A Travellerspoint blog




Hi All,

Thank you to all of you who have been faithfully following globalmomma and my blog throughout Italy. I have decided to start a new blog for our adventures here in Hawai'i, since it looks like we will be here for more than a few weeks.

This blog will be filled with the same types of stories - daily adventures, life with a blossoming toddler, and life 'on the road'...that is to say living from day to day with a suitcase and minimal belongings.

I also hope to fill this blog with ideas about travel on the Big Island, great local finds, and living large here in Hawai'i.

Please considering subscribing to this blog, and thank you so much for the support and comments :) keep 'em coming! and feel free to forward it on to any fellow travelers, parents, or anyone interested in life on the Big Island!


"Hula Momma"
aka globalmomma
aka Kemby

PS ALL previous blog entries about Hawai'i will be transferred over to my new blog at:



Mahalo (thank you) for joining along!

Posted by globalmomma 18:42 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Ciao Italia!

sunny 26 °C

Cruel or marvelous, I am not sure, as I look out the window and see miles and miles of beckoning beachfront. Perhaps it is both at once. Marvelous to enjoy the scenes of Italy on our last day, cruel that we have to leave it behind as it taunts and leaves us longing for more.  A perfect sunny day on the coast, a Sunday filled with people out enjoying their weekend at the beach, wide expanse of ocean blue, fishing boats and sunbathers.  All this beauty outside the windows passing by, and we cannot get off and explore

We are on the slow train from Lucca to Milan. Today is our last day in Italy and we are taking the scenic ride up the coastline toward Livorno. The scene out the windows is enough to make me want to jump out at each stop and go 'on the lam'. We cannot stay longer, our visa has run out, yet there are miles and miles of sea, and one can really never have enough of the Italian coastal towns. The rugged dark charcoal cliffs, small pockets of sandy beaches absolutely covered with colorful umbrellas and people, the glittering Mediterranean sea, a deep turquoise blue on a perfect sunny summer day in July.  My heart wells with sadness that we can't stay and spend the weekend enjoying the beach and exploring the Cinque Terre. I want to stay for so many reasons now. Lucca is less than an hour from these amazing beaches and stunning coastline.  We spent our last morning in the cafe next to our apartment... we have been many times, but I still want more. And as we are walking home, I am hit with disappointment that there are so many more places in Lucca and in the surroundings that I didn't get to see.  It is difficult to leave a place that feels so much like home, and a place that has so much to offer. Last night on our evening passeggiata, we went to the botanical gardens in Lucca. On our way, there was a spontaneous concert in the town square, an orchestra outside playing with hundreds of people gathered round. 

Perhaps we have found our love of this country after all, and are willing to overlook the sometimes infuriating parts and the challenges in order to have the good life.  It is difficult now to leave Italy, as rough as the start was, we are now truly adjusted to the lifestyle and feeling very much at ease here.  We are consistently getting by with our fumbling preschool Italian. Not glamourous, but it works. The other day we are in the train station, waiting at the coffee bar for our early morning cappuccinos, after our long trip back to Lucca from Paris.  It is busy and the baristas are rushing around. Our cappuccinos come and they are cold.  No sooner do I muse to my husband, 'gee I wish our Italian was good enough to complain and get new capps'... then I hear him call the barista and say, 'fa freddo'! (it's cold!) and explain to her that our cappuccinos are not warm and he is not having it! She whisks them away and brings us new steaming ones apologetically. I am thoroughly impressed and stunned that with his gesturing and enough language, he has pulled it off. It is essential to learn how to politely yet firmly argue your point in Italian - it is necessary to life here, and apparently, we are reaching that level of competence. To know what is appropriate to argue about, to know how to get your way without offending, to get a good price, this is quintessential Italian. This is where we are with OUR Italian, right on the verge, on the cusp of being conversational, and it is hard to leave it behind.  Our last week in Lucca, two Americans stopped me on the street and asked if I spoke English. Then asked me directions, and I actually was able to help them find the sight they were looking for. That same night, we were mistaken by a local for Italians, as she rattled away to us about Bodhi, her dog, the weather... and I said to Chris, apparently we are looking more the part these days.  It is always fun to look like you belong, and to pretend you are local for as long as the ruse lasts.  He can really play the part with his dark curly locks and tanned skin. Fairer skin and hair on me, likely never will I be mistaken for a native Italian, but perhaps as a misplaced Italian, which is our aspiration. 

The train to our airport hotel in Milan feels longer than it actually is, and we are already thinking about what our last meal in Italy will be.  Pasta? Veal? definitely antipasti and a limoncello.  Hopefully a nice half liter of delicious house wine and Bodhi will have his three favorite Italian dishes: pasta with olive oil, black olives, and sparkling mineral water. Ciao Italia, ti amo.

Posted by globalmomma 08:29 Archived in Italy Tagged beach native airport train day lucca italian terre sunny milan cinque conversations cappuccinos Comments (1)

Creativity in Italy

art, literature, and serendipity

rain 20 °C

There have been many travel books written about Italy, some of the newest are Under the Tuscan Sun, Angels and Demons, and Eat, Pray, Love. But there are more: La Bella Figura, Bella Italia, La Cucina There is a rich history of classic writers finding passion in Italy: D.H. Lawrence, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Henry James, Ernest Hemingway... I could go on and on. Other Italian cultural greats are too numerous to list but Michelangelo, Botticelli, Bernini, Giuseppe Verdi, Donatello, Leonardo DaVinci, Roberto Cavalli, Dante Aligheri, Versace, and Giorgio Armani are a pretty impressive starting point.

When Chris and I were discussing our own 'getaway', where to go for three months while we reassessed our lives, we tossed around ideas for several different places we could go. New Zealand, England, Germany, Hawaii, Croatia, Costa Rica - there was a growing list of possibilities, but at the top stood Italy. I went to the library to do a little research on the subject of travel in Italy, and I found a massive amount of literature. At first I was disappointed. How unoriginal. Maybe we should go someplace LESS known for its culture, cuisine, art, romance, history. Maybe we could write an amazing story about someplace people had not explored, someplace few people have visited. As I thought about it, I wondered why so many books have been written about traveling in Italy, when by comparison, there are not many at all about individuals going to France or Germany or Russia in search of themselves.

Of these books about discovery and love, passion and food, creativity and desire, Italy corners the market. Why is that?, I pondered. Why don't people write books about food and love from Spain or Scotland? Then I realized: it is the place that inspires. It is in the soul of the place itself that motivates artists, evokes love stories, and invites pieces of yourself to come home again. I know this is why I wanted to come to Italy, to be in this place that has for centuries inspired creativity in the minds of intelligent authors, the hands of great painters, and the hearts of lovers. I desire to be all of these things, and being in the land that woos artists causes one to dream, to expand, and to cultivate. There is something palpably aesthetic about Italy - perhaps it is the ancient charm of the picturesque piazzas and frescoes in the churches, and all of the culture that surrounds you. But it is also in the amorous nature of Italians, the fashion, the architecture, the civilization in its entirety. It awakens elements of yourself, and allows you to focus on appetites and aspirations outside of work, home, family, and friends around which most of our time and space revolve. We are currently living in the town where Puccini, the great opera composer, lived. Other greats have spent time walking these same streets, sipping espresso and leaning on the same marble counters.

I realize after being here for the majority of three months that I have found something that I do not want to lose. I was walking around the city of Lucca yesterday, somewhat aimlessly, on my way back from the market. I stumbled into an artist studio, and the paintings inside spoke to me in a way that I cannot adequately explain. If you have ever walked into a place and realized that if you were practicing that profession, that is what your work would look like, than you know what I mean. I saw myself in every work. I related in a way that is not coincidence. It is one of those moments, like when you bump into someone on the street and know instantly that you have known them closely before, that I could feel providence moving. I have not felt that level of serendipity for a while, and it is still with me. I wish I could have bought all of the paintings in the shop and walked out with my arms full, eyes beaming. I wanted to tell the man instantly, tell your wife (the painter) I will apprentice with her. If she wants to teach me, I am willing to learn. It is not unlike meeting a guru, I understand, or meeting a soul mate. When you know it's right, you know. So that was the universe's way of telling me that I will be back in Lucca, sometime, somehow. We cannot stay longer this trip, but we will be back. And next time we come, I hope to be a bigger artist than I am right now.

Posted by globalmomma 05:27 Archived in Italy Tagged art culture love opera lucca tuscany creativity romance painter literature passion writers serendipity puccini Comments (0)

Constant love

Ahh, it is nice to be "home-ish".  Getting back to our comfortable apartment today was a long anticipated reward after that last painful 24 hours. Tonight as I am singing my son to sleep I am thankful for a safe journey and the ability to be in this place I enjoy for one more week. Our beautiful large apartment in the historical center of Lucca.  

When my son is  falling asleep, he heats up like a furnace. His head glistens with sweat, his body radiates.  When he was a baby, I was always wondering what this meant, these flushes of heat, like hot flashes, that I would feel on occasion. Then I realized it was right before he fell asleep that he would become super-warm and emit UV rays like a little super nova beaming toward Earth. It is one of the little things you store away in your treasure chest of a memory bank, the little daily things that you notice when you are paying attention... when you are in love and yearning to know someone better every day, you recognize small bits of information like this, that you know and few others know. It is the stuff of families and relationships that makes them so rich and connected.  Often I find myself applying pieces of myself to my son. He must be cold with the air conditioning blowing on him at night, because I know I hate cold air blowing directly on me. My husband, however, always thinks our son is hot. He is always removing his shirt or jacket or shoes. When I say, what happened to the hat I put on him? He says, oh, he was hot. He thinks this because he is generally warm.  We both have to continually remind ourselves that this little person is his own entity with his own likes and dislikes that are our puzzles to figure out, and he is neither him nor me, but his own little spirit. 

It is remarkable how much of me has changed in this last year and a half. My person has changed, my focus has changed, relationships are different, body is different, mind is definitely different. There are times I wonder who this new woman is, and what she did with the old me. I worry more. I am more careful. I am always considering what is best for this little person above what I want to do, often compromising and altering plans. I am no longer a separate independent unit, but I feel forever that a part of me is split and goes wherever my son goes. It is too simplistic to say that he carries a part of my heart with him. Instead I think it is part of my whole, part of my soul that goes with him. I am reminded of a time years ago, when I asked my Dad what it meant to love someone. 'How do you know when you are in love?' He thought for a moment before answering, then he said, "Loving someone is always wanting their happiness more than your own". At the time, I didn't get the profundity of that statement. I thought, 'Really? That's it? No magic, no one-and-only? All you have to do is want what is best for someone? That's a dull answer.' But now I understand it 100%, and think it was really the best description of true love that I have ever heard.

It is that simple, and that incredibly difficult all at once, to love someone so much that you wish their contendedness and joy above your own. I can feel that love within me now... That carefree independent me is gone, and this deeper, more connected yet more serious me has emerged. She has to choose new clothes, new ideas, new reflections of herself, just as she needs to be patient as old relationships adapt and form around this new person. I cannot expect my relationships and feelings to stay the same, just as I cannot expect old clothes to fit the same and feel the same. They
have to be adapted to this new self as she is growing and evolving. Love requires continual evolution and growth to survive, and the best way to do
this is to tell the truth about who you are, and to see the other for who they have become.

Posted by globalmomma 08:34 Archived in Italy Tagged new love child lucca relationships personality Comments (0)

Lucca is the best

July 20

We have now traveled Italy from heel to toe, coast to coast, and I have to say, Lucca is one of, if not THE best cities in Italy. We are now staying here for the remainder of our last two weeks in Europe, in a quaint little apartment inside the old city walls. Lucca has a well-preserved city wall made of brick that encircles the historical center of town, and has a series of doors or 'porta' that lead outside the city center. From these porta, you can give or receive directions, and they go around the city like a wheel. There is a wide jogging path along the wall that makes for a marvelous passeggiata, or evening stroll. There are joggers, baby carriages, old men reading the paper on benches, small cafes, and mostly people walking along the wall to get from one side of the city to the other. It is supremely quiet, and there is a marvelous amount of greenery. There are wide fields surrounding the walls, where kids can play soccer, dogs can run, and people can bike. The way around the historical part of town is by bike, as cars are limited inside the walls. It makes for an incredible ambiance... There is no hum of scooters, no hugging the old stone walls while a truck zips by on a narrow street. It is a city for pedestrians, and because of that, it has a wonderfully relaxed, family-friendly feeling to it. I feel at ease allowing my little boy to toddle down the street several steps ahead, and letting him roam in a piazza, while I sip a glass of prosecco. Lucchese locals are also incredibly helpful and warm people, and finding everything you need here is remarkably easy, for a small Italian town. We found a natural food supermarket (!), there are pharmacies and hospitals, great shops, and some of the finest restaurants we have visited in Italy are here. I recommend Buca di San Antonio, if you are ever in Lucca. But really, virtually all of the restaurants here are good, even those in the more touristy areas of town. There are tourists who visit this town, but not so much that it is annoying to walk down the street or that you feel the locals are jaded, rip you off, or desire that you not be there. We happen to be in Lucca this time at the height of their tourist season, since there is a giant music festival they host each July called Lucca Summer Festival. Even in this atmosphere, it does not feel swamped with tourists or overcrowded. It is as laid-back and welcoming as always. It is one of those places that invites you inside, by continually surprising you with new vistas, piazzas, and quaint cafes. The first time we came to Lucca, we were wandering without a map, and as we walked down a narrow street, it would open up into a beaiutiful piazza. Aha! this is the place, but then a little more walking, and another piazza would appear, more beautiful then than to last. It has that kind of old world charm and architecture. Maybe there are no 'big' sights here, but the historical center in its entirety is a special place worth seeing, or in our case, coming back for again and again.

Other reasons to come to Lucca: It is an hour by bus (or two hours by slow train) to Florence, another wonderful city! and just twenty minutes to Pisa, which is nice to visit just to say you did. It is also 20 minutes to the sea, and there are some great free beaches to explore with big sand dunes that might make you imagine you are in the Southern Atlantic coast, around South Carolina. The coast also has incredible fish and chips that makes it worth a visit. It is near to the Cinque Terre, Viareggio, and also a longer day trip to Milan, Parma and other Northern towns...

Why my husband and I decided to come back to Lucca was for the peace and tranquility that the no traffic zone provides, the green areas and playgrounds for our son to run around, the Lucchese food like tortelli con ragu (tortelli/ravioli with meat sauce), risotto, farro (spelt), lamb... oh, and for an Italian language class.

Posted by globalmomma 00:57 Archived in Italy Tagged food parks pisa city florence cuisine lucca terre quiet walls cinque tuscan Comments (3)

When it's hard (traveling with child)

I've blogged about the best of times, and I must also blog about the worst. Traveling can be hard...traveling with children can be much, much harder. I understand now why the barrier to getting on the road can stop most before they begin. The challenges are overwhelming sometimes, the burdens can be huge, and there are no safe fallbacks.

Why it is hard...
In Italy, you must always be prepared. There are no late night runs to Target for baby food, no 1-800-DIAPERS overnight diaper delivery. It is a Sunday, and you don't have extra diapers, you are SOL. Or it could be an obscure Saint's holiday you didn't know about...nothing is open.

The baby seats here are not made for babies. They are regular chairs with added height, but no seat belts, no safety bar between the child's legs. They are wooden chairs with a wicker seat that look more like a mini bar stool. The first week we were here, I rejected a place that brought that baby highchair out, and went in search of another restaurant with a highchair we could actually use without having to hold onto our son the entire meal. But the next place had the same type, then the next. I quickly realized that this was how it was going to be. Occasionally I find a place with a more modern version like I am used to, with a plastic seat and tray, and a belt. But most of the time we have to eat with one hand holding onto Bodhi to make sure he doesn't slip right off the highchair. I keep him on my right side so I can eat with my left hand. These types of inconveniences would not happen at home. There are also virtually no changing tables in Italy. The bathrooms are smaller than a coat closet. Usually, I have to change my son's diaper with him standing up. And often, I am wildly trying to make sure he doesn't touch anything while I as speedily as possible tear off his diaper. Thank goodness we found these new diapers that are pull-ups, because it makes it much easier to change a child with one hand. It is a stark contrast to Germany and Scandinavian countries, where it seems they expect everyone to have a child with them wherever they go. In the airports, on every train, in the cafes and exits off the highway, there are deluxe baby changing stations everywhere, most complete with straps, baby wipes, diaper pails... but not in Italy. For a country that adores babies, they seem very ill-prepared for having them around.

I have had to overlook the notion of sanitary hands, and realize that really, there is very little I can do to keep this child from touching things that are often disgusting. There is pigeon poop on the old cobblestone streets, and when you walk or crawl on these centuries-old streets, you get grey soot on your hands or shoes. The bathrooms have bidets, scrub brushes, shower drains, all of which my son is very interested in. In fact, while traveling, it seems everywhere I turn there are hazards to look out for, and it is difficult to keep up with them all. At least when you have a home, you can child-proof it and have 'safe zones'. While traveling, there are no safe zones, and every new place you go has new things to watch out for and secure. For instance, I am just glancing around the apartment, and here is what I see. A giant bookcase that could topple if climbed. Electrical outlets in need of plugs. Small lamps that could be pulled off end tables. A giant fireplace with iron tools. Low open windows, working radiators, a glass table. I am constantly on the lookout for small choking hazards, shock or burn hazards, open staircases or steps, things he could break, unsanitary things he might put in his mouth, or sharp objects. It is like a giant obstacle course sometimes. Recently he has taken to climbing everything, and yesterday, he figured out how to successfully climb onto the couch while yelling "uppa!". Once he gets up, he often stands or jumps or tried to climb over the back of the couch, so now it is a regular game of running to pull him off the couch, then watching him climb right back up.

This leads me to the next challenge of traveling with a young child. There are often things that you want to do, that you simply cannot do with a baby. You have to put those things out of your mind and focus on what you can do. For instance, there are no date nights. No babysitter, no time off. There is a huge music festival here in Lucca all ten days we are here, we are only several hundred yards away from some big names like Ben Harper, Jamiroquai, but we won't be going. the shows start at 10PM and are outdoors in an old amphitheater. We were also in Karlovy Vary for the biggest night of the year, their last night of the international film festival. But there were no films or parties for us. There was a time in Verona, we went back to our hotel for room service, but they hold operas in an ancient outdoor coliseum after dark, and the barber of Seville was playing. No go. There are a lot of activities in Europe that go on after dark that you miss out on when you have a baby or young kids in tow. It can be hard to take when something really tempting or 'once in a lifetime' is happening. But of course, there are other experiences you have that could only happen with a child, and these sacrifices are worth it. But you cannot have your cake and eat it too, like you often can from home with your team of helpers, and that is when it's hard.

Posted by globalmomma 01:27 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

oh, what a fun journey it is (parenthood)

the grotto and the factory

There is a bat currently doing laps around our villa, gobbling up bugs, and I am reminded of an experience several weeks ago. We were staying in a teensy town called Pastena, Italy tracing my husband's roots, when we decided to see the main tourist attraction of the area called Pastena Grotte (or Pastena caves). I thought nothing of it. I wanted to go see the local sight, so we bought our tickets and walked to the entrance for our guided tour. We started in the first area of the cave and I am holding Bodhi thinking, hmm... I better not let him get down and walk around in here. Too many crevices and too much dank, dripping, stalagtite musty juice. So we walk on, me with squirming baby in tow, my husband, and his parents. We reach a section called the blue grotto and my husband and his father go down alone while his mom, me, and the baby wait. The guide graciously told us it would be about a hundred steps down. While we wait, I read the booklet about the cave and see a whole section dedicated to bat excrement. All the sudden my naturopathic education comes flooding back, and I think about how many communicable diseases are spread by bats, and how filthy they are. I think of my son breathing bat excrement into his lungs and suddenly I am in a real hurry to get the hell out of this cave. When the guide comes back, we politely ask if we can find our way back to the entrance ourselves and slip out of the tour. Really, again, I made up a lame excuse about the baby when really it was me and my mother-in-law who had decided quite early on that this tour was not exactly our cup of tea. When my husband and his father arrive back after the tour, I ask how it was and what did we miss... they say: you made a good choice. There were bat feces piled up in mounds in one area, not really something anyone wants to see, unless possibly you are a real extreme naturalist. There is nothing like having a baby to make me trust my intuitive side more strongly than I have before. And to have a built-in excuse when something doesn't feel right. We went to a prosciutto-making plant outside the town of Parma two days ago too. I really wasn't thinking about what I would see on this tourr. I thought, great, a tour about local products: how to make local parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto d'Parma, and lambrusco (a local sparkling red wine, that may sound gross but is absolutely perfectly delicious). When I got inside the proosciutto factoy and saw the legs of pigs, I thought, utoh, this was a mistake. (Hello, prosciutto IS made from the legs of pigs!!) But my intuitive little boy got a few steps inside the factory and burst into tears. I funneled him out of there in a matter of seconds, knowing he was totally put off by the whole concept, as he well should have been. As a former vegetarian, I totally get it. I could tell my sensitive little boy picked up on it right away, the death, the flesh, the whole meat aging experience, and was not at all wanting to be there. I was impressed by his awareness, and almost brought to tears. I realize everyday how sensitive and aware this little being is, and how much of our experience he picks up on with his senses - definitely more than I am aware of, and I really try! He is gathering information like a sponge. And gaining confidence with his steps. I love his blooming vocabulary. It is amazing to watch his face absolutely light up when he sees a dog, and screams, DIDAHH! At the top of his lungs. Naming things is his newest novelty. My favorite is the "DIDAHH". Who knows, two cat-loving parents may end up with a DIDAHH in a few months time... His other words are "nanana" for banana, "dat, dat, dat" for either "I want that" or "give me that", "papa" for his grandpa, brrrrrrutta (which we still cannot figure out but I think might mean fruit?), and "at a" for water. oh, what a fun journey it is.

Posted by globalmomma 12:14 Archived in Italy Tagged food boy grotto parma pigs prosciutto lambrrusco parmigiano sensitive Comments (1)

Determination, Purging, and a goodbye to Italy

July 1st

Our baby is now officially walking. He has been testing the waters for almost three months now. Walking two steps, then eight or ten, then pausing for reflection. Then a fall and no walking at all for a few days, then back again to take a few attempts. But he has never felt any urgency, no matter how I coax and encourage. He is taking it all in his own time. I have to respect that. He walks until he feels it is unsafe, and then he quietly kneels down and commences crawling to his destination. I have to contemplate that perhaps this has been my arpproach to life as well...very careful, with intention and some small inkling of perfectionism... But his favorite thing has been to reach up for two willing hands and proceed to guide them were he wants to go. In fact, now Momma is not enough. I gab hold of his hand when he wants to walk, and he looks back over his shoulder and expectantly says, dada? As if to say, "you ARE coming, right, Dada?" So we grasp hold of either hand and the three of us go walking down the ancient cobblestone streets. He doesn't let you lead though, no no, you hold his hand and you follow where his mind is set on exploring. I have to say, it is a pretty fun ride. This kid amazes me everyday. His determination is astounding, and is something I could really learn from. We have been staying in a villa on Lake Como for three days. He did his evening ritual walk-around exploration when we checked in. I swear the kid thinks it is Disneyworld the way he explores every nook of each new hotel or apartment, like a daily adventure. Well, here he found a radiator in the kitchen. An old water-filled radiator like many old houses here have. He tried twisting the knob, which has worked for him in the past. He learned to unscrew the cap that turns the radiator on and off. When saw him struggling with the cap that first night, I told him, "honey, it's too hard, it won't turn, just leave it". He looked up at me innocently and moved on to something else, but every once in a while he came back to that radiator cap and tried to turn it. Well, wouldn't you know at six this morning, when he got up, I was in the kitchen boiling water for tea, and I glanced over at him where he was "working". I saw him grinning and holding up that little radiator cap to me, like a present he wanted me to take. I was overwhelmed. I reached down and saw that he had indeed gotten the little cap loose after several times a day of working on it, and I am amazed at his persistence and determination already. That he would continue to try to get that little cap off the radiator, not to give-up in the face of adversity, but to go back and keep trying, I realize how much more babies know about the world than we do. How much more they can accomplish and become. He was so thrilled with himself when he was holding up that radiator cap to me it was heartbreaking. He holds it in an outstretched arm and grins wildly, saying, "dat, dat, dat", like 'hey, look at this!' And when he does something he is rprroud of, or gives you something, he pats his stomach. It is his way of saying, "Prego" in Italian, or "bitte" in German: please, go ahead, take it. He knew what an accomplishment it was, to have wedged that tough cap off, and still he was openly offering it as a gift. I wouldn't have given the damn thing a second thought. I would have called maintenance, or ignored it, and moved on. I wouldn't have spent three days working toward that simple goal, but he did, and it was amazing. So here begins another lesson in a long line of lessons I will humbly be learning from my son. 

Like a lizard, I am shedding pieces of myself everywhere we go now. A stained t-shirt last night, a broken watch the week before, a pair of socks, some old tea bags. All the old and unused begin to fall away. Some are replaced, or recycled. I like to think other people find them out of the trash and use them. An old chewed book... maybe another child is reading, practicing his English as Bodhi is practicing his Italian with new books we have bought. It can be difficult, this shedding process. It is most definitely cathartic. You leave it all behind. You won't come back for it. You don't know what happens to it from here on out, and you move on. It forces you to be absolutely in the moment of what you need right now, and not save anything for later, or for a rainy day. Being a pack rat by nature, it takes me weeks, or even months to get to this point of clarity wherein I being to realize that everything that we own has a life cycle. Things must be put to rest in order for new things to begin, to be purchased or garnered. Without throwing away, you leave no room for the gathering process. As with physical belongings, so with the mind and your stockpile of thoughts and attitudes. To make way for the new, you must strip away the old and unused...especialy the ones that never quite worked for you or never quite fit. This weekend was a real expulsion. Now we have two total bags (one being the crib!), and one carry-on, plus the stroller. Not a lot for two adults and a small child that demands most of the space. It feels lighter. We will see how much further we get before the next purging must take place. It is a constant process, reducing and rebuilding. When you only have so much space, you only expand to fill that much space, so everything is a real test - do we need it or do we not? Can we get by without it? What can be replaced? What can be eliminated? What can we make room for in our lives? How do we simplify and keep ourselves buoyant? By lightening our physical load maybe we can also lighten our experience... At least we won't sweat as badly as we drag our belongings through 90 degree summer heat in the train stations and through the airport. Tomorrow we leave for Prague. A new destination, away from Italy, which is a bittersweet goodbye. It will be nice to have a new perspective, but hard to leave; and after two months here, there is much I will miss... at least as much as I am glad to leave. I will miss the absolute kindness toward babies, that even as we are in airport hotels with American guests, I miss. I miss the Italian national appreciation of babies. The way you can expect everyone in a restaurant to smile, to reach out, to engage. No unfriendly glances, no irritation. Only room for babies to be how they are here. I will miss the limoncello, amaro, aperol, homemade pasta, caffe, the warm sun, the scent of the ocean, the warmth and approachableness of the people. The ability to understand the menus. The landscape of grapes and cypress trees and hay and corn and sky and ocean and wooded hills. The old old buildings and worn out cobbles, the smell of age, and the gold coloring all around. Most of all, I will miss the Meditteranean sea and the slow pace of life and the constant snacking. It has been an amazing two months in Italy, where our little boy gained the confidence to walk. See you in the Czech Republic and onward!

Posted by globalmomma 12:30 Archived in Italy Tagged walking italy packing bags missing luggage heat radiator determination belonging Comments (0)

Walking Boy!

our little boy is officially walking. It is such a miracle when it finally comes together and you see them begin to walk. At least for my little boy, he got this look of absolute bewildered joy, like a light bulb going on. Aha, this is what I have been missing! He took the plunge and wandered across the fake grass, the AstroTurf playground in Lake Como, and he hasn't looked back. He has been able for several months now, taking steps only when highly motivated. But now, it's all he wants to do. It was a really fun step, from couch surfing to taking steps alone. He still loves to look for both momma and dada's hands and walk between the two of us. He of course only wants to lead. He is a spoiled boy, with the amount of time he has with both his momma and dada. In a good way of course, spoiled with love! We hope time together as a family is building something in him, something strong and secure. Something new toys and money and fancy clothes don't get...since he really has none of those things right now, only a few books and small toys that fit in a bag, and the toys we find in the apartments and hotels we visit. Light switches, pans, remote controls, water bottles, zippers, drains and dishwashers are some of his favorite things. But when he starts walking, then turns around and reaches his hand back for each of us to take, and the three of us walk hand in hand down these uneven streets, I think: perfect.

Posted by globalmomma 03:02 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Sun and Hailstorm in Como

June 30

The rain is pouring down in torrents...the likes of which I have only seen one time before, in Fiji, in a monsoon. We are in the Lake Como area of northern Italy and just arrived by ferry to the little town of Tremezzo. We have to be picked up and driven to our apartment in town because it would be much too far to walk in these conditions. A baby provides a brilliant excuse, for Italians will not refuse you anything when a baby is involved. So we are driving with absolute sheets of rain, and hail is echoing down on the windshield of the car. The hail sounds like continuous tapping. It is ricocheting off the windshield like quarters spewing out of a slot machine. Tap, tap, chick chick, chat chat clack. It is as if someone is taking aim at the car and chipping golf balls on the roof. The baby is soaked. And we are all simultaneously drenched and still smoldering from the hot sticky weather from an hour ago. There is steam rising off of my skin like a boiled chicken. I want to sit in the rain but the baby needs a nap. And we need to get our things to our villa and unpack and prepare dinner. After this trip, rote things like making dinner or reservations for a weekend away will seem like the easiest possible tasks. The small things here can be a challenge always. Where to find food, is it open, what supplies will the house have when we get there, what time is the boat or train, how do I get there from here...

I cannot remember the last time a place spoke to me when I walked in the door. Most of them here immediately offend, then slowly grow on me like a slow creeping vine. There are always problems. A light switch doesn't work. The air conditioning is broken, or the internet isn't connected. There is no coffeemaker, the window won't open, the stove won't light, the TV won't turn on. I am beginning to think they make a game of this, wondering who will actually notice that something is broken. For instance I walk in and one of teh doors of glass has a big crack, so I ask the guy, do you know this is here? oh yes, he says. OK. He is not concerned. I open the cabinets in the kitchen to start cooking for Bodhi and I notice there is not a single pan or pot or food preparing item. (I call and they bring them). I can more or less remember the places we have stayed by the mishaps...Oh, that was the place we never got the internet to work..that was the place we switched rooms twice because the TV wouldn't turn on.  I know they are thinking, those picky Americans! And I am thinking, oi! A little attention to detail would go a long way here. The detail-oriented editing part of my brain wants to come here and evaluate the whole system, making notes of improvement along the way. Another part of me goes, eh, give it another few months and you won't even notice, you will become immune. Either that, or it will kill you. Like a relationship. Either those quirks become your lifelong friends, for better or worse, or they drive you to madness.  Best to find out early. So two months in Italy now, and I think I need a little time off. We are going to head to a greener, cooler Northern town in the Alps of Switzerland or France. It remains to be decided, and we are trying to make a plan for our next few weeks so we don't have to spend all of this time in indecision. I know when I leave, I will either miss this place like crazy or not look back. Or both. 

One thing I still cannot figure out is the single versus double room rate in Europe. It is the same room. But if one, two or three persons use it, it is a different cost. Perhaps it is more fair, if you split it per person ,and if you consider those persons traveling alone and perhaps requiring less. But to me, it is still the exact same room, for different costs. So, laundering an extra towel costs ten euro more? I am still baffled. But it definitely can work in your favor. For instance: The place we are currently staying is a five bedroom villa. If you used all the rooms, it would cost nearly triple what it costs the two of us adults to stay here...and use one room. But it is a ton of space for just the three of us and completely affordable because they charge per person, so it works out to be less than staying in a double room at the corresponding hotel. This I do not comprehend, but I am definitely happy and reaping the benefits. Sweet. We have views out every window of the gorgeous lake, and the green wooded mountains beyond. It feels like we are in Switzerland or the Alps, but it is warmer. The landscape is magnificent. The sun is out and the day is cooler, and now that I have had a little time to cool off and dry out, this is a wonderful place.

Posted by globalmomma 15:57 Archived in Italy Tagged lake storm como dysfunctional Comments (0)

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