Tuesday, August 5, 2014

arrivederci Lucca

aka (week three wrap up)

 It was a wonder the bike had lasted this long. The bike trail leading to the walls around the town were not the best, riddled with large holes. Along the way throughout the three weeks, the top of the bell flew off when I hit a bump, other various pieces would clink to the ground as I’d sail over a giant crater, and the tires were dangerously low. 

On the way home from one of my last visits to the grocery store, with my basket full, the chain fell off. I pulled over to the side and tried my best to get that bitch back on. Just as I inspected my grease covered black hands, a car pulls up next to me and a rather dirty man himself jumps out speaking Italian. I just pointed to the chain and he motioned for me to lift the bike up. Within a minute he had the chain back on and I was thanking him. He said something else in Italian (which I would later figure out most likely meant that I should get it fixed because it was missing a piece and it was just going to happen again…) I nodded and waved, “Grazie, grazie!” as he drove off.

The theme the last week of camp was ‘America’. There weren’t as many kids this week, and I was glad. I was becoming tight with the director’s children, since all three were in my group. M was my trusty assistant and translator whenever she could. I’d be sad to be leaving them, but I was happy for camp to end. I had worked hard, and I was exhausted, dirty, and had more mosquito bites than I could count. 

On my last day of camp, naturally, the chain came off the bike again when I was just about halfway to school. It was already very hot out so early in the morning, and I could not for the life of me get that chain back on. My chain savior from earlier in the week was nowhere to be seen either. I resorted to walking the bike the rest of the way, apologizing to the director, with my greasy black hands when I arrived at school a half hour late.

For America week we did several projects…but the patriotic stars and a giant 3D display of New York City were my favorites. The kids were crazy about New York City and loved the slideshow of pictures I showed them. New York City really is something so big and wonderous for them. M came to school with a friendship bracelet for me and I was so touched I made her tie it on me immediately. 

It was great meeting and working with the people I met at the school, and I would miss them! It turned out the director and her family would be heading to where my first destination of “after camp” travels would be, and she invited me to their place for dinner. So I didn’t have to say goodbye to them just yet!

For my last night in Lucca, I had made plans to meet with Maria for dinner at a restaurant I had been anxious to try. But first, I needed to find a dog to put in my goddamn basket and take a picture. I had to check this off THE LIST! Maria was very into this idea of THE LIST, and offered to help.  She suggested going on the walls because most people walk their dogs up there. We brought the bike up before heading to dinner, and right when we got on the wall, we spotted the perfect size dog for my basket! She was with a mother and daughter sitting on a bench. Maria spoke with them in Italian and I had the pleasure of seeing their faces confused, then understanding, and finally smiling and a laugh. They agreed, but as it turned out they told Maria they weren’t so sure that the dog would be as agreeable.

I reached down to let Giuli the dog smell my hand and then tried to pet her. Now, I absolutely love dogs, and they all love me. When I would walk down the street in Manhattan, dogs heads would turn and nod at me, we had an understanding dogs and I … I loved them, and they loved me. 

Not such the case with Giuli. She growled long and low at me. I even saw some of her teeth. Yikes. But, I was here to get this picture, not make friends with Giuli.  So, they lifted her into the basket, and this series of pictures is what ensued:

Grazie Giuli, Ciao! Pic with a dog in the basket of my bike? CHECK!

Dinner with Maria was bittersweet. She had turned out to be a real gem. I would miss her. She had been so helpful to me during my time in Lucca and I would never forget it. We hugged goodbye, but not before she gave me an empty bottle she deemed “perfect” for my message in a bottle task.

I had planned to leave early the next morning to start my “after camp” adventures. I had several stops planned, and my goal was to make it to Switzerland. Let’s hope my money could stretch to the Swiss! It felt like the adventures were only just beginning…

Arrivederci Lucca, it’s been real...

First stop, Elba Island...

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