Published: June 4th 2009June 3rd 2009
Here's the mower and a portion of the grass I had to mow.
Oh, sweet, sweet internet. How I've missed you.
*Note about the pictures: I've taken about 500 so far, so here's just a sprinkle. I'll add some earlier ones to my past posts later.
A lot has happened here since my last post, so sorry about the length and spelling...I'll start with the bad news.
My plan was to leave Monday to travel somewhere. While the farm was still nice and free, I was starting to get tired of work and Marino's increasingly condecending tone was starting to get on my nerves. Because he freaks out if I try to use the computer for more than 5 minutes, I had to go to Pescara, the coastal city, to use the internet. It was such a crappy day. The weather was dreary, the city was dirty, and searching online for travel plans yeilded nothing but disapointment. I did manage to eat gelato and pizza, and walk around, but most of my time was spent seaching for hostels and train tickets online. I ended up booking a hostel in Rome for Friday and Saturday night, and decided I'd stay on the farm until Friday. Mistake! I was
My Favorite Flowers
They are everywhere!
kicking myself for not planning the rest of my travels ahead of time...
I was genuine in my last post about how great L'Aperegina was. But something changed. Marino gradually became a huge jerk. He'd always talked to me a bit like I was stupid, but I just tried to ignore that. But then he started yelling at me for silly understandings, or for not reading his mind, really. There's just no pleasing that man.
I suspect that me being American and speaking little italian had something to do with how he treated me. He was already starting to get on my nerves before the shouting started because he was always acting like he lives so sustainably, when he doesn't. And I think you all know how I feel about that. He says "oh, I attention to the energy and water" yet he has the most giant lawn ever that I had to mow twice, using hours of electricity. And he waters it every day. And they use paper napkins with every meal. And they don't use natural cleaning producs nor low VOC paint (so I probably have brain damage now). Anyway, I could contineu, but you get
Very dry and smells like sheep.
the picture. He also seems to think he was the only one who lived this "natural" lifestyle, and he could certainly never imagine an American understanding his ways. When i would cook pasta or push a wheelbarrow, or do simple things like that, he would ask if that was my fist time doing it. Seriously? I suppose he thinks we all just sit in front of the T.V. all day. I was constantly correcting this steriotype, yet he never got it.
I brought up the fact that I was being treated like crap to him and his wife, and she said that he's "a true person who is angry when he's angry and happy when he's happy". No. Not in America. Maybe it's a different lifestyle, but if you yell at someone constantly when all they do is help you, you're an true asshole. So from then on I would repeat everything he told me, to double and triple check if I understood, and of course that made him angry as well. Finally, yesterday, I couldn't take it and when he yelled at me for peeling potatoes at the table instead of at the counter, I said "I didn't
Homemade pizza made in a giant wood-burning oven. Potato and rosmary, zuchinni, carmelized onions, and peppers with tomatoe sauce. The crust left something to be desired, but I was a fan of the onions.
come to Italy to do dishes and be yelled at." Which is true. There were so many dishes, and I hate cleaning and doing dishes so very much. And if I wasn't doing dishes, I was doing some other sort of cleaning. Who knows if he understood what I said, but he knew I was standing up for myself, so he yelled more....At some point he asked something like "do you think I'm a bad person?" and I didn't hesitate to say yes....The end result was that he said I could stay there and eat and sleep and not work. Hm, that would be nice except it would be very uncomfortable after that argument. So I spent the rest of the night finding somewhere else to go and dreaming about getting to use the internet and not wash dishes.
Also, during these days of hell, there was constant rain and cold, only adding to the misery. Oh, and I had to change rooms twice. First I moved to the new house that we fixed up, which was great, but then I had to move to the "WWOOF house" which looked like either it hadn't been cleaned in 10 years
Wet Clay Sucks
Or, sticks, rather.
or was purposely converted into a spider sanctuary. We cleaned it up, but it was still tiny and cold, and there was a huge picture of an angry cat right above the bed that freaked me out. Oh, and lots of cheese kept ariving, making the kitchen smell awful. You could tell it was made from sheep's milk because it smelled and tased like a sheep smells...And the bread that is served with every meal is terribly tough and only tolerable with heaps of olive oil or jam.
Okay, now the good news!
First, I escaped! But more about that later. There were some good things about the farm, still, and thank goodness because they made the rest of it bearble.
Remeber how I said they had oldies music? Well that was a wonderful escape when cleaning and washing and hiding from the rain. It brought back pleasant memories of home but now those songs will be tained by these new memories...
There was some rather friendly and interesting guests that we got to talk to around meal times. There were 2 swiss brothers, a austrian couple with
I was determined to hike to that mountain pass.
a baby, and 6 Italians. The austrian couple was biking everywhere around Abruzzo with their baby and had just come from a bike race featuring Lance Armstrong. Most Europeans (with the exception of Italians) are fluent in so many languages! This guy knew spanish, french, german, english, and could understand italian. Come on american schools, let's add some more early forien language education. Their baby was so adorable. They offered to give us a lift out of the hell hole, but we didn't really have anywhere to go....The italians were really nice and would try out their english with us. One guy in particular had quite a large volcabulary. There's an election coming up in Italy, so there have been many heated discusions. I was asked if it's true that you can get in trouble with the police in America for having open bottle of alcohol in your vehicle. They thought this was outrageous.
When I've said "we" I'm refering to Marieke and I. She is another wwoofer who arrived...I don't remember when, but not too long ago. She's originally from Holland but has lived in Canada and consideres herself a canadian. she's been traveling for a
But tiny in comparison. A part of the top fell of in the earthquake.
year and half, in europe and asia, and has some adventures with wildlife including working with sea turtles in greece and elephants in tailand. She's envious on my studies because it's now what she wants to do. Anyway, we became fast freinds and are going to travel to Naples together on Friday for the pizza and Pompei. I felt bad leaving her there...but she'll survive. She even found my blog before she came, and it gave her false hope...She had also had another terrible experience wwoofing italy. I hope they aren't all like this.
The pasta was good, and the olive oil, and wine. Cookies, cakes, also tarts (crostata) were something to look forward to.
We went on a drive with Elide, Marino, and 2 italian guests. 6 people, crammed into a car for hours of mountain driving. The landscape was beautiful, but we didnn't even get out to walk around, just drove up and down. There was a castle that had been damaged by the earthquake and the people in the town were living in blue tents. We stopped by a local spring fed river, which was pretty, but not as good as
One of the views from the mountain.
Florida's. We had a picnic at the most stupid place ever, by the spring, but there was a huge wall only by the tables, so you couldn't see the water if you were eating.
There was a mountain pass you could see from the farm, and I had been wanting to hike there from day 1. I finally did on my last day, when the weather cleared. It was exciting, but mostly because i nearly got mauled by a dog. I was jut walking along and this giant white dog started barking, growling, and running towards me. I turned around, walked slowly away, trying not to feel fear because he could smell it. But how could I not when I seriously thought I was oing to be attacked. I was looking around for things to beat it off with, but all i had was my flimsy tripod. I could hear it 5 feet behind me, and getting closer, but it never reached me. The dogs here seem to have been trained not to pass a certain point, which I was countng on. Anyway, there's this old tower thing on top of a hill, and it had great views. The
I bet Marino put it there to intimdate WWOOFers. His plan worked.
path there was very muddy, but it was claw mud, so it took me twice as long to complete the hike than it should have because i had stop every 20 steps to scrape off 2 pounds of clay sticking to each shoe. I had to weed this soil once. It was like weeding cement, because you had to chop and hack the tops of the plants because trying to actually get under the surface was imposible. I felt guilty doing because those plants were amazing to have been able to grow in that, and then here I was killing them. I was astonished to find one earth worm! How could it possibly move? I probably accidentally killed that, too.
There was also to ever increasing abundance of wildflowers and insects. I could have done without the biting and stinging ones, though.
Marieke and I agree that our travel experiences, bad and good, always teach us something and lead us somewhere. I'm stil comtemplating the lessons from the the last few weeks, but it certainly lead me to Sulmona, which I would have missed out on had things been different.
I left yesterday to come to the charming little town full of candy, gardens, and pedestrians streets. My next entry will be about that and some observations about the Italian language, people, and fashion.