Thursday, September 27, 2018

Zoe vs. Sicily. Part II: The Valley of the Temples, or, OMG it's too hot and I'm thirsty and why didn't you bring me a snack?

If you missed it, last week was Part I of my report on our trip to Sicily. Today I present Part II: The Valley of the Temples.

Sicily: The Valley of the Temples

Departing Taormina, with its Stunningly Beautiful yet Extremely Punishing beaches that caused Zoe so much undue suffering, we headed to Palermo, but on the way we stopped at the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, a UNESCO World Heritage site dotted with ancient ruins.
Over the centuries, because of its central location, Sicily had a lot of visitors, by which I mean conquerors, and Agrigento, located in the south of Sicily and only 500 miles from the coast of Africa, hosted a lot of these folks, from the Greeks to Arabs to Romans and Christians. Thus, many of the temples, though originally dedicated to Greek gods were preserved as they were put to use by others.
Admittedly, the day we visited it was hot. Close to 100 degrees. The shade was sparse and gave hardly any relief. Zoe had just fallen asleep in the bus when we arrived, and so she was not feeling well-disposed to appreciate "rocks that used to be buildings." 
I slathered sun tan lotion on her irritable form as she roused herself enough to complain. We made a pit stop at a bathroom, which was not up to her standards, and then got on a line to enter the site which moved too slowly for Zoe and was the longest 30 seconds of her life.
The first ruin we visited was the Temple of Juno, formerly Hera. It was built around 450 B.C. and much of it was destroyed by fire, which is something I just read on the internet, because, though we had a guide, I missed his talk because I was tending to my troublesome offspring---something Hera probably knew a lot about, I mean, who really caused that fire in her temple? Don't ask me, remember, I missed the presentation.
First, Zoe had more to say about the heat, none of it helpful, all of it whiny. Then she told me she was thirsty. I wonder why. I gave her my water, which she finished, and it wasn't enough! Why didn't I bring more?!
Then she realized she was hungry, which is why I'd warned her to eat a full breakfast  earlier, but why listen to your mother?
Well, she countered, why didn't I have a snack? I had no answer to that.
Utterly dejected, she walked away and sat on a rock, her back to the evidence of a once great past now destroyed.

The wearing down of centuries has nothing on
the pain compressed in this moment.

That is, until a security guard yelled at her. Apparently she was sitting on part of the ruin, which was in danger of further being ruined by her tiny distressed derriere. Dehydrated as she claimed to be, she yet produced copious tears!
Luckily by then a cousin had found a granola bar, which I sneaked her bites of. It was probably okay to eat there but after the yelling I was taking no chances. I wouldn't be responsible for what wholesale destruction those temples would bear witness to if the guard tried to take her granola bar away, which, thank Zeus, did not contain stupid raisins.
After that we walked to the best-preserved of all the ruined temples, Concordia. I don't know much about that one either because we fell behind the group so I could buy Zoe a lemon ice, not her favorite flavor she'd have it known but all they had, and so we missed most of the info. Still, the treat (which she did not share with her mother) restored Zoe somewhat so she could ask a question that had been preying on her mind.
What did it mean when people said someone had big balls? What the heck were balls anyway?
I made a mental note to berate all her cousins again as bad influences. I said it meant guts and or overconfidence. That someone was very daring or showed no concern for consequences.
But why balls? What were they? she insisted.
So yes, dear reader, the sun bearing down mercilessly on my pale skin, sweat running in rivulets down my back, it was time for an anatomy lesson: what things were, who possessed them, and in what arrangement.
And the gods must've been listening, because just then we caught up to our group arrayed in front of a faux-ancient sculpture in the form of Icarus, who flew too high and fell when the sun melted his wings, lying on his naked side, balls-up, as they say. And because I'm a twelve-year-old boy I took the opportunity to complete my anatomy lesson in a probably unnecessarily loud voice, pointing at Icarus's tragic gigantic stone stones.
Behold, balls!
And Zoe, embarrassed, refused to come closer and just kept shouting, "I know."

Behold! A teachable moment.

So everyone learned a lot that day. Afterward, at lunch, there was a wine tasting, and I gave Zoe her first taste of the nectar of the gods.
Because I'm the best mom in any pantheon, which, if anyone asks Zoe, I told her to say: she knows.

Zoe: 187; Universe: 0

Check out my Facebook page tomorrow, September 28, for some big news!

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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