Friday, August 06, 2004

To Siciliana!

On Wednesday morning, Shana and I had to pool our cash (57 Euros) to pay the hotel bill, as their credit card machine was not working. That left us with just coins, but we felt sure we would find an ATM almost immediately along the autostrada. NOT!!! We tried many rest stops, but none had an ATM.

Eventually, the highway left the biggest mountains and came close enough for us to get our first real view of THE SEA~^~^~^~^!! The gorgeous blue water was spectacular, especially from our view up on the cliffs above the coast. We drove the last bit of autostrada into the "toe" of Italy and then took a tiny two-lane, winding highway into the port city of Villa San Giovanni where we would get the ferry to Sicily. STILL no money in hand. We knew we would need it to purchase the ferry ticket but a bank was not to be found anywhere. I thought perhaps they would take a credit card, but they would not. Finally, a bank and ATM were found across the street from the ferry landing and all was well. The ticket was 21 Euros (one-way) for the car and us. We drove into the hull of the huge ferry along with about a hundred other cars and trucks and departed from Italy's mainland for the island of Sicily and the port of Messina.

Sicily was so close, the trip only took about 45 minutes. And, the scenery on both sides was spectacular with the blue Mediterranean, the whitewashed cliffs, palm trees, and towns and houses clinging to hills. They have been talking of building a bridge between the two for years, apparently, and it looks like it would not be that difficult.

The city of Messina, in the northeast corner of Sicily, looks like a great place for some exploring later on. We hopped onto the autostrada and quickly drove down the coast to Catania. Shana enjoyed the scenery along the whole way. I hope she gets to come back for a long visit sometime soon.

I made contact with Marj, my new principal; Connie, my new assistant principal; and Kendra, my sponsor during the drive. We made plans for dinner that evening. We found the Sigonella naval base easily, got Shana an installation pass, and checked into the Naval Lodge. It took several trips with the luggage cart to empty out my car, but eventually it was all stored in my room (a nice room with AC, kitchenette, TV, etc.). I was quite surprised to see the entire base rebuilt! I guess it has been about 5-6 years since I was last here. It is nearly ALL new and looks like a plush college campus!

That evening, we joined Marj, Connie, and Mike, a new teacher, for yet another wonderful Italian dinner at the Golf Club. We dined outside and all had delicious dishes to share as well as lots of wine. It felt very good indeed to be in Sicily at last.


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