Leo 5° (July 27)
Things are a bit mish-mashed these past couple of days. Last night felt a bit somber with those guys leaving and then we had this sort of heart-to-heart talk about what went down. I think everybody really needed to regroup and so I spent much of the day getting some work done as we had that long journey from Albania to Sicily. I fell asleep on the top deck for a few minutes. We had canapés of chicken briouats and mango in phyllo dough and were talking about the best way to negotiate the rest of the trip. The weather will have a lot to do with it. We decided for sure to skip Capri because this time of year it will be a mob scene; as it is we might not even get to Ischia because of some rough seas ahead and also the arrival times of the next two sets of guests. Dinner was a tagine of rabbit which I quite liked—they did a fishy version for la S. The table was decorated in such a way that there were symbols drawn in balsamic vinegar in our olive oil with little cards and sayings. Mine was the seed and all about fertility. S’s was about fish bones which is funny since they made her that special fish. E’s was about something but he didn’t stop to look and just plowed his bread through his olive oil frame of the balsamic drawing. Endowed with the gift of the gab, he keeps conversation going, which can be kind of a relief when you yourself are feeling quiet. There are never any awkward silences when he is around. After dinner we all played a video game that was more like a board game. Still the Mario Bros. and it was fun but I find these sorts of things challenging to my mind which is unused to things that other adults who have kids are naturally more accustomed to. Also I was feeling very sleepy. And nobody was really drinking but more in decompression mode.
Awoke today coming into Sicility, Aetna, Riposto, I think, to be exact. I got dressed for the day and went up top with binoculars. We were waiting to clear customs and it felt like a scorcher. Something about the docks recalled old memories of growing up in Jersey City, which was later born out by the overall dinge and smoginess of this part of the island, and the swampy looking vegetation, that reminded me of summers spent in the city in my earliest days on the planet. There were two Mercedes vans waiting for us la famille hopped into the first one and we two remaining couples took the second along with our chef who was coming for a ride and would return to the boat with the doggie once she was empty. E. engaged the chef on her origins, which were Canadian, ultimately segueing into his knowledg of Toronto based bands. We learned the wedding was to be in Aberfeldy. We found out later that the first van was driven by the wife and the second by the husband in a married couple themselves. We were heading to Taormino and were given some vague history about Phoenicians and Corinthians and Greeks which didn’t remain clear in my mind. The basic gist being that the Greeks drove the original inhabitants from Naxos to seek refuge in the hills above the coastal town, wiping it out. The hills are distinguished by two major peaks which were like Bulls horns, thus, Taormino, in a nod to Taurus if not the Minotaur.
The driver thought he had met S. before which of course he hadn’t and it was decided that he was confusing her with J. as everyone in the car, including the chef, thought they had similar looks, if not sisterly than that of cousins, “similar bone structure” was the arrived consensus. People on motorbikes were passing us on hairpin turns in narrow roads; at one point a guy on a motorcycle was texting while climbing a steep hill, going really slow, such that a bunch of cars and vans had to pass him. We ended up going through Naxos as a short cut, which was fine, as it slowly rose from there into Taurmino, the bottom bit of which are the gardens which was the desired destination for N. and the doggie, specifically. We stopped and spilled out from the couple’s vans and were immediately directed that we had a choice between the gardens and going straight up to the town to tool around which is what J wanted to do, just as we did. So the three of us jumped into the lady’s van and at the last instant so did E.
We headed up to a good stop in the center of the little town and stopped to pee and grab some water and coffee. Three of us were quiet, happy to let the narrator continue to fill any empty spaces, which, again, was just perfect. I am feeling all talked out right now given the full on events of the previous week, and some more serious moments, of which, D. especially, has been making light. That said, if it weren’t for E. I might feel compelled to dredge up topics for conversation as my duty as a polite and affable guest. So truly grateful he has so much to say and keeps the verbal action going. It feels like a gift today. E. paid the check and se set off, first, alighting on a pretty cool fragrance shop with one line made right here in the shadow of Aetna which, said our driver, is showing signs of activity, blowing brown smoke (from fire) as opposed to white smoke (steam). Within moments, though I wasn’t sure if it was because they fell behind or speeded ahead, J. and E. were no longer in sight, So S. and I loped our way down the rue pieton in the scorching heat, stopping rarely into shops. A print shop caught my eye, and I took a picture of a centuries old map of Sicily, when J. popped out of the shop signalling she was on the phone to N. whom she was directing from the gardens to meet her. We heard some music and there were two men, one with guitar, one with mandolin, playing and singing in the nearby square which overlooked the gardens and the bay at Naxos below.
We still had an hour before lunch so we continued on to the further end of the town which is book marked by ancient stone arched gates. Then slowly worked our way back and decided we would look for our lunch spot, in the Grand Hotel Timeo, so that we could continue to meander from there. (The word meander I recently learned comes from the river of the same name that goes this way and that through part of Greece, I forget which.) As we were climbing the last bit of hill toward the hotel we spotted N. and K., under the shade of an olive tree, in what seemed like serious conversation—it occurs to me know she might have been “working him” for the purchase of a dress she fancied—and N. said that the others were already at the hotel so we headed up. It was of course beautiful, and situated right next to the ancient Greek ampitheater there.
Folks were sitting on the terrace and ordering elaborate mocktails—we had glasses of cold, crisp local Aetna white. I over indulged on the snacks—black pepper potato chips that tasted like caccio e pepe (sans caccio), almonds, hazelnuts and giant green olives. I was starving and definitely overdid it pre lunch. It was J.M.’s birthday so they Facetimed with her, all taking turns, then we were moved to the shady bit of the terrace for lunch. They brought some burrata and zucchini flowers and some tuna tartare as starters, and pretty much everyone had pasta—mine was a dense, large, tube past called Parrechi or something like that, with mussels, squid and shrimp. Small but definitely filling. A couple more whites for me, and a cannoli to top it off. After lunch la famille wanted to shop and E. and C. went along with them. S. and I decided to brave the amphitheater even though the sun was beating down upon us in this vast open space. I’m glad we did. They were obviously using the theater for a current production in the evenings. There were lights set up. We went backstage and entered onto the stage from there, applauding and imagining our entrances. We strolled a bit more. The plan was to meet the vans outside the hotel. We waited an extra ten minutes before one van, containing E. and C., appeared. La famille had intercepted the husband’s van and were heading down to Naxos to where the boat had conveniently moved, and the lady’s van was taking us down. Only she didn’t know the boat had moved; she claimed either had her husband; yet the other van got to the right place. It was confusing. She spoke English very well and we came to find out she was born in Australia, as was her mother. But her father, and her mother’s parents, were from Sicily and her father and her reluctant mother moved (back) to the Island when driver lady was seven.
We got to the port. Got back on the boat. People had near heat stroke I think. We had the option to swim before going. Nobody opted to do so. The bay looked a bit not so clean to me in any case. So we set off. The plan: to travel from tea time till about seven or eight in the morning. I took a shower and put on a robe and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and did some work in the cabin. S. went to the upper deck to read but ended up sleeping. My stomach is feeling so bloated from flour and other things I don’t normally eat that it almost has a geometry to it. I skipped tea but could here people laughing. And then they came up to play video games. I put the Talking Heads on and continued to work and before I knew it it was time for drinks and canapés once again. Negronis and venison scotch eggs and what they called faux-gras (a lentil mushroom dip) with crackers. Along with flour and sugar I had removed legumes from my diet too, but I ate all the hummus in Greece and have been eating all sorts of legumes ever since. The head stew came around to ask if I wanted beef or vegetarian stew for dinner—I opted for the beef which, turned out, all the men were served. The women were served the vegetarian version although they hadn’t been asked which they wanted. The kitchen is becoming super intuitive as everyone had just what they wanted. There were more beans but I am not saying no to a single deliciousness. I did however decline the bacon and olive bread with acute sadness.
The plan was to cruise by Stromboli in the dark to see what we might se in terms of volcanic activity; and suddenly it was upon us; and nothing could have prepared us for what we witnessed. La famille had just passed the island in the dark just a week or so ago and it had some activity and one lava stream. Tonight one side of the island was completely on fire, with some flames so intense the were totally red, and in no way orange. Lava was flowing down from numerous points. It was extraordinary and will never come out on film no matter what. We have to consign it all to our memory banks. We went around to the dark side of the island, to circle round and get a second look; but on the dark side is where we could see the actual eruption, this great dark mountain suddenly shooting molten spew into the air. I have never seen anything like it and I doubt I will do for some time to come. After the natural fireworks we all went to bed but we were not going to be asleep for long.
To view the original Sabian Symbol themed 2015 Cosmic Blague corresponding to this day: Flashback! The degree pointof the Sabian Symbol will be one degree higher than the one listed for today. The Blague portrays the starting degree of for this day ( 0°, for instance), as I typically post in the morning, while the Sabian number corresponds to the end point (1°) of that same 0°-1° period. There are 360 degrees spread over 365 or 6 days per year—so they near but not exactly correlate.
Typos happen. I don’t have a proofreader. And I like to just write, post and go!
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