Sicily – All That Jazz

Day 2.

Day 1 was sick.

Day 2, we have high hopes for too.

For those who don’t know what HelpX is, it is an initiative which was set up, where you can travel and exchange your time and skills for a place to stay and food. You help the hosts who need work, and you get somewhere to stay, and have an authentic experience of that country.

Its the best way to go.

Anne loads us up with another amazing breakfast, even makes us fresh orange juice, and have coffees and everything. You can’t not start the day right like that. We didn’t kick off the morning till nearly 9am. The first thing on the list of stuff to do was a tip run. So Doug and I load up the car and head to the tip, which is in Caccamo.

He was telling me how the infrastructure here is a little bit basic.

He meant to say that it was SUPER basic. The tip here is literally just a section of the road that everyone has designated as the best spot to dump your bin bags. So the trucks come and throw all the stuff in, and off they go. Its a real eyesore until that happens though. It just looks like a tip, but on the side of the road. There is the option to sort through your recycling too.

The catch is that the recycling ends up in the same truck as the rubbish does.

…Soooo…

You back to the original plan of just dumping it on the side of the road. Not ideal, but there really does need to be a better system in place. Since we are in Caccamo, Doug decides to show me their other place. They got this place originally, and renovated it. I don’t know whether it was the plan all along, but they decided to buy another place and rent this one out to holiday goers. They’re living a better lifestyle, having more fun and making just as much off their rental in Cacao than they were off their place in London.

I am beginning to see that you don’t really have to make it work in your own country. If its not happening for you in one place, you don’t have to keep slogging your guts out. You do have the option to look abroad for opportunities.

And you know what?

If two retired expats can make a good lifestyle for themselves in their latter years, then I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to do the same thing now. Not saying that I would more to Italy next week, as so much of my family and life is back at home, but it has opened my eyes to thinking further afield than just having to break our balls in a super saturated market in Australia.

This property overlooks Termini, which is the next biggest city, and it right by the beach. It looks lovely and you can see the ocean from Anne & Doug’s other property. They are both proud of what they have achieved, and so they should be. They’ve just made it up as they went along, and they’ve built something that they love.

We head back toward their main house, and Doug just pulls over on the side of the road. He tells me that this random box on the side of the road is the water mains for his property. I look at him funny. “Yes. It is 3km away”
“What the hell? Why?”
“I know.”

I do have to say that they do things a little odd in Italy, but it is interesting to see how they go about things differently. You never know what you might learn. We head into Cacao to pick up some stuff, and the streets are utterly tiny. I cannot even tell you got crazy tiny they are. These streets would only just be legal for pedestrians in Australia, and these guys are driving down them like its normal. Literally every street is only a one way street, and everyone is reversing at some point. Its unreal.

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I have literally never seen anything like it.

It makes sense why there are good Italian riders and racers around the world. They don’t have an option but to know their vehicles well. We head back to our place, and Doug heads back out with the girls to pick up some stuff, and to get the cash out.

While he is gone, I have to move all the tiles that are being used to tile the entire outdoor entertaining area. My goal is to have at least one pallet of tiles moved by the time he gets back. I get my shirt off and get into it. Soon enough Doug makes his way back, and I am literally just about to start the second pallet.

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I am that good.

He comes over and makes a comment on my biceps. He friggin should too. These are some decent sized tiles. I was happy to get the whole pallet done before he got back, and from the looks of things, so was he. We shift the remaining tiles, and get stuck into sorting out all the remaining stuff in the shed.

We find all kinds of things.

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Memories, memories that can go in the bin and memories than need some restoration. We sort them all through and burn the things that aren’t necessary. Thats the fun bit. We keep going with this for a while, and Anne starts cracking us up. We know that we are working till 4, but she keeps trying to get us off work. Like, we know what we signed up for. We’re fine with working. That was the deal. You can tell that Doug doesn’t wanna be the communist leader and tell her that we have to work or anything, so we kinda just laugh it off and say that we’re good to keep going.

She’s real sweet though.

Made me laugh.

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We pull up for a late lunch, and Anne has outdone herself yet again. Wines, salads. Everything you could want in a good Italian lunch time meal. We kick back and enjoy the Sicilian lifestyle and food for a little while before jumping back in to wrap up the day. With most of the room cleared out, we get to design what the place will look like when its all done. They want to turn it into a guest/outdoor entertaining area. Doug grabs some gaffer tape and we measure out where the bathroom walls will go, the shower, toilet and basin.

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Its kinda cool to see. I mean, its not bang on accurate. The wall we are measuring off weaves in and out a good 70mm or more, but Doug tells me that this is what they did for the inside of their place, and the other place that they built. Even though the guy doesn’t have much building experience, he still is able to make it work for himself. He’s not really waiting for the right time. It’s just happening now, and he’s making it happen. I love it.

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Just by being around him and watching everything that is going on, I am learning a lot. More about mentality than anything else, but man, its good. We throw a few other ideas around, and come up with a pretty solid strategy for how to make this place the most absolutely mint guest house you have ever seen. By the time we finish strategising, its about 5pm.

The afternoon light is casting a beautiful golden glow across the hillside, and there is no way I would miss taking a photo like that, so I whip out my camera and snap away. I am not disappointed. The colours are so lush, and the sun creates the most gorgeous contrast. Its beautiful.

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We are heading out to a jazz gig in Palermo (Sicily’s major city) with a Swedish and Nord mate of theirs who come and visit from time to time. We get all showered up and get ready to head into town. Bec sees the sunset happening, and she grabs the camera to snap the photo of her choosing, and does a damn good job of it too. She has been picking up little tricks, and has been doing a damn goo job it all too. I have to say, she is a winner and a quick learner.

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I am feeling a little bit bogan at the moment. The only shoes i have are my hiking shoes we bought before this trip, and my thongs. Thongs are out of the question, so I just have to wear my ratty shoes for now. This is a little bit b-grade, and I do feel a little bummy, but that is ok with me. Its only for a few more months.

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We pile into the car and go to meet Malte and Gunar. These guys are retired Scandinavians mates, who were head of Sweden’s film school, and a film producer respectively. They come and visit twice a year and have a town house that they come and crash in. Malte used to play the Saxophone, so for him, this jazz gig will be the way to go.

We cram into his car, and there are limited seats, but luckily, there is a plastic chair in cargo area of the van. So, I get the joy of sitting in the back of the van, holding on for dear life as we take each turn around the great bends with the g forces slowing applying more and more weight to my firmly planted legs. Its really only the zig zags. Once you’re on the highway, its fine. But those hills…

God damn!

We get to the spot, and this Romanian bloke or something makes his quick buck by pointing us in the direction of a parking spot. He there just stands there awkwardly, jiggling the coins in his pocket until you tip him. I’m sure he’s got some nasty tricks his sleeve if you don’t. We head in, grab our tickets, grab a seat, and for the price of 9 euro, you get entry, food and a drink. Not a bad buy if you ask me.

We get talking with Malte & Gunar, and these guys are a whole world of knowledge. They give us little tips about how to shoot right the first time. One thing they said which was interesting was that you never shoot the statement, always shoot the reaction. If someone is saying that they love someone else, don’t film the person saying “I love you”, film the receiver’s reaction. That is where the real shot it.

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Its really interesting hearing their stories, even how they went to shoot documentaries in Greenland and watched icebergs the size of small city blocks fall of glaciers. They were telling us that 70% of the world’s icebergs come from this one glacier in Greenland. Pretty cool.

The band kicks off, and they kinda dabble in both traditional jazz and some more popular songs. Some songs we know, others we have no idea about. Regardless, the musicians are utterly phenomenal. Its a 3 piece band, drummer, pianist and a sax/clarinet player. It was three first night they they all were playing together, and they absolutely nailed the show.

About half way through the show, a section of the crowd starts getting a little rowdy. They keep yelling out requests for the band to play, and you could see that the band just wanted to play some real jazz, but kept succumbing to the demands of the crowd. I mean, it wasn’t real jazz, but the Italians know how to have a good night and they love their sing alongs. As much as it was a little annoying, with the whole music situation, the atmosphere was still pretty damn amazing. So many people singing their lungs out.

We would find out later down the track that the rowdy group was actually the mafia, and you just do whatever they tell you to. It was pretty funny, and it was off to see the mafia actually in action. You see them on the movies, but you don’t really expect to see them kicking around at a gig you are going to on a Friday night, so I must admit that it was a little bit of an eye opener.

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It wasn’t what we were expecting, but my lawd, it was still pretty damn fun.

We wrap up the evening and pile back into the car on the way home.

I completely fell asleep during the ride home, and Bec had to wake me up cos I was starting to snore. Not really perfect scenario, but we roll with it. I’m sure the guys had a laugh.

We say good bye to our new Scandinavian friends and head home, straight to Bed. We are knackered!

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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