13 June 2010

from viterbo

Another week, another fabulous host family. This week, it’s Edoardo, Maria, Alexandra, and Federica. Ale and Fede are 8 year old twins, and their English is wonderful, on account of the fact that they lived in America until they were 3 years old. After that, they moved to their mother’s native Brazil, and then here to Viterbo.

Viterbo is a four tutor camp, and my coworkers are Heather, Sarah, and Taylor. Heather’s the oldest at 28, and Sarah’s the youngest, at 20. I, however, am the only returning tutor. Our director, Silvia, is doing everything by the book, probably a little too much so. I know she’s probably very concerned about everything running smoothly, so I’m trying to keep her relaxed. The more she plans things, the more disappointed she’ll be, because things rarely go according to plan at English Camp- but I think that’s a good thing.

I haven’t updated you since I left Nice, which means you have a lot of catching up to do. Let me break it down for you, Sue:

I checked out Thursday morning and started walking toward the Nice Ville train station. I arrived in time to catch the 10:23, and bought a few postcards along the way. Last year, on my way to Nice, I took the reverse of this train, from Pisa or Genova to Nice, and from that point there were no stops, just long waits in Ventimiglia and Monaco. Naturally, I expected that there would be no stops on this train either.

Well, either the French and Italian train companies are different, or they’ve made some changes since the last time I traveled through, because I ended up heading back towards Nice. I hopped off at the next stop, Cap d’Ail, but I sort of wish I’d stayed on til Eze, because it’s supposed to be really beautiful. Anyway, caught the next train to Monaco- but there was a 30 minute delay right inside the tunnel. The conductor said, in French, something which I believed translated to ‘an accident of persons.’ Someone on the train before had said something about someone being hit by a train, but none of this was really confirmed.

Eventually we de-trained, and I boarded my next train, to Ventimiglia. This train, like the one before, was supposed to be about a half hour, but please just guess what happened. Just guess!


Now, I’m not sure if the tree fell on our train specifically, but I know that someone was injured by this tree. Probability, however, would seem to favor the train not falling exactly as a train is passing by at high speed for about 15 seconds. There were debris everywhere, and we had to wait nearly two hours for a new train to come by, pick us up (we had to unload all our stuff and walk across the tracks to get to it), and take us on to Ventimiglia.

There, I had another 30 minute wait until my next train, so I used this time to buy my Italian phone with a Danish guy named Bo. He was pretty cool, and we had definitely been talking during that whole delay. He was nice, but he reminded me a bit of Bruno. He was actually in the area to look for an old mountain farm, like a bunch of old, decrepit, stone buildings to buy. “Everything is an illusion,” he told me. “Only nature is real.”

So I got the new phone, but so much was lost in translation that it took forever and Bo and I had to sprint so I could catch my next train. Then we said goodbye, and I, covered in sweat, continued on to Sanremo.

By the time I made it to Sanremo, it was 4 hours later than I’d planned to arrive. I called one of the higher-ups in my company, as I’d been directed to do. He told me to meet him at new tutor orientation, and figure things out from there.

When I arrived at Villa Ormond, where orientation is held, I said hi to Kellan, who had been at my orientation last year. “Oh, you’re Liz, huh?” he asked me. “People have been asking about you.” That was a little strange, but I let it slide. I found somewhere to stash my suitcases for the next couple of hours and then found Liam.

It’s so strange to think that you could become such good friends with someone after just a couple of weeks together, but the tutors at Trevi camp bonded. Josephine and I talk every day when we’re both in America, and my orientation roommate and I definitely keep in touch. Being thrown into new situations definitely strengthens friendships.

I stuck with Liam until 6pm rolled around. Somehow I managed to sneak into the end of the week group photo, something which I’m quite proud of. Then I was told that I’d be heading up to Baiardo for a bit.

Let me tell you a little about Baiardo: it’s waaaaay up in the mountains. Like WAY up in the mountains. Do you remember that time that I went up into the Picos de Europa on a bus and thought I was going to die? Well this was worse. It was a 40 minute bus ride on tiny, treacherous roads, but thankfully I managed to pass out about halfway up. Once I was there, it was absolutely beautiful.

I was a bit confused about how long I’d be staying in Baiardo. Personally, I was under the assumption that I’d be going back down for group meals, but this was not the case. I ate with the on-hold tutors in Baiardo, and I slept in a tiny, quaint house (I’ll be posting a mock real estate video which I made later) also occupied by Jason, whom I know through my friend Jasey, and James, from South Africa.

The next day I got to explore the town a bit, and some of us went down to a bar to watch Mexico play South Africa in the World Cup. While I was there, one of the other girls got a phone call asking about me. It was someone from the company office, and they wanted me on the last bus down to Sanremo so that I could leave at 6:50 the next morning.

I asked around and discovered that the last bus had left a few minutes earlier. Apparently there was a brief scramble in the office before it was decided that the company founder would drive up to Baiardo to pick me up and then deliver me to Sanremo.

This meant that I got to go to the final dinner on the port. It was a fantastic night of bonding with new coworkers and reminiscing with Liam over pizza, wine, and dancing.

The next morning, I was up at 5:45 to get ready to go, and on the 6:50 train. We traveled for 10 hours before finally arriving in Viterbo.

Tomorrow is day one of camp. I’ve got red level once again, and my class should have about 10 students. I’m so excited to see what this week brings!

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