Monday, August 15, 2011

summer holidays (part 2- Lampedusa)

So, I  last left you from the boat on my way from Civitavecchia (near Rome) bound for a town in North Sicily called Termine Immerese (near Palermo)…..This boat journey was a 12 hour trip but overnight from 8pm to 8 am – it was a pretty easy as we had a cabin to ourselves and our own bathroom. Very civilized and we arrived in Siciliy pretty well rested. … Once arrived we needed to head to the south coast of Sicily to Porto Empodocle (near Agrigento – a significant archiological site).  This was about a 3 hour drive in total  (as Ken the Navigator predicted). I just wanted to get from A to B as fast as possible and kept on pushing on without stopping – this worked well and we arrived to the Port with about 2 hours to spare prior to our next boat trip to the Island of Lampedusa (a 4 hour passenger ride). So I decided to find a safe but free car park close to port…..this was as easy as expected!!!! Not clear at all, and when I did manage to articulate a question in Italian? I had no hope of understanding the speed and dialect of the returning reply’s. So ultimately I had to wing it and parked the car up a hill about 1 km from the port…. With the car parked  I felt safe to head to the port terminal to collect our tickets….but it was 1pm and naturally the terminal was closed for siesta…. So lunch was our next major concern and as always I have to negotiate a gluten free option for Gabby – unfortunately in this circumstance I chose risotto….. which I later found out was a 40 min preparation!!! The restaurant did not seem to feel my urgency to finish eating and paying and took over an hour to get us fed and out of the restaurant!!!! By this stage I was in a hurry to get back to the port and  collect tickets and board the boat….. By this stage it was 42 deg Celsius, the kids were tired and ready to rest on the boat with our freshly purchased Sicilian summer fruits. Arriving to the terminal I soon realize that A) there was a massive line and B) I had left the passports and documentation in the bloody car!!!! You can imagine the expletives that involuntarily lept out of my mouth….with the welling of tears in my eyes and the weight of our luggage increasing with the increasing temperature – Gabby piped up and said “it’s ok mum, we can do it together, lets all run back to the car really fast – ready boys?!?!” in her most enthusiastic voice! It quickly snapped me out of  “defeatedness” into motivation and away we flew  - sharing the load of luggage and courage!!! Sure enough we galloped back through the village up the hill collecting more than just a few glances on our way – you have to imagine southern sicily/ sole fair mother/ three small children / all sprinting with luggage!!!
Sure enough we got back to port waited in the painfully slow moving queue to wait for ONE HOUR in the melting sun – but needless to say sitting down in that chair on the boat felt like heaven and I felt so incredibly proud of myself and the kids for getting this far together.  Our journey on the boat was easy and managed to salvage some of the Sicilian fruit that got squashed in our last minute frenzy…
Arriving in Lampedusa we felt jubilant to have finally made it almost 24hours after departing…. We were met at port by Giovanni who was full of energy/fun and games which I was depleted of …. Giovanni drove us to our resort where we were greeted by the rest of the clan and setteled ourselves in to our holiday apartment…. That night we were fully cared for and dinner was fantastic…. Risotto, insalta,  fish, pasta we were all welcomed with open mouths… J
Malachy at this stage was again unsettled – he seems to be the one that acts out his feelings… The poor little fellow has been moved around a bit and is obviously needing to find a way to let his crazy mother know!! So we settled in to bed to get a fresh start for our first full day in Lampedusa.
If I didn’t mention earlier… Lampedusa is actually closer to Libia than it is to Italy…so as the white skinned / sun avoiding person I am you can imagine my hesitation as Lampedusa as a suitable destination in the middle of summer…. There is no denying it was hot but humidity was not in the equation at all and the sun was no where near as scorching as the Australian sun.. We found ourselves lapping up the italian beach culture – which I might add is my idea of beach hospitality …… granitas, alcohol, coffee, café, umbrellas that are hired and catered for …. It was heavenly and the beaches themselves… crystal clear with a brilliant azure colour so intense you thought you were diving into a picture….
This land of this island though is harsh and tough and at a glance in inhabitable but somehow it has been turned into a paradise – one that I indulged in in many ways…. The building resembled more morrocan / African style but the food was unique blend of Italian/Sicilian/Lampedusa…. My most memorable gastronomic experience was a bar called oscia (a former fortress of the armies) this bar was seemingly in the middle of nowhere but it had the vibe of the slickest of inner city bars but the family friendliness of  the best parks in Brisbane  - with 2 (real pirate ships, a light house and brightly coloured clapped out vespa’s included in the play area – I was ready to move in permanently – and so were the kids. It was the most beautiful evening with a sky boasting a setting sun with an almost full moon the light was fantastic, everyone was happy and we hadn’t even reached the bar for food…. Awaiting us was an amazing array of local delicacies and cocktails to boot!!!!
The following day we were taken around the island on a motor boat and we visited various little beautiful “boat only accessible” areas where we frolicked and snorkeled our day away…..I have to add in here that the friends we joined added an extra 4 children (aged 18 to 11) to the group with….  I am afraid that I have imposed on my children an irreversible desire of everything Italian … this was even seen in their interaction with the other children…. Spencer in particular fell in love with the two Italian 11 year old girls (massaging 2 at a time at one stage whilst they were sunbaking in their bikini’s) and Gabby followed 13year old Francesco around in a daze of 6 year old flirtation.  All in all the children got along famously as I did with the adults, although for me I would say communication was slightly more challenging – making it increasingly important for me to work on my language skills…..
The trip was so well worth the effort of getting to and from Lampedusa ….. my landlady said today …”never let the difficulty of a journey get in the way of something you want to do – the memories of the location and experience is what you will remember”. This is so true but I would add that the difficulties I encountered during this journey confronted me in ways that were unexpected and from this I have learnt so much that I am so incredibly grateful I took the plunge and had the chance to experience this beautiful slice of paradise….
P.S it is too late to peruse for editing so please excuse errorsJ


  1. ...more photos tomorrow....internet too slow tonight - sorry!

  2. Ciao my fellow "italian"!
    What a great story Bronwyn. I so understand your frustration with the slow Italian pace, which is both a blessing and a curse!! We have done Rome this week and are now ready for a holiday like yours, it sounds perfetto!
    The food is what I'm craving. The chocolate/carb/caffeine diet e basta!
    You will forever remember this experience.. As will the kids. How wonderful for all of you!
    J xoxo

  3. Bron , Gabby stepping in when you had run out of steam brought a tear to my eye. You must be so proud of your resilient, empathetic little girl, she is a credit to you. I love hearing how you are all learning so much and taking such an adventure in your stride. Your landlady is right. None of the kids will remember the stress of the near miss but will remember the optimism and ultimate success of your dash to paradise. You guys are my inspiration and I am reliving my European childhood through you - you are making a lifetime of memories that will forge your family together forever. Bx

  4. Awww, thanks ladies, it truely is a dream with sprinkles of reality - all good though... Today was Cinque Terra another adventure to blog... :-) Spencie at bedtime said "thanks for such a great adventure today Mum!"... truely warming the cockles of my heart!!!<3