On Wednesday evening, Marilyn and I arrived in Catania so very tired. We traveled from Seattle to Frankfurt to Rome to Catania. Sometimes I wonder how just sitting in a on a plane can create such exhaustion. Is it the stale air on the plane or is it the body’s immune system fighting hard to stay healthy amid other people’s hacking coughs and sneezes that renders one so tired? Or perhaps it’s the endless hours of trying to sleep while sitting upright crammed in a tiny chair? Could exhaustion stem from layovers or jet lag from the 9 hours of time change?
Mary and Karol were on our same flights from Seattle to Frankfurt to Rome. Together in Rome, we waited for our luggage to appear. Almost all of our flight’s passengers had reclaimed their luggage. And still we waited. In top sleep-deprived condition, I found myself feeling dizzy just watching the luggage carousel going round and round. Was the conveyor belt moving or was I moving? Mary said a prayer to St. Anthony, saint of lost items, so that our baggage would soon show up and, seconds later, our luggage came tumbling out together!
Marilyn and I went from picking up our luggage to picking up our rental car. As the nice fellow at Avis handed Marilyn the car keys, he said nervously in Italian, “Be careful.” I told him not to worry for us because Marilyn grew up driving in New York City! His face broke into a Sunshine-Smile. “Oh, well then! You’ll do just fine!” Trying to find our Audi rental in the parking lot was like taking part in a treasure hunt, but we eventually found the car, got the GPS going, and off we went. And yes, Marilyn is an ACE driver and I am a good co-pilot, so all went well.
At one point on the highway, we got stuck behind a string of slow drivers. I know! Just trying to imagine one slow driver in Italy requires a vivid imagination. Marilyn changed over to the left lane to pass them up. Next thing I know, there are police lights flashing behind us!
“Marilyn, there’s a police car behind us flashing their lights!”
“That’s not the police. It’s one of those crazy drivers! This is what they do! They get right on your ass and flash their lights at you until you get out of their way.”
“But, Marilyn, these are definitely COPS!”
Next, the police sounded their alarm…you know the siren you hear when you watch Italian cop shows? Yes, that’s the sound.
“Oh, you’re RIGHT! They need to get past me. Well, they will just have to wait until I get past this last slow driver so I can get over safely.”
Calm-cool-collected Marilyn deftly and safely got over to let the police pass. Just as the police car zoomed past us, the cop in the passenger car had rolled down his window so as to give us a full-on view of his road rage! His anger was almost tangible. I have never seen such fast moving expressive hands as I did that night. Our last image of the police car as it whooshed past us was that of the two cops’ hands and arms going spastic, a vivid expression of wild frustration at not getting to pass us sooner!
After we controlled our laughter, Marilyn said, “Well, I’m awake now!”
We made it, without any further excitement, to the historical center of Siracusa, the area called Ortigia where our hotel is. But once in Ortigia, we were hard put to find any parking. After 15 futile minutes of driving around looking for parking, Marilyn idled the car in a piazza while I ran down a corridor, narrower than an alley, and into the Hotel Aretusa to ask about parking. Ettore, manager of the hotel and our guardian angel of the night, asked me to lead him to the car. From there, he got in the passenger seat and guided us round and round until we scored a parking spot. We sincerely deserved to sleep in past breakfast this morning, which is exactly what we did!
Got all we can get done done and tomorrow Week I Yoga Retreat in Sicily begins! Can’t wait to welcome the group at the Catania Airport!
And speaking of breakfast, here we are in the land of sun-kissed food. I leave you with some photos of this morning’s breakfast spread.
Cultural Note: Coffee with milk is a morning drink. Sicilians refuse to serve coffee with milk such as a cappuccino, a caffe latte, or a café au lait in the evening. It is simply, in their minds, a stomach-curdling idea. It offers the same level of disgust as when a foreigner (because no Italian in this entire country would ever do this) asks if he or she may have some grated cheese to sprinkle over their seafood pasta dish. The combination of cheese and fish or an evening cappuccino is enough to upset the stomach of any Sicilian for days on end.
And just a few more photos from today: