Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Break?

I have been so bad about updating my blog!

Three weekends ago, in a makeshift spring break (we don’t get one), my roommate Jess invited me to go to Sicily with her and Shinika, another girl on our program. It was kind of nice to take the backseat on planning trips, and I had never been to Sicily before, so this was great (and nice warm spring-breaky location). Plus, I needed a break because I was really stressing out over my oral presentation the week before.

In Sicily, we met Shinika’s friend Jaime, her best friend from home. It’s really kind of a circular story because Jaime and Shinika went to the Dominican Republic for their senior week at a resort and became friends with several Italians there. Supposedly, a few were from the north, and a few from central Italy, but their favorites were from the south J. I think it inspired both of them to learn, and major, in Italian. Jaime actually did the Perugia Immersion program a year ago, which inspired Shinika to come here. Now Jaime is studying at a University in Catania (in Sicily) and I think her Italian is so good that, to me, she could pass for a local. I would have liked to do more sight-seeing, but Shinika and Jaime’s connection in Sicily definitely made our trip more interesting…

The trip down to Palermo was such a pain because we took a really early flight and ended up crashing at Nadine’s (my old roomate’s) apartment in Rome for a few hours the night before, and then taking a flight down, and another train, etc. [we were exhausted!] but as soon as I got out of the train station in Palermo, I just got a really good feel from Sicily. We were laughing because it was probably around 10/11 o’clock on a weekday and everyone was out on the streets (and not working). It was crazy though! Talk about no driving rules at all.

The three of us got to our hostel and wanted to sleep for a bit but our room wasn’t ready. The owner told us all of the places we should go around Sicily and, I think what sparked Jess’ attention the most, were the arrancini (I talked about this in Naples too) that are *huge* called “bomba” (bombs?!). Talk about the heaviest, most filling, greasy thing you can eat (I couldn’t finish mine)…a rice ball with tomato sauce and/or vegetables/meat/cheese all fried into a ball. The Italians are all amazingly skinny, but not necessarily the Sicilians ;-). Jess joked that she wants to retire to Sicily and just get fat. Ahhh I have to say, though, I had a cannoli (well, maybe the plural is appropriate, but you should say “cannolo” – singular) in Sicily and it may be better than gelato!??? I *never* thought I would say that. Pretty much, southern Italy has the best food…and we’re all still trying to work it off.

Our first day was very relaxing, though. There was a huge lawn area by the beach and we were able to relax and people watch, after exploring Palermo a bit, and then crash at the hostel. Jaime came and woke us up, and got us going. We went to a great restaurant with a fixed menu (so we got to splurge on a primi and a secondi) and we had some Sicilian wine (Dad…I think it was good? I’m sorry, I don’t know. We’ll just have to go and get some Nero d’Avola). Then we kind of saw what the local bar scene was. There was nothing really going on except some guy trying to kiss all of us (those Italians trying to slip in more than kissing on both cheeks) so we decided to leave and find the owner of our hostel, who Jaime is friends with because she had stayed there before. He was taking out the other kids staying there (some Americans studying in Florence, some Spanish students, and a couple from Penn State studying in London) so we all met up at an outside bar that I liked better.

The next day we took a day trip to Cefalu, a popular beach town. It was really nice because I hadn’t been to a small-town in Italy in a while (besides Meranda, which was, very, very small). I think the train ride was an hour and I was getting a little sick but it provided great views of Sicily, which is just gorgeous with all of the lemon trees. We had the best lunch at this cute little place that had everything (I really regret not trying strawberry risotto!) and then stayed by the beach. There’s not too much to say about my time there, just that it was nice and relaxing, I got to walk along the rocks on the small beach found and watch Italians play soccer.

That evening, Jaime and Shinika’s Italian friend, that they hadn’t seen in 3 years? told us he wanted to take us out. He happens to be a DJ (DJ Lux [who started looking more and more like my boss :-P) and I learned that they became friends with him because there were very few guests staying at the resort and those two would always dance for him. It was all very VIP. He drove us to a little bar we would have never found with a great outside sitting area, as well as an inside area where there was a band playing. I really enjoyed the music (there was a violin and a surprisingly good Bono impression) but it was making Shinika fall asleep. Then DJ Lux started going (we had to get there early so he could set-up) and people started dancing inside the bar. What was nice, though I am unfortunately not good enough at Italian to be conversational at all, is that we got to meet some of Lux’s cousins/friend’s friends who are girls. We’ve found it difficult to meet/make friends with Italian girls here and I’ve been told by several people that Italian women are just not interested in Americans (or foreigners?) but much rather keep to themselves. I’ve heard that the women are very jealous, supposedly, and very protective of their Italian men….Jaime was actually looking at a guy sitting on the rocks when we were hanging out in Sicily and we heard, I guess his supposed girlfriend say, “vi piace!?” [Do you (all) like him!?]…but Italians tend to date the same person since they were 14 years old for their whole life and never get married, just have the guys have several “flings,” but that’s another story. It was just nice to meet some nice Italian girls.

The next day we woke up early to go to the markets. I just don’t know what to say about the markets in Italy anymore. The produce ones are amazing and I bought some little strawberries to snack on (as I was trying to choose basket of strawberries I wanted, the guy just popped one into my mouth J). We just decided to get lunch there at a little place and everything is just so cheap. We then went to another market, which I loved, which was full of antiques.

Ok, so now for some self-deprication. I didn’t realize this but the complete bottom of one of my boots that I’d been wearing all of the time had completely come off at the heel so I had no tracking left and I was sliding all over the cobblestone (I even fell down once or twice! I’m such a loser). I guess that’s the only way to get me to go shoe shopping. I’ve been really particular about the kind of boots I want (there are just so many all over Italy) but I found a good cheap pair and just had to settle with it. Then we passed another store and I saw cheaper boots that I liked a lot more. Then we passed another store and I saw my same boots for even cheaper!!! That’s why I hate shopping…I couldn’t get off that easily though. DJ Lux wanted to take us out again. I don’t go out a lot so have gotten away with not having “going out” clothes but I really packed lightly and this event was supposed to be at a rented-out castle!? so I knew I had to just put on a good face and force myself to buy something. I ended up buying this really cheaply made cover-up of a dress that was ok I guess (I got compliments but I think that’s just because Jess has never seen me in a dress before).

DJ Lux took us to his garage where we got to see all of his cool DJing equipment, which took up his whole car, so we ended up driving with his friend, who we had met the previous night. We got to meet two other nice Italian girls and drive up with them. I don’t know, though, it was a bit crazy…he was blasting music and passing around a big plastic bottle filled with sweet wine and we were swerving around the hills to the top of Palermo. The moon looked orange and it was beautiful up there. We randomly got out and had them take a picture of us in the hills.

When we got the “castle,” which ended up being a hotel that looked like one, we found out that, oh those Italians, a permit had never been signed and that the party couldn’t happen. This party was a very last-minute thing anyways and Lux was afraid of how many people would be able to make it. But it’s southern Italy! A party had to happen, Lux’s friend drove us to his family’s empty house, also in the hills, and, as if nothing had ever happened, they turned his house into a house party, with a smoke-machine and everything. It was funny because the four of us, and our two Italian friends, were the only girls there so we were getting a lot of attention (and stupid Italian boys trying to make us “go for a walk” with them, or have us go around the side of the house to “talk”). It’s ok, though, because I dance like a rag-doll at a rock concert and can’t speak to anyone. I guess, besides boys being immature, it was nice to recognize some familiar faces from last night, and they ended up taking us out to a place to eat, very early in the morning, to get some traditional Sicilian specialties.

I really am not a partier, but I guess it was just a nice ending to be able to dance (horribly, and try not to care) and try to stop worrying about not being able to speak at all and feeling uncomfortable.

Oh Sicilia!

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