A Travellerspoint blog

Some unrelated subjects

Something only Kentuckians say?
I recently realized that ‘cool as a cucumber’ is not a cliché used throughout all of the US like I’ve always thought. Two of my roommates are from Texas and neither of them had ever heard the phrase when I used it. But they said it was cute and they’ll start using it from now on.

Caldo e Freddo
In Caffe Minerva the other day, I ordered a tea. I felt really good about it because I said it Italian. I said, “Vorrei un te, per favore” and the guy asked if I wanted it caldo and I said ‘si’. But then he pointed to a refrigerator with a can of lipton ice tea (which I know isn’t that good but I didn’t want to spend too much) and again I said ‘si’. So he repeated, “Caldo?” and we went through the same process all over again. And I couldn’t understand why he kept asking and pointing, which went on for a couple minutes. It wasn’t until later on in the day that I realized caldo means hot, not cold like I had thought. My professor told me that caldo means hot and freddo means cold. So basically I kept saying yes to both hot and cold tea in the café. And I felt like an idiot when I realized this. I think I might figure out how to talk to the man in the café when I go back and tell him I figured out what caldo meant so maybe we can both have a laugh.

Playlist (while photoshopping some pictures):
American Girl, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Prettiest Tree on the Mountain, Ben Sollee
Lost in the Supermarket, The Clash
Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, Fall Out Boy
Suddenly I see, KT Tunstall
Kiss of Life, Sade
Daydreamer, ADELE

Posted by sarabee 02:15 Comments (0)

Vacation's over?

I did it! I finally found the electronics store and managed to buy an adapter for all of my American plugs. After wandering around the Tempio di Apollo (a great plaza with the ruins of a temple and lots of upscale clothing stores) for more or less 20 minutes, I passed a window full of phones on display. I said, “Oh, look at that window of phones.” I walked a bit further and the next window had a plethora of digital cameras and I said, “Oh, look at that plethora of digital cameras.” And then I frowned a little, looked up at the awning and said, “Hmm, I think I found the electronics store.” I was able to tell the man at the counter than I don’t speak Italian and asked if he understood English; he didn’t but another salesman did and I explained to him what I needed. Now I have an adapter that I could use in Hong Kong, Africa, Australia and virtually anywhere else! Splendid!

Yesterday was the first day of class. I have two classes: Ancient Sicilian History and Greek Archaeology & Art. In one of the classes, I don’t remember which, the professor was saying that Sicily’s history goes all the way back to prehistoric times. They have records dating back five millennia and I got to thinking about something that I never would have expected myself to think. Since the time when I began caring about history and culture, I’ve always felt a little disappointed that America, the United States anyway, does not have that rich of a culture and we aren’t old at all. Europe, Africa, Asia, all these places have deeply-seeded cultures that span hundreds of centuries and the US really does not. But when I was in class yesterday, thinking about how old Sicily was, I suddenly felt glad that America didn’t have a long list of civilizations. I felt relieved that I didn’t have to remember so much information about the place I am living. It was a funny feeling, one I’d never expect to feel. Perhaps I like that America has a simpler past. Sure, I realize Native Americans have inhabited the land for thousands of years – which is completely interesting to learn about. Now, I think I’ve lost the point I wanted to make. But I’m hoping you get the gist.

So I’m beginning to become homesick. For one, I miss everyone. But for two, I think it’s because even the most minute, everyday tasks are difficult here. The language barrier is hard to overcome and I’m beginning to get tired of not being able to order food or ask for directions in a normal way. I’m learning nouns fairly easily; but verbs are harder to pick up. People speak so fast!

And of course, there’s my roommate. At times, she’s really nice and we get along great. And at other times, she is controlling, pretentious and a know-it-all. She insults me verbally, which is her way of ‘joking around.’ But last night I told her that it bothers me when she says things like “Nobody cares what you think” or “No one could smell as bad as you” (that last reference was in regards to the smell of the sewer, having nothing to do with me, by the way). I told her that although I know she’s kidding, I’d like her to stop, to which she apologized.

She tries to bully me but I don’t need someone telling me what and what not to do. She thinks that because she’s traveled more than I have, she’s more worldly. And because she lives in Texas, she knows better about dealing with heat and humidity. I doubt she’s ever been to Kentucky during August. She looked at me as though I spat on her mother when I said that I don’t like art of the Renaissance. She hates cheerleaders (which I was for three years), she hates sorority girls (which my sister and cousin were), she thinks all blondes are stupid, snobby and mean. She called me a nerd one night for wearing glasses and reading a book on my bed; which is completely idiotic because she wears glasses and reads too. I blow off the silly remarks she makes but the small things have begun to add up…and quickly. I have about 4½ weeks left and it scares me that she already agitates me. I hope that our little talk last night will make things go more smoothly.

Posted by sarabee 04:22 Comments (0)

The two F's

(a poem)

Hi. I thought of you today.
It was when I lost my grip of Monti Climiti (a big rock).
I screamed.
(It was a silly, girly yelp and I felt silly and girly)

And then I remembered that I have muscles!
Arm ones and leg ones (and a couple others).
Amazing, right?
I thought so.

I used them.
And they got me quite a distance upwards.
They could have gotten me further, I believe.
But I felt accomplished nonetheless.

Did I mention I’ve never pushed myself
in so many ways as I have this year?
It’s true.
I like to think that some of my motivation is you.
I never had a reason to do things
like climb mountains
crawl through caves
or any other thing that requires strength
and induces a little fear.

I never had a reason or the interest.
(And perhaps I didn’t have the confidence.)
I was afraid of the two F’s:
Failing and Falling.
(Both of which are scary things.)
But I have discovered that they diminish as confidence grows.
I didn’t know that would happen.

I just thought you might like to know.

Posted by sarabee 08:18 Archived in Italy Tagged events Comments (0)

Sicily: first impressions

sunny 91 °F

Well right away the plane ride to get here was better than to Israel. I had no problem getting past security and turbulence was rather minimal. There was no rushing to make a connection; instead I had plenty of time to explore the airports of Philadelphia and London. London was crazy busy with people moving in all directions.

It’s now the second night and as I listen to American hits of the 70s blasting from the jazz bar directly across the street from my bedroom (yes, it sounds like the Forrest Gump soundtrack), I sit in amazement that I am actually here. Men converse loudly with excitement sitting at the outdoor tables. Occasionally a few will walk beside our open window and make cat calls into the room at us and smile disgustingly. We’re on the first floor, which is good because we didn’t have to hoist lots of luggage up any stairs but bad because people can see me sitting on my bed and typing on the computer at this moment.

But as I said, I sit in amazement.

How awesome is it that I can go to the beach at anytime? Today for 3 euros a boat took us a short way across the sea to a small sandy beach (the beach that we can walk to isn’t a sandy beach but a rocky one, but you can still swim there though). The one we went to today was nice and the water was a somewhat clear green-blue. The view was spectacular, except for the view of the speedos, of course. No one should wear a white speedo, EVER.

Last_and_F..ays_041.jpgThis afternoon, we walked down the narrow streets of the town (we’re staying in Ortigia, which is connected by bridge to Siracusa) and marveled at the beautiful architecture of the apartment buildings. They all have balconies that usually have flower boxes hanging from them. The buildings are made of white stone and often have cracks or a thin layer of rock that has chipped or weathered away. And I think they’re just fascinating. But I tried not to look too much like a tourist and not take too many pictures of what the locals probably feel is a mundane subject for a photograph.

I also took a tour of the archaeological park in Siracusa and sat at a greek amphitheater and a short walk later, sat at a roman amphitheater as well. I'm fascinated at the thought that people had constructed them thousands of years ago and they are still there, however overgrown and run down they may be. it's mind-boggling. You can walk down the road and suddenly see some greek ruins, right beside a car dealership. it's just another world out here.

Posted by sarabee 11:23 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Never have I ever...in Israel

Felt least Jewish and more a part of the Jewish people all within two weeks.

View Taglit-Birthright Israel on sarabee's travel map.

To view photos from this trip, click here

It was only the very first day and I already wondered what I had gotten myself into. I had been flagged by Israeli security in Newark airport, my carryon had been confiscated and I had personally been escorted onto the plane by a security guard. When I got to the hotel in Jerusalem, I found my shower gel had half-way emptied into my toiletries bag and I had been roomed with the only two people in the group I actually remarked to myself that I didn't want to room with. (I was afraid that since they knew each other, they would be unfriendly to me, but fortunately I judged too quickly.)

What had I gotten myself into? At first glance it seemed as if everyone on the trip had been to hebrew school or at least had been raised knowing the traditional prayers and songs and I felt like I was on the outside. I felt un-Jewish. My entire life I've been raised believing I was fundamentally Jewish, even though I was never taught a single song in Hebrew. The basis for my Jewish existence had always been rooted in the fact that my grandfather had been a Holocaust survivor and that proved I was Jewish; I never felt that I should know all of the traditions, until recently. But I soon learned that there were several people travelling with me who also weren't raised practicing Jews. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one who didn't know the tune to Adon Olam.

But as the days flew by (being around more Jews than I ever had before) and I learned the history of Israel and experienced the tradition of Jewish meals and of Shabbot, I began to form an identity that of being wholly Jewish, regardless of what little I had been taught before of the Jewish religion. I was a small part of something big, something 4,000 years old!!! (in the words of a Kabbalah-enthusiast).

It wasn't so much a religious experience for me, because being Jewish is far more than just a religion. But it was really nice to feel like I belong to a group of people who share the same history as I do. Being at the Western Wall, I was overcome with emotion, not because I felt the powers of the Lord, but seeing so many people there, reciting the prayers that have been spoken for thousands of years. It's incredible that Jews have survived. Our numbers have remained so miniscule, that it would seem very unlikely that any would survive today. But there are Jews. Tenaciously hanging on in the world. It's quite an amazing thing.

Posted by sarabee 06:17 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

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