Sunday, June 28, 2009


I can't believe two weeks have passed since I last wrote in Messina. I have already left Palermo and have been moved to Aversa, a small town outside of Naples. I think it will be a bit cooler here, which my skin is quite glad for. After two weeks, my heat rash seems to finally be disappearing. Of course, "cooler" is a relative term for July in Italy, so I guess we'll have to see how that will be. Anyway, back to Palermo......

I stayed with the sweetest family. They have a 7 year old daughter, Sara, and an 8-1/2 year old son, Davide. The mother is very proficient with her english, and we had so many good laughs. They live outside of Palermo in a town on the Meditteranean Sea called Carini. Everyday, our drive to school was gorgeous. Sometimes I stop and wonder how I got here or what on earth I'm doing, but we're having such a blast, it doesn't really even matter. The camp in Palermo was two weeks long, and a bit bigger than our last one. We had 5 tutors: Kim, the girl I've been travelling with from Cananda, Jackie, an awesome teacher from Wisconsin, and Eugene and Maria, a really fantastic couple from New Zealand. We ran a great camp and really enjoyed being together, which they say doesn't happen all the time, so we are all counting our blessings.

Palermo was incredible. Though it is infamous for its large mafia presence, we never had an encounter and had no safety issues. The town is rich with history and culture, and I almost think it's more fun to see a city when you know nothing of the history and have no expectations. My families have been excellent about telling me the stories of the places we go to, and I can barely retain all the history lessons I am getting. At least I can still teach English....

I think that's about it for now. I could recount stories for hours, but I think this will keep you all sufficiently up-to-date. Miss you guys lots, but more than anything, I wish you were here to experience these amazing places with me!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Over the first hill

Hello again from Messina!

I'm all packed and ready to go, since we just got word that we are heading to Palermo today for our second camp next week. But first, a few highlights from Messina:

Life in Sicily is rough. For example, today we had ice cream for lunch. :) Don't get me wrong, we eat real food and Sicilian cuisine is fantastic, but I'm quite amused by the way of life here. I am staying with a very nice Sicilian family. They have a little 7-year-old boy, and the father speaks a fair amount of english (and the mother and I have become very good at using the dictionary). Last Sunday, they took me to their sea house. The day basically consists of preparing a meal, eating the meal, and then passing the time until the next meal in conversation, rest, swimming, or any other way you fancy. I know, totally not Rachel, but I'm learning to adapt. My mom here is an excellent cook. I got to experience some great authentic meals, and of course enjoy the more cliche pizza, gelato, and nutella sandwiches. That's right, bread and chocolate-the kids love it.

Camp was fantastic. I worked with 6 and 7-year-olds this week. Their english is very limited, but their enthusiasm and retention was awesome. I've included a couple pictures from our final show at the end of the week. It takes quite a bit of creativity and energy to get from 9 in the morning to 5:30 at night, but the kids are so much fun, it brings me a lot of joy. I will share more pictures and a bit more of Messina history later, but for now I must go. We received word last night that we are being sent to Palermo today, on the west side of Sicily, for our next camp. So I must go and catch my train-enjoy your weekend!

Monday, June 8, 2009

From Florence to San Remo

Here's some shots from our orientation. A group of the tutors for this summer (top), and our returning tutor/instructors showing us the best way to pass time in the heat. Crazy group, and such a blast.

So, after four days to get adjusted and relax in Florence, I made my way up to the northwest corner of Italy in San Remo. These pictures are from the "top" of the old part of town. The director of our program was kind enough to give us a personal tour one night. The place is AMAZING. I'm sure I've already used that word to the full in describing what I've been seeing here, but I don't think I can say it enough. The girls in the picture with me above were my roommates for our week of orientation. They are from Windsor, Ontario, and we had a great time together. The next shot ( with the group sitting at tables) was our dinner arrangements one night. It was so cool, because this little piazza is tucked up a steep, narrow street, and the houses peer right out into the courtyard adjoining the restaurant. It's like something straight out of a storybook, and absolutely fantastic. And yes, of course the food is great too. :)

View Larger Map

Visuals, finally!

Okay! Now that I have more than two minutes and half a brain, I have finally got some pics up to share with you all. Starting back in Florence...
This first picture (below) was the view from my window at the hostel. Pretty rough to wake up, don't ya think? The birds as beautifully as the chapel bells too, it was so peaceful. The other pictures are from the top of the Duomo, Michaelangelo's plaza, and one of the million palazzas downtown. I wandered aimlessly most of my time in Florence, but you never feel lost and you never run out of picture-perfect sights. It was fantastic.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

From one end of the country to the other

Sorry it's been almost two weeks since I've written. Time is flying! I enjoyed my time in Florence immensely, made many new friends (my goal for the trip is one everyday, but I think we blew that out of the water this week), and actually got to relax, sleep, and have some peace and quiet. I know, not what you normally come to Italy to do, but this isn't quite a normal trip. I then made my way up to San Remo for my orientation for work. We've been in class all week, and time has just blazed by. There are 93 tutors in my group, and another 120 starting next week. We have swarmed the town and the country, and are all very excited to have such an amazing opportunity ahead of us. My roommates are two friends from Windsor, Ontario (Canada-woo hoo!), and we have had a great time. I never thought sharing a compact hotel room with two completely unknown girls would be so easy! Every day, we have class from 9-5 or 6, with a 40 minute walk to and from our hotel. They arrange dinner for us each night, so our days are packed. I can hardly believe it Thursday. But today was supposed to be a big day, because we were all going to find out where we are being sent next week. Only six of us found out though and......I'm headed to Sicily tomorrow night! We will spend the next day and a half travelling all the way to the other end of this place! I was laughing to myself, because I had said I wanted to see the whole country this trip, so I guess they've put me on the right start. So tomorrow night, myself and one other girl will be packing ourselves onto a train from here to Genova, a night train to Rome, and from there-roughly-to Sicily. I only have a sketch of the details right now, but apparently it's quite an amazing trip. We will be in Messina for a week if not two, and after that we'll receive an update: either a new location assignment, or apparently there will be another camp in a different part of Sicily after that as well. I'm so excited! I have not had a chance to put my pictures on my computer yet, and internet service has been a little hazy in this town, but I hope to give you more details and plenty of visuals as soon as I settle into my new home for the next few weeks. Thanks for your patience, and following my chaotic adventure so far! Hope you are all well :)

View Larger Map