Friday, September 2, 2011

Marble, Marble Everywhere....

                It’s here and there. The floors, the sinks, the shower, the window seals, the sidewalk, bases of building. Buildings!! ,big ones made of it. It’s the statues, and the fountains, there are benches made of marble. Square blocks in the street. Mosaic marble sidewalks. Carrara marble. It’s bellisimo!!
                And for those of you who don’t know it’s not because Italia is rich, in fact today my host mother said Italy is a very poor country. But it’s because in the mountains are marble. It’s has been excavated since the Roman Empire and even Michelangelo’s David was carved out it! It’s just amazing.
                You can see the mountains from the beach, it looks like there photshopped into me, because I’ve never been anywhere were this close to the beach you have towering, cloud piercing( literally) mountains.
                And speaking of beach. For my second day, or I should say my first full day in Carrara. Was amazing. But before I get into it I want to share something. Mostly because I shared it with my nanny who shared it with my mom and now she’s freaking out and hopefully posting it on my blog will help her fell better that I’m being sincere and I only cried because I miss her hugs and smile and just her.
                When I first got here I was embarrassed. My bag was big, well no bigger than what I saw other students with, but it was a snug fit in the car trunk. Most of it I do need, so I don’t feel like I over packed. If anything I feel like maybe I should have crammed just a few more things and prepared more.
But after arriving at the apartment. I was sick. My stomach heart and I was tired and I really had to go to the bathroom, but I was scared to. I wanted to immediately go home. But I realize now it was a very large panic attack without the tears (though those would come later,) because I was in a place so foreign. I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t know the language. And when they asked I kind of felt like a failure because I didn’t know it. (I’m very hard on myself)
                Because my arrival was delayed a few days my welcome was not as big as what it was going to be. But they did have a get together at the house with food. I snacked on some cantaloupe to be nice, but every bite I was scared I was going to be sick. And then they gave me some authentic lasagna. It was good, albeit a bit rich with parmesan, and if I hadn’t been worried about getting sick I probably would have eaten it all and the rest of the pan. Instead I took small bits and forced it down and then took the excuse of answering questions to set it to the side and “forget about it”. I felt really bad, literally and figuratively.
                By the night and unpacking, I was a bit better, it was like seeing my things they’re kind of calmed me down. My host brother and sister showed me around Carrara. While it is a small town it seems big to me, because you do have many shops, and banks, and lot of things to do. And to me those things are only found in the bigger cities. So to me Carrara is big, that really surprised them. They probably think I’m now from a hick town of two hundred….
                Once we came home, we ate dinner. It was some left over from the lunch. Now that I had my appetite I tried some. Bruschetta, love it. But my host mother, Toni, made this soup. Bean soup with wheat. It kind of reminded me of Mexican beans but not mashed. Anyways it was awesome and come to find out it’s my host brother favorite, hopefully it earned me points. Also there were these tomatoes with bread crumbs and garlic and cheese. They were good but would have been amazing warm.
                Like a good Rotary Exchange student, I asked the first night questions. Most had already been answered, but there were still a few left to cover. I found out that my host mother birthday is two days before mine, and that she thought I was already seventeen. And just other things hat were assumed with both parties were asked. It helped, a lot.
                I went to bed that night, I was about dead. I thought I wouldn’t be able to sleep. But with the window and the air cool. The sound of Italian being shouted from the streets below was comforting. I feel asleep almost immediately.
                Waking up the next morning was weird. I woke up to my host sister, Ludo, closing the window because the streets below were too loud. It only took me half a second to realize who she was and where I was. I got up and walked out of the room toward the kitchen, still in my pajamas. They asked m if I wanted caffé. But my stomach was still kind of upset. So I turned back to the room after a tired and mumbled, “Boun giorno” and got ready for the day.
                As I came out to wait for Ludo and Dodi, My host brother, to get ready I sat in the chair and worked on my Italian verbs. Sitting there I felt better than last night and after asking my host sister how to flush the toilet in the restroom I felt a bit more comfortable asking questions. I realized then that I would be more a burden in the long run if I didn’t know how to do anything, so ask questions now. Like they taught us at outbound camp. Don’t assume, ask.
                So I did. About nearly everything. But it helps the parroting thing, you know watch and mirror.
                But I still wasn’t feeling how I thought I should. Or how they put it at outbound  camp the “honeymoon” phase. I made an ultimatum with myself then that I would stay a month, and if by then after grasping the language and the culture a bit if I still was just miserable then I would beg and plead and cry to go home.
                So they took me to Marini di Carrara, a port and beach. We walked the markets which were amazing and spanned streets and blocks. There was everything needed and imagined there. I relaxed a bit more.
                An interesting thing was as I arrived in Italy things reminded me of home funny enough. There were tall pine trees lining the road, west Texas and Louisiana. A beach like Florida, and mountains like Colorado. But there was nothing of Texas here. Until I saw a small cactus at the market and I nearly pulled a Bella off of Twilight so just I could have a little piece of home with me.
                As we headed to the beach Dodi went home and it was just me and Luda. We went and sat on the beach which is beautiful, and touched the sea, which was nicely chilled. Freddo=cold.
                We sat on the beach for a while and it was an awkward silence. I was tired and wanted to sleep but I didn’t want to mess up my schedule nor did I know how long we were staying.
                We ate falcalta (?) a type of bread that is amazing, and brucshetta sandwiches. They were very good but I still wasn’t Hungary so I didn’t eat one.
                A little while later we went down the beach to a little I don’t know patio place with a store next to it where you could sandwiches and pasta, as well as ice cream, slushes and drinks. A little snack bar or beach hut you could say. Luda asked me if I wanted anything and water sounded great, but I wasn’t sure of the currency yet and I still had half a bottle of water that I had refilled at the house. So I said no. We went and sat at this small table. Luda said her friends were coming and we waited a while.
                Once they showed up and started talking, asking me questions, joking, teaching me Italian words and even making a pact that “You teach use American cuss words, we’ll teach you Italian.” It cracked me up, especially when they started saying the basic ones. A little girl who was probably younger preteens in eh group said “shit” and I about died laughing.
                At that point I was having fun, I felt included in the group and after learning some words and talking, in both English and attempting Italian. I realized that I was just being stubborn and hard on myself. I had just landed yesterday and I shouldn’t be scared to try Italian. So I started asking questions and they helped with pronunciation. I was having fun, and for the first time I took a deep breath and relaxed. And my thoughts of the ultimatum disappeared. I was staying for the whole year, and they were going to have to drag me out of Italy when the time came to leave.
                We went and sat down at the beach, Luda, her cousin, a friend and me. Then Lucrezia (my host sister that is in Lubbock, TX) that I “exchanged” with friends came down. I talking to them and we went to what they called a “gazebo”. It was really like a tent or sun cover, shade thing. There were chairs and they all sat around. They asked twice as many questions and I smiled and laughed.
                Especially when for the second time that day they said. “He is pork”. They meant pig. I cracked up.
                The day at the beach was fun and relaxing and it made me feel better. In fact right now I’m very optimistic about this exchange. Albeit still a little home sick, just a little.
                The bus ride was something new to me too. It has a lot of load shifts and at times can get packed it took a minute or two, okay maybe five minutes, to get my balance and to learn the tighter you grip the pole the more your hands sweat and the more you slip.
                I also learned that Italians don’t really know the word for sunburn, in English. Because they don’t get it. Well most don’t, they just tan. So when they gave me some sunscreen that was SPF 30 I think that was the highest they had. I’m defiantly going to have to ask my mom to send me some SPF 50. I’m very fair skinned and albino white is actually tanned for me.
                Dinner that night was good. It was this green pasta, with ham and cream sauce. I loved it. And then after dinner they always have fruit. Watermelon, cantaloupe, which they call melon in English, (I smiled at that one), and grapes, even better Tuscan grapes.
                Going to bed again was easy and I slept hard until my alarm this morning. I had to wake up early so we could go to the police station to get my temporary residence card. That, like anything government, anywhere, took us all over town looking for the right thing. Finally we got it.
                After coming home I got on Facebook. And finally, finally Skype with my mom. But she couldn’t here me so I wrote and she talked it was good to hear her voice. And then my dad tried to Skype me but he couldn’t get it to work. It’s hard to catch them because of the time zone difference and I don’t really have a schedule yet. So it was nice to at least talk to them without e-mail.
                I got to finally sit down and rest and I found my favorite chair in the house. It’s a low wing back chair that it literally 180 degrees around and is placed right in front of the window. With the light and cool breeze I about took a nap. But I’m still hesitant to sleep outside of bedtime so that I don’t mess up my schedule.
                At around 5 we went back to Marini di Carrara to mail the packet for my temporary residence card to Massa. Massa and Carrara are technically the same town. This is how my host mother explained it. They are bureaucratically (?) the same but geographically different. I just nodded.
                We took the car instead of the bus and it was a different car than the one they picked me up in it was literally the “town car” because it was smaller.
                And while I’m on the subject of cars and driving, Italians are experts at parallel parking, like that is the only parking there is. And those scooters, don’t follow the rules of traffic unless it’s stop and sometimes to turn. Otherwise I saw them weave in and out of cars and one nearly face planted into the back end of one.
                Driving here isn’t as crazy as most people thing. But when my host mother, Toni, told me that there two type of police, one from the army, one for traffic I thought “Thiers traffic cops?!”. They stop when there’s a red light sure, but as for jaywalking, I don’t think it exist as a crime here, but they do have crosswalks and most people use them in the town. They don’t honk their horn excessivly; at least I haven’t seen it yet. And Toni told me that in Napoli unless you are from there you can’t drive there because they make their own laws. Also today while getting the paperwork for the residency card she picked me up a foreign driver’s pamphlet they had out in English for me to read. I’ve only read the first page so far.
                Oh and I just remembered while going to the post office in Marini di Carrara, the lady behind the counter help us said “Momma mia”. I thought “Oh lord, its true.”J. I chuckled to myself. And then she expressed how beautiful she thought the American passports were because in Italy the pages are just plane. Also while in Marini di Carrara we went to Italy’s version of a Wal-mart called Super store. And grocery stores here are two stories, with elevators. I thought it was just the one in town because it was smaller, but turns on even the bigger one do as well. They also had special check-out lanes for the disabled and pregnant.
                I am going to go work on my Italian verbs. Which everyone keeps telling me how hard they are and that they spend eight years in school working on them. I’m crash coursing these babies in one.
                Update on the language front, I read one of those “do not use elevator in case of fire” signs today in Italian. I was so proud of myself. Small victories right now seem huge.
                Take care all.     

1 comment:

  1. So proud of you. You are being hard on yourself... it is ok to be homesick and scared... but the best way to overcome that is to get out just like you did. Love you and sending you hugs from Midland!