Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mazzaro Caffe, A Bus Tour, Dirty Walks and Trash Leads to Siciliana Providence Incredible!

For a person who usually is up before or by 6 a.m. every morning, it is such a lazy leisure to sleep in until 11 or Noon without feeling any ounce of guilt. This is what vacations are truly about. Rolling over in your bed and thinking about NOT being on deadline for a client or strategizing on behalf of one is a really nice feeling. My brain is taking a well deserved rest.

I've been having some strange dreams of sort about two past relationships - ex husband and someone else whose name won't be mentioned, but the surname has an open vowel. Conversations in both dreams were quite pleasant. I was expressing myself about my feelings about life and how I see things and both (at different times and not together) were really listening to what I had to say. I awake quite surprised because it would seem that the feeling I would get from dreaming about these two characters would be negative, but it is not. I guess it can only mean that I have finally buried my past. Now, don't start thinking that it means anything beyond the dream because trust me it does NOT!

Before I went to bed last night, I did some research on the Internet to find some great places to have a great Italiano breakfast with pastries and dinner. Determined to walk everywhere and find it on my own; well almost on my own, I wanted to make every venture out of my hotel an adventure.

So, my first great stop today was the molto famoso cafe called Caffe Mazzara! Known for its most fantastic pastries and coffee (which I don't drink), by tourists from around the world, it is a great place to come to on a Sunday morning or in my case early afternoon. No stores are open on Sundays and some of the main roads are closed for pedestrians. With the exception of table conversation, it was nice and quiet. I stayed for an hour enjoying my lasagna, insalta mista and a nice chocolate dolce my waiter picked for me. He surely delighted in this act and brought me a small, but artfully placed piece of torta. When I finished, he asked, "posto?" as in "tutto posto," is everything alright? I had to confirm the posto part with my teacher Paolo via text message this morning. Don't want to say yes to anything.

I wrote several post cards to friends I know who get into receiving these posts from me and read another article on the social scientific and scientific discovery of stress by a Czech named Selye. Like Louis Pasteur, the academic community really slammed his butt, but guess who had the last laugh on both accounts? Very interesting to read about these viscious academic wars between "scholars" with such huge egos trashing one another's study. Really no different than the wars in politics and other arenas; many just pretend their fights are "more noble." They do dirty things to each other, students, et al - the Ivory tower ain't no saint.

Any way, the waiter enjoyed visiting me and I enjoyed him visiting me too because I felt a free something was coming my way soon and guess what there it was -free glasses of iced tea and I happily accepted. He asked me about the United States and I told him a story or two and he seemed pleased. Everytime I get a compliment about my Italian, I get all girly because I feel proud of myself for improving in the language I don't get to speak much in the U.S. (except with Paolo and with myself when I am practicing. Oh, I make my real friends listen to me sometimes. I love them for being so patient since they don't know what the hell I am saying). After I said my goodbyes, I decided to head south on via Sentimma for a long afternoon stroll, but just as I was taking probably my 1,000 step, I saw the Sightseeing Bus and dashed for it while it was sitting at the light. I screamed, "Senor, Prego, Basta, Io voglio venire suo l'autobus." He looked at me kind of strange seeing a black woman cut across the street so rapidly towards the bus, but I got on, paid my 20 Euros and was on the tour.

I am really glad I took this tour because I was able to see the beauty of Sicily and learn so much about its glorious architecture and its great influences of Oriental, Persian and Greek. You still see buildings built by the Arabs who ruled for 2 centuries; this culture called the Saracens or Moors influenced cuisine and day-to-day culture in a tremendous way. Sicilian food has a nice kick to it. For example, there is a great street delight called arancini - it is risotto (rice) balls filled with a ragu (meat sauce) tomato sauce, mozzerella and peas. It is deep fried. The spices added give it a kick and reminds you of some of the spices used in Middle Eastern cooking. Sugar cane came also from the North African Arabs. Cous Cous is another great staple in Sicily. Saffron is another spice brought by the Arabs. It is interesting to note had the Normans not conquered the Arabs in Sicily (Sicily was an Arab state), there is a possibility that this part of Italy would have been Arab.

So, what I always say to Italians from the Southern part of the country or at least from Naples on down, your cousins are the Arabs and when I go to the Middle East I make the same joke that has truth ringing all over it. Arabs who live in Palermo one can't tell the difference between a Siciliano or Arab; they look the same. These are things that make you go Hmmmm....

Anyway, the architecture here is really impressive. My favorite sight was further down from the smelly port I encountered on my first day. Seeing the magestic Mediterranean sea and the beach area was so aweinspiring. The curve of Palermo's body couching the sea looked very sensual. My tour lasted for two hours - I took bus 1 and 2 and I am really glad I did because I was really getting disappointed walking the dirty streets of Palermo seeing beauty veiled in ugliness. I went back to the hotel at 4:30 p.m.

Following suit to the climate, I did an afternoon siesta reading until I fell asleep. I woke up again about 6 p.m., showered again and set out to go to the sea. On the way, I stopped at a Granita stand and got a strawberry banana flavored one and sat down with the locals and enjoyed it. Siciliani people are different from people from Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast. Sicilianis are more suspicious and reserved; it may be in part due to the city climate. I don't think tourists just plop themselves down with where the locals really hang to enjoy a granita. I forgot to mention, I bought some arancini 2 Euros worth and got a whole box of them - too many, but they were hot and so good! This was my dinner. I ate about 5 of those bad boys okay six actually and really enjoyed them. The rest are still with me, but I think I might have to ditch them; can't keep them overnight.

One man, came over near me to break a coconut right behind me beneath my seat - Go figure! I guess that was some sort of message. Chuckling to myself, I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he moved to the side of me and ate his raw coconut. I was impressed how he was eating it so - must be that Berber Northwest African influence the way he sucked down the coconut I thought. I don't like raw coconut, but it was a natural part of him. An older lady sitting in the seat nearby smiled at me a lot and geeted me with a few "seras" (evenings) and then a ciao when she left with her family. I liked her spirit. Her eyes danced with friendliness.

Leaving the stand I walked down towards the Giuseppi Garibaldi Villa Park Gardens to look at the beautiful, but odd looking trees that have these long root branches growing from the top of the trees. In slang they are called "creepy trees," "trees of gold," but they are really called Ficus magnolioides. This Youtube video will give you a sense of what they look like Palermo has many gardens that are beautiful, but there is a problem - there is trash and other bits of garbage that frame the gardens on the outside and sad to say the inside.

This is one really huge issue I have with this ancient city with so much beauty, history and passion. The people here don't throw away their trash in the trash cans. Now, they might blame the tourists, but I am not buying it. It is sloven! You walk past a great looking Trattoria and then some nice benches and people are sitting on the benches with trash besides the benches. I am giving the city the benefit of the doubt thinking that the city garbage collectors don't come every day to do a pick up, but my Gosh, the people have to have some pride in their city.

Whether you like him or not, the one thing Rudolpho Giuliani did for New York City when he was Mayor was clean it up quite a bit. You don't see the tacking or Grafitti on the walls like you used to; yes there are designated art spots, but not like it once was. You'd never see grafitti marked on our monuments, but here in Sicily, people have tagged up statues, walls, sidewalks, park benches and so many places. Most words written in Italian professing some eternal love for someone T'amo Antonio (I love you Antonio) or the universal dirty F you know what word of course. My favorite word written in Italian on the side of a wall was the word "Insurrezione" (Insurrection).

Back to the garbage, I don't think there is a recyling program here, but I am almost sure there is a rodent problem here as well; although the only sign I saw of a rodent was a big truck that advertised killing rats and roaches. This link here tells it all. or

Listen, I know some of you are thinking, why did you go there? I am glad I am here really, but I must say I was a bit taken back by the trashiness of Palermo. I say to Palermo, that it must find a way to love itself enough to pick up after itself; taking more pride in the cleanliness that is long overdue and truly deserves. Naples had a similar issue and some believed that was linked to the Cammorra (Mafia of Naples).

President Berlusconi should stop feeling on his girl friend of 18 years of age, and begin to pay attention to this beautiful city that deserves so much more. It makes Italy look deficient and distracted.

One can't forget the trash, but when people are rude, that is trashy too. I experienced an old lady who did what my friends from the Caribbean complained about in Rome - throwing your change at you down on the counter like you have leprosy or exposed HIV or something. She did this to me this evening after I purchased some gelato. I stood and watched her hand the man his change and then I said to her in Italian Vecchia - Old woman, but then in English I see how you treat the man better than me.

It really angered me that there are people here in Italy and in Europe that do this and they do it selectively. I did not want this experience to influence my evening out in the streets, but between the trash and the old hag, it was starting to go in that direction.

Before, it became too dark, I hurried to the sea and my it was a sight to behold. I prayed to God and asked him to help me to stop being so pissed off right now at what happened to me. There is a certain amount of humiliation that takes place when something like this happens; especially when you can't do anything about it per se. In a strange city and one that is full of corruption as well as the Mafia, you have to be careful with whom you speak and what you say.

Palermo is headed for a great catastrophe in tourism if the President and the Municiapli leaders do not get their behinds in gear. It is a shame that my beloved Italy for the second time will have to be embarassed by the trash.

I am getting familiar with the city so finding my way back is pretty easy now - it does not matter from what direction I go, I can get back to lovely and cute Hotel...

Back at the hotel, I met a remarkable woman named Sabrina Colomb
She and I actually met last night in the lounge; both on our computers, but we only exchanged pleasantries. Well, suffice to say and without divulging too much on an historic idea I shared my client which we will do God willing in 2011, I was meant to meet this woman to be a part of this exciting advent. She fits not only in terms of talent and capability, but fame and most importantly her philosophy about life and the world.

I did not realize she was one of the stars of the Rock Symphony concert here in Palermo in early September. I really wanted to come to this concert, but I am leaving. She speaks French and Italian and so we conversed in both when at times I would become inept and forget a word here and there in Italian. Her English was not good at all; so I had to do the work, but you know I did not mind that.

I put her on the phone with my client on SKPE (will be really sad when they go out of business), to say hello and you know out of the entire day, she was the blessing for the evening; meeting a new friend we talked about many things in this world like how do we proclaim and get to world peace through song and music? When people perform who do they do it for themselves or the people? What is our purpose when we speak, write, sing, play and instrument or dance. My first real serious conversation in Italian (mostly that is). A beautiful soul she has - she kept saying molto incredibile - we meet last night and then today we talk and we have so much in common. On her computer, she played for me her songs and her voice and it is remarkable - Opera trained she calls herself a Soprano Colorature Legere. Her name is out there y'all Yahoo or Google her. I am honored to know her and know we will be working together in the future.

Finally, two of my friends asked for shoes from Italy. Well, one I mentioned it too because Lord of Mercy he needs some new kicks. Just friends everyone don't go thinking anything. I am hoping they have their sizes 10 & 12 or 42 & 44. Do you really think that shoe size for men really has anything to do with....Oh never mind, forget I even raised the issue. 100% leather shoes, latest styles for 15 Euros that's a deal.

Tomorrow is another day, actually in 4 minutes it will be Monday morning for me. Thanks for reading and see you again God willing tomorrow. Bacione!!!

1 comment: