Sunday, November 28, 2004

THE STROLL along the beach. I don't think I would mess with this crowd. Posted by Hello

Visitors from another land

The weekend is wrapping up and I need to blog but there is too much going on. Work has been hectic to say the least and now I have more visitors than ever. We stayed very busy this weekend but it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen that much. Saturday we went to Otranto as this continues to be one of my favorite places to go, then we played ultimate with the SalentoDisc crowd. After this we went to Lecce to study their wild architecture and eat. I think we set a new record, even for Italians, by not eating dinner until 11:30 PM. Then today we strolled along the beach at Torre Gauceto a park just north of Brindisi. Monopoli held our attention for most of the day (antique street sale, castle, and Frederico ask the ladies). This town has a great walk along the sea and then you duck in an alley and you’re in the middle of a quiet white washed town. We finished up our thick hot chocolates at the Caffè Venezia and then went on to Locorotondo. We strolled around the perfect-whitewashed alleys for a while but being inland and on the top of a hill it was rather cold. Then we took a wild ride back to my house for dinner at the Windsurf. Now the weekend is over for me but their vacation is just starting. More later… I also need to put up some photos.

Friday, November 19, 2004

What are the odds?

What a night. I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been really busy at work. I have two people here for one part of the project and two people here working a separate issue. I have been trying to be a good host and tonight was a good example of that. We had a great big dinner with everyone (about 15 people from both companies) then afterwards a few of us headed to my favorite stop the Big Ben Pub. When we arrived the place was packed and it was for a good reason. On this night the band was playing the traditional music of Salento. This music has a specific dance called the “pizzica, pizzica” that is hard to explain. It is a kind of shuffling of the feet with very little arm or hand movement and dancing is close to your partner but only rarely touching. It seems like a seductive stare down while you’re dancing. It seems like a combination of Middle Eastern dance and an English ballroom dancing and I love it because it shows the influences that are here in this region. I was really happy that my coworkers were able to see this truly unique part of the area. The “what are the odds?” part comes in because one of my coworkers met THE one person on the plane from the US to Rome and then to Brindisi. This one person was a rather beautiful woman who happened to be at the same bar we went to. Everyone knows everyone in this town. Gianvito at work knew most of the same people I know. Combine that with how this guy from Indiana runs into the only person he knows in town. I’ve never lived in a town like this so I never knew what it was like. It’s like I’m getting two experiences in one. Anyway, I think everyone had fun and tomorrow we have a more work to do so I’ll cut this off here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Parking 101

Here is where I parked the first night in Rome. If you look closely there is a skid of potates on the driver side that make it impossible to get in the car. That wasn't an accident. Posted by Hello

My First Miracle

This weekend I drove to Rome to play some Ultimate. I brought with me Pedro, Gianluca, and Stefano. The drive up was pretty uneventful with us arriving about midnight. The first thing we did was drive to Termini (thetrain station) to pick up Valeria (Pedro's girlfriend) because there wasn't room for her in the car for 5 hours. We then drove across town to the place where we were staying. Little did I know that in true Ultimate form we were staying in a small apartment with about 15 other people. BUT, it was a free room in Rome. It was about 2:00 AM by the time we found the place and no one was home. I parked in the only space available and the next morning I found the following sight (see photo above). My car had become part of the neighborhood fruit and vegetable store. After talking nicely to the owners of the store I was able to get out of that spot. Then I had to follow 2 cars as we zigzagged through Rome to the fields. We were split up maybe twice before we arrived and I was proud of my offensive driving which was needed to stay with them. We played Ultimate all day then it was the same desperate drive back to apartment. We went out for dinner and at this hour the streets were getting pretty busy and it was harder to stick together. It was ok because my confidence was growing. Dinner was an amazing thing in itself. We had the full meal for 15 euros (everything including wine, limoncello, caffe, dolce!) I have never come close to getting a deal like this in Rome. Somebody knew somebody because I know where the restaurant is but I know I can't get that deal myself. After dinner, traffic went from bad to worse. I thought we were heading back to the apartment but in fact we were heading to the Piazza Novona. So when they said find a place to park and we were in the middle of Rome at 11:30 PM I thought they must have been joking. They weren't and I got very angry because it really seemed impossible. After about an hour of squeezing through tiny streets and trying to run tourists down I finally squeezed my car on to a piece of open sidewalk and we had a short walk from the Piazza. I was still angry at this crazy idea when we met up with the rest of the crowd. All that work and all we did was throw Frisbee on the Piazza until about 2:00 AM. I will say that my anger slipped away pretty quick because there is something about throwing in the middle of city like that. Lori, Kent, and I threw there last year and it was just a blast for some odd reason. The other people in the piazza must have thought we were insane because for a while we doing a "mac line" (and not very well). Sunday we played some more Ultimate at the same place only in a light rain, which made the field nice and soft. In the end I arrived home at 1:30 AM Sunday night. I consider it a miracle that I did all that driving through some of the tightest situations ever(twice I had to use the passenger side door to get in and out of the car) and the car didn't get a new scratch. I feel like I at least deserve an Italian driver's license. I never committed so many moving violations in my life.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

All Saints Day

I don’t remember this day being very special but in Italy it is. The Italians never stop amazing me. November 1st is always “Ognissanti” or “All Saints Day” in Italy and a day off of work if it’s on a weekday (they don’t move their holidays to the closest Friday or Monday!). The focus of this holiday is remembering loved ones that have passed away. So on this Monday I was invited to Pedro’s house where the small town, Carpignano, has a huge festival to go along with the day. What a contrast. As I was leaving Brindisi I passed the cemetery and it was pretty early but the police were already out directing traffic and roping of areas to park for the crowds just starting to swell. I felt really moved by the respect they have for their loved ones. There were whole families going to pay tribute and remember. I know I’m going to appreciate my family more when I return to the States. When I arrived at Pedro’s house I realized this was a big lunch, but I didn’t know exactly how big. We walked to town and surveyed the scene. Vendors selling everything and I mean everything; pet shops, clothes, food, farm tools (I particularly liked looking at the equipment to harvest olives, there seems to be several ways to get them), toys, and on and on. After walking around for about 2 hours we finally bought some things needed for lunch castegna nuts, Parmesan cheese, and (of course) olives. When we got back there were 22 people (including myself) in a small 2-bedroom house. Sheer pandemonium. Everyone went about their chores and I just kind of watched and put out a plate here and moved things from here to there trying to stay out of the way. When the meal started I played it better than Daniele’s house and didn’t eat too much at first so I was better off in the long run. Wine out of bottles with no label and castegna nuts roasting over burning pinecones on the back porch, I wanted to have each and every one of you there with me. All this and I committed a horrible mistake. I took the battery out of my digital camera to charge it up and you guessed it. Realized this the moment I picked it up at his house and it was felt way too light. Only my mental images and a hope that I get a chance for something like this again. After dinner the 20s and 30s people went for a walk it was Pedro, myself, his brother, two of his 3 sisters, and one of the sister’s boyfriends. We walked down his street with low crumbling stone walls on either side. Pedro and I were throwing Frisbee between the olive trees. Me trying to impress Pedro’s sisters (yes I know Frisbee skills rarely, ok, never impress the ladies), and Pedro was showing off the fact that he knows someone who is crazier about the Frisbee then him. I think his parents were happy to see this affliction is worldwide. After a short walk we went back for desert, which included the famous pasticciotto. It’s hard to explain and this post is long enough already so I’ll save that for another day. In the end it was the contrast between the sadness of remembrance and joy of what you have, now. You could say it’s their Thanksgiving.