Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End. The Beginning

I guess you could call this a part two to my travels/final chapter to my year abroad.  After traveling around in a giant circle, I returned to the farm in Liguria for a week.  I finally finished my walk path, which was thoughtfully nicknamed "St. Jon Jon WWOOFer Street," and got to see how a chicken becomes food. 

I apologize for the morbidness of this photo, but it's life and something you confront when working on a farm with animals.  Tobi, a member of the farm, walked me through the slaughtering of a chicken while I eagerly positioned myself for a good shot. 

My last week at the farm was the perfect way to say goodbye and give closure to this experience.  A good portion of the group was at the farm for a course in Tai Chi, which I got to participate in as well.  
Here's the group in discussion after a huge and delicious Italian lunch.  It was a beautiful and hot day, perfect for lounging in the shade.  That night I got to cook everyone dinner.  I made gnocchi in a mushroom, marsala sauce for 16 Italians and received an approving "Bravo."  It was my way of saying "Thank You."
I left the farm on a Monday morning, saying goodbye to some of the kindest people . . .  and one very affectionate dog.  I caught I ride to Milano, stayed the night with the hospitality of Paolo (The Teacher), and caught a sad flight to Dublin the next day while listening to Fabrizio de' Andrè. 

Being in Ireland was a bit of a shock at first.  I could actually understand everything I heard and read!  After realizing that english was the official language of this place, I explored the beautiful city.  Being over shopping and looking at old buildings, the only thing that was left was to find some good art. 

After having a good chat with a tourist information attendant, I found myself at the amazing Hugh Lane Gallery, where there is a large portion of the collection dedicated to Francis Bacon.  Here is his studio, exactly the way he left it.  If you know his art, this will make sense to you.  If you don't, click on his name and find out.  There were also a number of notable artists' work there, including Manet, Monet, Gustave Corbet, and Brocquy.  

Outside, Dublin seems like a typical city.  But there is really cool, interesting and modern architecture all over the place, including this sky-reaching tower in the middle of the main shopping area.  

It is really neat during the night.  With just the top illuminated, it seems like this point of light is floating in the air.  

On my last day in Ireland, I took a day trip to Cork with the hope of seeing a Conor Harrington in real life.  This extremely talented street-turned-gallery artist is from Cork and I knew of  a few places he might have left his mark.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything. 

I did, however, get to see other amazing works like this one.  

The next day I headed back to the States.  It is totally unreal what you have to go through, compared to everywhere else I've been, to get into this country.  They checked my passport literally five times before boarding the plane and non-US citizens have to go through this:

Finger print all ten fingers and photo.  It can make one feel like a criminal for just going on vacation.  

My travels weren't quite over as soon as I expected.  My plane leaving Dublin was delayed and pushed back everything.  I flew to Philly and got stuck there for the night, having missed my original connection and a hopeful new one to San Francisco.  They did pay for my food and hotel this time, so it was a bit better than last year, but still a pain.  The following day I flew to Vegas before finally getting back to San Francisco, officially ending Chapter Italia.  

To summarize the last week, I've been spending some much needed time with Casey, got to see an amazing concert by Grizzly Bear, found the perfect place to live and actually got the room, had a giant welcome back party and reconnected with friends, and am playing the "Let's Find A Job!" game.  Wish me luck!

To my friends in Italy (Ai miei amici in Italia):
Veramente, grazie mille per tutto. Il mio tempo in Italia era grandissimo e sono proprio felice che èrano un parte. Grazie per la tua ospitalità, la tua gentilezza, e la tua amicizia (e anche il cibo!) Spero proprio che ci rivedremo ancora nel futuro e che il mio italiano sarà un po meglio. Arrivederci per ora. A Presto!


celia said...

Bravo to your Italian dish. It sounds so yummy. I am so glad you can cook.

Good thing you gave us a link to Francis Bacon - now I get it. Wow that street art is cool and very amazing.

How frustrating to get delayed which messed up the rest your flight. Uggh.

I enjoyed your "excellent adventure". Best to you with the "Find A Job" game.

Dennis said...

Totally awesome year. I guess 4.5 years of Pacific can be stuffy but what a spring break was that! Glad you back safe and sound. By the way, I had the same experience preparing my pet chicken for dinner when I was 8 yrs old. Take care! Love dad!!!!