Saturday, March 22, 2008

Laurie's Farewell Post

Laurel Elizabeth Contreras
Her favorite Holy Water font in St. Peter's Basilica

ALLORA (aka, "well", spoken repeately with a sigh in Italy).  George has insisted that I write a final blog, but it just isn't easy for me.  Now, instead of writing, if I could just talk . . .
Yes, it was a fantastic trip, as we all thought and hoped it would be, except possibly for some of the driving with Parnelli Contreras.  My travel expert/husband outdid himself this time.  Although I did think that he might be a little bored, taking me to many places he had already been, I think he enjoyed himself.  I can't thank him enough for all his planning and attention to detail.  You might consider hiring him for your travel plans in the future.
My trip home, as you can imagine, was very long, and it was wonderful to be met by such good and generous friends as Helen and Rod Fujita. (Not to mention help with the luggage.)  To see friendly, loving faces after that trek was such a gift AND the nine pieces of ceramics we had packed arrived with me and all my luggage in perfect condition!  (Yes, I needed an extra suitcase as you may know, but I blame part of it on George when he found the ceramic pattern he had been looking for.)
The best description of my experience is just to say that everything GW has said is completely accurate.  Catania is a working city, the countryside of Catania is green and beautiful, "Malibu" is a delightful beach house, the food and beverages are indescribable and varied, the cities in Italy spectacular, but above all, the people are warm and welcoming and I am also happy to call them my friends.  
One of the things that surprised me, not having traveled extensively, but having traveled in Europe before, was that as Americans in Catania, we were a bit of an oddity.  I am sure that because it is not the tourist season, and because it is my understanding that Catania vacationers usually don't arrive until the weather is warmer, we experienced small restaurants to sometimes become completely silent when we entered.  I was very aware of the fact that there aren't many blonds (having heard the word "Lampadina" meaning "Light bulb" murmured in my direction several times, and that George appeared to me to be bigger than most Sicilians, but after the initial quiet, we were treated warmly and graciously.  I am very greatful to have been invited into Salvo and Titiana's (and their wonderful sons) home for a lovely evening of food and discussions about homelife in Catania.  With her dictionary at her side, she answered so many questions about food, work, etc.  It was truly special evening followed the next day by the barbeque to honor the newest Surgeon on the Elephanti football team, which also was new and delightful experience.  All in all, the people ARE what makes Catania special.  (The beautiful blue sea doesn't hurt, either.)
I could go on and on, but I think George's pictures show the uniqueness of his (our) experience.  I have tried to express to him how much we all have enjoyed his (and Jason's) work.  And believe me, he does work at it.  Maybe he will spend a little more time now working on the blog and less eating out with young females?  Do you think?  Not!!!
I now look forward to George's quick visit in May and then my return trip to Catania at the end of the season.  
Love to all, and thank you for all of your support.

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