31 May 2005

tomorrow morning bright and early i leave for nashville! just me and my exterra on the open road... i'm off to see the wizard!!

27 May 2005

"the goosebump moments that you feel all the way down in your soul, are the ones that grow you" -my mom

14may- florence
i sat in my room seeing it as it was when i got to italy-bare walls, unpacked, a lonely kind of unhomey place, and even worse- i was there alone that night b/c dana had left for spain and aimee for rome. i thought about how much i was gonna miss them both. there was a definate openness that came between us three. we never shut the door when we went to the bathroom and we changed infront of eachother, it was just comfortable like sisters. and im gonna miss that. i feel like as a person i have changed. in what ways i cant exactly pinpoint but its for the good. i would love to stay but my time is over there. the day before i climbed the duomo's dome with a friend and he was asking me about God and hell and Jesus and as i answered him i had to listen to myself. as i told him that i have found my peace and my hope in God- something snapped and my spirit was nodding inside reminding me of its presence and comfort for the past 6 years of being one with this God. that yes, i have found the living water and i will never thirst again. Jesus is my foundation and there is no turning back on the house that is being built inside of me. this layer of bricks is almost completed and the next will begin. so it didnt matter if i cried when i left- its ok b/c i have taken in all that had happened there. all that i was suposed to and that knowledge and peace balanced out my sadness

15may- taormina
on two hours of sleep, me and allie (my friend i met in florence at school that is from boston) caught our flight to catania, sicily. when we arrived we caught the bus to taormina, dropped our stuff off at the hostel and went to the beach! the weather was gorgeous. we laid around till 4 and we couldnt go in the water all the way so i just laid in the sand where the water washed up for awhile. then we decided to get full body messages right on the beach for only 15 euro! yea amazing i know! on our way back to the funavia sky ride up the mountain, as we were walking up the road we saw this guy. i thought he was just peeing but as we got closer we saw that, yea, his pants were on the ground and he was jerking off! we couldnt believe it! it was so discusting. so anyways, once we got back to the hostel and washed the salt off us we got dressed and went to dinner. we went down this random side street and found the perfect place that had just what we wanted. but it was about to get even better- there is a thing in italy about the restaurants sitting you at a table with other ppl that you dont know if there is room so they sat us w/ this older couple. i over heard them talking english so i asked them where they were from and then all 4 of us ended up talking for like 2 hours over dinner. they were even sharing their wine with us. there were so nice, and as we were about to leave we got their email and i told them about my favorite crepe stand (which the crepe guy actually remembered me from spring break) and then our bill came and they paid it! so we had to top off that great day with a conolo and my favorite drink, capiroska, and my favorite bar, cafe marrakech and on our way home we drank from the fountains (we kept seeing ppl doing it- even parents lifting up their kids for a sip.) and yes it was amazing, fresh mountain water.

16may- taormina
got my favorite mozerella, tomato and olive oil sandwich.
left the beach around 2 b/c we had sunstroke
i bought 2 new bathing suits. that night we ate at this amazing restaurant called granduca thatw as overlooking the sea and the town. i had eggplant parm and we split sicilian torta for desert. we went back to the hostel and played cards until midnight and we went to bed.

17may- taormina/lipari
woke up and had coffee with some aussies at the hostel and then went to have the traditional sicilian breakfast- gelato in a brioche! walking through the center in taormina was great with our giant backpacks on. from there we caught the bus to messina and then a train to milazzo and a bus to the port. while we were waiting for the hydrofoil to lipari island we started talkin to this lady. she spoke zero english. she was giving us all these history lessons on milazzo and the islands. when we got there she gave us a ride to our hotel and gave us her card and said "amiche" (friends) and to call us if we needed anything. when we walked into the hotel we entered through the garden, we gave her our passports, she told us we had free internet and then walked us to our room. it was around back. yea we basically had our own private villa with 2 sets of double doors, one that is our main doors that go to our front yard with huge palm trees and cacti and the other went out onto our balcony over looking a wall of honeysuckle! we had a queen size bed and a twin bed and our own bathroom! we couldnt believe it! and our package included a free scooter and a free excursion to panarea and stromboli islands. that night we slept with the storm doors open with the cross breeze coming through the shudders. we joked about being able to do snow angels in our bed without hitting eachother b/c it was that big.

18may- lipari/scooter day
neither of us had either driven on before and i wanted. it took a bit to get used to it but when i did i loved it so much and i got good quick. we drove all the way around the island once without stopping and then we went around again to make all the stops. first stop- granite- it is like a slurpee but made with real fruit. we stopped at a few souvineer and fruit stands. the winding roads reminded me of the road to hana in maui. there was a lot of breaking and once we found the horn we honked it as we went around tight corners. after nearly getting back around the island we saw a sign that might be pointing us towards the thermal baths so we went that was and it ended up being pretty steep roads. we kept going until an extremely steep one and my attempt to turn around went like this: we were rolling down the hill that we were on backwards to i gave it some gas to turn it and then we were parallel w/ the hill so i gave it more gas to turn it more around but it didnt turn tight enough so i slammed the breaks before i ran into the bushes and the weight of the bike on the hill fell sideways and i flew off! allie had jumped off the back before it fell and ran to pick the bike up and turn it off so the gas wouldnt come out. then she came over and luckily had tissues,and bandaids to stop all my bleeding. my left hand and foot we pretty cut up and my helmet had cut me above my left eyebrow. luckily thats it. so laid in the street for awhile and drank water b/c i was getting light headed and allie franticly called the rental place and went to the houses nearby. nobody was home and we were in the middle of no where and couldnt comunicate in italian what had happened or where we were. then from behind us hikers came down. 3 walked right by me and smiled and waved! ha! i couldnt believe it! next the tour guide came down and we put him on the phone to talk in italian. while we were waiting for the rental guys to come, the guide gave me a piggy back ride down the hill and we saw a snake strangling a mouse and hissing at it about to eat it. the rental guys drove us back to the hotel and then the hotel guy took me to the hospital on his vespa to get cleaned up. im glad this fall happened in a worthy place being in italy.

19may- vulcano
we caught the hydrofoil to the island of vulcano and as soon as we got there we rented a mini car. we named it paffuto (chubby). we drove it to the other side of the island to one of 2 destinations on this isand, gelso. the drive was gorgeous and totally different than lipari. it looked like we were in the austrailian tundra. we were expecting at any moment to see giraffes and elefants stampeed across the plains. we gave eachother names: alligator sifari later and lolodrillo safari illo during the excursion. when we got to gelso we parked and walked down the one path, lined with bamboo and at the end there was this deserted lighthouse. we walked around back b/c i had to pee so bad that i just pulled down my shorts right there. the drive back was rough b/c when ever we went down hill the car would basically throw itself out of gear. but we made it and we parked it to go to the 5 stores and eat at 1 of the 3 restaurants. then we found the thermal baths! it reeked of sulfur which if you dont know, smells like rotten eggs but we had to get in. our last stop before leavin the island was to drive back up to this graveyard we passed on the way to gelso. it was the most amazing, different, unique, beautiful graveyard that ive ever seen. i cant even really explain it except that there were actual pictures on the gravestones of whole graves they were. like modern pictures- pretty freaky. we ended the night smoking cigars over a bridge on the water.

20may- lipari/panarea/stromboli
we went to the beach before leaving to go to panarea stromboli islands. we took a boat with a guided group and our first stop was panarea. it was very remote but gorgeous and there seemed to be a color code of white and dark teal b/c when you looked out over the city that was everything. on our way to stromboli we stopped and circled this huge lava mass rock or a tiny island with nothing but a lighthouse on it and stairs twisting up to it. we had three hours to walk around stromboli. it was pretty amazing to think how different all these islands are from eachother. this island also was pretty remote but i could tell- very family oriented. and there was art everywhere on the walls and doors. and obviously including volcanos b/c that is what the island is. and yes it is active. there were black sand beaches and all the rocks are pumos. i bought a kiwi for 20 euro cents and walked down them trying to embrace the moment b/c time had been truly flying. it was great being able to be there without thinking about what school work was due on monday. at 8 we got back on the boat and went around the other side of the island, anchored and watched the volcano erupt. it was shooting little spurts of lava, some bigger than others, only a few that spit over the side but even so- it was really cool and the first time i saw one.

21may- lipari
we went to the beach all day but the night was the cool part. we had met this girl on the beach from florida that told us about this music thing goin on down at the port that night so we went with her and her mom. the show started with this beautiful water foundtain light show that was going to music. then these women dancing with torches and a woman that was dancing, lifted into the air by about 100 massive white balloons, in the air as she flew. this amazing band played- they were like an italian folk band. then a guy came up to read poetry as the band played and in between fireworks. and it ended with probly the best fireworks show ive ever seen in my life. it even kept going after the finally. it was such a gorgeous day and it will be sad to leave b/c when we walk down the streets we see ppl that we know and see everyday- it feels comforting to think about living in a small enough town where you could actually know everyone. i could live in europe but for now- yes i am excited to live in nashville.

22may- taormina
on the train from messina to taormina, while we were waitin in the station for it to leave (it was an hour late) a guy came through and gave us all a bag with a tomato sandwich and a huge bottle water for free as an apology by the train system. little blessings like that make life so sweet. when we arrived in taormina we were waiting for the bus and this girl with dreads asked me if we wanted a ride up to the center. she was so nice. she was meeting her mom and we walked with her until we found her- ended up that she was one of the women that has a table outside selling random things. it was such a great thing seeing this girl run up to her mom and hiss and hug her. it gave me a whole new dimention to the street vendors. b/c i walk by them everyday but dont really think about their families. that was such a great thing to veiw. its awesome being able to trust ppl and receive the blessings they want to give. me and allie were talking about how we just seem to keep running into the right ppl. this morning when we were waiting for the hydrofoil i was just sitting and drinking my tea and the poetry reader from the night before at the music thing came up and started talking to me. and in the car going up to taormina, the other lady they gave a ride to ended up being the one that was singing that night at the greek theater.

23may- taormina/florence
we got up and went to the beach with this girl and guy that had studied in florence that semester too. we laid our stuff down by the water where there were all these flat rocks. it ended up that on the other side of them it was deep enough to jump in. i juts sat there for awhile and watched the fish and the clearness of the water that ill miss. finally i jumped in and it was cold but cool b/c if i moved slowly i could see each rock i walked across back to shore on. at around 2 we went back to catch the bus to the airport. allie watched our stuff while i went in to get us food and when i came back she said that we had to move b/c of this crazy guy that smells really bad. i saw him and he was talkin to himself as he was poaring his beer and then i got up and he had literally crapped his pants and i could see it. he was really drunk and makin a scene goin around yellin at ppl. when he came to sit back down we had to move b/c we couldnt breath from the smell. then these two older guys walked by and one saw that i was writin in my journal in english so they stopped to talk to us. turns out that they were undercover cops and they invited us to their office for coffee. once we got back to florence i dropped my stuff off at sara's and then me, dana, sara, and allie went to art bar for our last daiquiri and then we went to i 5 tavoli to say by the everyone and then went to the secret bakery for the last time. by then it was 330 . i ended up sleeping one hour in a chair before i left for the airport at 430. it was crazy but everything went smoothly. in frankfurt i had a 3 hour lay over and when i went over to my gate i ran into pastor doug! (my pastor from home in richmond) he was on his way home from latvia. it was great gettin to sit and talk with him as he caught me up with all that had been goin on at the church and all the weddings that are coming up. after he left to get on his flight i was just sitting reading the paper and i looked over and this girl, probly 3 y/o with platinum blonde curly hair wend over to pick up the paper off the table and sat in a chair and pretended like she was reading it- then she laid on the floor over the paper with her fists under her chin 'to read.' i kept looking over and she'd be looking at me and then smile- so precious!
so everything went smoothly on my flight and getting through customs was easy and my parents and sister were waiting for me with a ciao bella sign! and my dad had a rose for me. they were so cute and i was so happy to see them. so i have been home since tuesday and it has been a great transition and im countin down the days till i go to nashville!

im going to miss traveling with out the worry of figuring out how to get there. im gonna miss living 2 minutes walking distance from the train station and the train system that can take me where ever i feel like going- for just a small price and my time, with the gorgeous veiw of watching italy go by me for free. i have learned how to pakc light and look for goodness in every annoying moment like waiting 2 hours for a train. it will be luxory to beable to go to stores at all hours of the day since i am used to them being closed for lunch between 1 and 3. 24/7 stores will be breathtaking. dealing with money with out converting it in my head will be nice but ill miss tax being already added in and the price listed being the price that i pay. it will be weird to have a car again. i dont know if i want one anymore.

if my thoughts were food than id be a binge eater- but as of now it sure is a lot of mystery meat and i am a vegetarian.

12 May 2005

'man can learn, relearn, or unlearn to the point of death. there is always more to discover. no matter how much knowledge he has, man can never know everything about anything. change is the end result of all true learning.' -leo buscaglia

passing moments
by Lauren D'Auria

we are all passing moments
in eachothers changing lives.
its almost like this is a
mirage of unity before being
rescattered into the world,
leaving but an outline
of our silhoettes there
together sitting at the reunion table
of our mind.
we sit across from eachother,
looking through the beginnings
of blurring faces
and forgotten names,
discussing our experience
referred to now as one.

that poem was thought up and edited after observing my friends at amedaeus, a bar that aimee and aaron play at alot. as i watched everyone i realized that, yes, we were all there together at the moment but we were all from different places and we were all about to go back to those places very soon. there will never be another time in our lives when all these ppl will be together again. it really made me recognize the preciousness of each and every life experience and how much i dont hold them as dear as they should be held.

ive finished my european history exam and my italian exam and only have one more to go and so in my mind school is over. its crazy every time i think about it. yesturday while i was packing i leaned over to pick up some change and it was two pennies. i am so used to the euro that it will be really weird to switch back.

life is funny when its seasons are shorter or longer then youd wish theyd be. when you think youve learned something you really havent and change comes once again to reteach you.

'life is not the goal, it is the process. it is the getting there, not the arrival. dont fear change, for growing, learning, and experiencing is change. to deny change is to deny the only single reality. there is no stopping it, no holding it back, there is only going with it. there is a hindu tale about a man in a small boat rowing up a fast flowing river against the current. after a great battle, he finally discovers that the effort is futile, so he gives up, raises his oars and begins to sing. the moment teaches him a new way of life; only when he goes with the changing river is man truly free. there is potential lying dormant with in you to be realized. this should challenge you to be the best, most loving, feeling, intelligent person he is capable of. his search is not in competition with anyone elses. he becomes his own personal challenge. you are the best you- its the easiest, most practical, most rewarding thing to be. ' -leo buscaglia

today as i was walking around florence i ws listening to my ipod but through the music i heard the Duomo's bell tower ringing. i stopped in my tracks, took my head phones off and just listened to the familiar sound that will soon be gone. luckily in Richmond the cathedrals bells will be a sweet reminder of my time here.

so im off to see the wizard. this will be my last email that i send out before i come back to the states. sunday i leave for sicily for 9 days and i am more than excited. me and allie are goin to be in toarmina for 2 days and on the aeolian islands for the rest of the time except the day before we fly out we will go back to hike mt. etna. i cant wait to tell you all about it!

(and by the way) this summer i am movin to nashville tennessee for june and july. not for any big reason but just because i feel like being a bit more spontaneous. ill hopefully be working solely to pay for concert tickets because i plan on going to quite a few of those. even though thinking about moving to nashville for 2 months will almost be starting over with friends and life, i am excited b-c if it brings as much joy and growth as this semester in italy did then i am all for this next season. bring it on because getting out of our comfort zones is where we truly discover life.

i have a smile on my face- the kind of smile you make when you put on your friend or lover's shirt and smell that familiar smell

09 May 2005

so for the past two weeks i have been pretty busy. last weekend was the weekend i had been waiting for this whole semester. me and allie had booked far in advance our trip with bus2.it tours to go to interlaken, switzerland to go skydiving. so we werent leavin until 6 that night and were anticipating gettin on that bus all day. when we got there i saw the guys and was like 'aight we are ready!' and they said 'you goin to sorento?' and we said 'no, interlaken' and they proceeded to tell us that there was no trip and it had been canceled since the week before. so they just decided not to tell us. we were quite pissed..to say the least. so we decided to do the next best thing- find a beach and go there! that night when i was hangin out w/ my italian friends at i 5 tavoli i was tellin them i was gonna go to rimini the next day and they all said, 'NOOOO!' not unless you want to go bar hoping the whole time and that wasnt in my mind at all so they told us the best beach in tuscany to go to that we could go to by train. so saturday morning me and allie got up and caught the 8 am train to castiglioncello beach like 30 minutes south of pisa on the east coast. and they were right..it was gorgeous. it was a really small town that was basically the equivilant of 1 new york block. we found a hotel that had beach access and dropped out stuff off, ate and went to bum on the beach from 1 in the afternoon till around 5 that night. it was so hot that we basically had to go in the water every 30 minutes. it was my first time, besides puttin my feet in the water in nice france, that i had been completely under water in the med. sea. so i was pretty excited about it. we were surrounded by all italians for the whole weekend which was a breath of fresh air to get away from americans. we also bought 'scopa' cards to play. that night we went and got a drink at a really different interesting bar that was suprisingly empty but all the chairs were simply cushions on the floor. i loved it...sittin there in italy w/ my friend playing scopa and drinkin a capiroska. that night we went to bed early b/c we were tired from all that laying in the sun so we got some rest for another long day of laying in the sun on sunday. we were out from like 12 until 430 and i decided to lay on my stomach almost the whole day so the back side of my body could catch up w/ the front side. bad idea. i got pretty burnt. and ofcourse it turned tan w/in 3 days but not its all peeling off pretty bad and i have to start all over!! bah.

so this weekend i went sailing to elba w/ 44 italians and 2 of my friends from school and it was amazing. it was i have to say..probly my favorite weekend this semester. we left on friday morn to drive to the dock we would set sail from and chilled on the boats, studying (taking a nap) and waiting for the others to get there around 8p. when they did some of us went to watch the sunset over the med and drink some mojitos and talk. mostly all of them spoke in perfect english so again no italian was learned or used. ha. oh well. after that we all went back and we had dinner and then a dance party across all 5 sail boats and on the dock in the parking lot until 3 in the morning. the next morning i woke up to the sound of the engine in my ear at 830 am and so i went on deck and we were leavin the port. we sailed out to one coast of elba and anchored so that we could all swim. we got to jump off the sides of the boats and yes it was freezing. afterwards when we got going again we decided to have a race between all the boats. and this time there was enough wind to shut off the engine and use only the sails. the rules were to switch the side the sail was on every 5 mintues which involves alot more work then you think unless you know how to sail. and what did i do? watch! ha. i did it one time and i was way to slow turnin the handle w/ my dinky arms. then all of them decided to get me on the CB and decide the next rules in english...because our boat was called 'american boat' since the only 3 americans were on it and i had to say random things really fast in english so that non of them would understand..haha. so yea anyways..later that night we anchored the boat of shore another side of elba and attached all 5 boats to eachother and 'took a bath' as the italian say it. we went swimming for longer this time. i wasnt goin to b/c it was so cold but david attacked me with whip creme so i had to go wash it all off. the water gets warm quick though. while the boats were all still attached we watched the sunset again and then had pesto pasta for dinner. after me calais and dave went up on deck and looked at the stars b/c there was zero light polution from the water. so we laid there and talked about life and how surreal the moment was being on a sail boat in italy with all italians. thinking about what we want to do when we graduate and just about havin to grow up and where we want to live and all. its crazy. for now i am so greatful to have been able to go on this trip. we went to bed early that night and got up the next morning around 10. we were still anchored off shore and we started the day with greatness of nutella! (have i mentioned how obsessed i am...im sure but oh well i will say it once again) then we were off to another long day of sailing. i slept most of it b/c the sun was tiring and the sea sick medicine was drowsy. but it was a great great day. we got back around 6 and headed back to florence. my face is almost burnt but will turn to tan in a few but the remains of my tan is peeling off quite rapidly...

so this is my last week in florence and i have to spend it packing, cleaning my apartment and studying for exams...sucks! but next week i am off to sicily for a week before i return to grand ol US of A. if you are plannin on sending me anymore mail then dont. email me and ask me for the address to send it to.

and i have put a few more pictures up since the last email but there are some more on my friends website from the past two weekend. go to this address http://www.calaismarie.com and then click on liguria (NEW) and sailing (NEW)