Going West

We decide to have another holiday from Passopomo.

It takes us a whole day to get ready – by the time we’ve loaded up with wood and water, we’ve fed the goats, did this and that on the grounds and Frank’s made a batch of marmalade, it’s late afternoon. Still, we head off into the receding light towards Agrigento. We take the motorway for a couple of hours and pull up for the night in a car-park just before Enna in the centre of Sicily.

The next morning, it is beautiful sunshine, so I go and practise the violin outside. Within minutes, I have a chance to try out my new sensors for Sicilian men. A guy watches me from afar for a while and then slowly sidles up to me. For every step that he comes closer to me, I approach the side door of Emma. We practically meet there. I open the door and ask Frank to be ‘present’, then I continue to practise. Frank appears in the doorway with a no-nonsense smile and a large knife in his hand (he’s making marmalade, but the guy doesn’t know that!). The guy takes a few steps back and I continue to practise for a little longer.

When I put the violin away, he’s all sweet and friendly and we strike up a conversation about the rubbish that is drowning this little car park.

I suggest that the people who use this car park as a Park and Ride, meeting up with others to car-pool, could use their 10 minute wait to clear up a bit of rubbish, instead of sitting around doing nothing. He thinks that’s a great idea – until I suggest that he join me for a bit of cleaning. Oh no, he has no time, his friends are coming in 10 minutes! Ok, 10 minutes is good, you can help me until then I say, ignoring his horrified expression. I pick up two rubbish bags from Emma and when I come back to him he has his next excuse: he complains of a bad back and cannot bend down to pick anything up. Ok, hold the bag for me then I say. He has no escape, so he stays with me for a while, but when it comes near the time his friends are due to arrive, he drops the bag and goes to the opposite end of the car park, not wanting to be seen dead cleaning up!

One big bag is full. I leave it by the front of the van and start another one. Another two cars arrive, people tumble out with masses of stuff for a large family picnic and proceed to cram the picnic and everyone into one car. A well-heeled and well-educated looking man in his 50’s, picks up a bag of his rubbish and walks across to dispose of it in my rubbish bag. In my best Italian, I ask him not to fill up my bag, that it is a private rubbish bag and I have just cleaned the verge. He looks at me as if I am completely mad, but with a grumble he pulls out his rubbish and goes off. Then, I cannot believe it, he actually swings his arm to lob the whole bag across the railings exactly into the spot I’ve just cleaned! NO, PER FAVORE, I shout at him. I have just cleaned that part of the car park, can he please take his bag and dispose of it properly rather than chucking it into the grass by the stream??? He looks at me as if I have totally lost it, and he’s about to explode when, luckily, his family come to my aid. First he gets an earful from what I presume to be his brother, then he gets it in the neck from his mother too. Can’t you see, she has just cleaned there? By hand? Take your bag with you! The old lady is still tut-tutting 5 minutes later when they leave the car park. Meanwhile, I’m back to picking up stuff. Two large bags later, we leave the car park to continue our journey towards Agrigento.

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