Monday, November 28, 2011

Three Days on the Santa Croce Steps!

Day One     
            So ever since the first night I sat on the steps of the Santa Croce, it has become one of my favorite places. There is never a dull night on these steps. What still blows my mind is the fact that people are drinking on church steps. Crazy! Tonight it’s not as crowded as usually but then again it is only 10 o’clock. It seems different tonight I think there are more young Italians than ever before. Usually, I see more Americans around but tonight I only see one or two which is quite shocking. Oh no. Here comes the African man with his crazy bright lite up toys. No, I don’t want any. No, I don’t speak Italian. No, I’m not from Africa. No, I’m not from Senegal, I’m American. Ciao! Same thing over and over again. I move up a few steps (sitting on the bottom gets you noticed too much). As I move up, I bump into an empty wine bottle just left on the steps. I move it to the side but then I notice all the other empty cups and bottles around me. All I can think of is the tourists who are going to see this in the morning. I still can’t believe Italians come here almost every night just to hang out with friends and drink. They look like young high school students or college students but I really cannot tell. So there is the guy sitting next to me who keeps looking at me I think he could be thirty years old with his tight blue polo and grey pants. Oh my god! He just smiled at me. I think it’s time for me to move again. Ah, much better. Now I can think and observe better, wait that was a lie. Here comes another African man to bother but this one does not have any crazy knickknacks. Oh no, same conversation. Crazy Men!!
Day Two
Its 8:30 a.m. and the steps of the Santa Croce are clean! It is unbelievable! Well, cleaner than they were last night. When do they clean them? How do they clean them and who cleans them? They are like sneaky ninjas. I remember once being out here until almost 5 a.m. and never seeing anyone. day I’m going to have to stay up all night and catch them. Everything is so quiet this morning and there is barely anything open. Not many tourists around, only some store owners and vendors being to open up shop. I love the silence! I love just sitting here and being able to actually relax and not worry about somebody walking up to me asking me if I speak Italian or if I’m from Africa. It’s just this peaceful bliss that I can truly enjoy. I should wake up every morning to this lovely quietness but then again I’ll probably miss the noise my neighbors make every morning. Well, time to go make breakfast. I’m so hungry.
Day Three
12 noon. The Santa Croce at noon is crazy. So many tourists, it’s seriously scary but it’s more frustrating than anything. It took me almost ten minutes just to reach the steps because of these Asian tourists all crowded at the end of my street. The real question is will they ever go away? I have the strange feeling that the answer to that question is no. Now I really see why the Italians live outside the city center. Having to deal with the crowds and crowds of tourists each and every day is annoying. I’m sitting on the steps next to an old couple who look like they are tired from all the walking they have been doing. It makes me wonder what they do for a living, what made them come to Italy and where they off are to next? As much as they irritate me they also fascinate me. I know it sounds strange but it’s true. Just sitting here wondering why all these people are here and why? I would love to learn their stories. Oh no. Here comes another African trying to sell me a painting. Will they ever stop bothering me? I doubt it but I think it is time to go. Ciao for now!

My Fall Break in Greece!!

          The shutter of the camera opens, I look through the lens to see a blurry picture, and I adjust the focus with the zoom in and out buttons of the camera. I see a good picture but it does not look right. I try to adjust the angle then I look through the lens again but it still does not seem right. I move from where I am standing to see if it is just the ambient light and I look through. I almost have it all have to do is change the background and there…perfect. I look through the lens again and I see a clear picture of myself sitting on the shore of Corfu, Greece letting the slight breeze blow through my hair and letting the sun’s gently rays kiss my skin. I sit on that beach and watch the waves move toward me beckoning me to join them then retreat back into their sea home which only reminded me of my own home.  As I look around through the lens, I see the Mediterranean Sea in all its vast glory staring back at me and I think never in a million years would I have thought that I would be standing on a beach looking out onto a sea and not my own ocean. It is standing on this shore that everything hits me all at once. I am here. I have made one of my life long dreams come true. 
I hear the click of the camera meaning the picture is ready to be taken, I press the button, it flashes and I find myself stuck in a moment. When I was sixteen years old walking home from school one day I made a promise to myself and the promise was that I was going to see another country because I wanted to see something other than America. Don’t get me wrong, I love America but it’s not the only thing in this world and I wanted to see something different. I wanted to see a real authentic culture not the ones that had been readapted to suit the American lifestyle. So it was right then and there walking down the street to my house that I decided I was leaving America. I had no idea how I was going to do it but all that I knew is that I was going and nothing was going to stop me.…I change the shutter speed.
The camera readjusts to focus upon a new picture of me walking down marble steps, making sure my I do not slip on my pink toga, as the smell of traditional Greek food hits my nostrils. I can feel my mouth begin to water and my stomach grumble as I walked into the nightclub/serving area. I take a seat amongst friends joining the vast sea of pink togas who are enjoying the pumped up atmosphere. Laughter is coming from every table and I know that I was meant to be here in this moment…the camera goes out of focus.
Then it refocuses on the same image…Maya Angelou once said “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” It was right in this moment sitting at this mahogany table amongst friends that I realized that this was one of those moments that I would never forget. I know that ten years when I looked back at my time in Greece it would be this moment that I remembered because it is in this moment that I felt the most at peace with myself. I had not one thought of worry or fear but just of happiness…The picture develops quickly and the shutter jams for a brief moment.
The picture needs to be readjusted slightly for what I see is not the picture I want to capture. The picture I want to capture is not just of me but of everyone in this moment because moments like this only come once in a lifetime. Life was never meant to be lived in the shadows but it was meant to be lived in the sun. It was my mom who gave me the courage I needed to face different obstacles because she showed me what happens when a person is always leading instead of following. She gave me the opportunity to try things I never even imagined I would be doing and helped me see the person I really was. She is the person who allowed me to take that step in my life to capture this image.
Now, having the camera shutter close only to reopen up upon a new picture with no need to adjust the focus because the focus is right, the moment is right for it is the picture in which my life begins. It is a moment of me walking the Greece shore and being waved at by my friends from the Pink Palace balcony. The image of me on that beach is a picture that was miles away from my old self, miles away from the person who could never face her own picture until now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Enjoying Italy

Wow. So sorry it has been a long time since I last wrote. I have just been having so much fun I forgot to write. So what you have missed? Let's see...I have been to the Perugia Eurochocolate Festival, I have hiked through the five towns of Cinque Terre, I have cooked three Italian desserts and I have been improving my Italian. I have been enjoying myself here but I am missing home terribly. I have already gone through my homesickness. I have done all the crying and now I am on Fall Break (Spring Break in the Fall). I will be heading to Greece later this week which I am so excited. So let me elaborate more on what I have been doing. First, the Chocolate Festival which was wonderful especially for a chocolate lover like me. It was nice because we received a choco card where we were able to receive free chocolate all day. Also, Perugia was beautiful  but very cold being on top of a big hill. The Five Towns were beautiful as well but a lot of work. I had my best and favorite dish in Manrola where I had spaghetti with clams, very delicious. The three Italian desserts came out okay. I made tiramsu, almond biscotti and an orange cake. The best out of all the desserts was the orange cake but the chef, Tomaz, who taught us was the best and so funny. Had a fun time messing up delicious desserts. Lastly, the improving my Italian has been fun. All the conversations I have had with Italians have been hilarious because of my bad Italians but they say I help them improve their English so it is always a win win situation. Well Ciao for now!!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sorrento, Capri, & Pompeii

This past weekend I went to the great cities of Sorrento, Capri & Pompeii.( A beautiful picture of Capri above that I took). Our first night in Sorrento we were treated to the best pizza I have ever had. It was so delicious and so many different kinds that by the end I was so stuffed. After dinner a few of us decided to stay at the ristorante where we meet this waiter named Tony who had tattooed on his arms "Believe" and "Bros before Hoes" which we all thought was hilarious. We tried grappa which is like an Italian moonshine which was so hard to swallow then we had limoncello which Sorrento is most famous for since you can literally pick the limons off the trees on the street. After we left the ristorante, we just decided to walk around and we ran into his three woman from San Diego, California who asked us to take their picture then they took ours. Our first night was quiet an adventure especially trying to find our hotel which we had to take a taxi to since we could not find it. We relieved that night that we lived on the main road that was very dangerous and had the smallest sidewalk then no sidewalk.  Scary watching the cars, vespas and huge tour buses fly down the hill passed you but I survived. The next morning we had to wake up early to take the local bus to the port to get on the ferry to Capri. They ferry was only an hour ride but we got there in 45 mins which was nice. The first thing we did when we got there was take a trolley up the mountain which is were I took this the picture. We got to the top and then walked down the other side of the mountain literally to get to the most beautiful beach with the clearest water I have ever since. It looked like I was swimming in a pool with salt. The bad news is that my friend Katherine was stung by a jellyfish, not badly but it still hurt. After that we went on a three hour boat ride around the whole island. It was so wonderful and I got to go into the blue grotto which was extremely blue. They guys were singing to us as they took us in there. So funny. After the boat ride, we headed back to the Sorrento where we ate dinner and headed back to our hotel to sleep. The next morning  we woke up early, checked out and headed to Pompeii. Now, Pompeii was beautiful. It was amazing to be in a place that I have read so much about and seen on television so many times. Seeing the bodies encased in plaster was amazing! The most scariest fact I learned is that Mount Verivus is just sleeping that they were waiting for it to erupt which is scary. Well, I am having a great time here in Italy I'll write again soon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Classes are very interesting here in Florence. The classes are taught like an American classroom except cellphone use is not permitted at all. There are signs everyone that say cellphones are not permitted. You are only allowed to absent once throughout the whole semester. A second absence puts you at risk, a third is a complete letter drop and a fourth is a complete failure. All my professors have Italians accents and all the students come to class with hangovers (which is nothing different from home sadly). I love all my classes. I'm taking Travel Writing, a Marketing Mix class, Cultural Anthropology, and Italian (of course!). The buildings for the school are all over Florence and you need a code to get into every building but its not too bad of a walk. Oh yeah! They have an Italian Family Club which I signed up for but the unfortunate part of it is that they only have twenty families and thirty people signed up. So they are doing an interview process so I hope I get it. I should find out by next week. Next weekend I go on my first school trip to Sorrento, Capri & Pompeii which I'm so excited for.Something very interesting that is happening is that more Italians are coming into the city now that tourists are slowly leaving. It's interesting to see the Italian family and the teenagers since school starts for them this week. I feel like there is so much to say but I can not make it all come out lol. I'm learning so much and seeing so much sometimes its so hard to take in. I have to say though I was homesick for the first few days but as I slowly made friends it go better plus being out and about everyday really does help. Well must head to bed I'll continue to share my adventure with you soon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting Settled In...

It's been six days since I've been here and i'm pretty much settled into my apartment. I'm already missing american food. Don't get me wrong I love pasta but I miss meat lol. We did find an american diner and a sushi place, thank god. I finally ate real authentic gelato which was delicious. I have torta di nonna which is Grandma's Pie and nutella yogurt but I think Grandma's Pie is my favorite so far. I have strolled along the Palazzi il Duomo which is very active between 7:30 pm and 11pm and around midnight is when the Italian nightlife actually begins. Saturday night we saw what a lot of young Italians do. We don't know if it was a special occasion or if it was something that happens every Saturday night. People just sit on the steps of the Santa Croce (A Church!! by the way) and drink wine. It's like a nice hang out spot. People were out until 3 o'clock and beyond it was an incredible experience because everyone was just having a good time. It's something you don't see in America and it was a joy to experience. I have been over one of the oldest bridges in Florence and to one of the oldest restaurants as well. I found out there is no speed limits here as well that don't bike or drive mopeds until you know how to drive like an Italian. You don't have to tip waiters or taxi drivers, it's not expected only from Americans except you do tip if you like the restaurant a lot. I can not wait for class tomorrow!! I'm so excited and also I plan on joining this Italian family club were you get to get adopted by an Italian Family. I'm so excited!! Well, I'll write again to tell you about how classes went.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting Here and being here!

I'm here! I can't believe it. It's crazy! Well my first plane ride was smooth and very exciting I sat next to this very nice couple who assured me everything was normal. The problem came when I was in Paris when they would not let my toothpaste, lotion or gel get on the plane! The lady made me go check my bag which was 55 euros! So instead I ended up throwing the things away and getting back in line which caused me to almost miss my flight I never ran so fast in my life but I made it. That's when I met Charles from Nigeria which is so funny because my boyfriend's name I'd Charles and from Nigeria. He was nice but he wanted my number and my address which I kindly declined. My first Italian drive was crazy I thought the driver was crazy and I thought I was going to die but then I thought the people walking were going to die. It was hilarious! So I went through a short orientation was then transported to my apartment. I was the first one there so I got first pick of beds which was a very hard decision because the apartment is beautiful! My roommates finally came I have 6 of them and they are all nice. I found the 99 cents store my née best friend and I found the supermarket plus the bank. I had my first Italian meal which was pizza. Very delicious! Then I went to bed very early whIch was crazy for me. Now it's morning I'm going for my first brunch so I will talk to you all later. Ciao!