Saturday, March 29, 2008
First, I started the blog only because I thought it was going to be the easiest way to keep in touch with friends and family and avoid writing hundreds of emails. My dad is a dedicated reader and I am glad he can get a glimpse of what is going on here since he wasnt able to come visit me this year. My mother catches up every few weeks, but to her credit, she never liked reading so I am impressed she has hung in there with me. I am pretty sure my brother in Chicago never even opened the site but his wife reads occasionally I think, so she might give him updates. My brother in Puerto Rico probably doesnt even know I am writing a blog and my brother in Germany reads it when I remind him to. My aunt doesnt have a computer but I think she would have been a dedicated reader also.
As for my closest friends, well, they have mostly petered out over the year and some never even started (which in all honestly surprised me). There are other friends who I think read regularly because every now and then they send me an email telling me such. I think there are a few old coworkers who check in once in a while and probably a handful of my fellow church goers.
But, then there is the rest of the blog community. There was the girl in California (sorry I have forgotten your name) who loves to tango and wrote me after her first visit here last year. There is Bob in London who wrote yesterday and Annette in Nebraska who sent me a great email yesterday also. There are my new friends from back east, Anglu and LouAnne, who I met here in Venice when they came to visit and gave me great tips for my Malta journey. There was the woman in North Carolina who told me she wanted to do what I was doing but she is married to a military pilot and has 3 small kids, so that dream is on hold for a few years. I met Jo in Prague and I think she keeps up with me through this site. Holly wrote me from Reno and we recently had a nice dinner when she was here visiting. Tonya is from California I think and is writing a book that has some settings in Venice. She asked me to answer a few questions about buildings here. There have been a couple friends of friends who have come (or will be coming) to Venice and want to meet. And there was the Venetian who has an American friend who reads my blog (which is how he got the address) and was nice enough to 'correct' me on some of my Venetian ideas. There is Gil who has been faithfully posting on my blog and is always positive and encouraging. And dont forget Maryann who is the author of the only blog that I read (http://findingladolcevita.blogspot.com/) and has inspired me to maybe try to cook something one day. There are several other expats who I think check in on my blog occasionally and have put links to my blog on their site (which I assume is how many of my readers have found me). And I am sure there were other contacts throughout the year that escape me at the moment (please dont be offended).
So all in all, I actually think there are more strangers reading my blog that people I know. Which in itself is an interesting concept. Who knew that I would actually gather an audience! I use the computer alot and keep in touch with the world that way but I dont think I really understood how far reaching and how small the world is until I sat down to contemplate todays writing. For whats it worth, I appreciate your reading. When I go back home in May, I probably wont write much more after the first week or so because then I wont be living the charmed life in Venice anymore and the charmed life in Phoenix just really isnt quite as exciting! Until then, let me know who you are and I will do my best to keep it entertaining.
Friday, March 28, 2008
For those of you who have eaten real, fresh buffalo mozzarella, you know what an absolute crime this is. And speaking of crime--thats the reason it is tainted.
You see, buffalo mozzarella is made in Naples in southern Italy. This is the same place where you might have heard about the insane trash problem they are having. Since right before Christmas, there is an area of Naples where the trash has not been picked up. Its lining the street and alleys, causing incredible smells and dangerous toxins. Its believed that some of those toxins may have contaminated the ground water and since the trash is also being dumped on agricultural land, it is tainting the areas being used to pasture the animals. Now, of course, this theory hasnt been proven yet but its seems plausible and also begs the question as to what other tainted products are coming out of Naples and how the people are getting along in the waste.
So, why not just pick up the trash like any other city in the world? Well, for that we have to look at organized crime. As I understand it (and I try my best to stay clear of organized crime!), there is the mafia that we all know in reality and through the movies and then there is the Camorra which is another organized crime group but runs parallel with the elected officials. So, while they probably dont put cement shoes on people like the mafia, they do wield some serious power and intimidation in the region. The Camorra has made a profitable business of illegally dumping trash and so far, no one has confronted them.
South Korea and Japan have already banned the import of the cheese and Italy is scrambling to fix this publicity nightmare. While the majority of buffalo mozzarella is actually consumed in Italy, its still bad press and in todays day and age, we all know how effective bad press can be. Its a sad story on many levels. The outright purposeful neglect of a community by its government because of intimidation, the tainting of a food product because of neglect and some of the worst travel press that a tourist destination can get. And for what reason?
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I went out for my morning errands and came back to make the phone call to the vet. Lo and behold, he was there and I spent a good 5 minutes talking to him in Italian about what I wanted and needed and what he wanted and needed. At the time, I thought the best part was that he understood me and I understood him and I got my appointment.
However, I called my friend to tell her I got through to the vet and got the appointment and she informed that she, too, got through earlier in the morning and made me an appointment! Her appointment is 1/2 hour before mine on the same day. Her Italian is extremely good so we are now wondering why this man didnt say something about how strange it is that two American girls with cats are leaving on exactly the same day and have the same name...what are the odds?!
At any rate, I am keeping both appointments and will fill him in on the 'secret' once I am there. Next thing to accomplish....my internet connection cancellation....watchout FastWeb, I am on a mission!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
First, I have been trying (or should I say with the help of a friend, I have been trying) for 2 weeks to get a hold of the state vet who is the keeper of some piece of paper I need in order to take the cat back home. He is only in the office by appointment and numerous phone calls have gone unanswered (dont even think about asking if there is an answering machine!). On the few occasions that someone did answer the phone, we were told that we had to speak directly to the vet in order to get information and make an appointment to get the holy grail paperwork. Of course, this only begs the question as to what this person is doing by answering the phone if they can neither answers questions nor make appointments--sounds like a great job! I have even walked my happy butt over to the office and rang the doorbell numerous times but obviously, I havent hit upon a time when he has made an appointment with someone else. Some would call this a conundrum. All I know is that it is making me a curmudgeon!
Secondly, I started also 2 weeks ago to cancel my internet connection here in Venice. After going to the storefront where I originally signed up with no problem, I was told I had to call a number to find out what to do. So, calling the number, I am told I have to write a letter stating that I want my service cancelled (I dont get to pick the date by the way--they just need 30 days after they receive the letter in order to take of this business) and mail it via the post office with a return receipt. Additionally, they are going to charge me 49 euro to cancel AND I have to pay to send the modem back to them (no, I cant drop it off at the storefront!). Once they receive my letter, they will send me a text message on my cell phone telling me where to mail the modem and what day my service is cancelled. Well, here we are 2 weeks later and I have not gotten my return receipt back nor heard from the company. I have done as much as I can and have enlisted yet another friend to take over for me in Italian to see if there is any hope of ever cancelling my internet service in Italy.
It is beyond me and I continue to be amazed (although I am not sure why anymore) as the complete lack of customer service that exists over here. I am not even asking anyone to be curtious to me anymore (those days long past) but how about actually doing your job? What a novel concept........
Oh well, I am sure someday, I will find laughter again....
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
We have the endless decay and destruction that goes on here because of tourism (and the seeming lack of care or action on the part of government to do something about it), the inability of the garbage company to keep up (or so they say) with the increasing number of tourists, the incessant feeding of pigeons which in the end increases excrement and disease in the city (by the way, they havent gotten rid of the seed sellers like they said there were! no surprise there.), and the neverending debate on how to charge tourists a 'daily fee' for entering the island (because Venice is always in the red). All this and more. And what is the city government going to do now? Add hotel rooms, of course!
In order to keep up with the influx, they estimate they need at least an additional 2,500 hotel rooms by 2010. Now where they are going to put them on the island is beyond me...there isnt a spare meter of space to build on--unless, of course, you tear down the only park on the island or you sacrifice some of the historical buildings that house the last remaining Venetians to the tourist gods. Apparently, it just doesnt seem to cross their mind that 21 million visitors is more than enough....if you cant pay and keep up with what you have, then why get more?
Of course, this is the underlying theme in the housing and financial demise we are having in America.....most Europeans will tell you they dont approve of the way Americans spend without having and how they live on credit, but I offer first hand proof that we arent the only ones caught in the trap! And while I personally have no sympathy for someone who got into a 3 year ARM mortgage and is now in foreclosure because they made a greedy decision (and I will ultimately have to pay to bail them out), I am saddened that Venice the city and Venice the history will suffer because of these same type of decisions. And no one will be able to fix that in the end.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
We have always had palm fronds on this Sunday at my church in America, so I was a bit surprised to see olive branches today. Now, I dont really know if this is because there is easy access to palm trees in Phoenix and not so much in Venice or if there is another reason altogether, but nonetheless, we celebrated with them.
After the blessing of the olive branches (we each got one), we sang a hymn and actually left the church building and walked around outside in the campo as a symbolic processional. What a nice word picture it created for us and for all the onlookers and tourists.
On the walk home, I saw so many other people carrying olive branches around the city--some of the kids had enough that it looked like they were carrying a whole tree! It was a nice community feeling for this special day.
On Good Friday, we will have services at 1:30pm like I remember it happening when I was a kid. Its good to know that there are some places left in the world where they still honor those traditions. And, of course, next Sunday is the celebration service of Easter itself.
I wish you a blessed week and hope that however you choose to ponder the events in history, that you will be filled with peace and hope.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We checked it out during daylight and really didnt find much difference from the night hours....tons of people in all the bars everywhere. I stopped to have my pic taken in front of the famous namesake bar (red pic) and before you know it, a bunch of drinkers come out of the bar to have their pic taken as well--happy, friendly folk!
So, I have been to Temple Bar now and can cross that off my list of things to do in life. And I really dont need to go back to it....Dublin, yes, Temple Bar, no.