Sicily – Dine With A Swede

So I have been keeping an eye on Bitcoin and alternate currencies over the course of the last month.

I’ve been wanting to invest come $ mainly in alternative coins, but also a little in bitcoins. We have a heap of money on another travel card, which wasn’t as grand as we had expected, and had moved it back to our main accounts a few weeks ago.

Turns out that one of the digits was wrong when I’d put through the transfer of funds, and the money is kinda just in the abyss of banking networks.

So, that is how I started my day.

My phone was dead, so I had to get Westpac to call Anne’s phone in a bid to be able to find out where the funds went. Long story short, they ended up refunding the money. It’s just going to take a while for it to land in our accounts again.

We get talking with Anne, as Doug has headed into town to pick up Nick and some supplies for the days work ahead. We have been tossing up as to what we should do this evening. Their Swedish friend who accompanied us to the jazz gig has invited all of us out. Being that we know they don’t see each other all too often, they didn’t get to spend too much time together at the jazz gig, I’ve got a lot of blogging to get done and we are feeling a little doughy, we had originally said that we were going to let them go ahead and enjoy the evening without us.

I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of it yet, as I know we aren’t going to the have the opportunity to hang out with these guys all together again. Anne can sense my uncertainty, and pounces on it like a lion on it’s prey.

“Oh… I dunno Anne… *listing all the reasons why it is logical for us to just have a night in, while she and Doug head into town*”

“Well. I’m making the decision for you. You are coming out to dinner”
“Well ok then”, and just like that, we were coming to dinner. I mean, Malte had said from the outset that he was going to shout us all anyways. From what I can gather, he’s not stupidly loaded, but he also does own a house in Sicily, which he visits twice a year.

So….

…Sweet.

Our day begins by just finishing up the last of the job yesterday. We did get all the olive branches burnt off, but the last thing on our to do list was to collect all this old barbed wire which once divided the property. I say once divided the property, because now it would be more useful as malicious tripping hazard, than a fence line.

We get stuck into it, and my method of collecting the barbed wire goes like this:
1) Cut the wire
2) Cut where I can’t be bothered to untangle
3) Avoid being stabbed by rusty metal thorns
4) Bundle it up with the least amount of effort possible
5) Compress it into the wheelbarrow, and nullify step 3 in the process.

I am a beast.

A productivity machine.

I tear along, cutting and dismantling, bundling and compressing, only to look back and see that Bec is pulling my barbed wire out of the wheelbarrow, and ordering them into perfectly round bundles, which, in turn, stack very nicely on top of each other in the wheel barrow. I take a moment to process what is happening, and go all Stephen Hawking on this barbed wire. I analyse it all with this underlying notion that it is impossible for rusty barbed wire to rolled up nicely… Yet, there she is, rolling it up perfectly.

I am impressed.

She has won this non-verbal, unintentional showdown of wire rolling skills, and I am left to merely be the chief wire cutter. Certainly not the same level of prestige that comes with being known as the chief wire roller upper-er, but I take what I can get. We find our little grooves, and I power on ahead of Bec. I get to the end, and make the last cut.

I cant be a dog and leave her to do it all herself, so I figure that I’ll lend a hand. The only issue is, that the laws of physics that apply to only this specific length of barbed wire deem it impossible to bundle together. For the sake of not dogging Bec and leaving her to finish all the bundling work, I struggle on with this satan spawn piece of fence, until Bec catches up.

I’ve got in more of an oblong shape than anything else, but still it shan’t suffice for the royal wire rolling guru, and just as it is written in the gospel of Zeus, Bec’s demi-God hands morph this formidable foe of mine into a pliable soft form, and lo, in a mere matter of minuscule moments, the last piece of our battle with the old fence line takes the shape.

Air benders are cool, but wire benders are up there too.

Painting Gate-4

Sexy

We wrap that up (no pun intended), and our next task is to trim up the hedges. We have got the entire length of the hedge to trim one the outside of the property. We get the tools and get stuck into it. We are only an hour or so into the job before Anne comes out to us, all concerned, and says “There are some guys just down the road a little further. Go have a look and tell me what they are doing”.

I engage my inner stealth agent, and I creep up to the point where I can hear them talking. Not like it mattered. It was all in Italian anyway.

We come to the conclusion that they must be killing a lamb or something, because that is where this guy has all his sheep that he is breeding. Anne’s not so fond of all this. Yesterday we watched a bloke kill a sheep and have it roll down the hill adjacent to us. Even though she knows that is how it goes, the knowledge that her meat comes from a real life fluffy sheep doesn’t really tickle her fancy.

We spend the next hour or so trimming back the hedge, and to save the headache of carting the leaves all the way down to the burn pile, we just turfed them over the fence to the goats.

Everybody wins.

Dinner w Malte-2

The day draws to the end with another stunning Sicilian sunset. We pile into the little silver wagon and make our way into Caccamo, where we will meet Malte. We wind through the streets, occasionally having a stand off with a local about who is going to reverse to resume the flow of traffic. 

We meet the guys at the church car park, and do the trade of vehicles. The van is just going to be much easier to get everyone there in one piece.

The last time we did the whole van thing, the seat that I inherited was a plastic chair in the vast open expanse of the cargo hold. This time, everyone just got super cozy on the bench seat. I wasn’t do keen on doing all that again. I don’t know what it is about driving through the Sicilian countryside, but it just makes me so sleepy, its not funny. Once I am out of the car, everything is all good, but as long as I am sitting inside, I am ready to nap.

We get to the restaurant, and I step out of the car yawning, to which, Bec stares at me with a half smile, and wide eyes.
“What?”
“At least try be quiet”
“Oh yeah…”, I try to conceal my next one, but with little avail.

We walk into the restaurant doors, and the waiters greet Anne & Doug with open arms, smiles and the mandatory Italian welcoming kisses. The waiter grabs Doug by his shoulders, and with an ear to ear smile, you can tell that there is this rapport already incredibly well established. We get ushered to a new section of the restaurant, and assume our seats.

Dinner w Malte-12

We get settled in, and we are all kinda just pretending to know what the menu really says. I remember that Bec has downloaded Italian in google’s ‘translate’ app. I whip it out, and it works a charm. We hold the phone’s camera in view of the words we want it to show, and it begins to change the words to Italian in real time for us.

I know this is going to be a hit, so we ask the rest of the dinner guests whether they have seen it. Naturally, none of them have, so we pass the phone around, each time, the eyebrows lift and head tips slightly to the side as they can see the words on their menus change fluidly into words they can understand.

Its a pretty good app, if you don’t have it, I recommend that you get it if you go travelling.

Dinner w Malte-3

Malte decides to order a seafood platter to kick off, so while we are waiting, we are all snacking on the bread baskets. Malte’s friend, Gunar is just opposite me, and we have been eating from the same basket. I don’t really want a real big bit, and I see that there is this perfectly portion piece just sitting there. I reach over, and begin to munch it straight away.

I keep nibbling away.

Dinner w Malte-11

A few moments later, I look over, and there is another piece in the basket. “This is perfect, I think to myself”, but then just as I reach to grab it, I see that it is a little too conveniently positioned, which is when I realise that I have been eating Gunar’s bread. He’ll tear a piece off and leave the other sitting in the basket.

As I am reaching to grab this piece of bread, I realise what is happening, and divert my hand at the last minute. I don’t bother to look him in the eye. I know he would already be away or it. I just keep my eyes lowered in shame, as I chuckle at my lack of observation toward the whole situation.

Dinner w Malte-7

The night progresses, and I have been clicking away at everyone else. Anne tells me that Bec and I need to have a photo, so I pass her my camera, and she begins clicking away. The prominent ‘click’ of the shutter and the weight of the body and lens in her hands is enough to make most people feel a little more excited about photography. Anne is no different.

She starts going on a photo spree.

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I know she’ll love this, so what I do is switch the shutter mode to burst. The next time she hits the shutter button, a succession of 3-4 photos fire off, and she does this whole “Oooooo! Haha!” thing, and promptly pulls the camera back up to her eye for another handful of photos. We were all enjoying watching her take the photos as much as she was enjoying taking the photos.

Dinner w Malte-9

Malte has a turn.
Anne has a turn.
I have a turn.
Everybody has a turn.

Dinner w Malte-4

We get chatting about our own cultures, and Doug mentions how the Swedes eat some disgusting stuff. I am curious, as each culture has got their own odd delicious delicacies. For instance, in Australia, we have the bunnings snag. You can’t come to Australia and not have a bunnings snag. Its just not right. That is nothing compared to the bomb that Malte is about to drop on us.

This very well known Swedish christmas dish, is the most unappealing sounding dish I have ever heard of.

Dinner w Malte-6

Pretty much what they will do is catch a fish, and put it in the ground for 6 months, to let it rot. You think that is bad? Its only the start. Once the fish gets pulled out, because of the amount of salt that is used to kinda preserve the fish, it is usually so deflated and flat, so whats the most logical way to plump a 6 month old rotting fish back up?

Sulphuric acid, right?

Yeah. Not my first choice either.

They’ll let the fish soak in the acid for 2 days to really plump the fish back up. Once it is all healthy(looking) again, then they have to wash the fish for the next two weeks to get rid of all the acid, and make it able to eat. I mean, this is ALOT of effort to go through for just one part of a meal. Literally a 6 month process just to prep the thing, and they all go bonkers for it. I genuinely don’t get it hey.

Dinner w Malte-10

Whatever weird food story I was going to be able to conjure up, pales to insignificance compared to that. It better taste amazing after all that effort.

We keep laughing and chatting and sharing stories about our various travels to other countries. Malte tells us about his experiences in Ireland’s pubs, and how singing has been part of a lot of his drinking experiences around the world. Its really cool to hear, because it kinda just seems like a bit of a past time for me.

Dinner w Malte-5

I would love to be among a culture where people just start belting out pub-inspired ballads after drinking. Its the sort of thing that I associate with lord of the rings, more than anything else, as sad at that it.

Dinner w Malte-13

We enjoy each other’s company, wrap the night up and make our way back to Caccamo. With the topic of drinking songs still present on our minds, we coerce Malte to sing us a few drinking songs from Sweden. He clears his throat and begins. He starts singing this Swedish drinking song, and Gunar is sitting right next to me. I can hear him giggling in the corner, this obviously means that there is something more at play here.

Turns out that this popular drinking song is pretty much just about a kid taking a dump.

Not even joking.

I told Bec that the Swedes were a different breed, and it didn’t take much convincing to win her over.

Dinner w Malte-15

We head home, say goodbye to Gunar and Malte. They’ve been an absolute hoot to hang out with, and if we had more time in the trip, we would have loved to have made it up to Sweden and hung out with them and eat their rotting food with them.

Its been an awesome day, and its time for bed.

Again, I am a wreck, so I don’t prolong the desire to cuddle my pillow.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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