Catania (December 19th)
It’s a fairly straight-forward drive along the motorway from Noto to Catania and the tolls are all open, maybe due to a strike or the workers having decided to take Christmas off. As soon as we join the main traffic into town though, the story takes on a different tone altogether. Traffic is heavy and fast, with cars absolutely using every inch of the road, in front, by the side and directly behind us. Linger for more than half a second at a traffic light and you have people hooting behind you. Do not think that a green traffic light means a free road, and make no assumptions about people respecting the rules at roundabouts! We have to brake sharply a couple of times to avoid suicidal Sicilians in Cinquecentos or Fiats cutting us at roundabouts. You’d think they would weigh their chances of survival, but they choose to dice with death instead. Or they just know that we foreigners will brake hard.
Luckily we’ve been given exact instructions by the organiser to find the place where we will be dancing tonight, otherwise we wouldn’t have stood a chance – it’s a big sports hall with a large meandering car park, but the entrance is hard to find. It’s an ideal place to stay for the night. The car park feels quite secure, and it’s relatively quiet for being in the city. We are early for the event and the car park is virtually empty, so Frank decides to have a shower, which in Emma means hanging an extended hose with a shower head out the window. Water is hot, and the night’s are often cold… Just as he’s finished, the first Tangueros and Tangueras arrive. This sports hall seems quite an unlikely place for a Tango event, but as we walk towards it, we hear the music spilling out of the venue, and upon entering, we are surprised to find over 200 dancers! Catania has a strong Tango community. This isn’t even a festival, just the usual Saturday evening Milonga. Over the Christmas period they have two or three events per week from mid December until January 6th.
The Tango community seems a very friendly one. We haven’t even got our shoes on when a young woman greets us and introduces herself as Giulia. As it turns out, she is the daughter of Rosi, who is a friend of Chantal’s, who we met in Bologna and who invited us to come horse riding. In fact, Rosi runs the stables! We ask if we can come and visit, if Emma will be able to make it up the hill and where we can park. The answer is yes to all of this, so we arrange to visit the following morning, and Chantal will be there too, so we can all go riding together.
We’ve been thinking about where we will be spending Christmas and that it would be nice to be in a safe place and with some nice people, and it just seems like our wishes might come true. As we snuggle up in bed after a lovely evening of dancing (where I am so excited to be testing my knee again for the first time in two months), we have a sense that possibly a new chapter in our journey might be starting tomorrow…
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