Happy Holidays! January 5, 2006
First of all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! How was everyone’s holidays?
For Christmas I spent most of my time at the bar. I must say it was a very un-christmas-y Christmas for me, but still not terrible. On Christmas Eve I went to church at San Francesco, not midnight mass since we had to wake up early on Christmas. It was basically a normal mass until the end, when the altar server dressed up as Mary carrying a porcelain baby Jesus(for those of you wondering, yes the altar server was a girl). People went up to kiss the Jesus then the doll was placed in a nativity scene, and after that everyone said auguri and kissed each other cheeks, it was a bit odd, even my host sister said that. For Christmas day we spent it all at the bar except for lunch when we went to Nonna’s house,lunch which was basically the same thing we have everyday. We had panettone for desert, which is special bread that you let rise for a few days before you bake it and it has many raisins and candies in it. Not many people know
how to make it, so most often it is bought at a store. It’s really sweet and tastes good, but I don’t particularly care for the candies in it. To put myself in a bit of a holiday mood, I read David Sedaris’ “Holidays on Ice”. I think I scared some of the customers in the bar with my maniacal laughing…. Hehehe. Nothing brightens my day like a Sedaris book.
On the 27-29 of December there was a Tour of Basilicata (my region) with all of the exchange students of the region and some volunteers. The first day we saw Melfi and Venosa. Venosa had some really neat ruins of the ancient Roman city and an unfinished church, unfortunately it was getting dark and it was miserably raining so I didn’t get great pictures. I had a single room at the hotel we stayed at, I would have liked to share a room, but then again after not having my own room for four months, it was real nice to have my own room. Second day was Grassano, Potenza, and Grottole. We saw a presepe (nativity scene, that’s the right way to spell it, last entry I was wrong)
that had background music and the lights changed from night to day, it was one of the best ones I’ve seen so far. Potenza, oh man Potenza, that is an ugly city. The guidebook was right, the best way to see it is very fast and at night. It’s a sprawling monster of concrete that hurts the eyes to look at it. My favorite part about Potenza was the numerous series of escalators that connect one part of the city to the other. We saw the President of the Region (I’m pretty sure that was who talked to us) he gave a speech, which I tried, keyword here tried, to translate. The fact that I have no short-term memory (well actually any memory for that matter) did not help me translate at all. The AFS volunteers wanted me to help translate at an art museum, but it was a general decision to give up on that after two or three minutes (Thank goodness!!!!) At night after eating dinner at the hotel, we, those of us who wanted to go, got to go to a pub in Grottole. The pub was special because it was carved out of rock, so it
was more of a cave pub. We were allowed to order one alcoholic drink, and were accompanied by the president of my local chapter and some other adults I’ll be honest, I did order something alcoholic, but after one sip, well, I got everyone else at the table to finish it for me, it tasted awful. I have never liked the taste of alcohol in the first place; I can’t remember what possessed me to order a drink. Third day we went to Matera, which I have already seen many times, but we went into a rock church and a house in the sassi that was inhabited up until the 1950’s. Matera was nice, the food we had for lunch was awful, although leaving our mark on the restaurant’s walls was fun. It started snowing at the end of the day when we were entering Irsina, we had some problems getting up the roads, but eventually we made it. It was a great trip and I hope that we have many more. I’m currently trying to push my local chapter into organizing a ski trip, but I don’t think they are as enthusiastic about it as I am. (Nevertheless I have fun being a pain in their necks…my guilty pleasure )
New Years was fun, a real holiday. My host family and I had new years dinner at Zio Raffaele and Zia Pina’s house. The food was good and the weather wasn’t terrible. My host brother Gerardo popped the cork of the spumante at exactly midnight and we ate lentils for good luck. In Italy its traditional to wear red for new years, neat thing to know because in Brazil it traditional to wear white.
I forgot to mention that I went to Rome!! How could I do such a horrible thing! Siripan and I got a ride with a school from Tricarico, we went on the 21st of December to see the pope. It was really crowded so we were in St. Peters Square. When the Popemobile came around, since I was closest to the barrier, I was crushed by little girls with white handkerchiefs from some church in Rome. I asked a couple of them not to put their handkerchiefs in front of me when I was taking pictures and also to stop stepping on my backpack. I was so close to the pope! About 6 feet away, and at the exact moment I take the picture what does the little girl next to me do? Yep, the one perfect chance for a picture I could ever take came out white! I was so mad, for the next couple of hours I was cursing those kids and swearing to get my tubes tided, in my head of course, you don’t say things like that in front of the Pope. We toured some of Rome, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, some of St. Peters, and a few other sites. It’s a beautiful city, I think I’ll try and annoy my local AFS chapter to take me again.
Well that’s it for now. Until next time!
P.S. If you notice anything misspelled please excuse me, I only realized recently how terrible my spelling has become.
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