Today we have been here for three weeks. It’s hard to believe how little and how much we have done. It feels strange being in a place that would normally be “vacation”, especially for me since I’m not working, yet still be going through all the steps and motions of actually being home. We have the urge to use every moment to see everything we can, but we have to remember sometimes to slow down and pace ourselves because there’s laundry and dishes to be done, Sean has to work, we have to grocery shop, and all that. Three weeks feels like an eternity in “vacation world” yet in life it’s not much.
Sicily is absolutely beautiful and we are really looking forward to our time here and exploring the rest of Italy and Europe. The island is big enough that you don’t feel claustrophobic, but small enough that you could drive around it in a long day. Mount Etna rises over the island and can be seen for miles around. She’s the second most active volcano in the world, and smokes and ashes almost constantly. You hear her rumbling sometimes, and at night sometimes you can see the glowing lava spilling out of her. We have yet to see that, but I’m very much looking forward to it. The whole island is very agricultural. There are miles of olive trees, citrus trees, and vineyards. The produce here is so fresh and delicious, along with the fish! The apartment we are going to rent is just a few minute’s walk from a fish market on the docks. They bring it in fresh every morning and if you get there any later than 6am or so you’ve missed the good stuff.
We have actually seen a lot of the island so far. We have over 2,500 kilometers on the rental car. Any time Sean has a day off we drive up or down the coast to check things out.The sea here is beautiful and perfect. We are on the Eastern side along the Ionian sea. The water is perfectly clear and amazing colors of blue. We drove across the island to the West coast today, the water there is a bit more tumultuous and looks more like the California coast. I can’t wait for summer.
While it is beautiful here and we both love it, life here has definitely been an adjustment. Living in a foreign country is hard, not speaking the language is hard, and adjusting to the new routine (or lack of routine) in our lives is hard. I think the hardest is the language. I’m working on my Italian, but it’s still very intimidating walking into a restaurant or shop and trying to figure out how to say what I want, or answer any question they ask that I don’t understand. Most people do not speak any English here, but they seem to be pretty willing to work with hand gestures and the limited vocabulary we have.
The other thing that I was not so much anticipating is the apparent change in my identity from “Roxy, Working Person and Contributor” to “Sean’s Wife” or, as the military refers to me “Sean’s Dependent”. It’s been strange enough for me not going into work every day or having a schedule or paycheck, but being referred to as someone’s “dependent” is rough. I’m not sure if it’s the Italian culture or the Military culture out here, but there have been more than a few comments made to me about “staying in shape to keep my husband interested since he’s working,” or how Sean needs to just do what I want in our housing search since the home will be my domain, or assumptions that I’m here as the wife of someone associated with the military, not on my own accord. And yeah, maybe they’re right about that last one, but it’s still weird to have that be the automatic assumption made about me. Sean has been very supportive and understanding about it, but it still takes some getting used to.
We are still waiting for Sean’s work schedule to settle down a bit. The first few weeks were pretty busy with training and getting access to everything he needs on base during the day, and then working some night shifts. He should be getting on a more normal schedule now, but normal does still mean going in at 2pm or 6pm for 12 hour shifts. Lucky for him the Italians are night owls, going out to dinner at 10pm, so he won’t be too far off the local schedule.
I have never been much of a blogger, but I will do my best to keep this updated. We did find an apartment and sign the lease for it next week. It’s a few minute walk to the beach and has an amazing ocean view. And it’s three bedrooms, so we have plenty of room for visitors.
Fresh fish appetizer: