May 17 in Barletta hotel
So many nights are spent now eating in the dark. Whispering back and forth, nodding and using sign language. We put the baby to sleep and then we eat: because italians don't eat until after 8:30pm, because that was also our routine in America, and because it is often a more relaxing focused time. But in hotel rooms & small apartment studios, it can be a lot more difficult than in a large house with a monitor in the baby room. Our baby can only sleep when it's dark, at least mostly dark. Better if it is solid darkness. So we try to leave a hall light on, or the bathroom light, with the door cracked open. Or a small lamp by the side of the bed. And we make and eat our food quietly, because he is also a light sleeper with noise. We play scrabble on the ipad. We dream of watching on demand movies. I am sure we could with our noise-cancelling headphones, but we haven't reached that point of urgency yet. It's 10:45 and i am finishing the remains of my cold pizza and wine that we carried, along with a sleepy baby, home from the restaurant. I guess it can be a bit depressing, eating like this, in the dark using tiny voices. Often eating cold food. But I remember those early days not too long ago where i was lucky if i ever got a meal warm, because Bodhi would smell the food and get hungry himself. The cries for milk would come, and they took priority over my steaming hot plate of food. I lived off of the microwave. And frozen meals for lunches that if I didn't get around to it, sometimes went unmade. I could eat several Larabars per day for food substitutes if I never got an actual meal of food. So I try to be grateful for where i am now in the grand scheme of things. And to remember that I brought this all on myself too. This is one of the downsides to this life of travel. The dwellings are smaller, more cramped, less flexible. And the meals can be uninspired at times. But then again we are in Italy, and even their worst cold, soggy pizza is pretty damn good. Probably better than the best pizza I can find in Seattle. It's easy to get spoiled with the array of antipasti dishes, pastas galore, meats and sides that are so delicious, and also the nighttime pizzas. In Italy they serve pizza traditionally only at night, not during the day. Maybe it has to do with the hot stone ovens, i do not know. They say pizza during the day is for children. At first we found it odd, like so many other things. Like why is it essential to have a bidet in every bathroom but not a tub or even a shower you can turn around in? Why no cappuccinos in the afternoon? Why so many excuses?
We got into our hotel late last night and I noticed they had room service, but no menu. I asked my husband to call down for one, and he said, "why? you know what they have". I thought this was such a funny comment at the time and said, "well it is an American chain hotel, maybe they have some American food or different stuff". So he goes downstairs and according to his recollection, he said, "we would like some room service". and the reception said, "what would you like?" So he said, oh I don't know, maybe a mixed plate of antipasti (in very proper italian too, i am told). So she says, with grilled vegetables? yes. Cheese? yes. Meat? yes. OK. Twenty minutes later, we had a perfect antipasto for two, just like you would find anywhere. And it dawned on me, This is quintessential Italy. In America, you cannot just walk into a new restaurant and know what they will have on their menu. You may have some vague idea, like they probably have steak of some sort, salmon, and a chicken dish or two, several salads, etc. But here, it really is THAT uniform. I have been eating breakfast in italy for weeks now and I can now come to expect delicious espresso everywhere, not just at starbucks or some other name brand place. And croissants, with jam and nutella. And various breads with various spreads and cheeses and cakes. It's all so carb-heavy and sweet. Breakfast is not my favorite meal here, I can see why many skip it. But anyway, there are regional dishes and most restaurants conform to these dishes, so the menus are not far off. It can make picking restaurants fairly simple, because you basically know what you are going to get and generally will not get a single bad meal anywhere.
- * I have had to relax about many things... Smoke in the hallways for instance. I could freak out that my pure baby's lungs will be tarnished by walking down the hall. Or the excessively loud house music that was playing at the pool when we went for a swim damaging his fragile ears. I was having a hard time hearing myself think, while these young girls were bouncing away to house music doing their water aerobics while the instructor screamed over the noise. Bodhi seemed to enjoy it though, he was kicking through the water and dancing to the beat. He actually was moving right with the music. I don't know if it is intuitive, a sense of rhythm, but he seems to definitely have it. I cannot protect him here like maybe I could at home...or at least create a wall around him like a bubble, giving the illusion of control and safety. Here I really cannot control the environment. The relaxed building codes that allow balcony slats to be spaces five inches apart. The highchairs with no midline bar to separate the legs and no straps. When we eat out at restaurants, I have to keep one hand on Bodhi while he eats to keep him from standing up, turning around, or sliding under the bar onto the floor. Their safety codes are not the same here. Children do not wear seat belts and many do not have car seats - especially in the smaller towns. It is not like India where you will see a woman riding sidesaddle on the back of a motorcycle holding her newborn, but it feels more precarious here than at home.