Thursday, October 18, 2018

Zoe vs. Sicily. Part IV: The Injury Report, or, Dio Mio, I Twisted My Ankle, Quick, Apply Gelato!

We've now reached the final chapter of our trip to Sicily. Our story began with Zoe claiming grievous injury on the rocky beaches of Isola Bella. Next, she suffered heat, boredom, and dehydration along with an awkward anatomy lesson at the Valley of the Temples. Finally, she quite enjoyed the barbaric puppets we saw in Palermo.
On our last day in Sicily, we went to Mondello Beach, which might be the most beautiful beach I've ever been to.

This is saying something. Not because I'm well-traveled but because (beach-lovers, get ready to riot) I hate the beach. (*ducks to avoid metaphoric tomatoes)
Apologies to sun-worshipers, but I am not a beach person. Ten reasons, 1 through 9 being the sun. 
For as long as I can remember the sun and I have been locked in mortal combat, a battle I'm losing, which is probably for the best considering plants, life on Earth,etc., rely on its stupid light and warmth.
Reason 10 is sand. Not a fan.
However, Mondello Beach, though it had those 10 things, made me forget them; that's how beautiful it was. 
First of all, no rocks. So Zoe was happy, though she had to be convinced and still wore her water shoes when she went in, having not gotten over her suffering at Isola Bella.
Second, the water was clear, and so BLUE.
Third, you could wade out 100 feet and still the water only came to your waist, or Zoe's chest, another truth she resisted.
In fact, the water was so accommodating, our group decided to play a game of Keep Up with a beach ball.
Which is when I injured myself.
Though I didn't realize it for a while.
At one point I jumped to keep the ball in the air and when I came down, what felt like a rubber-band snapping happened in my right ankle. 
But after I stretched a few times it seemed better. In fact, I was walking fine. A while later I took Zoe to the bathroom, where she complained about the heavy doors and the wet floors, and then I took her to the food stand for lunch, where she complained about the selection and I bought for her what she said she would like and bought for myself what I thought she'd actually like, and we returned to our beach chairs where she rejected her lunch after one bite and claimed mine. All proceeding as expected, and my foot bore up well.
Until it was time to leave. I stood up and when I put pressure on my right foot I felt an excruciating pain.
How would I get myself back to the bus stop?
More concerning, how would I get to the gelateria, which was past the bus stop, to try "the best gelato ever," according to some of our family members who'd already made the trip.
Because I am a strong woman, whose strength can be rallied by even sub-par gelato, I made my way there, slowly, passing the bus stop, pressing on. Heroes don't wear capes. Because if they are wise they will have removed their capes in order to hold more gelato. 
Was the gelato the best ever? I'll just say this: they had four different kinds of pistachio. Zoe had chocolate. Her usual. She gave me a thumbs-up and a bite. So it was all worth it, I thought, as I hobbled and grimaced my way back to the bus stop.
Back at the hotel, I put my foot up and applied ice, and Zoe comforted me by watching cartoons in Italian.

In case you couldn't see my poor foot above,
here's how Zoe comforted me in my time of need.

Luckily it was our last night, so I just had to get home, a journey that was to take about seventeen hours because we had a stopover in Munich. 
We'd  stopped over in Frankfurt on our way to Sicily, and, you know that stereotype about Germans being very organized? Not so with their airports. Recalling the hike through the whole Frankfurt airport ten days before, we decided I should make use of a wheelchair, along with all the "perks" that went with that. A van would take me to Customs where I'd be on a special line. I took Zoe with me because I had her passport. Plus, I figured it would be easier than the Husband having to schlepp her with him. (The Husband couldn't come with us because this was against the rules according to the German Flughafensicherheit!!)
If I thought it was embarrassing being rolled through an airport in a wheelchair with my foot wrapped in an Ace bandage, not to worry, there was more embarrassment in store.
After Customs, there was another Flughafensicherheit! checkpoint, and there, the Sicherheitsbeamte Frau! said, in a perfect tone of Teutonic accusation, "You know you are earmarked for special security check?"
No, why would I know that? Was that even a question? Didn't I just see you stamp my boarding pass with the special Sicherheitskontrolle! stamp yourself?
So I had to go in a separate area, along with Zoe, to be scanned, chair, child, and all. Zoe looked worried, and I wanted to make a girl-bomb joke yet I sensed it would not be welcome by any of the parties present. However, one of the guards, also seeing the look on Zoe's face, smiled and said, "You are dangerous!" And we all chuckled, except for the Sicherheitsbeamte Frau! who swabbed my backpack and said she had to run a chemical test.
That came out clear so we were sent on to our gate, bypassing the shopping and food, which, naturally, gave Zoe more to complain about because the vending machines were out of water and recognizable food items---the remaining snacks were a bag of Dinkelchens and some Fritts, whatever they were.

Sadly, the vending machine was out of "Tasty White Children."

However---Wunderbar! and Fantastico!---I did have our Italian chocolate in our carry-on. Faces stuffed with dark chocolate, we waved arrivederci and Auf Wiedersehen! from the plane.
Violent marionettes, punishing sun, and injuries, real or imagined, aside, we'd all had a great time, and I wrote these posts to remind Zoe, when she complains that we're not in Sicily anymore, that though she did have a great time, she's always, always, found something to complain about, and so you could say I've always suffered more.
Veni, vidi, lamentato.

Zoe: 189; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Zoe vs. Sicily. Part III: Opera dei Pupi, or, OMG, what an amazing but kind of racist and then suddenly inexplicably violent puppet show!

Buon giorno! If you've been following along, and if not, whatsamattayou?, you've already read Parts I and II of our family trip to Sicily. To catch you up, Zoe encountered rocks of various sizes---in summary, the small ones hurt her; the big ones bored her
The last stop on our trip was Palermo, one of the largest cities in all of Italy and Sicily's capital. Besides visiting the Cathedral and going shopping for jewelry and leather, we'd been told we must take Zoe to see a puppet show.

Opera dei Pupi

This was no ordinary puppet show, this was Sicilian puppetry, Opera dei Pupi, which was distinctive and was supposed to be can't-miss, especially if you had a child with you.
I wasn't sure what to expect but I assumed it would be "cute."
Cute did not come up.
Zoe sat up front, where the children sat, adults in back. There were painted tapestries of dueling knights, so we knew what to expect. Plus, we were handed a playbill explaining what we were about to see in four different languages. Our show was part of the Cycle of Charlemagne, the history of the French Paladins from the time after the Normans conquered Arab Sicily.
And then it began.
First, yes, the puppets were incredibly detailed, from their faces to their costumes to their armor and weaponry. It was in Italian, of course, but when the knights would duel there'd be yelling and stomping and crashing music, and, naturally, they'd be attacking each other, so it's not like a non-native speaker couldn't follow the plot.
The yelling was deafening. Somehow I wasn't surprised. I'd noticed throughout our trip locals having "friendly arguments." Yelling was like breathing there. Angry? Happy? Sad? Yell it!
This wasn't particular to Sicilians though. I was half Italian so I was familiar with this argumentative style of communication. As a child I'd sat around many a dinner table eating a normal amount of pasta, or so I'd think, until one of my aunts would suddenly yell, "Is that all you're eating?" in an accusatory tone, causing me to drop my fork into my cavatelli.
Or, if I'd decided to skip the brasciole: "At least try it! You don't like it!? Since when!?" (Since forever, which is the same amount of time we've been having this conversation.) But all the shouting came from a place of love.
In the puppet opera, the marionettes really were fighting. Over and over again, the Bad Knight was defeating the king's Paladins, and by defeating, I mean he'd knock them down, and then they'd shake it off and be escorted off the stage by an Arab servant.
Here's where the racism came in. The "Arab" puppet had a dark complexion and delivered asides in a snide and sniveling tone and seemed to be either treacherous or the butt of jokes. I didn't understand Italian but I understood "yuck." The husband and I exchanged looks of appalled horror.
Back to the play, where, defeated, the king sent his magician to the underworld---complete with flying demons (one little Italian boy younger than Zoe ran to his mother in the back but Zoe stayed in front, mesmerized and probably cursing the language barrier)---to chat with a demon to find out how to defeat the Bad Knight. 
In the next scene, the king came out to confront the Bad Knight and his minions in a  series of duels.
Understand that, up to this point, the violence had been mild, about a 2. Now we quickly progressed to 50, or, crazy violent.
Whereas before the duels ended with someone fainting then leaving the field, now it was a bloodbath. The king killed puppet after puppet, cutting them in half, flaying off faces, beheadings galore. It was carnage, and puppet bodies piled up till there was no more room on the stage. Until finally: The End.
Um, what? A bit shell-shocked we were late in clapping.
Then, before the children could process the violent spectacle they'd just witnessed, they were invited on stage to take pictures with the marionettes.

After all the killings, picture time!

Zoe got to touch their armor and swords and the plumage on their helmets, so what was a little blood lust and casual racism if you got to handle a novelty plaything for two minutes?
There's a history lesson in there somewhere but I had no time to think about that either since I had to elbow my way to the front to take a picture of her with a murderous marionette, and if I had to shout to make myself heard so she'd turn my way, that's okay, my yelling came from a place of love.

Zoe: 188; Universe: 0

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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