Sicilia 10: wonderland for wandering hippies

In the academic world we were thought that the introduction and conclusion of an essay should contain a summary of the whole paper so that the reader would see beforehand what the writing’s all about, without actually reading the whole thing. Also every paragraph should lead to the next one – even if just the last sentence would introduce the ideas that will follow. I am not quite sure why this reappeared in my mind today, but I would like to start by briefly summarizing this entry – not in a way an academic would do though: a needy cat, a sun-burned face, a barefooted weirdo, the port of immortals, a heart-shaped festivity,  and whatever the future holds.

I should say that we got ourselves into a little bit of trouble. Agreeing to take care of the landlord’s cat would seem as a noble thing to do – maybe even quite pleasant, if you are lucky to get in his good graces as the person who feeds him. Nevertheless if the beast happens to be one of those who doesn’t appreciate affections of any kind – even from his owners – you are left with a burden in the shape of always-unsatisfied cat, who is meowing when it rains, when the sky is blue, when he’s hungry, when he ate too much, when he’s bored and sometimes just because you are home.  So we named him Simon – or Simona, it depends, since we are not sure of the cat’s gender. But one thing is certain -either he’s a grumpy grandpa, or a needy spinster, but undoubtedly our responsibility for now.

Last Sunday I went to Catania to take a day-off. With Taavi on one side and the Sun on the other I got the chance to see another face of Catania – a face that I could actually learn to love with time. The sensation of misguided judgement appeared on Friday night when, thanks to Mariaelena, we went to a concert in Catania – we were brought to the not-so-nice district, as they call it,…the district where you can go, when searching for horse meat on the menu. But with soft lights and a moonlight over-shined castle in the middle, the place just looked like a magical wonderland for wandering souls to seek refuge. I promised myself that this can’t be as good as it looks and I should return during daylight hours (as we did on Sunday).

The concert was of a Sicilian folk band called iBeddi – “the beautiful ones”, and I was absolutely dazzled by the fact that the musicians were changing instruments like socks – sometimes even multiple times per song. For one like me, who gets pleasure out of collecting strange music instruments – even though I realize I’ll never learn to play all of them – seeing this band and the creativity they put into the performance of each and every song, made my heart skip a beat. And while it was a folk concert – a spectacle strange enough for our everyday lives, the setting itself was amusing and, well, shocking for that matter.
First of all, it was held in a nightclub/ concert venue/ bar/ disco – call it as you wish, but the background pop songs didn’t go away during the first songs of the concert (the lead vocalist had to ask from the stage if they could kindly turn it off – sounds worse than it was though, he made a show out of it), and the moment the band stopped playing, the DJ started to “spin the vinyl” in the other room – although nowadays it’s probably a computer program that’s being used. Anyway, the public changed drastically and even though I said at the beginning of the concert that “I have never seen so many heels at a folk concert”, I had never seen the scenery of a night club as well.

iBeddi – a video

The high point and the second part of this spectacle took place in the ladies room. While I was waiting for Aniko, a girl came in and stood next to me (we had a huge mirror in front of us) – the contrast was unbelievable, and I could see on her face that she found the reflection as amusing as I did. My color explosion outfit, hippy-like hairdo, sneakers that had seen several countries and the facial expression of “what am I doing here” in contrast of her 12 cm heels, almost no clothing, hair that had experienced more product and ironing in that one day than mine had ever seen, and a thick layer of makeup accompanied by undoubtable facial expression of “what is she doing here”. At least that one thought we shared, so we (me and Aniko) left with a certain wish to leave the place as soon as possible.
To prolong the sensation of unbelievable contrasts after we had left the venue, Mariaelena and Peppe brought us to a “place next door” – an ex-Arci place, a café, a cultural center, a free library, a place to meet people who are like-wise minded, free spirited, art and culture driven, and, most important of all (in that particular evening, anyway) – offer mulled wine at the bar. We were brought to Gammazita – a place that clearly resembles Mistero Buffo in interior design and the overall vibe, but is filled with different people. As I turned to Aniko, to express the excitement and a wish to come back one day, she said “I think it’s too hippy for me”. And there it was – the main difference between Gammazita and Mistero Buffo – and, well, I am somewhere in the middle, I guess.
When we were leaving I glanced back at the place and there was a guy juggling; a note on the wall said: “bass lessons”, some paintings on the walls reminded me of pieces made by Nanna, Emily, Mark, Ida…we passed by a van parked right next to the place and inside of the van a hippy-looking guy was playing electronic music on his keyboard, and then I got struck by a sudden revelation – the same sensation you get when you realize how to put all the puzzle pieces together – Gammazita is a reflection of how it would look like if all of my favorite Odder hojskole people were put into Mistero Buffo. And when we went back with Taavi on Sunday, some other characters joined in the shape of a guitar player, camera man, one that enjoys the midday sun, lots of books and barefoot weirdos in the middle of February.

piazza-dei-libri-gammazita
Image from the internet. Gammazita – Piazza dei Libri.

Talking about February and Sundays, Taavi met me during my attempt to run away from Acireale for a day and provided some “Baltic guidance/ consolation/ conversational comfort”, and so we went to the port of Catania for a cappuccino and took a walk, and while we were walking, the sun gave out warmth as a protractedly unseen lover and made us feel like it’s the middle of a Baltic summer. Taavi went home to put on shorts and a T-shirt (although he admitted that he might have overdone it with the shorts) and so we sat there at the end of the pier, gazing on the landscape of Catania – with Etna dropping a shadow on the city, and it was warm and fuzzy.
The spring sun has always been my favorite, because that is the only time of the year when I don’t need to worry about sunscreen and getting burned – it is the only time, when I can enjoy the warmth of it, or at least I could. As bittersweet as it might seem I did not take under consideration that we are still in Sicily, and the Sun behaves differently in the South, it’s more shameless; it gives more, but takes more at the same time, so I came home with a burning feeling – first I thought my face was aching from the rain, but then I looked into the mirror and was absolutely devastated by the sight of a beetroot gazing back at me.

I will not put a picture of that, but I do have two from the absolutely amazing Name day surprise my international family provided.

Another surprising thing happened this Sunday – I saw the first Latvian in Sicily, and, encouraged by Taavi, plotted to stalk him through Catania. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he would have stopped to chat, but I made a crucial mistake that I understood just moments after. Taavi insistently tried to draw his attention, when I told him that the guy has “Latvija” written on his hat. Jelling “Lettonia” didn’t help, but “saldējums”( ice cream (lv) ) with a thick Estonian accent did the job and the Latvian turned around. I was almost red from shame, laughter and the sun, but forced myself to say “Hi” in my mother’s thong, but the guy just smiled and continued walking. And here you should know that the Italian and Latvian “Hi” is basically the same: Čau (LV), Ciao (IT). Good thinking, huh?
Nevertheless soon came the genius idea to follow him. I was laughing so hard as if I had my brother telling stupid jokes next to me and we had to catch up with the Latvian. Taavi said: “I finally have a reason to stalk someone openly” – and it didn’t help to end the laughter.
Good thing that the common sense caught up with us and we ended our stalking experience shortly after. I have to say that this almost illegal action was accompanied by clouded thinking and a bit of running since our object of interest moved quite quickly and seemingly felt that he’s being followed, so it must have been quite amusing to observe… but it was so much fun! To conclude I just have to reflect on the everlasting thought that there is always something to discover – even in your own town/ city/ country – not to mention abroad.

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2 thoughts on “Sicilia 10: wonderland for wandering hippies

  1. Hello Dārta 🙂 I’ve found your blog while I was researching EVS programmes and I’m enjoying reading it! I’m considering applying for next year’s EVS with Mistero Buffo. Could I ask you some questions if you have time? Have a good week! Mona

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