Friday, July 11, 2008

Palermo, Siciliana

We arrived in Palermo at what must have been the peak of rush hour – and thank goodness for our GPS or we would still be there. I’d heard for years that driving in Rome was difficult. I didn’t find it that challenging. On this trip so far, I’ve driven a couple and a half thousand kms and not yet caused any serious damage. I bumped a few curbs, tapped the mirror on a few things but left no lasting memory. Palermo on the other hand is one crazy place –chaotic as the locals call it. This is one of the largest cities in Italy and it all drives on little roads between buildings and like it’s going out of style. There are cars, people, motorcycles and scooters coming from every direction and as a driver, you have to meander all over the road, and hastily maneuver into every small place that might present itself in front of you of someone else will fill it and leave you sitting there. My description cannot possible do it justice, but you pass where its illegal, you ignore pedestrians, you run stop signs – but you don’t run red lights. We did have juggler juggle in the crosswalk once as we waited for the light to change. We made it to our hotel on the beach near where the sculptures will be placed this morning – seventeen in all. It was indeed stressful driving conditions – driving with only inches between you and what is in front, to the sides and behind you.

We left the south of Sicily yesterday at mid-day – again staying off the well traveled roads. By early afternoon we passed through Coroleone – not too small a town anymore. There was no one playing the Cello, no Tommy guns – just another hillside town. Wheat was being harvested in the countryside with apricots and peaches. Everyone was friendly and accommodating – and it seems they don’t care if you trespass to take pictures. We did have a momentary scare as we drove into Coroleone and stopped for a moment to shoot a picture of an old house. We stopped on the side of the road, and as I lifted my long lens toward the place, someone from the house fired off what must have been an old carbine rifle, maybe a deer rifle. The crack of the rifle report bounced against the roadway surface as load as if we’d been standing next to it - and it scared the crap out of me. I jumped, stood there for a second wondering if anything had been hit. There was again another loud report – without incident. Pheew – I guess it wasn’t because we were taking pictures.

Grilled Egg Plant Pizza!!

By 11am, the sculptures had arrived and were being installed along the Piazza Palazzo – a long beach from zone with hotels, restaurants and squares. A press conference included the vice Mayor of Palermo – who practiced saying “it was nice to meet you” in preparation for this event. Several TV stations were in attendance as well as print media. Tonight I drinka, tomorrow I zwimma.

Oh - and Hunter Parker is flying in from Monocco tonight to stay with us here for the weekend. Hunter is an old roomie, and no boat captain here on the Med.

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