I apologize for not sharing this blog yesterday! I was exhausted by the time that I sat down in bed, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open to write anything! That being said, I was a good exhausted. Yesterday, Elena took me to Catania, which is where I flew into when I came to Sicilia and where she attended college. She kept talking about how much she loved the city, and wanted to show me. It was so special!
From Ragusa to Catania, it is about a 2 hour bus ride, or 1 hour car ride. We took a bus so that neither of us had to drive, and we could relax. The buses here are soooo much cleaner than our public buses in Pittsburgh or anywhere. They look like Greyhound’s or Mega Buses. We bought our tickets, and left around 9 am. The drive to Catania was beautiful! There were so many open fields growing grapes, oranges, lemons, and a variety of vegetables. We also saw many cows and horses along the way. Between Ragusa and Catania, it is mostly farms and fields. Generally, the population lives along the coasts, and inland is where the farming is done.
Once we arrived in Catania, Elena took me to her favorite market. It begins with a fish market, which grossed me out a little bit. It was mostly the smell that made me a little sick, but it was not nearly as bad as the smell of fish that we have in the United States. It really just smelled strongly of sea water, but LOTS of it. Elena explained to me that in Catania, there are lots of Mafia members and young people. The Mafia are very kind, polite, and respectful to the public. They do not cause trouble with the public, only with each other. I was wearing a romper yesterday (because 99% of my wardrobe is rompers), and she said that she was worried about the college boys looking at by butt (it wasn’t an inappropriate romper, but for Siclian’s it is not time to wear shorts yet), which made me laugh. I always carry a jacket or cardigan with me in case I need it for this situation, or if I am cold. I’m never cold, but the Sicilian’s are freezing even it 80 degree weather.
The rest of the market was super busy – think China Town in NYC or the Strip District in Pittsburgh on a busy day. The market sold everything from fruit, vegetables, clothing, shoes… everything. We walked for 2 hours, and then met her best friend from college and her husband for lunch. Rosanna, Elena’s best friend, is an engineer, and is pregnant right now! I will be here when the baby is born, so I will get to hold a new bambina :). Her husband, Giuseppe, is a well-known civic lawyer, and he could speak English. We had lunch at an arancino bar, and it was amazing. Every single thing that I eat here gets better and better.
After lunch, he showed us an apartment that he is remodeling to rent out. If I could live there, I think I would. We drove to another place in Catania that has the Teatro di Bellini, and he negotiated our way in! This theater is exclusive to only the most wealthy people in the world, and the best classical musicians. Rosanna has been in the theater because her brother is a famous clarinet musician. Many of the citizens from Catania will never be allowed in this theater, but somehow I had the privilege to go inside. Elena had never been inside, either, so it was very special to me to be able to share this moment with her. Once we were inside the theater, Giuseppe told me to stand in the center and snap my fingers. You can snap, or even whisper, and it will echo around the theater. The acoustics are some of the best in the world. The foyer of the theater is stunning, and everything is painted in gold. I truly could not believe that I had the privilege to go into this place.
After this, Giuseppe drove around to show me different areas of Catania. He explained that in Siracusa (about 8 km away from Catania), the stone that the cyclops threw into the sea from The Odyssey is there. It is a legend among the Sicilian’s and Greek’s, but they truly believe that this is actually the stone… I believe it, too! He explained this to me while I tried the best gelato to date. I tried cannolo and a special chocolate flavor…. I cannot remember the name, but it translates to “seven silk’s”, and has seven flavors of chocolate. I almost died and went to heaven.
After this, we took the bus back to Ragusa, and I almost fell asleep. Once we arrived, we met Elena’s mother to pick up Sofia. Elena’s mother is so kind, and she lived in New York City for ten years. She made us vegetable and orzo soup for dinner, and it was delicious. We relaxed last night and watched the soccer game on television. All of us were very tired, so it was much needed.
As far as the teaching English is going, I teach the family all day, everyday. I also teach everyone I meet a little bit. Many of the local people that I have met have asked me to come eat a meal with them so that I can speak with them, and to try their cooking. I try to be with my family as much as possible so that they can apply English to every situation. Elena has improved so much so soon! The past tense of words is difficult for her, and so are the words that sound the same, but have different meaning. To help her, I talk about the past at home, ask her questions about her childhood, or ask her to talk about what we did the day before. If we are at home, I will write out sentences to show her how words have different meaning, but are said the same. Sofia is beginning to speak some English with me! She is incredibly intelligent, and understand every word that I say, but is nervous to speak. If we are playing a game and she wants me to do something, I make her say it in English before I do an action or play with her. Francesco can speak English very well, and I speak with him in the evenings when he comes home from work. All of us are tired at the end of each day from learning so much, but it means that I am doing my job!