Hitchhiking alone

…was not a good idea.

We needed a chimney brush from the hardware store in Zafferana, so I decide to hitch-hike there. Frank and I have done it a few times together and it was always easy and the people very friendly. I decide to only accept a lift if I feel it’s safe and after only 3 minutes of sticking out a thumb, an old farmer stops and I get in. As soon as he’s back on the road, he starts touching me up, putting his hand on my leg. I tell him to take his hand away and he gets quite angry. It seems like it’s my fault, I’ve been misleading him, he says, do I mean to say I’m not going to have sex with him? He grabs my wrist and shakes my arm in frustration. I say ok that’s enough, stop, I’m getting out. He’s really pissed off but stops. Not even a kiss of friendship? He says. Friendship my arse! I slam the door and walk off. Not a good idea to hitch a lift alone as a woman in Sicily. I’m less shaken up than pissed off. As I walk up into the town, I wonder about going into the internet café, which often seems to be the focal point for the most shady characters of Zafferana, all male. Then I think what the heck, I’m not going to curb my plans for fear of stupid guys. I’m going to go and do what I planned to do and if anyone comes anywhere near me they will feel my wrath. I walk into the internet café like a cocked grenade. As per usual there is a posse of unsavoury guys there, but I must have an aura of danger about me, because they make space and leave me in peace.

Somehow this event has taught me something about how to be with Sicilian men. Previously, I was a bit fearful of uncertain situations but now I just feel if any Sicilian man crosses my path with the wrong intention, he stands to regret it.


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Spazzatura Update

It is Wednesday and since we haven’t heard anything from the local authorities with regards the progress of cleaning up the ravine, we decide to visit the town hall once again- as Wednesday mornings are an opportunity for ‘an audience’ with the Mayor. This time, we are received with less gentility – I feel we are rapidly falling out of favour and towards being a pain in the proverbial. Nothing significant has happened in the last two weeks, other than that the story has once again changed. It seems that the contract for cleaning ran out at the end of December and a new one hasn’t really been put into place, so the waste offices are in a bit disarray and cannot deal with any extra demands. On top of that, the news is that the cleaning of the ravine has been lumped together with two other clean-up projects and the three of them are out to tender, which will take a minimum of 15 days before a firm can be appointed, after which there are still more bureaucratic hurdles to jump before anything can happen. Giovanni the vice mayor gets a bit exasperated having to explain all this, after all he’s not responsible for the waste department but the tourism officer. In the end, he promises to send us an SMS with updates by Tuesday (which he hasn’t done!) and, if there is no progress, to take us to the regional office.

In the waste office, a man we haven’t met before looks at our photos and says, in his opinion, nothing will move until the summer at the earliest, and in any case it will be a very costly operation – in the region of 20,000 Euros, or more if the bridge proves not to be strong enough to hold ‘recovery’ vehicles.

I bump into Sergio (the consigliere) in the corridor and when I ask him how the story about the CCTV camera is unfolding, he just shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes – there’s no reply from the authorities on this front. He seems to imply that a lot of talking may have happened but not much action. While we are talking, the mayor passes us and studiously ignores me. I’m sure he remembers that 2 weeks ago he promised us that the ravine would be clean in the space of 10 days.

In short, nothing has moved and the stories change with every visit to the town hall.

Meanwhile fresh rubbish arrives in the ravine almost daily and stray dogs help themselves to the freshly dumped horses’ heads.

Maybe it’s time to go to the press?


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Carneval in Passopomo

Sundays are always special days in Passopomo, with everyone coming to spend time with their horses, riding if the weather is good, otherwise just walking the horses around and grooming them, and then everyone meets for a meal. One Sunday though it is Carneval in Passopomo. About 80 people come, some for the first time, some regulars and others who haven’t been for a while. Many are dressed up and there is a relaxed competition in the maneggio, showing off not only the horses’ and riders’ prowess but also that this can be done light-heartedly rather than it being a serious event.

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At the end every participant receives a gift and then it’s time for the ‘audience’ to have a go – all riders kindly offer a seat and walk their horse around the maneggio, with a novice in the saddle. In the afternoon, children do gymnastics on horses and some of us have fun throwing confetti. We even get the dance floor out and to our surprise quite a few of the guests can dance Tango!

The sun is shining on the event, the colours are beautiful and everyone is smiling.

What a beautiful day!

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To see the photos, go to our flikr album


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