HAPPY 22nd BIRTHDAY TO MY SWEET DAUGHTER, TESSA!
Easter was great! Family gathering in Acireale with Angelo’s warm family. Goodbyes to Angelo, toured Catania, went to African dance class with Angelo’s cousin, Marina, who teaches the class, and on the train the next day to Messina and bus to Ganzirri to meet my new host, Andrea and his family on their GORGEOUS hilltop farm overlooking the Mediterranean and Ionian Seas and mainland Italy across the Faro Straight! ( I think that was a run-on sentence!!!) Critters everywhere to love and training horses again! 🙂
EASTER came with much festivity. I decided to go to church, my semi Catholic roots were calling. It was meaningful for me to be here and honor my father’s, and his ancestor’s religion. A beautiful church with gold leaf everywhere, pillars and crystal chandeliers above. I received communion, my second time ever. I felt nervous…am I supposed to SAY something to the priest? My heart was beating…it was a big deal for me…I discovered when I got close to the altar, that no words were needed. in the pew, I hummed the melody of the familiar hymns and faked the rest. Just took it all in, this beautiful Easter sermon in melodic Italian.
Later, Angelo picked me up and we went to his family gathering at an aunt’s house overlooking the Ionian Sea. A renovated old house with fantastic views. Many spoke English so I didn’t feel left out of conversation at all. The food kept coming, one dish at a time and then two birthday cakes besides, for two relatives. Walnut liquor and coffee came later.
In the evening as all were leaving, we watched the International Space Station pass overhead, waving at the female Italian astronaut on board!
I felt embraced by this warm family and felt a kinship with all, especially one of Angelo’s cousins, Marina, who invited me to attend her next African dance class she teaches.
I worked one last day at Angelo’s then he and his girlfriend brought me on a hike to see Etna views and the coastline below. Cold and windy days…unseasonably cool. I packed my bags and caught a ride to Catania with Angelo to spend the day roaming the city. He brought me to an internet cafe owned by a friend from India, where he said my luggage would be stored safely, then I hit the open market to buy some boots and more fashionable jeans and a sweater…my new Italian attire! All black. Now I feel like I fit in a bit better when in the city, except for my obvious backpack. Ding ding ding….TOURIST! Oh well. I am!
Marina picked me up and we zoomed off to her dance class, several near misses at intersections…crazy drivers! Most cars have scrape marks on all sides! Marina invited me to dance and i did a bit but my aging knees were sore from the day walking and I decided to sit it out and take pics for her instead. Great live drumming and wild energetic dancers, drenched in sweat by the end. Out for a beer with the drummers later and then she and I went home to her house to sleep.
Morning arrived and hopped a train to Messina, making my way to the village of Ganzirri by bus where my next host, Andrea (a 27 yr old man) picked me up at the church. He brought me up the hill to his family’s house where I met his mom and dad and we all ate lunch together.
Andrea cares for the 6 acre property, his parents work in town. He is allowed to have volunteers come stay and help. He was specifically interested in my knowledge of horse work, as he too is practicing “natural horsemanship” but is just learning the basics. The farm animals include a mare and foal (10 months), 4 friendly donkeys (including a 2 week old) chickens, ducks, peacocks, rabbit, many cats, and Margie, the happy and goofy yellow lab who plays with the donkeys and sleeps with cats atop!
Meals are prepared by the family and we eat together andhelp out with dishes. An amazing assortment of hard and soft cheeses and Italian bread at each meal. (so much for gluten/dairy-free here in Italy!) I sleep in the loft over the other bedrooms, a pleasant spot except I wake in the morning to the smell of cigarette smoke, as the dad and Andrea smoke in the bedrooms below. But still, I feel so lucky to have found this wonderful place to spend a week.
Andrea and I worked with the horses today, me with the foal and he with the grumpy mare. Then some gardening, the Mediterranean sprawled out below and mainland Italy just across the Faro Straight! I never knew it was so darn close. The Med meets the Ionian here, with strong currents and huge ships passing by all day long; cruise ships, container ships, barges and small sailboats as well.