Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bongiorno & Toilet Paper

I got up much earlier today... about 7:30 am. I cut up some fruit and made a plate with cheese and meat from the store and one of the little pastries Lucia left for us. They are filled with some sort of custard and a tart cherry. Decidedly yummy. 

We are not sold on what to do today, but that's kind of nice. We talked about Capri yesterday. Today, it's Paestum -- ancient Greek ruins near Salerno. Neither is where we end up. 

Phone still isn't working when I try Lucia to tell her the washing machine isn't working. If I don't wash my jeans, I swear they are going to get up and walk out on me. They've taken on a life of their own. I may name them. What would be a good name for dirty pants? I was thinking Earl. 

It takes us about two hours to get out the door. As we are walking down the hill, marveling that we didn't die a bloody or asthmatic related death last night, we pass a dog laying at the end of a driveway. He doesn't move at all. No wag of the tail, nothing but an eye following us. When I remark about this, mom says, "Yeah... he's tired from barking all night!"

True, true. And my karma from complaining about that yesterday earned us a pile of goodness near our front door. Poo on you, too. I miss my very well behaved Pomeranian. She speaks two languages (dog and treat), is a avid traveller who summers in Michigan, and would never poo by the door. Maybe in the living room. Once she pooped an entire perimeter around my bed. I had just started dating someone and I think she was a little jealous. That wasn't as hard to explain as the fact that she also peed on his clothes.

I have really gotten off track here. Where was I?

Passing a woman on the left, we wave and call out, "Bongiorno," which means good morning in Italian. I know about four words. One of the lovely gals at work tried to teach me a few swear words. I wish I would have studied those harder. I've cursed a lot the past few days, much to my mother's dismay. If I could only do it in a different language...

We get to the bus stop and after waiting a few minutes, the woman we passed comes around the corner in the passenger seat of a car. The stop, back up, and ask us if we would like a ride. We ask where they are going, and they respond "Sorrento." Maybe our karma isn't so bad after all. We don't think twice before hopping in.

Maybe that seems nuts -- getting into a strangers car -- but these our neighbors, right? And as Lucia explained when she drove us up the 45 degree incline, many of the homes here are occupied by family. As it turns out, this is her sister. I can see the family resemblance immediately. The driver, Antonio, is Maria's son. His sister and her husband, Silvio, who we met on arrival, live across the courtyard from our little house. They were just lovely to chat with. We learn that Antonio has been to much of the east coast of the US, working on container ships. He now works the hydrofoil from Sorrento to Capri. 

They drop us at the train station and we buy tickets to Pompeii, where we plan to catch another train to Paestum. Instead, we go to Naples. I'm not sure why we change, though it could have something to do with preparedness. Mom as been pretty fickle about that. There were clouds in the sky this morning, so she said we should get an umbrella. Naples is a dangerous city. We should get mace. There us one thing though, that she has been obsessing about a bit since our arrival. She has mentioned it three times. 

Toilet paper.

We have an entire unused roll in the cupboard, but at home, she says she has like 50 rolls. This is apparently a glaring disparity. The lack of toilet paper we have is actually terrifying, especially considering she bought a 10 pack of travel tissues yesterday. That is not a package of ten tissues, mind you. It is a package of 10 PACKAGES of tissues.

I think there's enough paper products to go around without having to impose a two square rule, but I'll humor her anyway. 

When we get to Naples, we stop first at Medimart, or whatever store we got the damn phone at, to see if they can help. They try. And try. And try... for about an hour. Finally, we ask if there is a Vodaphone store somewhere nearby. We search to no avail for another 45 minutes before deciding to contest the charge for the minutes on the credit card and go buy another sim card. The first Tim store we go to, they hand me a contract in Italian and check where I should sign. My mother didn't raise an idiot here, though she is clearly not having as big an issue as I am putting my signature on something I can't read. We find another store, where the woman is able to explain and give me a copy of the document to take with me. Ten minutes later, we are in business. Phone again.

This will be a shock. I get through to Alitalia AND get someone who speaks English. She politely tells me they're system is down and t call back in an hour. We sit down for some Napoli pizza and a glass of wine for lunch. I would not bet the BEST Naples has to offer, but pretty damn good. The wine is local, and very good.

Our next stop is the archeological museum, or Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, where the artifacts from Pompeii are displayed. I can't really describe what it is like to walk around looking at stuff that dates to 15 AD. It's just so unbelievably hard to comprehend. I think about Antiques Road Show and the crap the have there from 500 years ago compared to the quality and workmanship of this stuff dating back nearly 2000 years. Crazy. 

However, I CAN describe by reaction to the secret sex room at the museum. Those cats at Pompeii were a little kinky to say the least. There are dozens of random clay penis sculptures stacked in a cabinet with a glass door. There's a sculpture on the floor that mom says looks like a dick on a stick, but I swear... it's a cock on a block. I need to get pictures up soon.

Dear Grandma: I take full responsibility for this post. Mom is a bit embarrassed that I would even include these ramblings here. I insist that you will not only laugh, but come up with something even funnier. That's how you roll. Eighty-eight year old on Facebook and all. Can you handle it? If not, I suggest you stop reading now. And maybe you should pray for me.

Back to Sodom and Gomorrah... the walls are lined with paintings of all kinds of fornication, and the display shelves with figurines so well endowed that if to scale, a real human being would have to haul his thingy around in a wheelbarrow. Maybe two. There are dicks on the walls. The floor. The piece de resistance, however, is almost a bit too much to even mention, so you know I can't resist. Man and... goat.

Let's move on, shall we?

We have a cup of tea in Piazza Bellini and walk to Piazza San Lorenzo to catch an underground tour just as they are closing. I proceed to walk mom on death march through Naples to get back to the train station. She's begging for a cab, but I insist it is just a little further. I think she might cry when she sees it finally. We get back to Sorrento and catch the bus to Massa Lubrense for our hike up the mountain home. 

I'm not sure she'll be able to move tomorrow, but she makes a lovely dinner with tomatoes and the leftover chicken from last night and a few other things. I'm trying to make some tea when we discover the stove isn't working anymore. We get the washer to work, but it has now been running for an hour. Walking around in wet jeans, no matter how clean they are, sounds painful. Mom suggests we dry them and heat the water... with a hairdryer.

I give up. We have now reached a point where this just gets funnier.

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