Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Never Been a Better Day to Be a Badger

Day Ten

Our morning begins at 8am when Jake and I quickly get dressed for the day and begin talking about breakfast. As he heads to the kitchen to begin cooking some fresh eggs over mortadella, I take a moment to open our doors to the porch. Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes, all I can smell is fresh, dewey, Italian air. All I can feel is the light, yet brisk, breeze. All I can here…is roosters. I open my eyes, and yes, the mountains are still there. I join Jacob and Felipe in the dining room- Jake with our plate of delicious goodness, and Felipe with his morning coffee. We hear Rosa's sing-song voice dancing down the stairs, "Helloooo! Good morning!" before she begins the quest for boots, gloves, baskets, and water bottles. Jake and I swallow our breakfast whole (something we hadn't had to do since leaving home…I would later say, "We eat too fast for France, and too slow for Italy") and are on our way. We drive in the little green Skado to a gated area where we then spend that next 4 hours picking chestnuts. Looking under leaves, into badger holes, and through spider webs all while hearing the delicate, though intimidating, thud of chestnut pods dropping a few inches from your head. Every now and then there would be lizards or strange bugs skittering along your path, but all in all it was rather lifeless in the area.

Not to fret, though, because as soon as you feel bored with the monotony of harvesting chestnuts, you simply look up and realize, "holy shit, I'm in Italy." You then real into a series of thoughts like, "my biggest concern for today is filling this bag," and, "the most danger I will get in today is possibly falling into a badger hole," and, "no matter how tired or sore I get I know for a fact that in a few hours I will be fed wonderful Italian food and have a warm bed to sleep in." We continue picking until we retire to the house for lunch. Massimo joins us for our meal this time, and Rosa brings us a heaping pot of pasta with red sauce (and of course, wine, mozzarella, mortadella, proscuitto, and pane). We stuff our faces almost to the point of explosion, and as Jake and I get up to take care of our plates everyone yells, "NO! There is more!" Jake and I exchange bewildered looks. More? How can we possibly eat MORE?? We are then told that it is Italian tradition to serve lunch in two parts. First, the pasta, and second the meat. We indulge in a bit of beef that Rosa had prepared with red pepper before returning to our room for a rest. At four, we leave again. The first stop is a small field where Rosa asks us to check for walnuts. No, no walnuts, but there are grapes! Oh, and figs! Oh, and apples! Rosa is picking figs off the tree and telling us to eat them. One after another, after another until there are no more ripe figs on the tree. I would say we ate about 6 each before we continued on. Then we picked fallen apples to bring with us, and also some grapes to eat as we worked.

Next stop was back to the chestnut farm where I almost fell into a badger hole as I wandered through the ferns and trees. As I continued to recover from my CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH A FURRY AND TERRIFYING DEATH (okay, maybe it wasn't THAT bad), we continued to pick two more bags before Rosa squeals that we must pick more figs before sundown. More figs!? Yes, but these are for market. Feeling both relieved and depressed by this statement, we hopped into the Skoda and returned to the house. We are given several flat baskets and sheers when we head to the back yard. Fritz is frolicking behind us as we make our way to the fig trees and begin putting them into the baskets. "Watch Fritz!" Rosa exclaims between Italian swears at the dog, "He loves to eat the figs!" And it is true! Not only will he stand behind you, face between your knees as you pick the figs, but he will also sneak over to your basket and snag one before you are even able to notice. It's okay, though, because once he has one he will lay off in the distance, munching on it for about half an hour. Battling prickle bushes (Or "spikes" as Felipe calls them), we pick about 4 baskets full of figs before finally calling it quits around 5:30.

Rosa prepares dinner for us and, as per usual, it is delicious. This time it is rice with tomato sauce with the usual accompaniments. Next it is my turn for dishes as Jake does our laundry in the bathtub. Let me explain a little something to you about Italian bathrooms. And by explain, I mean share information because I honestly do not understand most of what happens in these mysterious rooms. For one, the showers rarely have curtains. I don't get it. Secondly, there are always TWO toilets. Now, the first one is a regular toilet with a regular flush, but the second one is a seatless potty with a sink faucet on the back. Huh? The only thing I can determine is maybe one toilet it for pee and the other is for the deuce? I honestly have no other ideas. However, here the onesey toilet has the washing machine plugged into it so it is off limits so you must always use the deucer. Let me tell you right now that I have a deep fear of one day taking a poop (we all do it, people!)….it can be anywhere in the world….and the flusher not working. That fear has never been so close to fruition as it is on a daily (or okay, sometimes bi-daily) basis here. And this is why: to flush the toilet, there is a button on the wall. This button is unreliable. In order to flush you must repeatedly press the button for approximately 5minutes before it will begin flushing. Having to pee is such a stress knowing that I am going to be unable to flush and will have to yell to Jake to come do it for me.

After laundry and dishes are done, Jake, Felipe, and I head out on the town. If you have ever seen this small village you would understand how hilarious that statement is. We hike down our road with zero street lights and up to the top of the mountain to one of the only two bars (and only four businesses) in the village for a beer at Dragonfly. Felipe is ecstatic because the volley ball game is on and it is Brazil vs. Italy. He buys the first (and only) round and we relax for about two hours talking about our countries, politics, our theories on education, food, and joke about life in general. By 10:30 we realize how tired we are and make our way back to the house- after all it has only been day one, and if what Felipe told us is correct, we will not be having a day off until we leave the farm.

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