Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ang teaches me a valuable lesson...

Angela brought up a good point during our most recent trip to Palermo. If you ever hear a group of kids yelling "Che schifo!" ("How gross!") behind you, DO NOT turn around.

I made the mistake this past Saturday, as we were sitting down to enjoy our gelato al gelsomino con brioche (jasmine gelato on a brioche, or as we like to say, a gelato burger or "frozen doughnut", 'cuz that's what it sorta tastes like...). A gaggle of kids - an appropriate word, given our semi-understanding of the language, when we hear a group of kids talking it sort of sounds like a bunch of "gaggling" - sat down at the table behind us. I would guess they were all around 12-14 years old. Ang and I have different feelings about groups of kids - I think I usually find their childish antics somewhat amusing, at least until they throw fireworks at my feet, while Ang would probably opt for grabbing each of them by the ear and giving them 1) a lesson on behaving themselves in public and 2) a haircut. Since neither of those things are within our range of abilities language-wise, Ang usually chooses to try to ignore it.

So the kids sitting down behind us are starting to get crazy. Out of the commotion, one of them starts yelling "Che schifo!!!" repeatedly. Of course, I turn around and Ang ignores them. The kids, one by one, are sticking their fingers into a heaping cup of gelato, much to the disgust of the owner. Plunging their fingers, filled with gelato and cream, into their mouths, they start circling the owner for another swipe. The poor little boy started to shriek, outnumbered by his friends and unable to protect his dessert.

Ang and I didn't stick around much longer - the kids were pazzi per lo zucchero. We decided to take a walk along Palermo's waterfront promenade and Ang pointed out that I had made a poor decision in looking back to see what the kids were doing. She had a point, "che schifo" could have been anything - I got lucky. The kids were being pretty annoying, and I hope that the owner of the plundered ice cream didn't eat the remainders (although something tells me that he did; this is, after all, the town where men used to rent candy suckers. Yup, kids would line up to pay to suck on a piece of candy for a few minutes before it was yanked out of their mouth - it was tethered to a string - and given to the next kid in line!). Given the propensity for bizarre sights in Palermo, things definitely could have been a lot worse!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We're movin' on up!

We have a sweet new apartment that is ready for visitors, so book your tickets now while the airlines are having ridiculous fare sales! Well, I should say that it is sort of ready for visitors...

Electrical problems (ahem, serious electrical problems, like the ones that could cause fires) prompted us to move out of our apartment on Via Marconi. We were innocently sitting in the kitchen one night eating dinner and watching Affari Tuoi when a spark (read: tiny fire) lit up the wall above the tv and then everything went black. It was fixed the next day, and by fixed I mean a new wire was attached and everything was wrapped in black electrical tape. I'm not an electrician, but exposed wires all over the place, most of which are jumbled up and taped together, seems like a catastrophe waiting to happen.

After this, our 3rd blackout, we were told that the apartment had to be completely re-wired and some other renovations had to be done also. We could leave the place and go back in a month when everything was done, or we could just leave. The choice was obvious.

The week before we moved into the new place was one fun filled day after the other. Our landlord began doing work on the facade of our house, waking us up at 7am everyday with incessant banging. We didn't have water for a day, which meant I couldn't do wash, and even after that when the water was back on I couldn't hang any clothes outside because of the mess. Our landlord and his workers were in and out of our apartment everyday, tracking dirt everywhere. One morning I stepped out of the shower and saw a shadow of a person walking by the bathroom, I was not pleased. And Scott was even less-pleased than me.

So, we welcomed our new apartment with open arms. I was so happy when we moved everything in, so happy to use the new kitchen, so happy to turn on the exhaust fan above the range, so happy to take a shower and have it be big enough that I could actually turn around. Life was sweet. At least until 5 days after we moved in....

I went home one night and was walking up the stairs and noticed some pieces of plaster on the step. I was puzzled by this, as I sweep the floor everyday (like a good casalinga). I quickly turned the corner and saw that the floor in the spare bedroom next to the kitchen was completely covered with plaster and glass. And, this is the best part, the ceiling was gone. The light fixture must have been too heavy and not anchored correctly, so it fell down, shattered and brought most of the ceiling with it. So much for a new house with no problems! What were we thinking? This is Sicily after all!

I ran to the office, told Scott and Fabrizio, and after a quick glimpse at the mess we jumped in Fabrizio's car and drove to our landlord's house. We explained the problem and drove back to the apartment to show him. He came back the next morning to fix it (which was Friday March 6) and said he would come back 3 days later to paint. It's still not painted.

Don't you think it's a little strange that this occurred in the ONLY room that we didn't have any stuff in? It was going to be a guest room so it only had a bed and a chair in it...neither of which were damaged. We got lucky, I suppose!

This is a picture from the terrazza.
And the visibility wasn't even that great,
so imagine what it looks like on a clear day.
This is why we fell in love with this place!