermo I had started up salsa classes at the gym in Arenella, the neighborhood where I was living with the nuns. Although no one usually talked to me, including the guy who was usually my partner haha, I enjoyed the twice a week lessons, even when I arrived late after finishing work and waiting for the bus for an hour (even though the schedule says the buses are every 20 minutes!). 

After a lesson one day, the teacher, Giovanni, announced a salsa event on the weekend and I asked him where it was. After confirming it was a fair distance away, I let the idea go, but then at the beginning of the next class, he announced ‘You go with him!’ pointing to another student.  I don’t know why he wanted to tell me in English but he said ‘He knows where you live’ pointing to the guy again. So I asked the guy in Italian if he knew where I lived and he said no. I think he meant for me to tell him where I lived haha! Anyway, in the end it all worked out, I got to go with the group of salsa students from the gym to a salsa convention at a hotel about a half an hour drive away, and after that, back at class, they were all very friendly to me:)
I started to feel a little worried as February was passing and despite giving verbal confirmation, I hadn’t given a deposit to the lady for the apartment. Finally, one week before the end of the month, we were able to meet at the apartment again and she showed me the newest updates to the renovations. There was just one problem, she said…uh oh. 

Her son, Marco, was returning to Palermo from Tuscany and so he’d be taking the room with the balcony. What!!???  I was in shock. There were two other rooms available but they didn’t interest me, even if the house was all new and pretty, BALCONY was at the top of my list. I expressed my extreme disappointment but in the end still gave her the 200 Euro deposit. With one week before I had to move out of the nun’s place, I knew I couldn’t handle the stress of my work schedule combined with strenuous apartment hunting.
So I tried to suck it up but I didn’t sleep that night. The vision of my upcoming months in Sicily was crushed! Maybe I’m a brat but really, if I’m paying rent somewhere then I want a balcony!!! I wannaeeee!!

The next day I wrote down all the reasons why it was important to me to have that room and prepared an ultimatum before I called the signora. But I only got through the first point and a half on my list when she caved and said that I could have the room, that she’d talked to her son and he felt bad that I was so disappointed and insisted that it wasn’t an issue for him. I understood then that it was actually her decision to give her son the room, as we all know the Italian mommas (but of course not exclusively Italian mommas;) want the very best for their children:)

So in the end, it all worked out, and I slowly transferred my luggage from Arenella, one piece at a time, with the free shuttle service from the student housing, asking to be dropped off in a square on route to the university. From there it was a 10-15 minute haul. The morning of my departure, I left the nuns a drawing that I did of all of them, I hope they liked it. After work that day, my fellow mother tongue teacher from England, Al, invited me for a drink, and after the strongest cosmopolitan of my life (note: cocktails are at least 3 times stronger in Italy due to free pour) I stumbled to my new home with a smile. 
this was the best quality my phone could mange
However it didn’t last too long because upon arriving I realized there were NO heaters in our apartment and I nearly froze that night.  They used to not be necessary in Sicily I guess, so many houses are without them. After that I requested extra blankets from the Signora but, as in Arenella, I continued to bundle up in many layers every night, including a toque!

My apartment tour
In late March I arranged some days off (thank god! I really needed another break) and was back to the airport to head north again. This time for the purpose of attending the International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna. As all the hotels in Bologna were booked up, I decided to stay in Florence and make the journey back and forth for the day I’d chosen to attend the fair, which worked out great as I was able to catch up with a ton of friends, including my friend Sally, who now lives in Rome, but was visiting Florence that same weekend, as well as my old Italian tutor, Valentina. Martinho, my cuz, was very kind to offer me his spare bedroom, although I never ended up sleeping there…

To make a long story short(ish)…Within a few hours of arriving in Florence, I went out to meet Sally at a pub in the center.  Upon realizing that she’d lost her cell phone, we went on a quest retracing her steps which led us across town to another Irish Pub. Along the way I tried to give her a positive pep talk that maybe something good would come out of the situation; she’d have to get in touch with friends to get their numbers again, and seeing as she was looking for work in Rome, maybe someone could help her. Yeah maybe, she said but then, justly, told me to shove it; that she’d lost her cell phone and it sucked! We laughed and I agreed. 

Being that it was St. Patrick’s Day, the pub as well as the Piazza out front, were flooded with people. After speaking with the bartender and calling her phone number again, we found ourselves out front as Sally came to terms with the situation that her phone was gone for good. A random guy started talking and joking with her and my eyes started wandering around the piazza, eventually landing on someone they recognized, a few meters ahead and with his back to us.

 It was Giuseppe’s good friend, who happens to be very tall, Ezio. I could only guess who his hidden companion might be. I peeked around the crowd and my suspicion was confirmed. I froze up and grabbed Sally’s arm, interrupting her conversation. “Now I know why you lost your cell phone.”  I said, and turned her around. Her mouth dropped. 

After a moment of hesitation, we approached them, and thankfully, he was happy to see me too. We hugged and I had some tears, and then we proceeded to catch each other up on what had happened during the past month.  So, needless to say, Sally losing her cell phone changed my whole weekend, and I’m sorry that her expense was my benefit, but in the end I think it made her feel better about it haha!

As for the book fair, despite my intentions to be on the ball, I didn’t contact publishers soon enough to set up any meetings.  So, I ended up doing the same as what I’d done last year, making rounds between the booths, gathering information and hoping to get lucky to show some people my book, which existed in only rough sketches last year, but this year, was finished. I was able to briefly meet up with Brunella, the italian illustrator women with whom I went to the fair the year before. She had an armful of new books she'd done since I'd seen her last and I flipped through them all while she read mine.

Early on, I got super lucky to show 2 representatives of a British publisher the book, and they really liked it! They had nothing but positive feedback and made a suggestion on the size format which they thought would work well, and I agreed. They said they’d like to present the book to their company within the next month or so, and they’d let me know the outcome. I left them a copy of the book and my information, but in my excitement, I forgot to ask theirs. I haven’t heard anything back yet but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed. There were a few other prospects but nothing as promising. Otherwise, I took a ton of submission information where I can email the book for consideration from other publishers. 

While making my rounds, I passed by Candlewick Press, which I recognized as my friend from college had published a book with them and was getting huge recognition for his work, including making the New York Time’s top ten children’s books of 2011! I stopped at the desk to get their submission information, and while I was waiting for the woman, I glanced at a headline on their newsletter; a headline bearing the name of my famous friend, Jon Klassen and another word, Bologna.

 I asked the lady if Jon was there in Bologna and she said yes, that he had been at the booth a few minutes ago and had gone to the café! Super excited, I left my name and number to pass on to him if I wasn’t able to track him down myself.  I didn’t have any luck finding him at the café but within an hour or so I returned to the booth and sure enough, there he was. We hadn’t seen each other in 4 years or so, as he had moved to the US to work for Dreamworks and other companies, so it was super awesome and unexpected to see him across the world, by chance! 

We hugged and chatted and he showed me the fresh-off- the-press test copy of his new book, which was beautiful and had me laughing with tears. I showed him my book too and he had a good laugh of his own. Being Candlewick’s VIP he was being whisked off to some important event right away but we made plans to meet up in the center of Bologna the following day, as he had the morning off from obligatory duties and I was planning to do some sightseeing before catching my flight back to Palermo from the Bologna airport.
So it worked out great, we had a leisurely tea and recounted our histories from when we’d seen each other last. He was now married and doing freelance illustration and animation work from his home in LA while meanwhile I had quit the animation industry, moved to Italy, and was currently teaching english.  

For the rest of the afternoon, I wandered around Bologna and found myself disappointed after visiting the Modern Art Museum. However, the feeling was redeemed after going to a free Andy Warhol exhibit in a super hip hair salon! I found a nice park to eat lunch in and did a bit of shopping before it was time to head to the airport. 

Back in Palermo, I’d chosen a new gym to continue my salsa lessons in, after doing a few free trials at various places. As well, at one of the gyms, I’d done a trial lesson of bellydancing just for fun and seeing that it was also free, but I really liked the teacher so I decided to continue. So, that means that I’ve been doing dance lessons 4 times a week; 2 salsa and 2 bellydancing. This keeps me smiling:) As well, the salsa group often goes out dancing Thursday or Friday night, so that adds to my fix. 

One weekend when his friend,Ombretta,was visiting from Rome, Marco invited me to come along for a tour of Palermo’s markets in the historic center. We shared some arancini, a Sicilian creation of rice, shaped into a ball with a center of either meat or cheese and a deep fried crust, and a Sicilian wine called Zibibbo, as we passed through the  market neighborhoods of Capo, Vucciria and Ballero`.Later on we went to eat lunch at a cheap but delicious restaurant, where I ate squid and artichokes. Then we passed though the botanical gardens and marina before hitting up a special destination for canolli, the Sicilian dessert with a tube shaped crust, and stuffed with sweet ricotta. 

Another weekend, we hosted a dinner at our house, the guests being Marco’s brother, Francesco and his girlfriend, Catia, Marco’s sister, Cristina and her boyfriend, Massimo,  as well as Marco’s friend, Cosimo and Desiree’s boyfriend, Gaspare. Despite preparing my contribution, dessert, (a fig and pear square with almond crust) that morning, I missed out on all the pre-dinner action as I was at work all afternoon and then at my dance class, returning just in time for the primo piatto, first course, of pasta. Marco and Desiree` did a fantastic job with all the preparation, and as I was back to work in the morning, they also did a fantastic job on cleanup duty!
That sunday I was invited to a wine canteen an hour or so out of Palermo, with Marco, Francesco, and Cosimo, for wine tasting and of course, the accompaniment of food.  After lots of waiting, the Sicilian way, we were able to dive in. I paced myself on the wine while trying (unsuccessfully) to discreetly incorporate my piece of gluten free bread to my plate of olives, sausage, caponata (a delicious tomato and eggplant combination), and cheese.  We ate and drank and joked the afternoon away.

Desiree` and I have become good friends and one evening she invited me out with her friends to a bar in the center, but usually we hang out together at home. She enjoys explaining many things to me about Italian; vocabulary as well as cultural things, and it’s been a big help to me. It’s been quite difficult adjusting, not just to the Sicilian accent, but also to the different way of saying things and the different vocabulary used. Although the people I’m around don’t speak in dialect, there are a number of Sicilian and Palermitano dialect words that are often incorporated to everyday speaking.
 As she had been tested for food allergies some time ago, Desiree` has been trying to eliminate the culprits of digestive discomfort, and as such we’ve been sharing many gluten free creationsJ Hers are always beautiful and are perfected with every successive attempt while mine tend to be random and one-offs, sometimes yummy and sometimes only palatable for me.  

On Easter weekend I was back to the airport! This time to Milan, a place I’d never been. One of my best friends from high school who I’d reconnected with during my recent time back in Canada, Kelly, was coming to Berlin with her boyfriend and we had discussed a side trip for her to come and visit me. Being Easter weekend and a bit last minute, the prices of tickets from Berlin to Palermo were extremely expensive, so we came up with another plan, to meet in Milan. Apparently no one was going there for Easter as the prices were affordable. 

Our flights arrived around the same time so we had big hugs at the arrivals gate before finding the bus to the center and having the opportunity to talk each other’s ears off.  Upon arriving at the station we set out to find the tourist information but instead got distracted by stores along the way. Finally we scored some maps and advice on what to see in the following days as well as instructions on how to arrive at the hotel where I’d booked a room at. 
 the view from the hotel window
Despite being a cheap, one-star hotel, we were pleasantly surprised, also because the room I’d booked online said it had a shared bathroom but instead, we had one of our own. We got settled and made a quick trip to the grocery store (a necessity for me) before heading out for the evening. We planned to go to an area where the guy at the tourist center had indicated we’d find a good aperitivo (a cocktail and buffet for the price of a drink), but after being dazzled by the beautiful displays in the windows of expensive designer stores, total heaven for Kelly, we realized we’d gone to a different district that the guy circled on the map, as we’d also inquired about shopping. 
So we retraced out steps back to the main street, stopping for a gelato to tide us over and we finally found a place, just in time before the aperitivo ended. Although the place was almost empty, the food was good and we were relieved to sit down after loads of walking. 

The next day we set out for an outdoor market area which the tourist attendant had also circled on our map. It was like a marathon, it kept going and going, and Kelly was winning, snapping up some good deals. We found a place open for a late lunch and then stopped at a grocery store to stalk up on edible souvenirs for Kelly to bring back to Germany and Canada, which, being the day before Easter Sunday, was super chaotic. 

We dropped off all the purchases at the hotel and relaxed a bit before getting ready for aperitivo attempt #2, this time, in the appropriate neighborhood. We found a cute place which was also a bit on the empty side but we were hungry. We each loaded up a tiny plate with the intention to go back for more, but before we had the chance, the aperitivo had ended and the plates were whisked away. We finished our drinks and hit the pavement in search of our next potential destination.  We deliberated heading to one of Milan’s famous clubs, but after reading about the 20-25 Euro cover charges, we decided to seek an alternative.

After some wandering I stopped someone for directions to the ‘neighborhood where young people go’ (translated from Italian) and they re-routed us. We scouted out the different bars, most of which were still quite empty, and made a big loop before returning to a place which caught our interest the most. No cover charge before 11pm, one floor with live music and the other with a dj, perfect. We listened to a few songs by the 80’s cover band before heading upstairs to check things out. We grabbed a cocktail and a spot to sit and a short time later, we were chatted up by a guy sitting with his friends at a nearby table. He had heard us speaking in English and I guess wanted the opportunity to practice his, which of course was very amusing.

The day before, as I was re-adjusting to speaking to her normally in English (as opposed to the exaggerated English I speak when teaching), I was explaining to Kelly how Italians always make an expression that’s like an upside-down smile when they’re unsure or indifferent about something. Then was telling her how they say ‘for example’ far too much, even when they don’t follow with a true ‘example’ of something. So, this guy, Federico, was explaining something to us and demonstrated these 2 italian characteristics consecutively one after the other, which totally caught Kelly by surprise. When he and his friends went out to smoke, she exploded in laughter.  

After that we hit the dance floor. We left before 1am to catch the subway back to the hotel, but upon arriving at the metro station, it was already closed! (due to easter weekend) So, thankfully we weren’t wearing heels and managed to make a long trek on foot back to the hotel, plotting our course to intersect the amazing duomo (cathedral) which is often sited as Milan’s main landmark. It was amazing seeing it in the night, with the piazza out front completely empty, it was all ours.

The following day was easter Sunday but that didn’t mean the stores at the train station were closed (we got distracted again on the way to the metro)! Once we finally arrived underground we took the subway to Castello Sforzesco, a castle with a huge park behind it. It was a decent day but exceptionally windy. Upon confirming the opening hours of a restaurant which made gluten free pizza across town, we had our sites set on our dinner destination.

We headed in it’s direction, stopping first to see the duomo again in daylight, then at a café, then for gelato, and then for some sun and lots of laughing on a bench sheltered from the wind. We were the first customers at the restaurant, as Italians eat dinner notoriously late, but later on, despite being easter, the place filled up.

My artichoke and ham pizza was great (although not quite at good as pizzaman in Florence) and Kelly enjoyed hers as well, but was too stuffed to finish the second half. We asked for the rest to go, but somehow forgot about it and were well on our way back to the hotel when it struck me. It’s funny that I was more sad about it than her! Also because it was a bit on the expensive side, and she’d been so nice to treat me to dinner:)

ready to dig in
Back at the hotel, we drank Sicilian wine while preparing our luggage for departure. Somehow, Kelly managed to fit in all her new purchases into her tiny little carry on. She had brought me some clothes I was desperate for from Drumheller, so to her benefit, she had the extra space available but it was still a miracle.

At 4:30am we walked groggily to the bus at the train station, where we gave big hugs and said goodbye. Perhaps we’d meet again in Milan in the future, or maybe next time in New York, where she’ll hopefully be studying fashion design in the fall. So Kelly was off to the airport to catch her early flight and I headed back to the hotel to sleep for a few more hours before heading to the airport to catch mine. 

The following week in Palermo, a band from Milan called Dente, was playing a concert. I was super excited as they happen to be my favorite Italian band and I studied many of their song lyrics to help me learn Italian. I think I told everyone I knew in Palermo about the concert. The day before I bought 2 tickets for Marco and I, at a box office near my house, and they said that there were still over a hundred tickets available so I thought it’d all be fine. 

But upon arriving at the venue that night, first of all, shockingly, they had started on time (this never happens in Italy) which meant I was LATE!!! And second of all, the tickets were sold out so the people who I’d invited and actually came, couldn’t get in! I felt really bad:S But once I made it inside and heard some of my favorite songs, I felt a little better, and then shortly after, 2 of my coworkers, Al and Tiziana, who had their name on the waiting list, were able to get in. 

Dente means tooth in italian
Another great concert I saw 2 weeks ago, was by 2 girls from Palermo called Iotatola. Despite being unimpressed by Dente, Tiziana still had some faith in my music taste and invited me. They were super talented and sassy, a good combination. After the concert, I said goodbye to Tiziana and her friends and headed for the main street where I’d left my bike. However, as I got closer and closer to the post where I distinctly recalled locking it up, it hit me. Not there was my bike. Or in correct English: my bike wasn’t there!!!!! Crap. 
I’d bought this used bike early on in March for 50 euro. A new bike was over 100 euro so I figured this was the way to go. Then I bought a lock, the biggest one available as I’d been warned repeatedly about the occurrence of bike theft in the city. However, then after further advice, I ended up hauling the bike up to my apartment every night, because leaving it outside, even if locked up securely would likely result in a stolen basket, wheels, ect. This has been rather uncomfortable in the tiny elevator, turning the bike vertically and then angling it ever so precisely in order to close the doors, I had a number of bruises on my legs the first couple weeks, but it was worth keeping my baby safe on the balcony overnight.

So, I bought the lock for 15 euro, a basket  5 euro, 2 new tire covers (as the existing ones were too large and scraping the wheel guards) 12 euro, and lastly, after it broke, I had one brake fixed for 3 euro. That comes to a total of 85 Euro. A week later after fixing the brake, it was gone. I don’t know how they busted that lock. 

Upon realizing that my bike wasn't there, I called Tiziana and reported “Mi hanno rubato la bici!!!” (They stole my bike!) Who THEY are exactly I don’t know, but THEY are the ones I’d be warned about, no doubt. Tiziana and her friend came to rescue me, and for a few a few days, I had to live life without wheels again. NO GOOD! 

I looked up some ads online for used bikes for sale and called the ones that caught my eye. Tiziana had been urging me from the start to buy a mountain bike with gears as it would be better for journeys to Mondello (Palermo’s favorite beach) and other more distant destinations, but, call me superficial, I was attached to the classic, girly looking bikes. However, there was one mountain bike ad that seemed decent and was pink, so I called it too. It was the first one that I was able to set up an appointment for; the others weren’t available for a few days as it was a holiday long weekend. 

I made the appointment for before I had to go to work, but unfortunately I arrived late as I didn’t really know the area, and as such was in a bit of a panic. The bike was much uglier than the picture, as it wasn’t just pink but also green, but it was in  good shape and the guy talked far too much about technical things that I didn’t care about , but seemed to verify the good condition it was in. 

Also aware of the fact that if I didn’t buy the bike I’d more than likely arrive at work late, I handed over 70 Euro as that was the lowest I could persuade him, and hit the road. By the time I arrived, I knew it wasn’t the bike for me. Ugly and uncomfortable! A few days later I kept my appointment with someone else selling a white, traditional style bike like the one that got stolen, and I shelled out another 50 Euro. So, now I have two bikes but will hopefully I can resell the first one:P

To a north american, and even to a northern Italian, traffic here is considered wild. People don’t like to follow the rules, including sometimes one way streets and traffic signals, but the biggest difference is that instead of being aware of signs and lights, people are more aware of each other.  It’s interesting the way the traffic flows and people bud in or go out of turn without any cursing following. If you show your intention, people respond and let you go, if you’re unsure or take too long, that’s when the horns start blowing. 
 With Jola and Tiziana, my coworkers, and their friend, Claudio, the day of a community bicycle ride

 The 25th of April is a holiday in Italy, known as liberation day, the day when Italy was liberated from Nazi Germany in 1945. This holiday is usually celebrated as other Italian holidays are celebrated, with indulgent eating, but instead I had something else in mind and was able to convince Marco to join me. SURFING!!! After a great deal of research I’d found a surf school online, located at a beach nearby Palermo called Isola delle Femmine. Although difficult to reach, I’d spoken back and forth a few times with the guy, Danilo, and the day before he confirmed to me that the waves would be arriving…

Although Marco had never been surfing before he was up for giving it a try, and was up on his feet on the first attempt! The only other time I’d be surfing was in New York 3 years ago, where I too stood up on the board on my first try (pat pat), but this time I didn’t make it. After getting a feel for the teacher’s launch, the third time around I was up and had many good rides after that. Now I’m pumped that Marco is also hooked, as it means that I have a companion to do their base course with. I can’t wait to get out there again, it’s complete paradise! After the hour lesson (I think it ended up being longer) I was so exhausted though, once we got home I had to take a little nap. 

As for work, it’s been an interesting challenge and I’ve learned a lot. The initial work load due to lesson preparation outside of paid hours was completely overwhelming and the continued demand to create original activity type lessons has taken the wind out of my sails. Often, despite my efforts, I either find myself under-prepared and have to improvise the second half of a lesson for a group of 5-12 people or I’m over-prepared and my time spent planning activities that we don’t have time for, goes to waste. No, time management has never been my strength. 

Sometimes I make an ass of myself but have fun doing it, which also results in the students having fun, like my Tae-bo lesson, so I’d say this is where I’m most successful. I’ve had the realization that I could do this job quite well if I had the desire. But the truth is that I want to put my effort into the place where I truly do have desire. That place being (surprise!) the ever undependable, artland. So, I’ll be finishing with the school in June and from there I'm planning to pay my rent by drawing caricatures for tourists on the beach. Fingers crossed it'll work.

One evening I bore witness to an ugly general meeting which had my head spinning. Was this normal in Italy? The owners were mad as they’d made a fraction of the projected profit that month and were looking for someone to blame. This included singling people out, including one of the new receptionist/tutors, and interrogating them on how they can do their job better. I think they only make 6 euro an hour…

 After an hour and a half of arguing in Italian, I had completely tuned out and was getting anxious looking at the clock, thinking how I was going to be late for my salsa lesson.  I waited until I was ready to burst, and then discreetly asked my boss if I could leave. Thankfully she said yes and I snuck out, leaving my poor colleagues to endure the rest of it. After some further conversation with Italians, it was confirmed that this type of meeting isn’t so out of the ordinary and I'm sorry to hear this.

Another day, due to absence of one of the other teachers, I was asked last minute to go to the city of Marsala to teach a few lessons. I accepted on the condition to be reimbursed for the bus fare, however one of the lessons ended up being cancelled so I ended up taking the bus for 2 ½ hours each way (that’s 5 hours total) to teach for only 2 hours! Despite lack of tourism research or a map, I managed to find the school and tour around the town, which was much more modern than I was expecting.  I wandered the streets, found a beautiful garden to eat lunch in and relaxed beside the sea. As well I ended up doing a little shopping, quickly blowing my earnings for the day (26 Euro) and more.  

I’ve continued very few of the lessons private lessons I had initially started, partly due to my unavailability with work and partly because of my lack of desire to add more working hours to my schedule. With all this English speaking and thinking, my Italian has been suffering. After giving language lessons to others, I unfortunately feel like doing other things in my spare time other than studying Italian. 

Last weekend I rode by bike down to Arenella, my old neighborhood, to sit on the beach and watch the waves. I really miss being so close to the water and felt happy to visit the neighborhood again as I hadn’t been back there since I moved. Next time I think I’ll drop in on the nuns and say hi.  
the february trash mountain in Arenella
in front of the courthouse