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.

1 comment:

uncle Dave said...

Can't wait to see pictures of the host family's estate. It sounds great.