19-22 November: Description
Water fountain in our Piazza
Our local Ice Cream Shop
The children are still waking very early about 5 or 5.30, and without
my early rising husband, I struggle to get up with them. But it gives me
plenty of time before Mike gets back to do chores. I made a terrifying
discovery yesterday. We have no washing machine, and their may not be a
launderette in Giovinazzo. I face our laundry,
some of which I pre-soaked last night, and get most of it washed rinsed
and squeezed out. I actually enjoy hanging it on the lines off the
balcony joining several neighbours doing the same. We decide to go into
town once again and have fun finding a kitchen shop for a few bits for
the apartment and a bakery with lovely sweet filled croissant things.
In another cheese and meat shop we meet a friendly postal worker called
Jo in English or Pepeto in Italian or so he says as he speaks a little
English. We have a great interchange with him and the shop keeper Luigi
who would love to visit the USA, Pepeto says he honeymooned in Boston.
Luigi speaks German and French but not English and keeps trying the
german, but we all make ourselves understood. Pepeto comes out with us to
lead the way to what I hope is a launderette. I turns out to be a dry
cleaners, and I am worried about the news that the nearest one is Bari. As
we head back to the flat we are engaged by passers by mainly older ones
about the fact that I have four children. I am also having trouble
explaining that we are from Ireland not Holland as they sound so similar
and we have so many blonds. I head back to the flat and start a little
home-schooling finishing with P.E. in the Piazza until Mike gets back.
I take a walk on my own and find an optician to get new glasses
as my eyes and I are really fed up with contacts. I manage to get a very
decent pair ordered for 50 euro. I have a halting conversation with Franscesa and several of her family about laundry and am quite horror
struck to find out their really isn't a laundromat here. She brings out
her wooden wash board and says can borrow it whenever I want. Her
daughter answers for me, when I'm asked do I understand, -yes mama she
understands but she's crying at the answer which isn't far from the
truth when I realise I am going to be hand washing for five people and a farm worker! Everyone's
tired so we make it an early night and miss the fact that its shabbat
despite some prompting from Sammy. Mike waits until the children are all
asleep before heading back to the farm. I am getting used to the noises
but late in the night the wind picks up and rattles the shutters waking
me from time to time.
Dominico has told Mike that he need only wait until 9.30 for the
possible arrival of almond collection workers, after that they won't be coming so he
doesn't have to stay all day. By the time he gets back I have three
basins of hand washing hanging from the balcony where I have enjoyed
exchanges with my mainly elderly neighbours. I have also bought fruit and veg
from a man with a van and send it up to Eli and Rosa on the balcony by
means of a basket as all the others do. Eli has tossed coins to a
passing gyspy family playing the accordian. All these things have caused
me to laugh out loud in disbelief at these experiences, once again I feel I am
in a movie. I leave Mike and the kids and do another bit of
shopping. This time finding a fish shop with all manner of things I
cannot quite bring myself to buy yet not knowing what half them were. I
did recognise a squid and various shell fish. Walking back down a back
lane I catch a strong smell of fresh olives. I am pleased to identify the
smell from the few we have picked for examination so far, but at first I
can't work out where the smell is coming from. I look up and see a square pipe
sticking out of a wall with a green/brown mash coming out into a truck. I
walk back and peer into large doorways and am rewarded with the sight of
a large working olive press. I seems to be a stainless steel affair with
three upright wheels turning inside a sideways cylinder. I head back to
the family after picking up a few more things from a bakery to try. Mike
has pancakes ready when I return. We spend the afternoon doing a bit of home-schooling and relaxation.
We all head out in the afternoon once again
this time exploring more of the old town with it medieval church and
castle as well as tiny little streets and passages with laundry hanging
from balconies and a miniature bread van that is able to fit magically
down them all. The sun in these sheltered streets is wonderfully warm,
but we have to shelter once from sun shower under an archway. We
take Mike to all the shops from yesterday and I collect my new glasses.
Then in an electrical shop looking for various adaptors and bulbs I hear
my name called out and there is Pepito. Mike says " only in the place 2
days and already some one knows you?" We make introductions and ask about
an internet cafe, no one knows of one, and yet a few minutes after
leaving we find one. Mike stays and collects e-mails and starts to sort
our web-site and I head back to make tea. He has to go back to the farm
as no one has shown up yet and unfortunately he, like Finn and I, seems to
be getting a cold. The weather this evening is turning that way again
I agreed yesterday to go out to the Masseria to wait for the possible
almond collection, but am worried about finding my way back there in the
dark. I get through the towns reasonably well, but when I turn into the
small track roads in the Olive groves it all looks the same, despite a
few landmarks I am supposed to look out for. I end up taking too many
turns and going round in circles until I finally chance on the Pilapalucci road which I know leads to the farmhouse. A bit nervous out
in the middle of nowhere with no lights or sounds, unlocking the gate,
doors etc until I shut off the alarm and lock the front door behind me.
I settled myself in and although it was late I take a much needed shower
- I won't be able to in the morning since I'll have to keep an eye/ear
out for the workers. As it happens, this morning there's no sign of
anyone, though I had set my alarm for 5:45 just in case I didn't hear
them. I left Cal outside in the locked courtyard with the adopted Yippie,
a small dog that appeared and Domenico said would die if he wasn't
looked after. Yippie earned his name this morning when he outdid my
No one shows up all day while I unload the bikes and stuff on the roof,
and then do some work on the van engine. With bad phone network coverage
and low credit, I eventually text Suzie and she contacts Emelia and
Domenico and eventually we figure out that I can leave - by this time
late in the afternoon. I head back to the apartment which is looking
more like a home; I'll have to return again tonight and probably
continue every night until the workers show up.
Go out with the family in the evening - kids to the playground at
night (not very late but it's dark), Suzie gets her new glasses, while
waiting I take the kids to a bakery with delicious and fancy looking
pastries, about 3 euro for 6 smallish ones.
We do a bit of shopping and Suz goes to places where she already knows
the shopkeepers, and another customer even recognises her, a postal
worker she met earlier who has some English. The small shops and very
friendly helpful people feel more like a small town than the small city
the Giovanezzo really is. There aren't any big shops that I can in fact,
even the supermarket is only 4 smallish aisles, probably like urban
supermakrets everywhere. this and the close neighborhood reminds me a
bit of what I think my sister Lisa's experience in Brooklyn might have
Tried to address mobile internet issues at a phone shop but couldn't get
past the language barrier, anyway found an internet cafe just as we
left. Actually it is a smoky bar with pool table but has 2 PCs hooked
up. Good enough for me, though they won't allow me to hook up the
laptop, I can at least get online. I discover that meitheal.net's
hosting expired and the account is suspended, so I email the web hosting
company to sort out reinstatement. I touch base with Mickey, a friend back
in Ireland, and help with a web problem on irishsongwriters.net.
Its really good to be back in touch after a few weeks with almost no
Another night in the Masseria, again Yippie proving he deserved his new
name both evening and morning. This time at least I only have to stay
until 9:30 so it really is a short stay.
Yep as expected Finn and I wake up with a cold. I let Eli make hot
chocolate and get biscotti for the others for breakfast and stay in bed
until Mike arrives. Dominico phones him and tells us they may drop by,
we do a clean up and bit of tiding and then just taking
turns resting for most of the day. I make a veggie and pasta soup but we
head out for an afternoon snack before having it. This turns out to be
more hot chocolate which is very rich and cakes.
Dominico arrives in the early evening with a black and white telly and
other bits and pieces including a jar of their own olives. He also gives
Mike a coffee making lesson. Though still fond of his tea, Mike is
becoming quite the coffee drinker. When he leaves we have our medicinal
soup and Mike stays a while before heading back to the farm once more.
Dominico tells me there are launderettes in Bari and he can take me if
need be but unless I have really heavy stuff or a heavily soiled load I
actually think I will manage if I keep up. Its a big help that there is
no problem getting it dry. Mike rinsed and rang out our jeans and
heavier bits and they are nearly dry. The first loads are already put in
I'm still feeling off in the morning and it doesn't help that the kids
are waking so early but this morning I can stick them in Italian telly
and doze until 7.30 when they get hungry. Breakfast is a bit of a
problem, with regards to something healthy. The cereals are expensive
and mainly sweet. The Italians seem to eat pastries, bread with jam and
biscotti from what I've gleaned from people, ads and what's available. I
couldn't find porridge anywhere so its mainly bread and jam for now.
Also I don't have an oven for making something healthier like muffins.
The weather was looking really nice so we went for a walk early enough
to enjoy it as it does cool in the afternoon. We explore a bit more of
the old part of the town and harbour on our way as it is near our
apartment. We head to the playground via the same streets I found the
other day. I show everyone the olive press and am spotted taking photos
so we get a tour. It is very entralling for us all. The playground is
fun until Sammy gives himself a noise bleed on the seesaw and Rosa does
something similar moments later. We head back and are met once again by
Franscesa she has been giving us old clothes for the children and now
starts bringing us bags of shopping and wants no thanks. We have a
quiet afternoon while I use some of my new ingredients to cook. Things
are settling down and going very well. The days are passing very fast now
it seems. I feel a little lonely at times, but am beginning to
appreciate the freedom to make our own schedule and having few pressures
or deadlines for a change.
Back to Suzie and the kids by 10:30, pleased that I know the route
through the olive groves and the towns pretty well now. I know Suz is feeling worse so I try a bit of home-schooling in the morning,
getting the kids to do their reading while pacifying Sammy and Finn.
Domenico arrives with food, coffee and a TV set for the kids. I tell him
I like Italian coffee but don't know how to make it, he is really
surprised, especially because I am an American (who all supposedly drink
coffee and are also incidentally all rich!), and seems pleased to be
able to educate me.
Back at the Masseria this evening, I can't find Yippie (who was locked
in the courtyard) but he eventually appears from inside a locked storage
area where the champagne (among other things) is stored.
Not long after I'm back at the apartment, an amplified voice starts
calling out below us, I recognise a few words and it turns out its the
fruit & veg man. I go down with Rosa, he is parked under some trees on
our piazza, all other customers are older women. One asks me "straneri?"
and I say "si". "Di dove siete?" I'm not sure how to say Ireland but, "Di
"Olland?", she says, looking at Rosa's blonde hair.
She seems satisfied with this.
We get some of most of the fruits, for the fun of it as well as to help
with everyone's colds. Total cost is 7 euros, for what we got I'd say
that's cheap. Sammy calls from the balcony and drop down the bucket, so
we send some up to him which he loves and Rosa does a little dance she's
so pleased with this. She starts eating plums the moment we get in and I
think gets through 3 or 4 before I stop her.
Later we have a nice walk around just before noon (when things shut)
with everyone, starting along the water and the medieval part of the
town, then along to the little shops, a pescheria where the kids watched
the lobsters, a bakery and to a backstreet olive press where a large
rectangular pipe sticking out the side of the building was shoving olive
paste into the back of a truck. Suz took a few photos of this and the
machinery inside and we were beckoned in to have a little tour. The
woman rattled on in Italian even after she realised we didn't
understand, it was great - 5 stone wheels roll around in a circle and
mash the olives, the paste goes through several other small machines and
eventually you get somewhat cloudy olive oil at the other end! As we
were leaving she asked if we wanted to buy any, we both enthusiastically
said yes, and ended up getting a big 5 litre container for 20 euros.
Later our helpful Francesca said this was too much, but we felt it was
worth it anyway, with the welcome and tour we got. So much for the
budget, though, and we're going to get olive oil for free from Domenica
and Emelia soon. We'll have to start putting olive oil on everything!
Took kids off to the park to play, as expected during school hours, it
was mainly very young children with parents very close at hand. Some had
very long shirts. Suzie, after her recent laundry experience, figured
out these were preschool uniforms that protected their clothes from
getting dirty. Good idea. Just as we were leaving Sammy and Rosa were
both in tears from bangs.
Set up the TV for the kids and they watched loads. I think it may help
them get accustomed to the intonation and maybe a few words. Doesn't
exactly keep them quiet though, after having been denied TV so long
there are a few fights over where they sit, volume, etc.
Went back to the Internet cafe to continue sorting website etc, much
quieter and less smokey this time. I am recognised when I come in as he
gets up from his card game.
Had a lovely Italian meal cooked by Suzie, spaghetti with homemade
sauce, fresh bread with olive oil and salt on it, freshly grated
parmesan-like cheese, Italian wine. We've always had lots of Italian
food at home, but this is so enjoyable because of the freshness of the
food as well as the environment we're eating in. Finn in particular has
a good appetite and asks for olive oil on his food after
seeing us put it on our bread.
Back to Masseria with almost no petrol left. Pulled into one 24 hour
place but as these are automated, there was no one attending but a man
was standing there at the pumps. I wasn't sure if he was hoping to get a
bit of cash out of people for helping, or had worse ideas, but I didn't
want to risk it so pulled out again despite not knowing if I'd make it.
I did get all the way there, but on fumes. I noticed a petrol station
just a few miles away (closed last night) so tomorrow morning will
hopefully make it that far and can then fill up. At least I have a
petrol can and a bike here if the car won't start in the morning.