“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.”
-You’ve Got Mail
It’s been a whirlwind of happenings since I flew home to NY from Italy on September 20, exactly 2 months ago today!
I’ve decided to start blogging again for a number of reasons but I’m going to rewind a little first because I’ve been getting so many wonderful questions about how my experiences over the past 8 months have been and I want to summarize that for my friends who I don’t get to see or talk to often!
I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia from March to May. Originally only supposed to be a trip to Peru, though a combination of recommendations from fellow travelers and trusting my own instincts about where I needed to be, this experience changed into something more incredible than I ever imagined.
Picture sitting at a long table of friends from all over the world who just met each other 3 days before, enjoying a meal together in which at least 3 different languages are going on at the same time. Later they all walk to the beach together to enjoy another incredible sunset, amazed at how this one could be even more beautiful than the last. Conversations easily flow from an impersonal “where have you been traveling so far?” and “where are you going next?’ to “what are you dreams?” and “what are you afraid of?” It’s a very open environment where I learned as much as I could from these wonderful people what “the norm” is like from where they’re from, if what they were doing was “abnormal”, and what their motivation was for their journey.
I knew I had made the right decision to move locations on this trip when I felt something wasn’t right and decide stay put in another location when I happened upon a beach town in Peru at a small hostel and met a group of women who gathered there to put on an exchange of skills workshop they had been planning over the past 2 months. I don’t believe in coincidences because I feel the meaning of that word belittles the actual significance of what is happening. There is a reason that I chose to move when I did and stay when I did. There is a reason that I ended up at this town at this hostel for this workshop 1 day before it began.
The idea behind this workshop was an exchange of wisdom and creative and transformational gifts, which included yoga, reiki, spoken word, art expression, and guided meditation… honoring the teacher and the student within and exchanging services in the open community. It was beautiful meeting others who were creating a community around a vision they were passionate about, and how in doing that, attracting energy from all over the world to help it grow.
Thank you to those girls and I look forward to seeing you all again in 2014 <3
Barcelona/Ibiza/Madrid, Amsterdam, Florence
Deciding to spend the summer tutoring English in Italy was something I’ve always wanted to try and since I was going to be in Spain on vacation this summer anyway, I decided to stay there and do it.
After a great vacation in Spain with 2 of my best friends, Kristin and Marissa, I spent some time visiting my good friend, Eva, a girl I met at that beach in Peru from Amsterdam before heading to Florence. Great stories to tell from both countries, but for the purpose of keeping to the point of this post, I’ll get to those stories another day.
So through family business contacts I was able to get matched up with a family of a 7 year old girl, live with them for the summer, tutor the young girl English, and also watch her while her mother was at work. I was really lucky to have been matched with a family who was so welcoming, warm, and generous. I felt like part of their family for the time I was there and went with them everywhere- from Sunday afternoon dinner at nonna’s to vacationing with them at a campsite at the beach for 3 weeks. I learned a little Italian, tried paddle boarding, ate more pasta and nutella than I ever have in my life, enjoyed the freshest fruit and vegetables and homemade olive oil, and learned a lot about appreciating time. Italians are fantastic at doing nothing. I’m not sure if I ever fully adjusted to their level, but I definitely appreciate the amount of hours in a day.
One of the biggest struggles I had while there was not being around people my own age most of the time. This made it hard to connect to the city or anyone there, although I did love my host family. As the summer went on I started to miss New York, my friends, and my family more and more and decided that it was time for me to come back home. It was nice to be able to think of New York as my home and I was so proud to share with anyone I met that I was from the best city in the world. (Usually I am super proud to share that I’m Italian and have dual European citizenship, so I guess my American-ness started to come out.) There was also a few things I just didn’t “get” while in Europe. Here are a few of those things:
1 Men who wear fanny packs.
2. Women’s public restrooms where the “toilet” is just a hole in the ground. I’m pretty sure the Roman Empire was more advanced.
3. They claim to wear deodorant, yet the faint smell of body odor hangs in the air almost everywhere.
4. The have air conditioners, but don’t use them. When I suggested using a fan, I was told it doesn’t work well to cool off the room… What?
5. No screens on the windows = sleeping with mosquito nets around your bed and an electric mosquito zapper next to you at all times.
6. Eating cookies and nutella every day for breakfast, but VERY few people are overweight. Weird.
7. Have you heard that smoking kills?
Now, back to the beat of New York during autumn, my favorite time of year, has enabled me to combine my clarity from the last few months with the energy of this amazing city. I’ve started some new projects and I’m really excited about the possibility and unknown of where they could take me. Details to come in another post shortly, but for now I’ll leave you with this…SMILE
PS I couldn’t reference my community in Mancora, Peru without giving a shout out to my fellow siren, Josie. You can read her blog through this link :)