I’m sorry, it’s true updating a blog is more work than it seems. I was waiting to catch up on some major stuff for my next posts, but I need to complain somewhere. Being an au pair is hard, and there’s really nobody to appreciate the difficulty of the endeavor. My host mother yelled at me today because she’s not h with my job performance. These children are so difficult. They barely function/do what I tell them to let alone learn English. Quote: “My children are smart, they should be speaking perfect English by now.” I know all parents think their children are awesome, but it’s been 6 weeks. Also, Pescara seems like it should be a lot of fun for young people such as myself, but you need to speak Italian if you really want to enjoy it, fair warning. I’ve had fun, but it’s been pretty subdued. I’m really glad I’m going to Naples tomorrow.
So it has been a little while since I’ve posted. That’s mostly because the days have settled into a pretty reliable routine and nothing that outstanding has happened. But let me attempt to write about a few notes of interest. It has been the Europe cup for soccer, and Italy did really well getting into the championship game, then they lost really badly to Spain. I watched the last two games at a beach club called Miramare with some new friends I met through couch surfing. I think out of all the people I’ve met so far I really get along with this group. The sad thing is they’re a bit older, all around 30 I’d say (they did introduce me to some young travelers though, and we had a fun night going out on the beach ;). However they understand the situation I’m in, and here I honestly do feel older than my age here. I’ve gathered that people 20 years old here most often haven’t gone to university yet, still live with their parents, basically are somewhere still in the high school level that we have in America. It’s not everybody, but the fact that I’m almost done with my first degree while I’m still 20 really amazed them. They had thought I was much older until I told them I was 20. I’m still trying to meet up with a group of ERASMUS students here though, and I think that will be a fun group closer to my age. Anyways, watching the soccer matches at Miramare was really fun! Unlimitied beer, delicious pizza, and various antipasta during the game, and lots of amaros and salsa dancing afterwards. It was a really good environment and I feel like a good slice of the Italian culture.
On the children front things are going much better. They’re becoming more comfortable around me which means they do a little more of what I tell them to instead of me just chasing after them. Hopefully things continue on this way.
A last update is that going out to beach clubs at night is different from normal clubs. For more reasons than always having large amounts of sad in my shoes. People are more spread out, so I’ve had a hard time finding a legitimate club; people aren’t forced to dance as happens in a crowded room.
A few things have happened since I’ve written. It was Lorenzo’s birthday so there was a large party on Saturday for that. At first I dreaded that thinking of the kid parties I know, and expecting that the au pair would be involved in herding children somehow. That however turned out to not be true at all, we simply went to one of places on the beach that the family rents a palma, where they had set up a little party area with drinks and a pizza/fry buffet. All of the kids were entertained with the impressive playgrounds they have here on the beach, and all of the parents stayed for the party as they were friends of Madda’s. So I actually just got hang out and eat pizza, and figure out which of Madda’s friends could speak English, not bad at all! And family friend Ilaria made the cakes, they had Mario and Luigi screen printed on them. The cake was SO good, I was expecting a normal sheet cake (which I hate) at first, but when I ate it it was an amazing torta with fresh whip cream instead of dense frosting, and pastry cream with fresh peaches in the middle. SO good. I’ve eaten way too much of the leftovers since then….
After the party I got to go out with my new friend Martina. She is amazing, so funny, and maybe not the usual type of person I’d make friends with. She had been an au pair in Dublin so she speaks very good English and understands my situation. We’re also equal parts Irish which I thought was funny.
Anyways, she took me to a wine bar that is off the main riviera party scene. Again, not what I was expecting to be doing with my night, but it ended up turning out better than even could of hoped for. It was such an intimate little setting, tucked away on a back street with tables out on the side walk. Everybody there knew each other. Her friend was the bartender so we ended up getting many free shots, “chicettas” (spelled completely wrong), and some free wine as well. All night she just kept pouring shots, and I’m not going to say no to that. Martina’s not a big drinker these days as she’s “old” (24) so she was taking shots of this dark liquor instead of vodka. I thought it was wine at first, but she corrected me and tried to explain what it was. It was a liquor made in Abruzzo from a fruit she did not know the name for. We tried very hard to figure it out with descriptions like “big cherry” and “really ripe cherry” from Martina, but they were adamant it was not actually a cherry. Thankfully my Italian phone has internet so we finally decided to google translate it and it turns out it’s just “black cherry”. Apparently here they have a completely different name for them, while cherry is “ciliegia” black cherry is “amarena”. Not only did this discussion help me learn about a new liquor, but it solved the mystery I have been dealing with with gelato flavors. I had ordered amarenetta thinking it would be something like amaretto, but then got black cherry flavor, though I couldn’t actually recognize what it was. I now know a lot about the Abruzzo black cherry!
The night turned out very fun and I met some more people. One of the bartenders had lived in Seattle for a year and he was very excited to meet me. A short hipster version of Fabio had his eye on me all night, and wanted me to go to more bars with him after we left, which I would’ve done just to get to know more places, but Martina helped me figure out that they wanted to go to a place that was very far away. I don’t really need to do that as all the best places are close to my home so I turned him down. We stopped by Zara on the way home which is the biggest bar/beach house party there is. SO many people are there, especially starting around midnight. All in all a very good night and I got to know Martina a lot more. She is introducing me to a young knitting circle on Thursday which I’m excited for!
Drunk snack Italian style
So I actually am not sunburned at all where I should be, but my feet are sooooo burnt. I’m not sure they could be anymore sunburnt or swollen. So strange. When I met a cousin of the boys, she came up to me, pointed at my feet, and said “rosso” and stared giggling. My sunburnt feet are a huge joke. Madda tells me to put sunscreen on my feet whenever I leave the house now.
So it’s day five, and time has been flying! I hope the whole summer doesn’t go so fast. It’s getting easier with the boys, I’ve learned some key words to look for:
Calipso-a type of popsicle they like
Gelato-any kind of ice cream, more likely an ice cream popsicle thing than what we think of as classic gelato. They call that “gelato fresca”
Caldo/freddo- hot/cold. Especially important when it comes to the shower, Antonio won’t get in a cold shower.
Mama- basically if they say this around me it’s while they’re crying, and it’s pretty clear they want nothing to do with me.
These are basically the keystone communication points when it comes to my time alone with the boys. More and more Italian is making sense though, I hope three months is enough really learn a good amount. The kids are quite shy about attempting English, but I might try and sit them down and do some sort of official English lesson soon. I think I need to be more strait forward about my attempts to speak English with them.
It was Lorenzo’s birthday yesterday, so we had special pizza for lunch. It was their favorite pizza, but they’re not allowed to eat it very often. He also received a new Wii and some games to play with it, which I really liked because they’re easily entertained by it, which makes my job easier.
I got the after noon off the last two days and went for a walk the first day, and a bike ride yesterday. I got to know the city a little better, where the shopping district was, where some gelato places are. I bought some gelato yesterday and it was very nerve racking, my first time buying something on my own. It went very well, the lady was used to people ordering in English surprisingly. There really are no tourists here.
They had a friend take me out to one of the beach bars two nights ago which was fun, I made one good friend who spoke English well as she had been an au pair in Ireland before. She understands what it’s like so I think we’ll hang out again! The place we went to was a very relaxed atmosphere and they even played one of my favorite songs, Africa by toto. There were many different kinds of people there, for the classic Jersey shore bro, to men who looked like they were in LMFAO, to strange Italian versions of hipster. I discovered there’s actually a night club across the street from my house, so I’m going to try and check that out soon. As of now I’m way too tired when it’s time to go out. Waking up early and getting sun all day adds to being sleepy.
I’ve made some friends at the beach who rent palmas near ours. I really like that aspect of the beach, all of the umbrellas may seem annoying to tourists, but it allows the locals to create a really neat beach community where everybody knows everybody and they become very close friends. The first day a nice mom of three who’s also a doctor gave me delicious mini pizzas. Today Giuseppe, a policeman, tried very hard to talk to me for a long time, even though he knows no English. He bought me a cappuccino and I told him Italian coffee was way better than American and he thought that was hilarious, and it became the joke of the day. He told everybody he saw about the “acqua colore” water colored american coffee. I found a hermit crab for the boys which they thought was awesome. It’s apparently called a “paguro”. They also beach combed a little bit and gave me the shells. I will have SO many shells by the time I leave, I will have to come up with an awesome project for them. They’re very pretty. Not as pretty as tropical shells, but prettier than Washington shells.
We had a late start because we had to go to the police station, so the morning with the boys wasn’t very long. I didn’t even have time to actually go swimming myself. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t stressful though. Communcation issues for days. And host mom thought it would be a good idea to buy them new water toys, mini water cannons. Sigh. I knew I’d find a way to complain about spending time in paradise. I’m trying though and I know it will get better! There are some cute life guards around the pool though, sadly the truly hot one is dating the lady life guard. They’re a good help with the children, as they know all of them. I also managed to get a strange tan line from my dress, but I was not wearing it for long at all, I was in my bikini the whole day. Strange!
Yes, I actually did this today. Without really realizing it. I was getting set to go to the beach with the kids alone, and was drinking espresso. Quickly sipping that bitter brew I closed my eyes and thought “Please, coffee, get me through this morning.” It seems I do have a religion after all.
It has been really difficult with the kids. They’re not even trying to learn English. I understand that’s it’s because they’re shy, but I’m getting pretty sick of them just speaking Italian and expecting me to understand. Non capisce. That is the main Italian I have learned.
I think it’s time for a solo trip out into the city, or going out with young people or something. I need a break!
So yesterday we headed to the beach in the morning, but it was very windy, so we didn’t go back after going home for siesta (still don’t know the Italian equivalent for siesta). Madda has also become sick so it was my job to entertain the boys for the afternoon. Dealing with these boys is a love/hate relationship so far. I know I would love hanging out with them and doing little kid things but not speaking the same language clearly frustrates them, which in turn then frustrates me. I have decided to carry around my large two way dictionary in order to look up words that could be important in telling them what to do, and have instructed them to look up words if they really need to communicate something to me.
While playing yesterday I was greeted by Antonio in an adorable lion costume, which he was too shy to pose in. The boys then had pillow fights and made forts out of pillows, all of which I watched while knitting. I’ve discovered that knitting around a child translates into “I must unravel this ball of yarn now”. I don’t mind that as long as it doesn’t get tangled or hurt the actual knitting, so I let him run around with my yarn ball. When I tried to ball it back up he stole it from and tried to ball it himself. Apparently this is hard for a child, and led to him unraveling it even more. All in all- ball of yarn: at least an hour of distraction for a hyper child. Winning.
At this point I decided it was time to give them the Knex toy I brought them in order to distract them from my yarn and stop bothering their sick mother. This was the best decision ever. At first they were wary of the toy as I couldn’t explain to them what it was. But I sat down and taught by example how to build things. I was just messing around and ended up making something that spun like a top, and they thought I was a GENIUS. They stole the invention, copied it, and kept spinning it around yelling “Ninja Go!”, which I later learned is a show about lego men who are ninjas. The Knex kept them busy all the way into the evening until papa came home and my duty to entertain was over.
For dinner we had kind of a fancy chicken noodle soup made with baby penne shaped pasta and apparently very fresh chicken stock. Then we mixed in crumbled Parmesan which surprisingly completely dissolved and made Parmesan flavored broth. Papa also made a strange chicken burger thing, but it was fresh from the butcher and flavored very nicely- not really a chicken burger.
It was a nice dinner and with Madda in her room it also allowed me to bond with my host dad more, as he hasn’t been around very often. For some reason I thought he was an economics professor, but I found out he’s actually an architect as well. He apparently won an award for designing “the most beautiful lamp in the world”. He also got his PhD at Berkeley, but can still barely speak English. His family is from Brindisi and he has two brothers and a sister. We drank good wine over dinner, and when we were finished he got really excited and brought out a strange liquor from the freezer. It was homemade so there was no label on bottle and looked like it was frozen. Apparently it was homemade by a friend out of the lemons from Naples. It was a very think gooey texture and opaque. It tasted EXACTLY like a lemon sandwich cookie (if you’re reading this sisters, you know the ones that dad always buys), but after the initial cookie flavor I realized it was probably as alcoholic as strait vodka. It was a struggle finish the shot. Maybe some night I am trying to drink more I will try it again. After the alcohol I go extremely sleepy (it was about 10:30) and I decided I will actually try and nap during siesta from now on. I fell strait asleep.
Well, we visited the police station today again, and I am officially a legal resident!
So, finally, I have arrived in Pescara! I managed to meet up with Maddalena and get taken to my new home. Here is a deluge of pictures of my room and the view/deck. I will have more of the rest of the apartment later.
It’s sooooooooo pretty here, so much prettier than pictures led me to believe. Sure the actual city is a strange landscape of modern Italian apartments, but the beach is breath taking. Miles of perfect sand filled with pizzerias and “Palmas”, the large beach umbrellas that litter the place. There is an amazing walkway along the entire thing and it is quite the scene, rollerbladers and everything.
So many leathery Italians! The tan is beautiful but man are they leathery looking. Also, men in banana hammocks. I didn’t realize that was actually such an explicit dress code. We took a walk down to the family’s palma, you rent one for the entire summer and nobody else can use it, so I can know where to take the boys tomorrow, my first real beach day!
This job is going to be such a weird combination of stress and challenge that I can already barely deal with, and the amazing fact that I’m just going to get to go to this amazing beach everyday filled with beautiful men and pizza. Communicating with the boys is really hard, I’m hoping we can all become a little less shy and start working on that pretty quick. I realize it’s the very first day and I’m barely functioning but it still makes it quite daunting.
Oh, did I mention I was greeted with pasta, mozzarella, prosciutto, bread, and fresh cherries when I walked in? So good/perfect/what I would’ve wanted in my Italian dreams. The family has fresh bread, cheese, etc. delivered to their apartment from a farm service. And I get to eat it all summer. Yup. I’m pumped. I think she’s making dinner now so we’ll see how that goes! I’m super tired and need to go to sleep but I’m fighting jet lag like a champ!
It’s currently 18:18 in sunny Pescara. I am beat. I should actually be more tired but I’m more emotionally drained. So much has happened in the last 24 hours! Let me recant every detail before I forget.
Starting with packing.
Actually back up, here are some pictures from the going away party. I got to see my best friend Rachel for one night after she got back from Spain and before I left for Italy, but at least we got that! I will miss my friends while I am away, we had a great last night together!
Okay now packing. I had plenty of time to pack ahead of time, but there are certain things you really can’t pack until the day before, such as a hairbrush, or the clothes you’re currently wearing, etc. So this led to me frantically cleaning up my room for my subletter and packing my suitcase the night before I left for Italy, all observed by my best (currently homeless due to sublet madness) friend Hannah.
She’s always good motivation though. It also led to packing quite a lot of things. I know I’ll use all of them at some point though as this is three full months of life. I unpacked into my lovely room (see future post) and it definitely doesn’t seem like too much. I’m hoping the maid (yup, someone else does the deep cleaning of the bathroom etc. :D) doesn’t judge the amount of sunglasses and statement necklaces I brought with me. My checked bag was 58 lbs when I weighed it so I had to clip all of the shoes I brought with me to my carry on back pack, but I managed to get it down to 50.5 which they accepted. I also managed to squeeze in some stuffed animals and knex for the boys!
My mother slipped this smoke alarm into my bags after I refused her insistence that I didn’t need it; she has been quite ridiculous about the safety measures I should take. I managed to get rid of it without her knowing. Finally packed and set on my way I left at 5:30 Sunday morning.