Exotic and wild, this idea of going to Sicily was like jumping into a pool of water for me. Some women, when expecting a baby, will nest, knit, decorate the nursery. But when a woman adopts, as the clock ticks down, the urge to travel comes hard. I knew I would have to take this trip or maybe never have a chance.
But back to Sicily. In Sicily, since I didn't understand the language, everything took on a visual richness and texture, like I had just changed the levels, fiddling with the ratio of eye to ear, to let myself experience the sounds and textures with the part of my mind usually engaged with language and story. Now I have done a lot of travel in foreign countries, but for the most part, I spoke the languages. I could listen to the news playing on the radio in a taxi cab, read the paper, easily express my needs, understand the street signs, etc. Last week, I was in textural mode. Relying on gesture, cadence, movement, and light to guide me through. And Judy.
Every surface had a different texture in Palermo, and much of it was not buffed and manicured in any way. Sometimes it shined through in patches, but it was mainly a dramatic patchwork of ruin and riches. Sicily as a whole was loud, smiling, helpful, confusing, imposing, brute and sweetly seductive all at the same time. It took me back to the years when I rolled my little suitcase into all kinds of interesting places without knowing what was going to happen. Back to the day when I thrived on the adrenaline that travel and work in foreign countries gave me.
I rolled my suitcase that night along the streets and over changing surfaces, cobblestone, tile, concrete, and slab, to reach a very nice hotel that Judy had picked out. The group had already gone to dinner, and Judy's message left instructions at the hotel on where to find them. I found my way to the little trattoria, realizing that I had passed it on my way in.
The group extended a welcome and immediately someone put a plate with a slab of sheeps cheese drenched in honey and olive oil in front of me, and poured me a glass of wine. The wine, local, a varietal called Nero d'Avola, knocked my socks off with whispers of licorice, butterscotch and chocolate. It could have been a meal in itself but then the food started coming out. Lots of it, Sicilian baptism by fire. The plates were passed around the table. My kind of people! Great conversation, nice people, we were off to a good start!