22nd of May, 2013
Picking up where we left off in a previous post, we stopped at a bar in Perugia for our first Italian meal – pizza and a beer! We each ordered our own small pizzas and were hungry enough to eat the whole things with beer. They were deeeelicious!
After our meal, we wandered around the main area of Perugia and found a chocolate shop for dessert. We picked a couple good looking chocolates and then made our way back to our room. When we got back there, I was so tired that I just wanted to relax. Jesse rubbed my back, which put me right to sleep for a couple hours! When I woke up it was about 9:30pm or so. I figured I would stay up for a few hours to better acclimate my sleep schedule. I had time to reflect on our trip thus far and something that particularly stuck out was the language barrier. It is quite frustrating to try to communicate with people when you barely know their language. Nearly everyone we have met in Italy has been very patient and understanding when we try to communicate, and will work with us in either Italian or English, depending on the complexity of the conversation and their knowledge of English. This doesn’t remove the frustration of communicating, but it certainly lessens it. I wonder what the communication will be like in countries that speak other languages? I know enough Spanish to get by and hold a broken conversation, so that certainly helped as there are some similarities between Spanish and Italian, and helps with other Latin languages. I’m most worried about the language barrier in Asian countries as I imagine the similarities in languages will be far fewer.
We ended the night watching a couple episodes of Game of Thrones that I had on my computer, then falling asleep.
23rd of May, 2013
We woke up today, packed up our belongings, grabbed a small breakfast from the hotel and made our way back to where the airport shuttle dropped us off. We would have taken public transportation but I spent a couple hours looking up information on busses in Perugia and couldn’t find anything in English that was at all useful. So rather than trying to save a few Euros, we just took the shuttle back to the airport where we were to meet our host and her nieces, who were flying in today. It turned out that our host’s car was in the shop, so she had hired a taxi to meet us and her nieces at the airport. Once everyone was collected, we made our way to Pietralunga, where our host lived.
The taxi driver had some trouble finding the house, so stopped and asked someone if they knew how to get there. The person started telling the taxi driver how to get there, but then just got in his car and drove down there while the taxi driver followed. Our host met us at her front door wearing a snowman hat and pineapple glasses. She certainly has a sense of humor!
As we all gathered inside, we were show to our room so we could put our stuff away. There was barely room for everyone to sit in the living room, so adding luggage to the space would have made it fairly uncomfortable. After we put our stuff away, we met back in the living room and suggested Jesse and I take a walk up to the main area of the town to allow our host and her nieces to have time to themselves to catch up. They thought that sounded fine, so Jesse and I made our way out. The main area of town was up a very steep hill with switchbacks that you wouldn’t want to drive in when it is wet or slippery. The view over the rest of the valley was very nice though!
We stopped in the grocery store we found to check out what they had. It was just a small grocer with a few items, but sizeable meat and cheese deli counters…
After our visit to the grocer, we returned to the house and had a pasta meal. We chatted for a bit then headed to bed for the night.
24th of May, 2013
Today we woke up and had a small breakfast, then waited for our host to be ready to show us what needed to be done. She showed us around the outside property and inside the house. There was a ton of work that needed to be done everywhere, especially in the house. The main problem with doing anything in the house, though, was that you couldn’t do anything without having to clear out the room of all the “stuff” that was in them. In most rooms and hallways we had to climb over boxes and piles to get to where we needed to go. This would have been ok if it was just one or two spots that everything was stored in, but it looked like our host had moved in yesterday. Not really what we were expecting!
I had particularly hoped to be able to work in a garden or on a farm of some sort. This host had neither and did not want to have either anytime this year, despite mentioning in her ad that she wanted to start a veggie garden. I am a pretty adaptable person though, so we just kept on looking at all that needed to be done and writing things down on a to-do list. At the end of the tour, Jesse and I had a chance to sit down and chat about what we were thinking. There were not any insurmountable tasks to do, but it wasn’t at all what we were expecting, and ultimately, not what we wanted or would have agreed to do on our trip/vacation. When everyone left in the afternoon to go into town, we went as well, but with the purpose of trying to figure out how to leave and where to go next. We contacted one other Helpx host not very far away that we had been in contact with previously and that looked much more interesting and in line with what we hoped to do, and crossed our fingers.
We had a chance to talk with our host later in the evening after a nice meal and she asked how long we planned to stay. We told her we likely wouldn’t stay much longer. The Helpx host ad that was written and the pictures that were provided were misleading and it wasn’t what we had in mind, or how we wanted to spend our first days in Italy. To top it off, our host and one of her nieces were indoor smokers (and shame on us for not asking before agreeing to stay). They conceded to smoke outside, and after much discussion, we decided we might be able to stay, but would see how it goes. To give you a small idea of the written vs. reality of the situation, see the pictures below… The first is the picture of the living room from the Helpx ad, the second is the actual picture we took of the same room.
25th of May, 2013
The next day (Saturday the 25th) was just more chaos and no real structure. That, combined with the state of the house, made our decision easy. The new hosts we had contacted yesterday had texted us, so we responded, figured out with them how we could catch the bus away from where we were in Pietralunga, packed up our stuff and left. Jesse managed to find out where the nearest bus station was from one of the businesses in town, so we walked there (in the rain, of course!), and waited for about 30 minutes for the right bus. We traveled to Umbertide, then from there took a train to Citta di Castello, where our new host picked us up. We chatted with him the whole ride back to his home and began to feel a huge sense of relief. We definitely made the right decision!
When we arrived at our new hosts’ home, we met one of their children, a 7-year-old boy. Their 5-year-old daughter was already in bed for the night. After both children were in bed, we settled down to a delicious meal of bruschetta on bread with chicken and salad, chatted for awhile then headed to bed (in our own, very nice, apartment that the couple hope to rent out in the future). We were very happy, sated and ready for a good night’s sleep.