Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 31: The Long and Winding Road

My alarm went off at 5:15, and I finished packing up, showered quickly, walked downstairs. I ate a banana, put my things in the car, and said goodbye to the dog, cat, donkey, and horse. The sky was just lightening up; the silhouetted hills were beautiful. We got in the car and began the long and winding drive to the train station. The sun had begun to rise, and beautiful golden light poured across the tobacco fields in the valley and the hillsides. At certain points, the valley mist was illuminated, creating a cool glow settling between the hills.

When we got to the surprisingly busy for 6:40 train station, I bought my ticket and went to the right track. There I said goodbye to Michael, who was a fantastic host and a good friend. I then walked back to the station to grab a croissant and a cappuccino. Not long after paying, and well before I had finished either, I heard my train coming. I ran back to the track, grabbed my bag, and got on with no trouble.

The train was pleasant; affording beautiful views of sunflower fields and the Umbria countryside. I read some, wrote some, and watched the earth fly by for some time. I arrived in Rome, bought a 90 cent ticket back to the Tiburtina station, and then had a long hike to the train; it was in the farthest part of the station, and well advanced on the tracks already. Since I was only taking it for 8 minutes, I didn't get a real seat, and just sat on my bag in the doorway area. We got going about ten minutes late, so I arrived ten minutes late, but it was no problem; I had plenty of time. After unsuccessfully looking for an open bathroom, I walked to the bus station. As I approached, I saw two guys who looked likely to be Oberlin students and introduced myself. Sure enough, I was right, and they introduced themselves as Jamie and Eli, the two other Obies working on the dig this season. Eli and I found a place in the shade and talked, while Jamie found a payphone to call Susan, the archeologist we are working with. We hung around for about an hour, and at ten got on our bus to Lanciano, where Susan and her husband Sam were to pick us up at one. The bus ride began quite ugly in the suburbs of Rome, but as we got into Abruzzo, it became quite beautiful. Jamie and I chatted, and then I read for a while. Halfway through, we stopped at a rest-stop restaurant. I walked in, looked at and smelled all the good food, and then walked out, now very hungry, and we got back on the road. Not long before we were supposed to arrive, something was said as we stopped by the side of the road. People started getting off. Jamie and I had not understood what was said, but Eli turned around and told us we had to change buses. It was the quickest transfer I've ever experienced--we got off, grabbed our bags, through them in the other bus, got on, and were off in significantly less than five minutes again.

Susan and Sam picked us up from the bus stop. We piled our stuff and ourselves into the rental car, and drove the forty minutes from Lanciano, a small city, to Tornareccio, the town of 1,800 where we will be living and working for the next three weeks. During the ride, Susan and Sam brought us up to date on everything; where we are staying, working, the changes in the town, etc. We got into town, and dropped our stuff in our flat. Jamie, Eli and I have an entire apartment, with a large living room, decent kitchen, washing machine, and three bedrooms. Sweet. Right outside the front door are two of the three bars in town, a mixed blessing; a bakery; gelato place; and grocery store. Very hungry, we decided not to clean up, and went straight to Susan and Sam's apartment down the street a little ways, and ate a great lunch of fresh mozzarella (this is the mozzarella hub of Italy), prosciutto, salami, tomato and cucumber, fresh bread and foccacio and cold drinks. It was exactly what we needed. We headed back to our flat and rested for a long time. When we got up, Jamie and Eli did some work while I putzed around. At 7:30, we headed back to Susan's for dinner. Sam is an excellent cook, and we had a multi-course dinner with melon, pasta, veggies and sausage. We talked about where we are, what we are doing, and they told me about the characters around town who I'd run into. After dinner, we ate a local pastry stuffed with grape marmalade, accompanied by the local drink, grappa. Grappa is highly distilled wine; a clear, brandy like drink with 40% alcohol. We sat in the living room and talked for a while after dinner, and then headed back to the flat. I remembered that Garth gave me some movies on my hard drive, and I watched Duplicity before going to bed.

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