Monday, July 17, 2006

Final European Dispatch

It looks like the mission to Europe was a failure. What was the mission again? Uh . . .? Ummmm . . . ? Oh, yeah, to find a purpose in life. Mission failed. What do I want to be when I grow up? What kind of career I should pursue? I still have no idea.

I was hoping that four workless monthes of leisure would give me time to contemplate my future direction, instead I spent my time answering challenging questions like, 'should I have chocolate gelato or limone?', or 'should I go swimming now, or go back to bed?', or 'maybe I should get some health insurance.' However, I do know this: I have a promising headstart in the lucrative field of unemployed international psuedo-artistic vagabond. Actually, I make a terrific house guest, and I was so successful in my first assignment that I was offered an extension.

Angelo Brambilla, who has been hosting Joanna and I for the summer, asked us if we would like to stay a month or so longer and go sailing with him. I was hoping he would ask us this very question all summer, but the question came just a little too late. It is unquestionably time to go, the money is all gone, and it is too damn hot in Milan to spend another night here.

If you have been following this blog, you will know that I have burned my ass twice now. It has gone from white, to red, to pink, to peeling, to red, to white with pink splotches, to . . . Well I managed to burn it again yesterday. This time there was no nudity involved, it happened when I sat on a rock! I was even wearing a cold wet bathing suit, still that rock, which had been baking in the sun all day, actually burnt my skin like a frying pan through my shorts. That's how fucking hot it is here.


I can't stand stale hot air with no circulation, and since ancient Medolanum was built on top of a swamp, the place is also plagued with an endless army of hungry mosqitoes! Joanna and I are covered with mosqito bites. Trying to sleep in Milan is so hot and unpleasant that we have retreated to Angelo's basement where we sleep in a sealed tent to avoid those blood sucking bastards. I am tired of being itchy and sweaty.

Leaving Europe is never desirable, but in July it's much, much easier. I can not wait to see Seattle. The tempature will be perfect, my friends will be there, I already have a few parties to attend, and I missed a bunch of great new movies. There is Bandidas, and The Devil Wears Prada, and that charming new Jennifer Aniston film I just HAVE to see.

Since the scooter accident a week ago, (I'm fine by the way) our final week of vacation has been great. We went to the island of Korcula, where Marco Polo was born. Then we headed to Dubrovnik, which, despite the recent war, has been beautifully rebuilt with marble streets and red clay roofs. From Dubrovnik we watched Italy win the World Cup and then we rented a car and headed for the interior. We saw the waterfalls of Krka National Park and went to an abandoned castle in the tourist free city of Knin. We then spent two days at the magnificent Plitvich National Park, which has the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. Then we drove into Bosnia for dinner. The nearest town to the national park was called Bihac (hilariously pronounced Bee-ach or Biatch) and we couldn't resist.

When crossing the border into Bosnia-Herzegovinia expect to spent more than a few minutes with the autorities, there are four seperate check points on the way through, and everyone is deadly serious. Once inside Bosnia, you immediately notice the drastic drop in the quality of life. Abandoned buildings, stray dogs, aimless people walking in the middle of the street, and beggars in the parking lot. The countryside however was quite pleasant, and we encounted our first Mosque of the trip, complete with a large dome and missle shaped tower. I had read that Bosnia was primarily an Eastern Orthodox Christian country, but while we were in Bihac, I saw four mosques and no churches. The population of this Biatch didn't look like my stereotypes of muslims, only one woman wore a head scarf, and the rest were wearing booberific tank tops as they headed for the bars. This was the first time I had ever heard the call to prayer, and I found it quite beautiful and haunting as it was broadcast from the loudspeakers attached to the mosque. I thought people were supposed to stop and pray, but no one even paused, and I also got the impression that if I were to spend four monthes listening to the call to prayer everyday, I might need to get some earplugs. The school yard across the street from the mosque was the most dramatic evidence we saw of the war. The backboard of the basketball hoop was cracked and crumbling and the walls were riddled with bulletholes. I was so spooked that I was afraid to even take a picture. We had a rather lame meal of grilled meat, fried bread, and beer which only cost about 3 dollars and we headed swiftly back to Croatia, where we spent another twenty minutes at the border, as they searched our rental car. Thanks Bihac, we'll be sure to recommend you to no one.

After that we headed back to the coast and caught a bus back to Italy and a train back to Milan. I fell asleep that night at the bar as we attempted to have drinks with Chiara and friends. We also went to the Ligurian coast with Franco and enjoyed a spectacular apperitivo with Mojitos on the cliffs of Rocco, where we had the 'real original' foccacia, which is delicious but just a little too cheesy to properly digest. Since then it's been shopping and more shopping, I got an Italian suit and some Italian shoes and Joanna is searching for more stuff now as I blog away.

Tomorrow we fly to London and then Wednesday we will be back in Seattle. Thanks a lot to all of you who read this, sent me emails, and extra kudos to those who left comments. It was really nice to have your feedback way out here, half a world away. It was like you were keeping Joanna and I company and it made the terrible moments, like burning my ass, and crashing into a wall, a lot more tolerable, because we knew that at least they would be good for a laugh on the old blog. I had a lot of fun writing, and the internet cafes of Europe thank you for encouraging me to write more. I am sorry about the grammar and weak-ass sentence structure, I'm simply to poor to do any proper editing.

Peace be with you, and stay tuned for more ridiculously beautiful photos.

Congrats Italia 2006 Campioni Del Mundo, I am sorry I ever doubted you.


enrico said...

Oh, the wasting heat, oh the ravenous mosquitos! you poor thing. Quit your bitching. You sound like Erika Kuever circa 1999.

I have to contend with heat and blood-suckers too, except I am in MICHIGAN and not ITALY. A minor distinction.

Italia 2006 Campioni Del Mundo said...

Thanks. Next time have some faith, ok?

Rachel said...

My only questions are- who is jay from Milano? And will he be coming home with you?

He obviously thought that I was incredible enough to steal your friendster log in and send me a smile. I am sure he is my one, true love and I won't let you keep me from him.

oh yeah- welcome home. You were right, Mark. The time did pass quickly. And I think professional vagabond is a perfectly decent life purpose.

grammar police said...

It's "hosting Joanna and ME for the summer" and "keeping Joanna and ME company"

I am soooooo excited you're coming home and LOTS of new Beenedog stories.

Love Mom

parts of speech warrior said...

[sigh] Who will police the police?

Shouldn't there be both a verb and a noun before LOTS? We look up to you Jill. You should set a good example for us. You should also tell us some of these Beenedog stories...

Laura Parisi said...

If it's any consolation, I've spent my summer sitting on my ass in Portland and I haven't figured out my purpose in life either.

I was cracking up reading Joanna's telling of the scooter debacle.... I mean, I'm sorry you got injured but holy hell that was hilarious.

It's been hot in the Pac NW, but certainly not hot enough for a rock to burn your ass through your shorts. So welcome home.