F*ck, I love Italy. Excuse my language...but, today I was walking back to my host family's house from work and I just couldn't help but appreciate my surroundings to the fullest. I'm in Jesi, which is a small town near Ancona, in the Marché region.
This place is beautiful (which is definitely an understatement). Walking home I was surrounded by the mountains, which are green and just look like massive rolling hills. I followed the signs to the Palazzo dello Sport and wound up on a bike path filled with people doing their daily jog or walk. There were corn fields on my left, and to my right old Italian style houses with laundry hanging up outside, drying like raisins outside on the line in the mellow evening sun. Finally, I recognized the small peach colored apartment building, which looks so industrialized and modern compared to the rest of the city.
Inside my small room, I am gazing out the window, and what I see is beyond gorgeous. There are double doors which open out onto a small balcony. Hanging on the edge of the balcony is a box of petunias that are tenderly looked after by my host mother. Looking out I can see a modern church steeple, whose bells are happy to call out at 9:30 am. Beyond this I see the gorgeous hilly mountains of green and white and tan, all dotted with tiny specks of white that represent other small surrounding villages. The air is the cleanest I've ever felt and breathed, no doubt due to the gorgeous vegetation. Since Korea, I appreciate vegetation more than I ever have before.
The sounds are numerous, and include car motors starting and stopping and people cheering and clapping while whistles blow for a soccer match across the street. Motorcycles buzz and sputter by, and cars slowly woosh past.
My host family is lovely, and include a middle aged man called Renato, his wife Federica, and their two boys aged 12 and 7, Francesco and Alessandro. The boys are quiet and well-behaved, and Francesco patiently helps his mother translate her Italian to English so that she can communicate with me. "Come si dice??" she asks frantically. As is typical in Italy, the husband (Renato) speaks better English than Federica because he travels more internationally for his job. They are interestingly enough both in the furniture business; he is in some kind of furniture information technology, and she designs and sells furniture. I also met Federica's brother Luca, who is studying to be an architect. The whole family is from Jesi many years back, and Luca is the only outcast who was bold enough to venture out to Rome. It is clear that Federica wants him back here, as she speaks her broken English and waves her spoon at him menacingly, "you MAST come back to Yay-si!" (as they pronounce Jesi).
Federica is an excellent cook, and the family feeds me ridiculous amounts of food (as is also typical in Italy). These people eat more than I have ever seen in my youth or adult life, and yet they are so slim. My first dinner consisted of prosciutto, toasted pita slices, three different kinds of cheese (ricotta, mozarella and a local cheese), fresh basil salad with tomatoes and olive oil, roasted zucchini and breaded stuffed olives. "Mangiare!" they insist, as soon as my fork appears to waver for even a moment. Federica was upset that my first day of camp I only ate half a slice of the coffee cake and coffee for breakfast; I tried to explain that I was still full from the night before, nervous and stressed and just plain not hungry, but that didn't seem to appease her at all. Now she says at breakfast, "eat, eat, eat!" and she tells her husband in Italian that I eat such a small amount (even though I ate two breaded chicken breasts last night at her insistence). My nightly routine has become popping two Tums 750 and saying prayers that I don't throw up my dinner.
Camp has been going much better than the last two camps I had in 2008. I chalk this up to the fact that I have the older kids, who are much calmer, and that I'm in a smaller town, so the children are better behaved. My kids are good and they actually enjoy down time, so that makes me happy. They have a wide range of interests and their English comprehension is much better than all of the kids I've taught in the past.
So, all in all, life right now is excellent. Alora, speaking of food, I have just been informed by Federica that my dinner is ready.
I'll update everyone again ASAP.
Love you all,