Ahhh Happy to be Home…Sweet Rome!

Posted on May 29, 2011

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Dear 5-Day Trip,

I started walking out the door after 1am Wednesday night dragging my suitcase behind me shouting into my ancient cell phone. I was trying to figure out where the hell Miss Ford was and which way to go. Her and her “boyfriend” got into a drunken fight and she got out of the car near Trastevere and slammed the door on him. So much for a ride after midnight. I walked all the way to the river which is not that far but I wasn’t into the idea of walking alone after midnight but strange enough the only people who I saw on the street were two flower shop owners! The street was dead quite and there were not even any buses passing through. Once Miss Ford and I finally met up she was shouting from across the street at me in black heels and a dark green dress! Instantly, I understood why I was walking: Miss Ford was drunk! Decision making is effected once too much wine is involved. Her man got lost and turned the wrong way more than once and she had enough and ditched him after he gave her attitude! Patience goes right out the door when I am drunk so from what I understand of the story she and him got into an argument about where they were driving (mainly which side of the river they were on) and since he couldn’t admit he was wrong…goodbye!

Miss Ford led me to the restaurant where he roommate was having some wine with the owner and some friends. It was near 2am but this place was happy to entertain us and pour free booze and serve us a snack at 3am! We shared wine and prosecco and made plans (over and over again) about meeting back here on Monday night. It was only Wednesday so explaining to drunk Italians that we were leaving the next day at 6am to catch a train to Campobasso was impossible. Eventually, a little after 3am someone began to roll some weed and offer it to us. I said a kind “no thank you” and shook my head. In fact NO ONE wanted any so the guy rolled it for no reason! He took a big puff then let it sit in the ashtray. He probably wondered what happened to his stash the next day…he was pretty intoxicated! By the time that we called our cab and were inside Miss Ford’s house it was 4:30am! There was no way that we were going to make it to the train station before 6am! There was another one at 9am so we planned on that one. I set my alarm for 7:30 am but did not hear it until 8! It beeped and beeped and I was out like a light! We missed the 9am train and around 10:30 I sat up in my bed across the room from Miss Ford and said, “We are late!” and then when she assured me that we could make the 2pm train. In bed we stayed until nearly noon! I got dressed pretty fast and touched up my makeup from the day before. I watched Miss Ford throw clothes and shoes into her small suitcase and tell me, “I am packing in a stupid way!” We laughed about the night before when the owner bet her that she wouldn’t be fine about leaving her man and the first thought would be of him when she woke up. Her first thought was, “Shit! I am still drunk!” and then it was of him…

After picking up some pizza we ran to catch out train. It was extremely hot inside the tiny train and there was nowhere to sit! We literally used our suitcases as seats. Once the train started moving it cooled down and we ate our pizza while our hair blew like crazy in the small cabin. I counted that there were 22 seats in our cabin yet there were 27 people. I was thinking that I only had a few glasses of wine and I felt exhausted! Miss Ford had like 2 bottles of wine…poor her! After a few hours people got off and we finally had some seats. We napped and tried to get comfortable in the strange seats. Once we arrived in Campobasso we boarded a huge bus that was actually quite comfortable! Miss Ford told me that we were “lucky” that we had a good driver. The road was a deep spiral through tiny towns all the way to Larino. I was fascinated by how green that it was! So beautiful and spread out. Every shade of green existed in this area of Italy. Once we arrived at our stop her parents picked us up in a bright blue funny car. Miss Ford and her sister definitely got their deep blue eyes from their father! I realized that this would be a quite weekend since her parents barely speak any English. We understood each other enough but let me just say that we didn’t “get to know” each other! Their house was beautiful and Miss Ford and I were to sleep in her younger sisters room. There were two twin beds and glow-in-the-dark stars, posters and old photos! We took a rest and settled into our room. Miss Ford phoned her friends from this town and we planned to meet them in the evening. Her parents fed us some dinner of lentils and some chicken with lemon. Her mother would not stop offering me food! Bread? Cheese? Yogurt? I laughed and assured them that I had enough to eat.

This town was very small (around 7,000 people..maybe more for the festival!) People look forward to this event each year the way that the Irish look forward to St. Patrick’s Day! Saint Pardo’s Day I would call it in English. There were over 100 carriages fully decorated with flowers and pulled by two cows (or bulls!) Each number represented how long the family had been in the festival. Number 1 obviously being the carriage of the Saint Pardo his statue was centered in the carriage. This carriage was without flowers and only one man (the priest) led the carriage. Miss Ford knew plenty of families but her good friend Elisabetta’s family was carriage 33. We partied with their family the most and joined them for lunch, wine, and music on day 2! Each of us tried to avoid the mother since she was known to make you over eat and would serve HUGE proportions of everything! I had some tasty eggplant parmesan, some lasagna, some fancy cheese and pampanella, which is famous in this region. It is marinated pork with garlic and sweet ground red pepper (a little kick to it!) sliced thin and round like salami. After too much food and wine we called it a night. This town is so small that us four girls “hitch-hiked” home! Elisabetta really put out her thumb and we got a ride from a kid back into town (a short 5 minute stretch!) Of course they knew the kid and his family so it was no big deal but I still found it funny. First time hitch-hiking for me. And probably the last! We arrived back home after 2:45am and slept in the next morning. Once we were dressed and ready we walked back into town and met another family at their shop. I had an apple struddle for breakfast and then some other fried bread. I ate almost everything offered to me since, for one I couldn’t refuse, but second there isn’t a big chance that I will be returning so might as well try everything once! I knew that I was going to be drinking beer (which I normally don’t) but it was going to be a hot afternoon and the only thing that helps is cold beer!)

We walked around the tiny town, in circles and weaved in and out the stony streets. Everyone was celebrating and drinking heavily! I was introduced to many people but it was easy to remember their names since there were many named Luigi, Paulo, and Francesca or Francesco! We kept “running into” the same people and it was entertaining to see everyone’s drunkenness progress throughout the afternoon. One friend of theirs told us that he was “drunk with style” with his collared polo and Gucci shades! The more you drink the more you must pay attention to your step! The carriages are pulled by cows (or bulls!) and they stop to crap wherever they want! Maybe I just got used to the smell but I don’t think it was that bad! Some people would joke that it should be called the “festival of shit!” Yes, they really said this! I tried some Caffe Borghetti, which is like an Italian liquor served chilled. I also was offered some coffee flavored Sambuca. A person will walk around with a bottle and a stack of tiny white cups and hand them out to everyone. “Family style” is an understatement. If someone saw you without a drink they instantly offered something to you. Only a few of Miss Ford’s friends spoke English but I talked with a few of them and one close girlfriend of hers laughed and told me that I seem MORE Italian that Miss Ford herself! I didn’t understand but argued that I “don’t say much” but that is why I seemed more Italian, in this case! Plus, my darker skin makes me look more Italian in this area! For once I seemed more Italian for being dark; typically I look more Mexican!

I had a very American moment the first time that I had to wash my feet after being in my sandals all day outside…On a faucet the “hot” and “cold” is marked with a “c” and “f.” Caldo=Hot and Freddo=Cold. I was confused for an entire day why every time I turned on the “C’ it would get so HOT!!! Whoops! I didn’t admit this until now but I still think that it is pretty good stuff! Day 3 was Saturday and Miss Ford took me to the sea! The area is called Termoli which is only about a twenty-minute drive. Her mother had an errand to run so she dropped us off with our sun hats and towel. I bought some tanning oil (finally!) but we left the bag that it was in at the pastry shop the day before so I was without my oil but I still looked more Italian than the day before. We walked up and down the water and I felt funny in a bathing suit and purse but that is just what we had to do. After a few short hours we walked back to our towel (Miss Ford didn’t have one so we shared) and fought off tiny spiders and flying bugs until we became too hot. The water wasn’t quite warm enough to get into but it was still a gorgeous day meeting the sea for the first time. Her mom came to pick us up and we went home for a nice lunch made by her father. He prepared some sugo and her mother made some meat with green peppers. This family eats very healthy; the pasta was even wheat! I don’t prefer wheat pasta but this was the best wheat pasta I have ever had! Short penne with a light meat sauce and a small glass of wine. After lunch the house became very quite and I realized that this town really does take the “nap” after lunch and we did nothing for almost three hours! I didn’t know what to do since I didn’t have anything to read and Miss Ford was all over Facebook. I went upstairs to our “dorm” like room and took a nap! I had some more crazy dreams and woke up feeling strange. I dreamt that I was “locked” up somewhere for many years (over 20!)  and no one would let me look in a mirror and see myself, to see how much I had aged. It was really kind of a scary dream! There were two kids and three dogs and I asked who they were and my aunt gave me a strange look and told me that they were MINE!? I was “away” so long and lost my memory because I had no clue who they were. I always have the craziest dreams when I am with Miss Ford! I had a dream the next night about my hair (again!) that someone chopped it all weird and dyed in bright pink, purple, white blonde and dark purple. Again, I was upset because I didn’t know who would do such a thing to my hair! Strange dreams I have in Italy. I dream in both English and Italian, which is also strange enough on its own!

After we began to get ready to go back out for the evening. We got dressed and did our makeup and hair and I felt like I was in Highschool on a Friday night going to the big football game! By the time that we met her friend (who is ALWAYS late!) we were starving for dinner! They were telling me that pretty much everything was going to be closed since we arrived so late and that we were going to have a “cheap” dinner on the go! I remember seeing a hot dog stand and caught myself thinking I will probably have that since I have not had one in over 6 months!! Before we made it back to the festival we made a long stop at her friend’s sister’s office for a “health check!” Her sister, Angela is a Doctor of Nutrition and wanted us to come and see her place of business and she offered to give us a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis test called a B.I.A. I was very excited and nervous for this test because not that I weigh myself often but I became a little self conscious when I went last and stepped on the scale at 9:30 at night! We all know our true weight is first thing in the morning upon waking up..not after pizza for lunch a large dinner and then wine! These Italian girls are skinny and one is at least a half a foot taller than me! Not that I am “fat” but I would refer to myself as “small” not “skinny!” I made this muscle myself! Being the shortest and heaviest I remained calm and waited for the results. I will forever prefer to be fit than too skinny but sometimes I wonder how these girls eat the way they do and have super thin legs! She interpreted our results and I “won!” I was completely healthier than both girls combined and my muscle content was amazing and my body fat was significantly lower compared to the “skinny minnies!” Each had more “fat” and I scored the best results. Even Dr. Angela told me a quiet apology for reacting to my weight and height when she took down her notes! I was the “lucky” type that can eat “whatever” I want and not have problems. They couldn’t believe it and told me that they need to start “eating the way Lexie does!” and working out 3-5 times a week like me! We left the office starving an hour later and crazing something sweet.

Once we tried to find parking in the narrow streets another hour almost went by! It was nearly 11:30 by the time that we were near any food! I told the girls that I would eat whatever they wanted and I didn’t care about being “healthy” in this moment. The two girls kept telling me that I had three choices of some kind of meat and I told them whatever they choose get me one too. I had no idea what they were saying in Italian so I just shrugged and handed them some money. They refused and wouldn’t let me buy drinks for three days either! This was the most inexpensive trip I have ever been on. Thanks girls! So. She continues to tell me that what we were going to eat was like sausage but NOT sausage. Ok? I ask Miss Ford to write down what we ordered while I watched the man behind the grill pull out a few hot dogs. Yes, weiners. She writes “Wurstel” with the two dots above the “u”! That is German for a freaking hot dog! I laughed a deep laugh and admitted that I secretly wanted a hot dog today so it was fine with me! The guy slices the wurstels in half and grills them while slicing NOT a hot dog bun but sort of a flat french bread looking roll. I take some ketchup and the girls have mayonnaise! They laugh together and tell me that this is why I am “healthy” because they love mayo and I hate it! Even on french fries everyone prefers mayo. I have never liked it and I don’t think this will ever change. We chow our Italian/German dogs so fast that literally Miss Ford almost ate the paper that was holding it together! After we wiped our hands clean of the “little sausages” (in German that is the translation!) we made our way “down” to where the band was playing. This famous band is called Sud Sound System and the girls assured me that it was a treat to see them for FREE because they can be very expensive! It was Italian/Reggae! No shit! It was a pretty good show and I can now say I have seen them live in Larino, Italy!

After the show we walked around some more and found ourselves some cocktails. “Caprioski” is a drink with vodka, sugar and lime. I don’t do the sugary drinks so I wanted fresh orange juice (the best here in Italy!) and vodka. An American “Screw-driver” if you will. I had my eye on the Nutella crepes stations, there were two of them, since day 1. I don’t even really like the crepe part but I LOVE Nutella so watching the person smooth out the batter onto the perfectly hot circular griddle is mesmerizing on its own! The aroma of the sweet paper-thin pancake (if they are skilled!) and the warmed Nutella is a sensational extravaganza both for the eyes and the olfactory receptors (these neurons are responsible for detecting odor)! I told the crew that I was having a crepe tonight soon as we finished our drinks. Her friend told me that she would share one with me but we had to walk farther down to the “good one” where she knew the family (of course! Everyone is on a first name basis in this tiny town!) As we approached the mass of people around the stand I decided that the babe behind the Nutella was even more mesmerizing than the crepes themselves. He was the first (and sadly only) guy that I found attractive in this town! I tried NOT to look him in the dark green eyes and would shyly look away if he actually looked up at me. He sipped a beer in between the fast paced Nutella extravaganza and when it was finally “our turn” he refused to let us pay and gave us a wink. Ahhhh the wink gets me every time. There are some people who have a creeper wink and some that can pull it off with ease. He was not creepy; he seemed almost shy yet still bold with his eye contact. He cut our crepe in half for us and we thanked him and walked away. We only walked across the tiny piazza type square to the bar (real bar not caffe bar!) for another round of drinks (maybe 20 feet away) This time I wanted pineapple juice and vodka. I made the mistake of telling her friend that I thought the crepe guy was cute and she tried to convince me to go over to him and get another crepe! I refused and then she remembered that she had an extra beer ticket so it was decided that I had to bring him a beer and introduce myself. My tanned face turned red and I tried to talk my way out of it but it was 3 against 1. I took the beer and hung my head and walked slowly over to where he was. The rest of the group was close behind (as if they didn’t trust that I would actually approach him!) and before I could say anything their friend Luigi ran behind the stand and said something into “Edmondo’s” ear! He looked to me and raised his brows in acceptance. I told him my name and that it was nice to meet him and offered the beer. He thanked me and I shot Luigi a glare and shook my head in question. After he thanked me Luigi told us that he should give me a kiss for the beer! Umm NO! I offered my cheek and realized that IS what they meant. Even more embarrassed we finally departed and they all laughed at me. I felt like I was at a middle school dance and in the spot light. What was the matter with me!? Maybe he was only cute because the “cheerleader effect.” Those of you will learn something I learned from one of the best TV shows EVER: How I Met Your Mother. The “cheerleader effect” is when you see a group of girls or guys and they look hot, but when you see each person individually they are NOT, that an effect, when they are in groups they look hot. Out of the groups of people he was around he looked the best looking. Alone I may not have even noticed him but either way he was a nice boy and that was the end of that. When I was in college and would take summer courses I would do this same thing: in a class of 30 people if one guy seems hot it is only because its out a class full of strangers. If I was out at a bar and saw the “hot” guy from class I probably wouldn’t recognize him! Thus, I didn’t speak to him again but did catch myself looking for him while we circled the tiny streets. The crew convinced me, again, to go and buy some “noccioline” (nuts…) specifically peanuts in the shell because the girls wanted them but when I went over his brother was “working” and he was nowhere to be found. I was the entertainment at the end of the night.

Our last day was a great afternoon. I was ready to go home because I felt like I needed a REAL shower, to wash my hair and rid myself of cat dander. Yes, they had a cat at the house. Not that it hung around near us but my allergies have been bad enough without an evil feline lurking. After we packed up our bags and dressed we got in the car with her parents for a thirty minute drive to another house. We were invited to her aunt and uncles on the sea for lunch on the terrace. Once we were near the sea the view was incredible! I became both anxious and hungry. I helped carry some bags of food and drink inside and met the family of 4. Cutest kids ever named Bruno and Giya (unsure of spelling but a beautiful 9-year-old with a beautiful name!) I spoke with her the most, as I usually do, speaking with children is just easier and they speak slower with me! We discussed animals, bracelets and piercings! She was interested in my nose ring and my earring. She asked if they hurt real bad I told her yes, even though they were not that bad. I didn’t want her asking for a nose ring when we left because I told her it did not hurt! For lunch Miss Ford’s mom made her famous breaded chicken and a nice fresh salad. The aunt and uncle prepared some pasta with clams and mussels! I am allergic to clams and anything shelled so that was not going to happen for me. I told Miss Ford and they made me some plain pasta but wouldn’t settle on just olive oil so they cooked up some green peppers to add to my small portion of pasta. I ate my pasta and was satisfied with the good bread. Her uncle joked at me and told me that they would wash my dish and that I didn’t have to wipe it “clean” with my bread! He is the uncle that is always giving you shit and making everyone laugh. He kept pouring me wine and making all of us smile. After our courses were over they brought out the grappa and pastry desserts. I had a half of a chocolate something too sweet and a tiny shot of grappa. I don’t really like grappa but I was a guest and it seemed appropriate. We relaxed outside in the sun overlooking the sea on swing chairs and comfy lounge chairs. The kids talked their dad into taking us out on the boat and I was ecstatic! It was a little windy and the waves were dangerously choppy but I was on a boat on the Adriatic Sea! We turned the boat around and parked her and made our way back to the house. Miss Ford and I had a train to catch at 7pm so we had to say our goodbyes and were on our way to the bus station.

After a few stops these loud ladies came on the bus speaking some crazy language. I was so content and comfortable knowing we had almost 3 more hours to go I became annoyed pretty fast and tried to make myself sleep it away. Who the hell was this woman talking to on her phone for so long!? I want to know what phone company she was with to let her yak as long as she was. She must have had 4 phone conversations (at an unreasonable volume!!) and when she was not on the phone yelling she was talking to her friend sitting next to her. THIS woman was even louder. Many times people turned around from the front of the bus to give her “the look” but it was useless. Finally we made a stop around 9pm for some food. We picked up some “pita” type sandwiches with ham and cheese. Tasty with some special cheese from this region that was perfectly melted and stayed hot! I slept a little more between the ladies yelling behind me but was happy to get closer to Rome!

Miss Ford’s cousin picked us up around midnight and insisted on taking us for a drink or gelato. I was exhausted, my hair was a mess but I cannot refuse gelato! He took us near my home to the “Old Bridge” gelateria and I enjoyed strawberry and pistachio with cream. For a Sunday night after midnight it was jam-packed with people. We thanked him for the ride and the treat and I gave him directions to my house. I realized my keys were inside my luggage so I had to search before they could leave me alone in the street under my house! After I found them I let myself in and washed my face and feet immediately! Home sweet Rome.

Lex

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Posted in: When in Rome