A Meeting on a Beach

Before parking up for the night on the beach of San Leone, we stop off in a dusty little town called Villagio Mosé to buy food and stamps. It’s one of these towns that we still haven’t quite sussed. It seems difficult to judge where there is a safe car park and where the centre of town is. Houses seem to cluster around big shopping centres and the streets are lined with little ‘shops’, operating from vans or temporary shacks. It feels like it used to be an industrial area but has acquired living accommodation after the fact. Or like a town that was never meant to be one. Nevertheless, we find some good vegetables in one of the shacks and, after some walking, a post office too. There is a large crowd in the post office so we draw a ticket from the machine to wait our turn. When our number comes up, we miss our chance by not reacting quickly enough (you have about 3 seconds to get to the till!), so we have to pull another ticket, but eventually we get our stamps and head for the sea.

San Leone has a beautiful, sandy beach where everyone seems in the mood for jogging. I take a leisurely walk along the sea while Frank finishes yet another batch of Marmalade. We have about 50 jars now! Later, we meet a young jogging couple and their dog. We get chatting, one thing leads to another and we invite them to return for a BBQ by the beach later that evening. It turns out they aren’t a couple but brother and sister, their dog is not a dog but a wolf, and what’s more, their parents dance Tango! We share a lovely dinner with fresh fish and salads, gradually joined by friends of Irene and Leonardo. Their parents drop by too, but only to invite us for coffee the next day. Conversation slowly moves into a type of language Frank and I don’t understand as the young ones start chatting and laughing with each other. We gently zone out and admire the star-studded sky instead. Eventually, we start packing up and the youth moves on to another location to start their evening in earnest.

The next day, Gina picks us up as promised at three o’clock for coffee at their house. We go up a rough track to reach their house, a beautiful bungalow in a meticulously kept garden. Mudra the wolf, greets us. What a beautiful animal it is, moving in such a quiet and sinuous way!

We have some coffee and chat for a bit, then we push the table and chairs aside and put some Tango music on. For the next hour or so, we give Tango instruction and do a bit of dancing. Pepe and Gina have learnt Tango the Sicilian way and dancing with them, I feel a great teaching itch. People here have a great passion for Tango, but it seems that due to the teaching style, they spend much time with figures and other external elements of Tango without ever touching on the core elements that would make the dance so much more comfortable, musical and spontaneous. I haven’t found a way into teaching here – not that I have tried very hard… I don’t want to step onto other people’s toes.

After Tango, Gina suggests they take us into the city centre. We are a bit reticent – the city looked very rough and not at all inviting from the outside. But we go along and are very surprised to find a beautiful, vibrant city centre; roads lined with trees, beautiful vistas all the way down to the sea, cobble stones, old buildings and many charming nooks and crannies. As we stroll through town, while Frank is hunting for post cards Gina tells me of her inner confusion and shares some mother’s stories. She and her husband are hardworking people who love their jobs, both working in the medical profession. They have raised two wonderful children who have everything going for them but who, in their late twenties, don’t seem to know what they want to do. Her children’s state of limbo is somehow holding up a mirror to herself and she is exploring what she wants to change in her life, reflecting how she has given 100% of herself to everyone around her, poured out her love for years, and it’s frightening her to see that maybe it’s not always wanted, let alone needed, by the people she loves.

I appreciate her honesty and her sharing and I connect with her as a mother in this important stage of transition from having children who you have taken care of for years and who now want to and need to find their own way. Gina says it’s all very well children wanting to find their own life, but should that really be on the purse strings of their parents, or should they be responsible for their own expenses? I see the conflict in her eyes – she adores her children, she wants the best for them and will give everything she has, and at the same time, doubt is creeping in as to what is the best for them, and has she maybe given too much and therefore inhibited them from growing their own wings?

We return to the family house for dinner and more good conversation. By the time we get home to our Emma, it is past 10pm. That was the longest invite for a cup of coffee we ever had! A big thank you to you all for this most friendly reception in Agrigento.

Unfortunately we forgot to take any pictures on this day. Well, we should return one day to do so, of Agrigento, of this lovely family and also of the beautiful wolf!

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