28 Dec (Tue)
Meet Mikele at the 5 crosses, arriving a bit late because the oil
light flickered in Newbie so I had to stop and fill up; it was low but I
don't think dangerously so. Then I drove Cal to the Masseria to
leave her for company for Yippie during the day.
Mikele directed me through Toritto to the far side, where at the edge
of the town is a condominium or apartment building, with a field of
olive trees at the back (not the ones we are going to work), alongside a
fenced in area with lots of what looks like junk. It all looks a
bit dilapidated. There are several tractors with olive workers and
equipment in their trailers leaving from here on this cold early
morning. We get into the trailer and head off past more junk and
shanty-like structures, down rough small roads. It is surprisingly
cold, and despite wearing 3 layers of my own plus 2 coats I get chilled
as it is a long drive out to Pasquale's fields. Mikele notices and
turns up my collar for me.
Once in the fields, our pace is fast, I think Mikele wants to finish
as soon as possible, and it seems like he is almost running between
29 Dec (Wed)
Day 2 in Pasquale's fields. Early on in the day, Pasquale gives
me money towards petrol.
30 Dec (Thu)
I show up slightly early but Mikele never arrives. Eventually I
head over to where Pasquale's tractor is but he isn't there either.
I don't think I can ring Domenico this early (its not yet 7am), and I
don't have Pasquale's number, so I head back to Giovinazzo, kind of
disappointed but also glad of the rest.
Later I speak with Domenico and he tells me Pasquale is angry at
Mikele. He invites us over to Amelia's sister's place for ****, a
traditional food at this time of year. It is fried pasta. We
first meet and go to his mother's, then he and I go out to briefly to
get medicine at the pharmacy, and he is waylaid by several
acquaintances, talking a long time. One of them is a woman who
spends every summer in England, and I would have assumed she was English
from her accent and fluency if I hadn't been told otherwise. We
stand talking in the dark of the evening lit by shops and streetlights,
in front of a busy outdoor fruit and vegetable market, As we're walking
back he gets a call about the Masseria - the alarm has gone off. I
drop the medicine in to Suzie and we drive off to the Masseria, meet
Pasquale there and check it out. All is fine but we stay a while
in the freezing clear evening, talking (me listening) for a while before
As we're heading back, Amelia rings him and he discovers that she
didn't know Suzie was at his Mum's place, so we go there and pick them
up and bring them to Amelia's sister, where after introductions, large
helpings of food is served quickly in a very small room, with all the
adults and a few of the kids around the table (the rest of the kids in
the hall making lots of noise). The table is full of food,
everyone is talking and laughing and things are being passed back and
forth; it feels very Italian and is very warm and friendly.
31 Dec (Fri)
My real last day picking olives! Having less than 4
hours' sleep after the late night last night, I am tired but happy that
however hard it is, this is my last day. Also I am hoping that the
atmosphere between Pasquale and Mikele isn't bad, but it seems no
different than the usual banter and yelling.
The day starts with
Pasquale taking his tractor out of his tiny garage. I notice
bunches of small tomatoes hanging along the wall; he gives me a bunch
along with about a gallon of his olive oil.
As we are leaving Pasquale is calling his dog, who is missing.
Eventually we drive off in the tractor, but Pasquale does a circuit in
the town first, looking for him down every side street. He isn't
anywhere to be seen so he heads off to the fields.
Today it is overcast and occasionally drizzly, I think that is why we
are using sacks instead of the trailer for the olives. They are
more work and require all 3 of us (one to hold the sack and two to pour
the olives in from the nets).
It's a very long day, and despite
working right up to 1:30, we still had to skip some trees. Suzie
texts me looking for firewood for tonight's party, so I piece together a
sentence asking Pasquale if I can pick some up. He answers that we
can get it back at his house, so I don't collect any and hope I have
understood him correctly!
The drive back to Toritto is cold, not like
the other days because it is later and still overcast. As we get
into the yard, Pasquale points out the dog who has come back; I'm glad
for him because he seemed very concerned this morning.
He points out a large pile of firewood and tells me to back up to it.
I load up with some and then exchange Alguri with kisses on the cheek
with Pasquale and head off.
I go to the Masseria next because I want
to leave lots of food for Yippie and give him a little company since
he'll probably be alone for a few days. I play with him a short
while, then wish him Alguri and lock him back into the courtyard.
in Giovinazzo I drive to the edge of the old city and carry the wood to
Lorella and Luigi's place before going home. Looking at it in
their doorway I think it's probably too much; when I took it at
Pasquale's, I thought it mightn't be enough!
I get back to the
apartment close to 4 pm. A bit of food and small tidyup, then a
rest which turns into a sleep with the kids. I hear Suzie up and
talking to Tony at some stage but stay asleep until she rouses us all
for Shabbat pizza dinner - just 2 pies as we are going to be eating
again at Lorella's later.
New Year's Party Frid.
We arrive on time but early by Italian standards; Lorella is still
getting dressed when we arrive, but it's no problem, and Luigi makes us
feel welcome. Many of the guests are people we know, most of whom
have at least a bit of English. At midnight we are supposed to eat
as many Lentils as we can, each Lentil bringing you money for the new
year. I manage a few forkfuls but still really detest lentils as I
always have: looks to be another lean, then. We leave after
1 am and the kids are still wide awake: Rosa asks me what we are
doing this evening when we get home!
1 Jan 2004 (Sat)
2 Jan 2004 (Sun)
Out of habit, I woke up early this morning at 6am. All
quiet and asleep except I turn over to see Eli awake, so ask him quietly
if he wants to go for a walk, I think it will do us both good. We
get dressed and go out in the cold dark of morning for a nice long walk
through the old city then along to what Suzie and the kids have called
"Pirate's Cove". There's a bit of a breeze and it is chilly but
refreshing on the water, and we eventually make out way back to the
apartment, both feeling good. We chat as we walk, and it's good to
have some time with Eli on his own. Eli enjoys it too, and also
says the walk cleared his head from a headache he had when he woke up.
Its still early, when we all walk to a place on the shore Suzie's been to before.
The walk there isn't relaxing, with open railings on one side and the
road on the other, with each child going at a different pace.
Eventually we get there and then it requires less vigilance, but still
we have to keep them out of the water and away from the broken glass on
the beach. They make boats out of discarded plastic bottles and it
makes me sad that this is the material that is most plentiful.
Lunch is BBQ fish, chosen because we have no cooker but do have some
gas left in the small BBQ. We eat earlier than we realise and are
finished by 1pm.
Drive to Margheurita beach (about 40 min north of here) and have a
little picnic. Tony has said it's a nice beach; it is a big sandy
beach which looks to be very busy in the summer with all the beachside
cafe's, but I'm disappointed to see there's lots of rubbish. Kids
have a great time time playing in the sand and we get some space to
chat. We even do a bit of Tai Chi on the beach together, facing
Back at the apartment, I make eggs for the kids in the frying pan
over the BBQ. Later William and Jane from the UK come over and we
have pizza (Mimo's), pandoro and takeout ice cream from Tony's.
They're teaching English in Molfetta. It's great to be able to
just talk, without worrying that we're speaking English too fast
or using advanced vocabulary!
3 Jan 2004 (Mon)
Eli and I got up a bit later this morning, about 6:30, and had a much
shorter walk, just to get some fresh air. He's pleased we've done
this twice in a row, and I'm glad to have started out the New Year this
way and hope it becomes a habit. Later we both go out to order gas
(we've been out for a couple of days and have had to get tea water from
Tony's shop) and do a bit of food shopping, we arrive back just as the
gas is being delivered.
After that it was a lazy day. Eli does some animations on the
computer to send to Luke, and then Suzie helps Rosa do one to send to
Claire while I take all the boys to the playground, which is very busy,
and there are older boys playing with firecrackers just outside the
We get back at 11:30am to have time for lunch and Suzie going to
Tony's to look up a fudge recipe for him on the internet that doesn't
use butter. I make lunch (pasta) and ask Rosa and Eli to clear up
and do the dishes, which happens with some difficulty.
I make dinner. Afterwards, worse difficulty getting help from
Eli in clearing up, though in the end Suzie's able to get him to do it.
She and I start on another animation of olive picking, but I get tired
early on and Suzie and Eli finish it late at night. It's now on
the Picking Olives page.