Monday, October 30, 2006

Where in the World is Shelley Sandiego?

To borrow a phrase from my newly-discovered and consequently current favorite author, Bill Bryson: about my last name being Sandiego? It isn’t really. I just made that up.

But perhaps you were wondering why I left that last post to simmer over a low flame for the last 10 days? The truth is, I was voluntarily stranded on an island. Three, to be exact. As you may know, in Italy the tradition of the “summer vacation” doesn’t end when you get out of school. No, please rest assured, vacations are alive and well in Italy, and woe unto he who tries to change that. In fact, if you’re really ready to cringe, Italy clocks in at highest average number of vacation days per year. (One guess who was last on the list?)

My Italian vacation, while postponed this year when Ale embarked on his sudden “today I’m a movie producer, tomorrow who knows” adventure, nonetheless did finally happen, and if you’ll indulge me for a non-Roman post or two, I have a few things I’d like to show you.

First though, a little trivia to get you warmed up. In the place I went:

1) Many people wear their wedding bands on their right hand.
2) The national wine is the flavor equivalent of pine cleaner.
3) The national liqueur tastes like liquid black licorice.
4) I can speak about 10 words of the local language.

Still not sure? Let’s bring in the visual aids!

Yes, this is water.

The sound of these goats' bells is about all you hear when you're on the beach.

I swear, I didn't scan this from a postcard!

Blue and white are the national colors.

For the third year running, Ale and I have returned to what we pretty much consider paradise on Earth. This, our favorite island in the Dodecanese in Greece, is called Patmos. Shh! Keep it a secret. And if you want to get a true feel for summer island life on Patmos, I highly recommend Tom Stone’s The Summer of My Greek Taverna. A true story about his exausting summer running a beach taverna, with some excellent and easy recipes from his kitchen as well (even I made them with success, which is really saying something!)

Now, can I diverge on a tangent for one moment? While we usually spend most of our time putt-putting around on a scooter (Patmos being one of the only places where we feel safe enough to do so), this year on our last day we decided to rent a dune buggy. Basically an adult version of the Big Wheel, or perhaps more accurately, a glorified riding lawn mower. All fine and good, and it was fun for driving on some of the steep back road paths to hidden beaches. Yet, I couldn’t help noticing this among the many warning labels pasted menacingly to the front panel:

Now imagine with me, if you will, our young hero of 5, hey, why not make it 4 at this point, years old. Keys in hand, he confidently climbs aboard his lawn—ahem—All Terrain Vehicle, when a casual glance to the dash brings the above warning label to his eyes. “Well, I'll be!" thinks our 48-month old. "That label is talking directly to me! And had I only known that before…I certainly have no intention whatsoever of increasing my chances of serious injury or death on this beautiful morning.” And with that, he decides to walk to work.

People! Stop the insanity!

And, last but not least, do you see the blue light flashing? Attention Kmart Swappers! (Should this reference either offend or amuse you, I kindly direct you to Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent, wherein you will find, in my opinion, the most chillingly accurate description of a Kmart shopper ever put on paper). Good news: our humble swap group has nearly reached the 200 mark. Not bad for a baby blog, eh?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go catch up on all of your blogs. And there’s also the matter of this pesky zero on my keyboard—keeps sticking.

Update: Folks, I must be off in my own little world of subtlety. I was just kiddin' about 200, and the zero key sticking. Hardee har har, get it? My corny sense of humor. If you can even call it that. But we are almost at 20 and after all, it's quality not quantity!!


Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Patmos was cool but we saw it only for a few hours on the cruise excursion so I doubt I got the flavor for it that you have! I really liked Santorini.

PS: About the swap...I would love to sign up but I'm crap at mail - I usually buy Christmas gifts for my family back home, put together a box, and then I end up carrying the items home with me in August. It's bad! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! 200??!! That's great! Amazing the reach of the internet, isn't it?
I agree with you about Bill's description of Kmart shoppers. I see quite the analogy between Kmart and WalMart shoppers. I don't like going to either place. I'm more a Target person myself. I'll be posting about a recent experience at WalMart soon. Twilight Zone-ish!

Shelley - At Home in Rome said...

Ms: It definitely merits a return trip. I can give you the info. for the lovely apartment we rent with a sea view for a whopping 30 euros per night.

Ebony: Oh, no--I'm afraid I'm slipping into a world of subtlety so subtle that only I realize it... forgive me... just a hopeful joke about the 200, and the zero key sticking... at this point it's really 15 so perhaps we'll get to 20? It's quality not quantity that counts! It's already gotten me around to some great blogs-- and it should be fun seeing the outcome!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Patmos looks lovely (don't worry, I won't tell anyone).

I'm with E & I. Target is more my speed.

Texas Espresso said...

Im excited about the swap! hehe and the pics look beautiful I'd love to get the info about the apartment and tuck it away in my travel file =)

btw - the Italian Neighbors book on the side - greatness!!

avery said...

I guessed Greece right after you mentioned the wedding ring thing. I used to go to Greece every summer (my ex was from Athens) and honestly the beaches and the ocean are the best in the world.
I've been to Patmos too and it's peaceful and calm and there's something very spiritual about it.(And can I say that I think you and I live parallel lives...weird)
200 people signed up? That's great. Can't wait.

anton said...


Bryson the speaker is as funny as Bryson the author. I got to see him last friday at Town Hall promoting "The life and times of the Thunderbolt Kid". I hope you get to hear him sometime.