Life’s a Beach

16 Jul

Since I last wrote, I have been getting quite used to the summer routine of the Calabresi. It’s quite nice down here (even if the temperature yesterday topped 42 Celsius or 107 Fahrenheit. Wow! So hot.

The Italian routine goes something like this. Wake up at 9 if you’re lazy like me (yay 10 hours of sleep), get breakfast, watch some TV (I tend to read or write in my journal), get lunch around 1:30 or 2, maybe decide to leave the house by 5 if you’re lucky, hang out in the piazze, stay out until 12 or 1. On other nights of the week people stay out until 2 or 3 at least.

It’s definitely the adjustment for mot of the people in the group (myself included) who are used to constant contact with the outside world and constantly doing something. But, it’s nice.

On the first day, my guide through this adventure in Cosenza, Maria, took me on this grand tour of the city. For whatever reason, and maybe there is one, people seem to avoid the old part of the city. I, however, think it’s stunning and beautiful. Here’s a photo, sadly not taken by myself. Don’t worry photos will be coming once I successfully find a computer to upload them.

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The old city of Cosenza

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Here's a view of Cosenza from above

Nights have been filled with family dinners, and big ones at that. The first night I met this family with the cutest 10-year-old daughter I’ve ever seen. She asked me how to say a bunch of things in English including eggplant, toenails and handstand. Very funny. The family itself had the strongest accent I’ve heard for a long time, maybe ever. In Calabrese, especially when they speak in dialect the words are very very short. For example, “vuoi andare al mare oggi” (do you want to go to the beach today?) becomes “vuo anda’ al mar ogg.” It’s very quick and sometimes hard to pick up, but still really fun to hear. I find that I understand at least 95% of what’s being said.

The kids are, in general, doing very well. We had our first group meeting (and only one just as a group) yesterday. We walked around the city and chatted, then the kids had some time to shop. They have some of the normal complaints: too much food, not enough showers, communication difficulties and then some less traditional ones; host siblings making out with their boyfriends/ girlfriends too much, host sisters passing out after passing their exams, and refusal to let them have breakfast. I think, all and all, that things are going well, but we’re visiting everyone over the next couple days (as per program rules) to be sure. In the meantime, they have my number should they ever need it.

Already some of them sound like they have some pretty memorable stories. One of the kids has come across as a huge rapper and has developed legions of fans. His family is extremely kind and welcoming. Another family that I saw yesterday had a father who was off to play in a soccer game and the entire group of grandparents had showed up for the occasion. Still another had a father who worked as a wedding photographer. He showed me some of his pictures that we’re extremely beautiful. Of course we had the mother who teaches English (even if her English isn’t that good) but was reading Hemingway. Quite an odd, but fascinating group of people.

This afternoon we’ll visit the families who live by the ocean. It sounds like some communication issues have arisen out there. We’ll hope to straighten everything out and get the lines of communication open again. If we also happen to find our way to the beach while out there, I wouldn’t object.

As they say in Calabria, Ciao Gioia!

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