Monday, August 17, 2009

Where I Was Six Years Ago Led Me To Where I Am Now

Mid-August (especially hot and steamy ones) will always call to mind my adventures in Italy six years ago. I know I've posted bits and pieces of this before (an accounting of my first few extremely frustrating days in Italy); yet, I post it again as a reminder to myself (and perhaps others) that your life can take off in a completely new direction if you simply turn away from the way you are heading and go somewhere else, instead.
Mrs. B

My Apartment; Verona, Italy
I made it to Verona…but my suitcase did not. Doesn’t this figure? I’m trying not to panic…yet, or freak out, because there is no phone in this room and the landlady does not speak any English. The airline is supposed to call her before they deliver it. Sigh. I need to go get a phone card and find a phone to use to check up on this. Talk about frustrating, but somehow, I’m really not surprised.
Despite this, I managed to get to the train station then to the apartment. It’s ok, but sort of loud. I’m really glad I brought ear plugs. I hope it’s a safe area because I’m on the first floor and it’s hot, no AC, so, windows have to be open. Oh well. I’m a bit out of sorts right now, mostly because my bag didn’t show up!
I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed. No word on my suitcase and I still don’t know how to get to the school tomorrow! I’m tired of these clothes and I’ve really not done too much to get acclimated to this place. I was so exhausted, I slept until noon. Sigh.
Well, I’ll go out and see what I can find out. Maybe get a bus schedule, at least. If worse comes to worse, I can take a taxi tomorrow to school. Hopefully they will be able to help me. I sure hope I don’t have to buy six weeks worth of clothes, etc. I’ll try and be positive. I’m here to grow, after all; to learn something about myself.
There is a small child wailing away nearby. Guess what? It’s just as annoying here as it would be at home.
No use thinking of home, it just gets me sad.
Random Thoughts Written in Piazza delle Erbe; Verona, Italy
Day One
· It was beautiful flying over the Dolomites. They looked a lot like the Matterhorn at Disneyland, but a countless number of them. It was hard to tell the difference between the clouds and the mountains!
· It really sucks that my suitcase went missing. This threw me for a loop! This, and the fact Signora G. speaks no English! I got sort of sad and took a nap. I felt a bit better, but I still have a lot to figure out for Monday; one sort of stress traded for another, I guess.
· A light bulb went out in my room already! I have tons of questions. Tomorrow, I will try to call the airline regarding my suitcase (I bought a carta telefonica) and also find a TI to get a bus schedule and hopefully directions to Idea Verona (right now, I’m clueless).
· If the luggage situation isn’t resolved by Monday, hopefully Idea Verona can help. I also need to pay them for the room.
· Maybe my room will grow on me. I hope it’s safe.
· I’ll feel better when I have my things!
· I am sitting in Piazza delle Erbe. At least I am finding my way around. There are many, many people out for the stroll. I feel like I look like crap. Thank God I packed my shorts. Everyone else really looks great. I’m trying not to get paranoid that all these lovely, fashionable people are looking down their Romanesque noses at me. I want to shout, “I do clean up nicely!”
· This whole fiasco regarding my suitcase must be one of those adventures my “Gutsy Women” book referred to. I think that little suitcase has some bad Karma (remember Fort Wayne; when it didn’t show up to mom and dad’s for almost SEVEN days one Christmas vacation?)
· But, hey. Here I am. In Italy. I made it, at least! And, it’s as beautiful as I remembered. Verona is a nice place (bel posto).
· It’ll get better.
· Did I mention it’s troppo caldo? Sweltering comes to mind.
· I think once I know what the hell I am doing, I’ll really like it here.
· I’m trying to communicate with people, too. Faltering, but I’ve got to start.
· It’s probably not so hot that I’ve had 2 Campari & sodas. Well, e cosi! It’ll help me sleep, anyway.
· There’s a cool breeze now…yey!
It’s amazing what becomes important when things go awry. Right now, all I care about is getting my suitcase.
I did venture out and found where the school is. At the very least, I will arrive there tomorrow morning (hopefully I’ll wake up as I don’t have the alarm clock) a bit stinky, perhaps, but I’ll get there.
I met a girl from Madrid, Eva, who is also here to study Italian. She is going to another school, though. She spoke good English and was very kind. She helped me to call the airport and I found out that my suitcase is in Verona now and is supposed to be delivered today. I don’t know when and I’m a bit concerned about how it’ll get inside this building.
I went upstairs to talk to the landlady, her name is Renata. I stayed up there about ½ hour or so. I met her husband Renzo, as well. They were both nice to me; offered me beer, some fruit and a cigarette. Unfortunately Renzo doesn’t speak English, either. I think I picked up from our halting attempts to communicate that we have to wait for the suitcase to be delivered, we can’t go to the airport to get it. I think they’re waiting around on my account. I feel badly about that and will have to remember this and get them a gift when I leave.
Even though I don’t know near enough in Italian, I’m glad I know what I do know. Thank God I learned the word for suitcase! I told them in 4 weeks I will know more Italian. Hopefully, we’ll be able to sit down one day and laugh together about this fiasco!
Eva gave me her cell phone number so I may call her too at some point. It sounds as if her apartment is much nicer; AC, a pool, etc. Well, I wanted to live like the locals and I think I’m experiencing this.
I found an Internet Café and also a place to maybe buy a cell phone. It might be worth the expense to get one.
I haven’t done any sightseeing or taken any pictures yet. I’m too out of sorts and I know I’ll have plenty of time to do this over the next four weeks.
So far I’ve learned several things. It pays to reach out to people, even if it’s difficult to communicate. Also, it’s a good idea to pack lightly enough to be able to not have to check baggage!
I’ve also learned I have a hell of a lot to learn. And, here no one cares where I come from, how much money I make, or what type of car I drive. I have to rely on my personality and the kindness of strangers!
I haven’t been eating much; too anxious. I have been drinking a lot of water and smoking way too much. Once I get my stuff, I’ll head to the store.
I’m not as homesick today, mostly because I’ve been too busy trying to figure out my next steps/plan of action. I know things will be different 4 weeks from now.
I’ve taken the tact of keeping a low profile. I look awful; no make-up, hair not done, etc. This way, I figure no one will pay any attention to me. Not that I’d grab attention, given all of the other beautiful women here.
It’s time to nap.
My suitcase did not arrive. I spent a fairly miserable, self-pity filled evening alone. I was afraid to go out lest my suitcase chose to arrive at the moment I left. Because I didn’t go out, it didn’t show up. That’s the way things work.
No matter what today, I have to figure out what’s going on with this. Because of the language barrier, I’m not 100% sure my landlady was telling me they’d deliver it or if she was telling me, “Sorry, too bad, figure it out yourself!”
I hope the people at the school will help me get this taken care of. I don’t think I can manage one more day like this.
I’ll try to think positive but right now I’m starting to wonder if all of this was such a hot idea.
Random Thoughts Written at Caffe al Teatro on Via Roma; Verona, Italy
· Sitting here an hour before I am due at school. This is where I met Eva yesterday. I’m wearing the same stinky clothes. This R&R Hall of Fame tee-shirt is getting a lot of mileage. I am wearing my Tommy Hilfiger blue jean shorts, too. They are probably not appropriate for school,l but I have nothing else. I refuse to wear my sweatpants and swelter to death.
General Observations
· Italians are a bit aloof. I stand out like a sore thumb and they notice and look down at me. Of course, they can’t know this isn’t how I intended to appear!
· No one looks into windows as they walk past. I’ve sat at my window for hours last night, watching. Eyes straight ahead, no glancing up, down, left, right.
· I can’t believe how noisy it is at my apartment at all hours. Street noise. Cars passing, people walking by talking, etc. Except this morning it was quiet. Funny.
· It’s real humid here. In addition to making me a sweaty, icky mess, it’s rendered my appetite to next to nothing. If anything, with this situation and all the walking (Eva said I should rent a bike), I should manage to stay in good shape.
· I used the carta telefonica this morning to call regarding my bag. It worked, amazingly enough. Too bad it hasn’t been so easy to get my bag returned to me.
· It only took me 15 minutes (or less) to walk here. Good to know. Why take the bus (except to learn, I guess)?
Woo-hoo, my suitcase showed up this morning! During the afternoon break, I ran back to my apartment and was able to change clothes! Glorious! Now I feel a bit more “at home” and able to relax.
And school was fine; but when they say “Total Immersion”, that is exactly what they mean! The staff and teachers try not to speak any English. Yikes! I ended up (I think) in a very basic class. I’ll know for sure domaini.
The good news is, everyone is very nice, including most of the other students. The bad news is, I comprehend about ½ of what is being said. Ok, more like ¼!
There was a 2 hour lecture this afternoon on the city of Verona, ancient cities in general, arenas, gladiators, etc. The instructor, Andrea, (a man), speaks very fast Italian, says “va bene” a lot and reminds me of Cesar. Luckily, he also throws in some English so you can somewhat follow what he’s saying. He also gave a 2 hour walking tour of Verona which was good to get oriented. I think I understand, basically, how to get a bus ticket and where they go; also, where to buy groceries (there may be a store closer to my apartment but I haven’t found it yet) and what the best wines in Verona are. He also told us a lot about the Arena di Verona. Maybe I will see if some of the other students would like to see an opera.
I left the tour when we got close to my place. I said, “Parto, abito (the word for “over there”, which I know can’t spell, sounds like “la jew”)
I went home and unpacked/got organized. Now I’m out having dinner (pizza and a beer, I figure I deserve the beer). I’m not too worried about drinking too much over here, it’s too hot to get drunk.
Yes, it’s steamy, steamy, steamy qua. I’ve never sweated so much in my life. I need to buy a fan for my room.
Tomorrow I have to buy a notebook. They haven’t provided me one. My notes are all over the place.
I hope now that school has begun, I will start doing things in the evening with other people. I didn’t come here to hang out by myself.
I’ve made myself go to restaurants, etc., by myself and it’s ok, but, other than Eva, I’ve yet to see any other “single” women.
I would also like to find the gym, but we’ll see. I need to get the Internet thing figured out soon, too.
And, I need to remember that I am here to learn and grow.
Who knows what direction this will take?

1 comment:

Margot said...

That was such an adventure, Amy!!
I remember waving goodby to you at the Albany (NY) airport with half "omg" & half "she'll have an absolutely grand time" feelings.

I had a similar experience in the mid 80s when Grandpa (in his 80s) & I went to Costa Rica.

I wish that more people, all over the world, could experience other cultures.

Looking forward to more.