18 August 2009

Goodbye for now, Europe

I don't know what I'm doing wrong; maybe I've been here too long. The songs on the radio sound the same; everybody just looks the same. But then last night was so much fun, and now your sheets are dirty. The streets are dirty too, but you never look back over what you've done. Remember when you were young, you'd lose yourself?
-Razorlight, In the Morning

This is looking like my last post from Europe. Anything I say to try and mark the occasion will either sound anti-climatic or way over the top. So I'm just going to play it cool.
I realized last night that I've spent half of the last year in Europe. I was here for three months and three weeks last fall, and I'm getting ready to end a two month, two and a half week stint right now. That adds up to over six months (right?), and it seems like a really big deal to me.
I'm also realizing how lucky I've been. This is my third stay in Madrid, while JaNae hasn't been back since we left in December.
I'm ending the summer in a much better place than I started it (health excluded). Although I spent eight weeks teaching, I learned so much. I think maybe I say this too often, but I met some really incredible people who have already changed me. I did some silly things, and I did a few stupid things, but I've come out of it all right and I'll soon be home.
My Italian, unfortunately, is not quite at the conversational level. On my application to teach for the summer I wrote that I spoke it at a 2/10 level, which was a lie, because I actually spoke none. Now, however, I understand roughly 70% of the Italian that I overhear, and I can probably speak at a 3 or 4/10 level. Even though I didn't learn that much, I soaked up enough for it to screw up my Spanish. They're just so similar that it's easy to speak one and think you're speaking the other. While travelling by bus last weekend, for example, a little girl came up to me and spoke to me in Italian, and without hesitation, I answered her in Spanish. She ran back to her mother and said, "She's Spanish! She's Spanish!" and that was when I realized that I'd used the wrong language. But when I go into shops here, words like 'anche' and 'ma' come into my head before 'tambien' and 'pero.' Best part is, I start Elementary French in about two weeks, so I'll be adding a third Romance language to my repertoire (fourth if you count the super basic Latin I know).
I spent most of yesterday in bed, trying to feel better, and then went out to see the city a bit in the evening. This morning, I got up earlier, realizing that everyone else in my room had checked out by 9 am. I had this elaborate plan in my head to visit Parque del Oeste and the testament to my love for Kelsey that I'd carved on a tree there, then take a couple of buses up through the old neighborhood to the Prado, and then come back to the hostel to chill out all afternoon. As it turned out, the line to get into the Prado was ridiculous, so I just skipped it (I may try again later, though).
It's probably about that time. I know that there are things, stories, and facts that I've meant to mention and have forgotten, but they're just not coming to me now, and perhaps I'll remember them later.
I leave tomorrow morning at 10:35 am and should be in Kansas City around 10 pm Central time (that's 5 am Madrid, Nice, and Italy time).

That is all.

Over and in
Last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done.

-The Killers, All These Things That I've Done

17 August 2009

Back in Spain

I've got a disease deep inside me, makes me feel uneasy baby, I can't live without you- tell me, what am I supposed to do about it? Keep your distance from me, don't pay no attention to me; I've got a disease. . .
-Matchbox 20, Disease

Oh, so much to catch you up on. Where were we last? Well, the last time I updated, I was sitting in the kitchen of my hostel, reluctant to leave because I'd already checked out and had turned in my keys. As a result, I would have to buzz up if I wanted to get back in, and I didn't really want to bug anyone. I did leave around 3 to meet up with someone for a late lunch/juice date, but I was back by around 4.
From that point, I basically held court in the Hostel Smith kitchen. I knew pretty much everyone staying there (that's right, all 17 people), so I watched American football and CNN with the Aussie boys, and then after they left, the Swiss boys showed up and made dinner. After that, a couple of American boys showed up whom I hadn't met. One of them looked like Owen Wilson and the other looked like Colin Farrell, and they were apparently renting a flat from the owner of the hostel, but their bathroom was being remodelled, so they were stopping by to pick up a key so that they could use ours. When they left I got on skype and started videochatting Jasey so that I could tell her in person all about Colin Farrell. I'm glad I did, because it ended up being extremely entertaining. German boys Robert and Flo showed up next, which Jasey was excited about because she thinks German boys are sexy by default.
[Don't get me wrong, Rob and Flo weren't bad-looking, but they were so funny and they looked out for me, so it was almost like having German brothers for a couple of days (Jasey insists that Robert had a massive crush on me though. . . which was probably true). The night before, when one of the boys in the band had walked me home after we'd watched that second band play, Robert, Flo, and two of the Aussies were just chilling in the hostel's front room, waiting up to tease me. We laughed about it for a while, but when they got a little too silly with it, I decided I'd rather just go to bed than dignify their questions with responses, so I went into the dorm and jumped under the covers. I'd just closed my eyes when I heard a sound, so I looked up. . . and there was Robert at the foot of my bed, pulling off his belt like a stripper. "Good night, Robert," was all I said. The next morning, he woke me up by saying, "Liiiiiiiiiiizzie. . . gooooood mooooooooooorning. . ."]
So. Flo and Robert were talking with Jasey, about all sorts of random things, and then these two boys from Manchester showed up. They had ridiculously strong accents, and they explained extended metaphors and the like to us. One of them proposed to Jasey. The other got a bit angry with me. Then several of the boys started stripping, and I put my hand over the camera, and the Manchester boys left. Around this point I decided that I was really hungry, but again, I didn't want to leave, so I started searching through the communal food in the fridge. I came up with a mayonnaise and mustard sandwich. This was about when Colin Farrell showed up again to take a shower. When he saw what I was eating, he was outraged.
"Helen!" he said to the woman in charge, "Do you see what this girl is eating? It's mayonnaise on bread."
"Mmmm, this is very fattening," she responded, shaking her head at me.
Basically, Colin Farrell decided that it was unacceptable for me to eat a mayo and mustard sandwich. "I'm going to take you out to eat," he told me, and before the entire sentence was out of his mouth, I'd yelled a quick goodbye to Jasey and shut my computer.
So that night, I shared pasta and life stories with Colin Farrell. People were staring at him all through dinner, especially this creepy-looking French girl. He was actually really nice, and really funny, and afterwards, he and I ran by Wayne's one last time (he knows everyone in that town so it was no problem to get in), stayed for about three minutes, then ran back to the hostel to grab my bags and make a mad dash for the bus station.
I would like to add here that, because he knows everyone in Nice (he also plays in a band), we had to stop a few times to say hi to people. There were these two older men in front of the hostel who stopped him to say hi. They chatted briefly, and he introduced me to them- their names were John and Paul. "Oh hey, where are George and Ringo?" I asked without thinking. We talked for a bit, and they kept saying how sharp I was, which was strange and new. This was how I discovered that some of the silly things that I say are actually funny to other people as well. It was nice.
We ended up arriving at the bus station around 11:50pm, roughly 9 minutes before my bus was due to leave. Boarding that bus was really, really difficult- I'd met the coolest people while in Nice, and some really nice guys (although it probably just seems that way because I spent 2 months being harrassed by the strangest men in Italy). But it all got better when I heard Spanish being spoken.
17 hours later, I was in Valencia. Yep, I chose Valencia because I knew it was a coastal city. I had intended to head to the aquarium while I was there, but in the end, I just couldn't be bothered. My hostel there didn't have quite the same camaraderie, so I went out on a pub crawl one night to try and fight the loneliness.
I was the only person from my hostel who went (apparently it's known amongst the Valencian hostel community as the 'boring hostel') so the guide had me come into the next hostel with him to try and drum up some interest. This meant that I ended up translating to some Italians for him. Now, if you recall, I've never actually learned Italian, just picked up a bit. Sooo I ended up saying to them, "Vuoi. . . andare con noi. . . per bere?!" which means "Would you like to go out with us to drink?" No wonder they all declined. Eventually, though, we picked up a couple of Brits and met up with another group consisting largely of Canadians and Germans and headed to a small bar. It was only around 11:30, so there was no one there. We played foosball for a while and I ended up just talking with most of the guys for a while. I can't help it; sometimes I just have to get away from the cattiness that girls tend to bring to the table and chill with the lads instead.
We moved on to another bar, and then to another. By that time, my lack of sleep from the bus ride was catching up to me, and I ended up walking home with one of the British boys. We were talking about the most random things, and I mentioned that I played softball, and he was like, "Wait, did you say you played softball?" and I was like, "Well, yes, I did," and he stopped, and said, "The European softball championships were played on a softball pitch about 50 meters that way," and he showed me the field where they'd been played only two weeks before! How random is that?!
The next day it was more beach, and then I headed to the train station. Somehow, the RENFE website had cancelled my ticket, which I had paid for by credit card while in Nice, so I had to pay for a new one, in first class, with cash. It was about 75 euro- and the first one would have cost me 27. At least they gave me a Cuba Libre on the train.
Now I'm in Madrid once more. What have I done since I've been here. . . not much. I've been feeling a little under the weather from so many nights out, so I'll probably take it easy. I did go to the Rastro yesterday, where I bought a few things for the house which I'm apparently moving into in about a week, as well as a gift for Katsy. Today I've got no clue what I'm doing- I'll probably take it easy so I look nice and healthy for the flight home. I'd hate to get quarantined or something. . .
I know I've left things out, but this post was ramble-y enough, so I should probably give you some time to process it.

15 August 2009

Beginning to wrap up the summer. . .

As my Summer of the Perpetual Dehydration comes all too quickly to its end, I just thought I ought to share a few fun facts with you:
Days during which I was dehydrated: All of them
Number of times I applied sunscreen: 0
Amount of pizza consumed by the four of us at the Villa di Napoli: Probably enough to pay Vittorio the pizza-maker's rent for the month
Number of men named Fabio whom I encountered: 1
Cities lived in while in Italy: 8
Favorite place visited during the entire summer: Nice
Best quotes of the summer: "GREEN BUTTON GREEN BUTTON GREEN BUTTON!!!", "You've got lips like a Bratz doll", "Liz has been dying to hold a man's hand since she came to Italy", "I don't understand- Ermes!", "How do you say 'I think you look beautiful' in Italian? Yes, I just took it there!", "I want to find Donkey and rip his nose off of his face and poke out his eyes", "Nice to meet you John and Paul; where are George and Ringo?"
Number of times Wizard of Oz was referenced in my presence: Well over 40, and probably up around 50
Favorite songs for the summer: Anything by the Killers, New York, New York by Frank Sinatra, Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert, Relax by Mika

12 August 2009

Nice is nice

"Oh when I woke up tonight I said I, I'm gonna make somebody love me, I'm gonna make somebody love me. . . and now I know, now I know, I know that it's you! You're lucky, lucky! You're so lucky!"
-Do You Want To, Franz Ferdinand

"I wanna stand up! I wanna let go! You know, you know- no, you don't, you don't. I wanna shine on in the hearts of men, I wanna mean it from the back of my broken hand. Another head aches, another heart aches; I'm so much older than I can take, and my affection, well it comes and goes, I need direction to perfection no no no no. . ."
-All These Things That I've Done, Killers

How did I arrive in Nice, you ask? Well I'll tell you. Last Monday I realized that I had less than a week to make post-Italy plans, and I panicked briefly. Where would I go? What would I do? How would I get there? My life felt like a blank slate. I thought about what other people had done and where they'd gone. Everyone kept telling me to check out Cinque Terre, but I've heard it's best if you sleep on the beach, and I didn't really want to do that alone, plus it just seemed like a lot of travel research to do in a short amount of time, so I just left that alone and randomly selected Nice instead. Italy's rail system has super cheap tickets, so that was no problem.
Next step: hostel. I saw this coming, but I guess that didn't deter me from procrastinating: we're right in the middle of European vacation season, or high season, if you will. Hostels often charge a lot more because the demand is so high. I couldn't find any hostel that had a bed available for more than one night, so I booked one for Saturday night and a different one for Sunday night.
A couple of days later, I decided I needed to plan the next leg of my little adventure. I'm sad to say that the primary factor in my consideration of various European locales was their proximity to beaches and the likelihood that I would be able to tan. I also wanted to make my way back to Spain, where flights home seemed to be cheaper, so I started looking at coastal towns in Spain. I really wanted to head back north to Asturias, but it's tougher to get buses and trains to and from there, so I settled on Valencia, on the east coast.
The most convenient bus to Valencia for me didn't leave til Wednesday, but I decided not to worry abou that until I got here, to Nice. As a result, there were no free rooms in pretty much the entire town.
No worries, I told myself. Sunday I headed down to the beach for three hours, alternating swimming and tanning. When I came back to the first hostel to pick up my luggage, I asked about spare beds, and they told me there were still no cancellations, but I could come back at 8am the next morning to check again. So I marched down the main street, Avenue Jean Medecin, to my next hostel.
This one's in the Old Town. It's just one room of dorms and one kitchen/living room, but the staff are so nice and helpful. It really does have a very family atmosphere. I asked immediately if they had any extra beds for the next night, knowing how unlikely it was, but they had one person who had booked for a week and not shown up, so they gave me that bed for three nights. I felt extremely lucky.
That first night, I went out with a bunch of Canadian girls, 2 boys from Wyoming, and one British boy to Wayne's, a bar/club in the most happening area of the Old Town. We had a few drinks, watched a band play, and then stopped for gelato on the way home. All in all, a good night.
Monday I went shopping, and then it rained most of the afternoon, so I stayed in and then went running. Post-run, I hopped into the ocean (relax, I was wearing my bikini bottoms and a sports bra). That night, there was a new group of people in the hostel, and everyone else had checked out. I decided that we should go back to Wayne's and I led the way.
We had three Aussie boys and three American girls in our group. We saw the show and then somehow lost track of one of the boys. His mates were searching desperately for him, and us girls were looking sort of half-heartedly, but really we were ready to get out of there. I went outside of the club to get some air, and the other American girls were standing there, talking to some guys I didn't recognize. Apparently it was the band we'd just seen, and they were supernice. We probably talked for about fifteen minutes, until I noticed the other girls giving me looks saying it was time to go.
"You should come back here tomorrow," the bass player told me. "We're playing again, at 10:30, and I'm not going back on that stage unless you're here."
Without the bass player, I knew, the band would fall apart, and if the band fell apart, what would happen to the poor audience? They would probably start a riot, and burn the entire city of Nice to the ground, and I couldn't have that on my conscious. So after a long day split between H&M and the beach, I returned to Wayne's. After the show, the band invited me with them to another bar to see another band play, and the whole night was amazing.
Tonight, I have to leave Nice. I'm a little bummed. If my ticket to Valencia were open, or if it had cost me less, I would stay another two days here and then head straight to Madrid, where I'll be flying out of. But that doesn't seem to be an option.
So I think I've got you pretty well caught up. If you've got questions, ask them. Next time you hear from me, I'll probably be back in my beloved Spain. Au revoir!

Ciao ciao, la mia Italia

I just don't know what to do with myself; I don't know what to do with myself. Planning everything for two, doing everything with you- and now that we're through, I just don't know what to do. . .
-I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself, White Stripes cover version

On Saturday, I said my goodbye to Italy. Specifically, the Toscana (Tuscany) region. In the valleys, it's remarkably like Kansas, with little cottonwood saplings springing up at the slightest trace of water. Familiar fields rife with hay bales, rows and rows of wilting girasole now too weary to follow the sun, parched creekbeds, the tiny, hardy wildflowers which cut into your hands and come up root and all when you try to pick them- all of these things remind me of home.
As I said before, the goodbyes have taken a toll on me. I first felt it last week, leaving the generous people of Serle, and I definitely felt it on Saturday. When Paul told me it was time to go while we were sitting at the breakfast table that morning, I could barely hold back my tears. Sinead stayed an extra night, and they offered to host me another night as well, but I just felt like if I didn't get moving, I might never end up getting home.
I said goodbye to Josephine Friday night, and I cried a little for that as well. ("I just knew they were going to make me end my summer with you," she sneered in what I hope was only mock contempt.) It was also goodbye to Mike, whom I'd met at orientation, and Victoria and Brooklyn and our helpers for the week. Saturday I said goodbye to Sinead.
But my biggest and most complicated farewell (and I know this sounds disgustingly cheesy, but bear with me here) was to Italy. What did we say to each other as we parted ways? Well, that's personal- just between me and Italy. But I will say this: all the sunflowers in the fields on my way to France were wilting, their faces downturned, so I think it's safe to say that Italy will miss me at least as much as I'll miss Italy.

11 August 2009

I was a teenage vampire. . .

"I thought I was a fool for no one, but oh baby I'm a fool for you. You're the queen of the superficial; how long before you tell the truth?"

On Tuesday of Prevalle camp, Sinead and I learned of our next post. It was the earliest in the week we'd been informed all summer, and it was also the first time I'd actually heard of the place where I'd be going. To be honest, when I saw the name Volterra at the top of our information sheet, it didn't immediately jump out at me. After a second, I realized that I recognized it, and about two seconds later, I knew where I recognized it from: New Moon. That's right, the second Twilight book.
If you haven't read it and want to, I won't spoil it for you entirely. Long story short, however, a bit of the book takes place there. Obviously, vampires are involved. Supposedly, Volterra is an ancient city from which all vampire legends originate. (I'm pretty sure Stephenie Meyer made most of that up though.)
So approximately 2 and a half hours after returning home from the raucous wrap party in Serle, we were picked up and driven to the Desenzano train station. There was a bit of panic about the tickets, because we had to print them ourselves and nearly missed the train, but it was all right in the end. We boarded our train, fighting off sleep, and all was boring until I happened to look out the window at one stop and see JOSEPHINE.
She got on the next car over and was waiting in the gangway when I ambushed her. I can't remember what I said, but I'm sure it was witty (like everything I say). There was a hug, and you'd better believe there was some catching up. That's about how it went until we got to our first transfer station, Padova. That was where we met up with three more of the tutors for Volterra camp- Mike, Duncan, and Joe. They'd gotten on the train at the same station that Sinead and I had, but somehow we'd totally missed them at the station (probably because we left our flat a half hour late and were scrambling to buy our tickets until about 2 minutes before the train left).
So we all travelled on together from Padova, to Firenze (aka Florence), to Pontedera, where we met two British girls who would be coming with us. Now we were eight, and only one mysterious tutor remained for us to find. At this point, we had to rush to find the bus up to Volterra, since it is on the top of a mountain, but we just barely made it. After that, it was an hour and a half ride.
We discussed our summers so far. We found that we'd heard a lot of stories about each other and about certain random people ('Julie with the umbrella,' 'Irish Mary,' etc etc). As usual, Josephine asked everyone about their hopes and dreams (she's gotten some really sincere answers at past camps), and Mike told us what little he knew about Volterra. I chimed in with some Twilight-related info, feeling pretty authoritative as I did so.
Finally we saw the hilltop which was Volterra looming in the distance. Our bus wound its way up the sort of ineffective mountainside roads which I've travelled so often here in Italy, and finally we arrived at Piazza Martiri della Liberta', which is pretty much where all the buses stop. We met up with our camp directors, Vincenza and Elena, and sat around in a bar until our host families picked us up.
Here I got a really, really great surprise. Firstly, Sinead and I were staying together, in the same room, once again (that's really unusual, by the way, especially to have done it two weeks in a row), and secondly, our host dad was HALF-SCOTTISH! He spoke great English and had a sweet accent.
We headed back to their home and got to know the family. I was in for a few more pleasant surprises. For one, my host mum was of the OLDEST FAMILY IN VOLTERRA. Resultingly, our hosts lived in a massive country estate built sometime in the 1500s if I recall correctly. There were gold leaf and enamel ceilings in some of the rooms, and massive frescoes in others, and the whole place was full of beautiful art and artifacts from their family history- a globe from the 16th century, maps printed in the 1700s, family crests and decrees and medals and all sorts of other incredible things. Mom, if you remember Chateau Chenonceau in the Loire Valley, it was actually quite a bit like that. I mean, there was a terra cotta facade on the front of the place with their crest, there's a private chapel out back, they have a seperate servants' kitchen and I think they still have serfs living in the side houses. No big deal.
Plus, the family themselves were so amazing. There was our dad, who was so funny and helpful, and our mum was the same way. The kids, Host Sis and Host Bro, were just wonderful- so, so, so cute and funny! I knew right away that I was going to have a fantastic time with them.
We made an early night of it Saturday night, because everyone was exhausted from travelling so much. The next morning we all met to discuss the week ahead, and selected red book to end the year on. In addition, we got a brief tour of the school in which we would be working.
I had found things in Volterra surprisingly normal until this point. That school, however, is absolutely terrifying. They've got art all over the walls which is just- I mean, I just can't understand why you would put that in a children's school. There were masked men carrying bloody knives, police beating zombies, women exercising in thongs- I swear I'm not making this up. Have a look.
Like, that's what these kids have to look at every day at school. I don't get it at all.
Good times, good times. . .
Why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why?!?!?!

So yeah. On Monday we began camp. With 9 tutors, we had a lot of energy, especially during warm ups. Unfortunately, I pulled a muscle doing the splits, soooo that kind of put a damper on things for me for the rest of the week, because ever since someone told me to do them and we found out that I was able to do them, the splits have kind of been my thing.
I met my class, and they were very. . . energetic. (That's one of those nice words that we use to say that a class is too rowdy or too noisy for us.) We didn't do much of the workbook at all that week, I have to confess. It was such a big camp that we did a lot of group activities. Each day in the afternoons we would divide the kids up into random teams for Mini Olympics. My team was called the Green Hungry Vampires, and I must admit that our team cheer was probably a little dire:
"By day, we sleep, by night, we KILL! We are green, we are hungry, we are going to eat you ALL. Hahahaha."
I thought it was funny. It only got better when Gaetano, a little kid who was probably only about 8, drew a couple of dead children on the banner behind the vampire. The camp directors were not crazy about that.

The top banner was from Mike's team, the Crazy Red Devils. They actually had a pretty great cheer, to the tune of the Addams Family: "We're crazy and we're red, we're keepers of the dead, we'll tear your team to shreds, the Crazy Red Devils!" Then there were some hand motions of throat-slitting and all that good stuff. I think the kids learned some valuable lessons from this. . . but I couldn't say what exactly they were.
Tuesday we watched Camp Rock in English with the kids (shh, don't tell), and played dodgeball against them (always a good time). Wednesday was messy games day. Let me explain the messy games.
Our first game involved the Olympic participants sprinting towards a plate covered in jam, putting their face in it, and trying to extract a gummy from within using only their mouths. If we felt that they weren't getting messy enough, we would grab some jam and smear it on them. Obviously, this lead to us putting jam and flour on each other, though I resisted. (I only have the one tutor shirt now since the Trevi kids stole the other!) After that, they had to carry Nutella-covered apples in their mouth and then there was a watermelon contest. Some of those kids can really eat. At this point, I gave up my hopes of keeping my shirt clean and used the watermelon juice-covered table as a slip'n'slide. It was uneffective, and I came to a screeching halt about six inches from where I'd started, at which point the girl tutors basically poured flour all over me and gave me a flour massage. Have a look:
Thursday was water games day. This is usually my favorite day of the week. There was a lot of water buckets being poured over each other among the tutors, and it was all really good fun until I had one poured over my head, and then, as I was opening my eyes wide to try and see, a water balloon hit me in the eye so hard that it knocked my contact out. I was absolutely certain that I was going blind but. . . apparently I wasn't, since I've been fine besides a headache and this feeling that my eye was just going to swell right out of my head. That was weird.
That night, our directors took us out for dinner, and afterwards, we all went for drinks. That was an experience. It was nice to see the directors drunk for once. Needless to say we all had a good time.
Friday was the show. Although my children had been freaking out all week, it went surprisingly well. I had some real actors in this class. The story was also pretty amazing, thanks to me. Here's the rundown: Ariel (yep, the Little Mermaid) is just hanging out with her besties when Luke Skywalker calls her up and asks her on a date. She gets so excited that she starts screaming like, you know, teenage girls tend to do when their life takes a turn for the awesome. Ursula the Sea Witch hears her screaming and decides that she needs Ariel's voice for her own so that she can win Zac Efron's heart. She kidnaps Ariel just before Luke shows up. Luke calls James Bond for backup, but this plan fails when Bond realizes he can't swim. The next resort is Captain Jack Sparrow, who kicks Ursula's butt and saves the day. I think it's solid.
For our last night together, we all went out once again. We had an amazing time, and I already miss everyone sooooo much.

Right here, right now

video

10 August 2009

Serle: Lock up your husbands. . .

I'm goin' home, gonna load my shotgun, wait by the door and light a cigarette. He wants a fight, well now he's got one, and he ain't seen me crazy yet. Slapped my face and he shook me like a rag doll- don't that sound like a real man? I'm gonna show him what little girls are made of- gunpowder and lead.

I was expecting to be sent far away from Prevalle next, but in the end, they sent Sinead and I just up the mountain to a town called Serle. It was the smallest town I stayed in all summer, with only 3000 residents, but the people were extremely welcoming- maybe too welcoming. . .

The first night, our camp director, Alvaro, took us to a local pizzeria to meet everyone. That went well. There was good food, and they poured us a little wine, and everyone was super nice. Afterwards, they asked us if we'd like to stay for dinner. Neither Sinead nor I was particularly hungry, so we said we'd go home since our host mum, Francesca, wanted to eat there. However, a group of our students' fathers (and a couple of mothers) insisted that was stay. This was around 9 o'clock.
They poured us glass after glass of wine. There was dancing, there was saxophone-playing, there were not-so-discreet references to our chests, there were creepy statues- it's sort of a blur. At 12:30, however, Antonio, the owner of the restaurant, asked us if we would like to go out dancing at a club. Yep, we went with him, to a club on the shore of Lake Garda. His friend Damiano drove, and on the way back, he played country music, including the song at the top of this post, 'Gunpowder and Lead' by Miranda Lambert. That's one thing I never thought I'd hear while I was in this country. Oh, PS, two Italian men told me that they loved me that night. Be jealous.
The next day they had offered to take us out on a boat, but none of us were up for that in the end.
Camp began on Monday. It was just two classes, and we were in one big meeting room sort of place. Kind of crimped my style, I'm not gonna lie. We had some great kids, though.
By Wednesday, they were obsessed with the word bottom. I get it. It's a funny word. Every time we would sing a song, they would insert the word bottom. One of the boys, Floyd, was really, really clever about it. I think he was some sort of genius with languages, actually, because his ability to put together sentences in English really amazed me, and he was only 10. When Sinead would sing, "I am the music man, I come from far away," Floyd would sing, "I am the bottom man, I come from far a-bottom." Actually really funny. I have a video.

video

So yeah, everything went well until the show. . . and that went really well too. Probably my best show of the summer. I had some really good students in Serle.

After the show, we went to a different restaurant where Antonio cooked for us once again. We got there around 10 and left at 5 or so, and most of that is a blur. The dads were at it again, pouring us wine, grappa, and limoncello, and we sang 'Take Me Home Country Road,' 'Yesterday,' and 'Hotel California' karaoke-style. Sinead said Floyd's dad groped us but I do not recall that at all. Actually, there's sort of a window from around 2 to 4 where I think I was asleep, so that's nice. It was a wild night.

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End of Prevalle

Kids! I don't know what's wrong with these kids today. Kids! Who can understand anything they say? Kids! They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs- noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy loafers! And while we're on the subject: Kids! You can talk and talk til your face is blue- kids!- but they still do just what they want to do! Why can't they be like we were, perfect in every way? What's the matter with kids today?!

Prevalle seems like years ago. Here's what I remember:
1) The show was a disaster. Easily my worst show of the summer. The kids told me they weren't going to do it, and then they nearly didn't, but thankfully they did. Except they carried their scripts ONSTAGE with them. Disgusting and embarrassing. The audience laughed though. . . out of pity I think.
2) My host family was great. I lived on a didactic farm with some amazing people who ate outside every night. All the food was their own, as well.
Okay that's about it.

Katsy's Birthday Prezzie

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Katsy, here's the video I promised you a month ago in Trevi.

Enjoy.

Catching Up

The goodbyes have taken a toll on me; I think that's the simplest way to say it. My shoulders have been feeling pretty heaving the last few days and I think that's why. Excuse my lack of internet for the past few weeks; I'll try to catch you up now.
Essentials: I'm currently in Nice, I have a place to stay for the rest of my time in Europe, and I have my tickets home.
Now I'll try to give you a recap of these last weeks. . .