You have to be able to take intiative if you want to spend a vacation like we are. In order to spare expenses, at times we have found ourselves alone in an apartment, with no immediate plans of leaving. It takes education and connections to find inexpensive entertainment, and certainly something we were lacking in– planning. But we did not come to Europe to sit in an apartment, we came for adventure. So, when we found a host in Oristano, and one who promised a regional festival complete with masked horsemen, we completed a cost-benefit analysis, and threw our findings to the wind.I have never seen an action adventure romantic comedy that included a cost/benefit analysis. Not all lines we have cast out into the great beyond on this trip have proven fruitful, but this one yeilded a great big 25 lb. goldfish (ala koi found in France several years ago). We bought our first tickets for Ryanair, a no-frills airline, in which every detail costs an extra $30, and any mistake in your planning might cost you double the price of your original ticket. On the other hand, if you follow the rules of the Ryanair game, you can fly roundtrip from major, and some middle-sized European countries for as little as $40.
The adventure started with what was more like a rumble, as I (Emilie) rushed to complete a job application for a job across the globe. With divine assistance, I connected with people in Wisconsin who could locate, and send me important documents, and I have received notice that the school district will interview sometime before March 9. That Saturday morning, I woke up to find the last letter of recommendation in my inbox. Now, you can ask anyone in my family, and they will supply many stories to attest to this fact, I do not know how to move quickly, frequently loose track of time, and must work hard to not show up late to any occasion. Though I have had practice at rushing, I have never multi-tasked to the extent that I did that morning.
With all documents uploaded, I looked through to confirm, and suddenly, the internet connection was lost. thrown into panic, Chris and I scurried about with even more intensity. After several minutes, we realized, that in preparing to leave the apartment for our weekend in Italy, Chris had unplugged the cord that powered the wireless modem. So, again, I uploaded all documents, hit “save and submit” and we ran through the pre-dawn streets of Aix en Provence toward the bus terminal. Gasping, we arrived at 6 a.m., and handed the tickets we had bought online to the bus driver. He looked at them intently, and handed them back to us. Chris had printed two tickets on one piece of paper, and so nullifying the value of the tickets. So, we handed over another 14 Euro, and frustrated, took our seats in the dark, empty bus. As we sped toward the Marseille airport, we were finally able to relax, and breathe deeply. From there, everything was a dram. As we saw only one additional passenger in the entire airport, we moved through security quickly, and sat at our gate and layed out a quick breakfast of baguette, water, and an orange.
Our flight was quick, and we arrived early. At the airport, we tried to look intently, but not too intently (if you know what I mean) at the people in the lobby, searching to identify the face of Rita, or Mario, of whom we had only seen two pictures. Rita found us, and walking out to the parking lot bordered by palm trees, we enthusiastically met Mario, and their daughter Enrica. From there, a drive to the center of Cagliari, a look at some ancient buildings, a walk through the streets, and a delightful cafe overlooking the city, and the bay.
We just talk, talk, talked wherever we went. Rita has great English, and would translate from time to time for Mario, until I learned that Mario spoke French. He learned French in school from a teacher who rode a horse to school every day, and would have the students line up, like soldiers for their lessons. Then, when I would talk to Rita, Chris and Mario would talk… I couldn’t understand how, though, because Chris only speaks English, and Japanese! Between these four languages, plus a little Spanish, and hand signals, Rita and I could see that the two of them were really getting along well.
From the first instant, Rita and Mario were warm and inviting. I am not an overly touchy-feely person, but with Rita and Mario, the excitement and joy at our meeting reverberated through our bodies, and felt as if it could be transmitted through our fingertips. The five of took a trip to the beach, and we walked along the bright sandy beach looking out over the sparkling blue waters with sailboats in the distance. Near the beach we saw many runners, and people just being generally lively, enjoying the beautiful day. I noticed, that while well dressed, these people did not seem as obsessed at wearing all black as the French in Aix en Provence.
We meandered up to a restaurant right on the beach. Stepping from sand, to patio, and then being seated at the window, so that we felt as though we had never left the sand at all, we ordered lunch. Chris had pasta with riccio de mare (sea urchin roe), and I had Culurzones (potato-mint ravioli), both of which we were told are very typical of the island. For dessert, Chris had an apple tart, and I had what looked like a giant round cheese ravioli, that was fried, and drizzled with honey. The only thing I can say about the food we had, was that it was outstanding. Any other description would cause me to hop on the next plane to Sardinia to get more.
After an hour-ish drive (in which Chris and I slept like babies), we met Pepe, Enrica’s hilarious, and kind boyfriend, and then finally got ‘home.’ We settled in, had a comforting home-cooked meal of pork, fries, and an artichoke-onion pastry with the family (including Pepe, and his mom, Maria). Rita taught Chris and I how to make an amazing orange cake while using oranges from Enrica’s front yard. Afterward, we looked through Rita’s photo album, talking about what it was like to move from a small mediterranean island to Owatonna, Minnesota to live with a family of 11.
I can see that I will need to make a separate post for the rest of our time, so keep looking forward, we’ve got beaches, and real Italian pizza ahead!