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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bagamoyo Young Artist Center

The Center that I worked with in Bagamoyo is losing their center and their home due to lack of funds.  Donations can be made to Masiga M. Jaruph Bagamoyo Tanzania via Western Union.  WU will ask for a test question and answer.  The answer should be "Margie."   

This is a center that gives lessons in art and language with the purpose of teaching skills in painting, drawing, music, dancing, and drumming to both girls and boys under 18 years old free of charge.

·         To help reduce the number of children on the streets in Bagamoyo society.
·         To give the opportunity to exchange views and cultural ideas with children and adults from different areas inside and outside of the country of Tanzania
·         To give children the opportunity to represent their opinion, understand themselves and to know their own value in the society through art work.
·         To give children knowledge and awareness about the killing effects of the HIV disease

The Bagamoyo Young Artist Center offers free of charge
·         English and Mathematics
·         Traditional Dance and Drama
·         Drawing, Painting, Carving

Bagamoyo Young Artist Center requirements are paints, paper, drawing pencils, pens, brushes, notebooks, children’s English books, writing pencils, crayons, sculpting supplies, clay, etc.  Send by UPS.
Time for sessions are afternoons Monday through Saturday - 4:30 to 6:30 pm.
You may be a member of Bagamoyo Young Artist Center only if you attend everyday.  If you cannot attend,  you must let us know before the class

·         At Bagamoyo Young Artist Center we like to work together as a team and to have a real relationship with the guardians and parents so that children reach their goals.
·         We ask the parents and guardians to give support and cooperation to Bagamoyo Young Artist Center to allow  the boys and girls to join with their fellow children in order to receive the training we give.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reflections in the Arno

It’s Sunday morning.  My flight back to the States leaves Geneva on Tuesday but I leave Florence on Monday.  Typical for me, just when I’m feeling really comfortable, it’s time to go. 

Strangely enough I’m not so eager to go back to a place where I understand the conversation.  I’ve learned over the past six weeks that true communication has nothing to do with language and everything to do with the energy that is given and received.  This experience has been a great opportunity for me to learn how to communicate without language skills and to read other people’s energy.   I often struggle to keep a conversation going anyway, so being able to look at someone blankly and say “non capisco” turns out to be a beautiful thing.   My experience of being alone in Italy has been enlightening and enlivening for me in all kinds of ways.  

About three weeks into living here the outside noise that echoes continuously within this apartment became an undercurrent in the background rather than front and center chaos.  The noise was bothersome because it reflected the internal chaos I felt at the time.  And the location of the apartment is truly convenient, central to everything.   And I would never have seen David being paraded down the street in a cart if I stayed somewhere else.  

I did finally get the heaters to work but I never did get used to the spurting, scalding hot water that comes immediately out of the taps in this place.
Fear of showering was never on my list of topics to talk with a shrink about, but IT IS NOW! The burn on my arm has just healed from the first night’s shower.   I learned how to get a balanced temperature flowing without burning my arm but every time in the midst of the shower the cold water stops and scalding hot water bursts out.  There’s no place to jump out of the way.  Every time before entering I give myself a pep talk, “Come on.  You can do it.  Just get in there and get it over with.” 

I came to Italy and Africa to experience what it would be like to live for a bit in other cultures where English is not the first language rather than to simply travel as a tourist.  I leave today after spending four weeks in Africa and eight weeks in Italy with a deeper respect for my father, who immigrated from Germany to America in the 1920’s, and for all people who leave the safety and comfort of the known to make their way in another land.  And I have the highest esteem for anyone who moves to a new culture without the security blanket of a partner, friends in the area, or family like my friend Marc did moving from Switzerland to Hawaii. 

All aspects of this adventure have served me in ways that I won’t describe here because I can’t yet.  What has taken place for me is so far beyond the trivial words I write.  The experiences of the last three months have been both joyful and exciting and at times have shaken me to my core.  It was the ‘best of times and the worst of times’ and I’ve enjoyed every second of all of it.  Better still I didn’t just survive, I’m thriving.   

I’ve met wonderful and not-so-wonderful people.  I’ve seen amazing, phenomenal sights complete with wonderful and not-so-wonderful smells, textures, tastes and sounds.  I’ve been hugged and kissed by complete strangers who exuberantly let me know that in some way they find me beautiful.  Those experiences alone would have made it all worthwhile.  But something even greater happened.  I made a new friend in Africa with a bond so strong that it won’t matter whether we ever meet in person again or not. Tashi is 21 years of pure love - so open and so sweet.  He emails whenever he scrapes together 1000 shillings to use the internet.  "My tears dropped down the last night.  Please never forget me."  And there is no way I ever will forget him.

I’m not packed yet, but I’m ready to leave!  I feel like I’ve completed whatever this was all about and maybe someday I’ll know what that was, maybe not.  I’m eager to be surrounded by my children and my grandchildren!  They are the cake!  These adventures are just the frosting.  There are many times I wish I could be a more traditional mom and grandma.  I do understand what I’m giving up. But that’s not who I am and I appreciate that my family allows me the space to taste the sweetness of life in a way that works for me.  And I’m ever so happy to share it with all of you.  And if you wrote to me even a line while I've been away, bless you.  It meant more than you'll ever know.

I stayed long enough to see Firenze dress up for the holidays.  

Arrivederci Firenze!  Next Stop:  Ft. Mitchell, KY!!  Yeah!  You see I may not be able to stop blogging.  It has become an addiction.   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mamma Mia!

Le Cinque Terre – Five tiny towns along the Ligurian Coast – Riomaggiore, Manola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare - quaint, beautiful, rugged, and......  Was there a full moon on Thursday?

As has become my habit I walked to the train station in Firenze in the pouring rain on Wednesday and arrived at my new destination, Riomaggiore, in the pouring rain.  I’ve become expert at taking pictures while holding an umbrella.  I count everything as a talent these days.  

Stairs to La Casa de Venere
Riomaggiore was my base of operation while visiting Le Cinque Terre.  I had a nice room on the third floor of La Casa de Venere on via Sant'Antonio located at the top of these stairs.  The stairs inside La Casa were also straight up and down.  I murmured a silent prayer that I wouldn't have to leave in a hurry for any reason. 

Riomaggiore is a picture book seaside town hanging on the edge of a cliff as are Vernazza and Manarola.  

I loved Riomaggiore and had a great time at dinner the first night with a couple from North Carolina and another couple from New York.  We were the only tourists at La Lampara, the only restaurant still serving customers.  Le Cinque Terre pretty much closes down in the winter.  The tortagliani di lobster was excellent,  the very tall young waiter was cute and pleasant and the older waiter held my hand and asked me if I was from California every time he came to the table. 
Even though the sun was out the next day, parts of the trail from town to town were closed  so I took the train.  It cost 70 Euro cents to go fron Riomaggiore to the other four towns.  Ya gotta love the trains in Europe. 

Besides loving the towns and the unbelievable scenery, it turned out to be a very interesting day in other ways.

Corniglia is the one town that is not at sea level.  It sits atop a cliff.  I had climbed to the top of the town and stopped at this piazza to rest. 
There was a man, late 40’s, early 50’s I’d say, wearing a brown leather jacket and knit hat sitting on the steps to the right of the church smoking a cigarette.  The steps lead up to a terrace at the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean.  We were the only two people on the piazza.  I sat on a bench facing the central statue and the church.  Just taking photos and willing my legs to stop aching.  The man stands up and very obviously stares at me for a long while.  I know I’m supposed to be flattered but it felt invasive so I stared back with a ‘get a life’ look.   He cocks his head and motions for me to come up the stairs.  He takes a few steps up, stops, and motions again.  I’m shocked but not afraid.  He goes up a few more steps and motions again.  This goes on three more times until he’s out of my viewing range.  I mean did he really think I was gonna hop up off the bench and run up those steps after him???  Anyway, I would have had to hobble, my legs were hurting too badly.  A few minutes later his work buddies returned from lunch and I saw him slink down the stairs on the other side of the church and join them at a construction site.   For a moment it felt like I had fallen into a really bad ‘B’ movie set. 

Vernazza and Manarola were pretty much totally closed up for the winter, but I enjoyed walking around them. 

Monterosso al Mare is my hands down favorite but then I’m a lover of the seaside and the mountains. The surf swelled and crashed magnificently for me.  It was here on this walkway next to the sea that an elderly gentleman, probably in his 80’s, flagged me down and did the hugging, cheek kissing thing with lots of “mi amore’s.”  That felt sweet. 

I returned to Riomaggiore in the early evening and once more went to dinner at La Lampara.  

The young couple from North Carolina was there again too so we had fun chatting.  Toward the end of the meal, they both said, “Do you see that man staring at you?  He’s been outside the window for a really long time just staring at you.”  I had seen him through the glass on the other side of the room but was just trying to ignore him.  He was a crusty old fisherman and did not leave the window the whole time I was eating.  I said, “Yes, I know he’s there and maybe it’s a form of flattery, but would you mind walking me back to my room when we leave?”  They did.  I said, "Grazie mille!"
Via Sant'Antonio (my room)