Thursday, August 15, 2013

GRAZIE MILLE

Today my awesome adventure somehow made its way to the Yale University Facebook! It only served as a reminder for how incredible the experience in Lampedusa and Sicily was for me this May/June. I absolutely cannot say thank you enough to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for having helped out via the Summer Environmental Fellowship, and to Daniela Freggi, the Lampedusa Turtle Group and all the other support that I had along the way. Please check out the links and support the awesome cause!



Sunday, June 9, 2013

Palermo


     Today was the final full day of my Lampedusan/Sicilian journey! I had an incredible time. I left Lampedusa early this morning, with Daniela dropping me off sentimentally at the airport. I arrived in Palermo with plans of wandering around the city and Monreale to get a last taste of Sicilian art and culture. I left my luggage at the train station lockers and headed out, nervous to get mugged because of warnings (I had no such incident myself, but I saw it happen THRICE).
     Monreale was an incredible cathedral. It and the cloister next to it were completely covered by gold mosaic form the 12th century. Since today was Sunday, I stayed for about half an hour of mass, which was conducted interestingly in Latin. It was so interesting to see these sites, especially after having taken a class about 11th-15th century Europe last semester. Today I was able to see so many things that actually made my random humanities class relevant!
     At Monreale, I met two lovely couples that I actually ended up exploring the city with in the afternoon. One couple was from Germany, and the other was from the Netherlands. We commiserated over the bus wait but found many things to talk about! Anyways, walking around Palermo was awesome. It was so cool seeing the influence of past Muslim and Norman invasions on the architecture, language and culture. I had my last arancino (pistachio, ricotta and spinach) which was also the best! I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a traditional religious procession (it has existed since the first two churches were built in Palermo!) that passed by the Cuatro Canti. The Cuatro Canti is the intersection between Via Roma and Via Liberta, and marks the center of the ancient city. The latter street was also the one which Giuseppe Giaribaldi marched down with the Red Shirts for the final move in his strive for the unification of Italy. Definitely the most impressive site in the city was the Catedrale di Palermo with its intricate design and impressive size. It looks more like a mosque from the outside, but the inside clearly glorifies the church in a way almost unimaginable. It's peaceful yet powerful - hard to describe.
    I worked my way back to the train station by about 7 PM to be picked up by my gracious hosts for the night before my early morning flight back to the states. Silvia and her husband Silvio live in Palermo but commute 1 hour to their jobs which are situated in opposite directions. Silvana works at the WWF reserve in Trapani with Girolamo. Despite my absolute exhaustion and sleep deprivation, I couldn't deny a late night tour of the city and a stop for my last gelato (pistachio and coffee!). I was such a good way to end my journey!

Interior of the Catedrale di Monreale

The cloister behind the cathedral

Catedrale di Palermo

Religious parade at the Cuatro Canti

Teatro Massimo with Silvana

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fourth and Last, at Least for Now

     Today was my fourth, and last, release of the trip. A very bittersweet occasion. We went on the Orsa Maggiore with Daniela's middle school science class, several members of the press, the crew and captain of the boat, and of course us! It was a beautiful day for sailing (actually very rare...and I still got seasick). The release was supposed to be educational for the middle schoolers, and it certainly was. The Navy crew members taught about sailing, wind, navigation and their experiences while Daniela explained the idea of conservation.
     I hugely enjoyed today and felt it was a great way to end my internship at the Lampedusa Turtle Group! Everyone was enthusiastic and seeing a turtle that has recovered getting to swim free is always liberating and exciting. Afterwards, everyone came for a tour of the rescue center. I feel like turtles are not very cuddly animals, but every time people see them up close they nearly swoon.

Ame, Ale, Giulia and Daniela on the Orsa Maggiore

Ciao tartaruga on the coast guard boat for the release!


Daniela's class, the sailboat crew and captain, the mayor of Lampedusa and some of the Lampedusa Turtle Group volunteers at port!

     As I look back at the experiences I've had here, today was a good summary of the trip in general. There was emphasis on education, hope for cooperation between different entities all responsible for conservation in one way or another (teachers, youth, military, government, environmentalists, and more!). It was beautiful to see many different types of people come together!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Accident on the Orsa Maggiore


     I slept in until 10 AM today for no reason, but it was probably the nicest thing I’ve done yet this summer. I proceeded to work on research for my paper and planned my one-day stay in Palermo, which I’m very excited about! I’ll be going to Monreale to see the Duomo, and hopefully visiting a museum or two in the afternoon.
     Work continued as usual, cleaning the tanks, sweeping, mopping, feeding and medicating Captain Hook.
     Daniela then wanted to introduce me to the captain of Orsa Maggiore. He was very nice, though, and spoke wonderful English! We talked about Italian politics and American education, which was interesting. We differed on our views but it was nice to see someone so enthusiastic to speak Engish, for once! The funniest thing happened, though… Lea, the black dog from the Center, somehow made her way onto the boat and broke/fell through the ceiling of the boat onto the dining room table where we were having an aperitivo. It was shocking and hysterical, embarrassing and perfect all at the same time. I wish I had filmed it, the guilty look on the dog’s face, and the laughter from the crew (as well as my mortification).


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Critical events and crises

     Today was our second day with Desiree, the new volunteer from Toscana. She is the absolute kindest person, and is a nature tour guide and train hostess. She has beautiful tattoos (never thought I would say that), and such a nice, easygoing personality.
    Sadly, Daniela's car was damaged in an accident, but in the Sicilian way she and the other party dealt with it under the law's nose as to avoid bureaucracy. She was in the right, but it is still a pain to deal with, especially since she has just one little beat up (yet adorable) car. On the way home, she saw the truck driver who parked and blocked her view, partially causing the accident, and yelled at him in a somewhat composed and very logical manner, if that's possible (Daniela is a very sassy woman who stands up for what she believes is right).
     The other crisis of the day happened when a group of five or so tourists came to the center reporting that they had seen a sea turtle at Cala Creta that was seemingly not moving much in the water. Of course the Rescue Center is on alert at all times, so the other volunteers started gathering supplies to go fetch it. As one of them called Daniela for approval, we were shocked to hear her shoot us down and tell us not to waste our time. She usually is enthusiastic about bringing in as many turtles as possible. However, she had a good point to make. "It's like saying that there is a stray dog in the piazza... what are we supposed to do? Dogs walk away, just like turtles swim away..." It was true, when Alessandro went to look for it with one of the tourists, it was gone. Also, who would have been responsible for swimming out to get the turtle that could have just been taking a rest?
     She said it would be very different if the tourists had seen one close enough to physically bring it to the center, then it would have been very easy to take it in. The Rescue Center usually relies solely on fishermen and locals that find injured turtles and bring it to the center unless there is a very clear emergency that is handled correctly.
     I also learned about the trajedy of a young Costa Rican man named Jairo who was killed by poachers, allegedly also involved in drugs, for having stood up for sea turtle conservation and spoke out against corruption in his home country. Other volunteers were kidnapped, but this young conservationist was murdered for doing what Daniela and other volunteers do here. The cultural differences are evident of course, but it is still scary and sad to think that people have the guts to commit a crime like this against someone who is only trying to improve a little part of nature and his world.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Things I've Learned About Travel

Anyone that knows me well can tell you that I love my spreadsheets, maps, schedules and rules any day of the year, and traveling for fun or for school are no different. I'm easily flustered and stressed, can't stand being late, and try to squeeze the sponge as hard as I can of stuff I can learn/see/do in any place. I.e. I planned a month vacation for my family last summer and had all museum passes bought two months in advance, train tickets bought the day we arrived in Rome for the rest of the trip, and every hour of the day planned with an activity and weather-permitting alternative in case of any issue.
Exhausting, I know.
Well this trip has taught me the joys of living literally the opposite of the way I always have. I don't know if I'll permanently change, but I've certainly learned and appreciate it. Here are some quick things I've leaned about traveling. Maybe not quite what the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies expected/wanted me to get out of this trip, but I find them pretty valuable!

1. There is value in trust, flexibility and optimism (three things I don't have much of, including in the context of traveling)
2. Meeting locals is the best way to do things authentically, cheaply and just all-around better. I'm never going anywhere else without doing this.
3. Sicily=Nicaragua -> I love this world. People all around Earth share similar values, and may express them similarly or contrastingly. It's so interesting to learn about how history has shaped cultures today in parallel situations.
4. There are always reasons to go back ANYWHERE. Like NYC, in which I discover something new and energizing every time I visit, all of the places I've been fortunate enough to see this summer and during my life in general, have tons of reasons to go back... charm, friends, food, more sites to see, more time to take in beauty, seasonal festivals, etcetera. It's a beautiful world and there will never be enough time to get enough of any place.

Sad goodbyes... or see-you-laters?

     I've never been so sad to leave a place. Honestly. I'm writing this from Lampedusa, where I arrived tonight around 9 after a flight from the Palermo airport. I'm so glad to be back with my younger friends for another week or so, but I already miss the over-50-year-olds I bonded with so well over the last few days. I nearly cried when Franco and Girolamo dropped me off at the airport! Their peculiar sense of humor, being lost in translation, and overwhelming kindness will all be greatly missed - but I hope that this isn't the last I will be seeing of them!
     Regardless of my departure, today was as rich and exciting as the last two! Girolamo is the best tour guide. I now know for sure never to travel anywhere without making it a point to do a homestay, make friends with locals etc. We woke up bright and early for a solid half day of work at the WWF Riserva Saline di Trapani e Paceco (check out the website here). The reserve serves as a bird sanctuary for over 120 species, including fenicotteri (flamingos) and fratticcelli (friar-birds? don't know the translation). It also has some contact with the coast, so has cooperated with the Lampedusa Turtle Group in releases and conservation efforts. This is not your average reserve, though. It kind of reminded me of the Adirondacks case that I studied in Professor John Wargo's class last semester, at least in the economic sense. It was actually a vast expanse of large-scale commercial artificial salt flats. It has been taken over by the WWF because of its significance for bird breeding and feeding, but still has local and corporate salt 'farming' provided compliance with conservation regulations. It's not picturesque (although the windmills are obviously cool!) but has an incredible history!

Salt pans 2,3,4 of a commercial section of the reserve, with Trapani in the background 


     I had several science lessons courtesy of Gerardo Cortellaro, one of the rangers that took me out to do maintenance and surveying while Girolamo took care of administrative business in the main office. I learned about the algae->shrimp->flamingo feeding chain, engineering the transport of sea water from salt pan 1 all the way to 5, harvesting techniques and plants that are salty grazie to osmosis. I got lots of complementary salt as a souvenir. Thanks y'all. Essentially the experience was hugely appreciated by my part because I was able to see a very unique (in my mind) reserve/conservation model, understand some of the work that rangers do, and appreciate local culture and economic history.
     My last Sicilian hurrah was a stop by Erice, a medieval mountaintop village accessible via ski lift from downtown Trapani. Girolamo and his excellent communication skills gave me absolutely no warning. After a pleasant casual lunch of nocciola gelato on brioche, I was literally kicked to the curb at the lift station and told to be back in 3 hours. Okay. SO WORTH THE STRUGGLE. It was quite literally a castle in the clouds. Originally built to be a temple of Venus and known for its lovely collection of Vestal Virgins, the small town was built around a Narnia-like castle above the tree and cloud lines with breathtaking views of turquoise water, the Sicilian countryside, and Trapani (including the WWF reserve!). I wandered around without a map for the first time in my life and was completely happy. An absolute must-see.


Photo courtesy of a man from Togo who plays the drums up here to make money and played Waka Waka by Shakira form me because he thought I was Colombian (I wish)

Absolutely awestruck - view of part of the Spanish addition to the castle and some of Sicily

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Seconda giornata

    I forgot to add the best part about "mainland" Sicily - none of the people I interact with speak English. This is where I'm thankful for having spent so much time on French! Girolamo is also fluent, so grace a dieu I am able to communicate. Une aventure!
     Today was equally as exciting and culturally rich as yesterday! Peppe met us for coffee in Alcamo and revealed that for fun he is also an actor in a local theater company. Color me impressed! He gave me an antique Sicilian playbook to give to my mother, who has (of course) two degrees and a great love for theater.
     Anyways, it is Festa della Repubblica - so patriotism all around. Of course I would be invited to celebrate it by attending an environmental rally in favor of conserving the Bois di Alcamo Madonna delle Alto for future generations! Love my life. We literally casually went to this mountain to see an ancient lookout castle at the top and then Girolamo mentions that he wants me to "dire quelques mots" or say a few words about conservation and its national significance in the USA at a patriotic rally in the middle of the forest. Okay, it went great and the people were so awesome! Sicilians are JUST LIKE NICARAGUANS. Proud, kind, loving, food-obsessed and traditionally wise.

 Girolamo and I being patriotic after my unplanned speech





    So that was just the morning. Next came Segesta. I was almost speechless, which is saying a lot for me. It was an incredible ancient (uncompleted and abandoned) temple (which also interestingly was considered an important historical/cultural landmark by Mussolini and not destroyed) and ampitheater. Bellisimo.


Benvenutti alle ampitetro e tempio di Segesta


Beautiful Sicilian countryside!!

Vineyard with aqueduct-style bridge from Mussolini's rule in the background



     When we got back to the apartment to change for dinner in Palermo with Franco (one of Girolamo's best friends, an economist and absolute sweetheart), I was greeted by my (embarrassing) television interview from the release the day before! Cute... I feel so famous though! I also got a brief spin on a real-life Vespa from the 60s, which Girolamo collects. Audrey Hepburn bucketlist item one checked off - Vespa in Italy! Plus I got a ride in a Fiat500, like one of the old ones, which Girolamo also collects. Good stuff. I got some car history and everything!
Dinner was also lovely - a legitimate margherita pizza with buffalo mozzarella (aka melt-in-your-mouth joy) as well as panelle and sufincini as appetizers! I can't keep describing the food because I'll get hungry, but lets just say that Sicily has a much better and fresher selection of non-fish foods (and fish foods) than Lampedusa.

Fiat Cinquecento and me

Palermo by night!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Prima giornata in Sicilia!

     Today was a wonderful whirlwind of activities!
     The first order of business, after taking the 5 AM flight from Lampedusa to Palermo, was a turtle release with the Lega Navale in Castellamare del Golfo. The Lega Navale is an organization that was explained to me as being similar to a Rotary organization, but it is completely focused on all affairs related to the sea. The particular release we did today was with a group of about 50 middle schoolers to celebrate the end of their sailing and naval education camp. There were many officials present, including the Admiral of the Italian Navy, several high ranking Coast Guard officers, the president of the Lega Navale, and a few administrators from the two Sicilian WWF reserves. Peppe was the students' teacher and the absolute kindest person, and Girolamo Culmone, who would host me for my whirlwind tour of northern Sicily, was also there. He works for the WWF Saline Trapani e Paceco salt flat reserve.
     The release was beautiful and provided me with the most picturesque views of this trip so far (which is hard to believe considering the incredible natural beauty of Lampedusa!). Danny made a wonderful speech about the importance of conserving sea turtles, and how it is an excellent case example of what we, the next generation of leaders, should be doing on a broader scale as well. She also provided a brief anatomy lesson and explained the most urgent anthropogenic effects to deal with in regards to sea turtles and their survival. The military officials were very enthusiastic about cooperating with efforts to better regulate Sicilian fishing boats (a promise often heard and not always acted upon) and encouraging of the cause of conservation. I was offered a summer job for next summer in the environmental education department of the Lega Navale despite my inadequacies with the Italian language, too! Here are some pictures to give an idea of the experience as a whole!

The main event speakers, including Italian officials, the president of the Lega Navale, Daniela Freggi, and the WWF administrators

My favorite view of Italy so far - Castellamare del Golfo from the turquoise Mediterranean!

Il Capitano, Girolamo Culmone (WWF), me and Peppe Stabile (middle school civics teacher) - the best!!

     You think that's exciting, but the day was only half over!! We had an INCREDIBLE lunch courtesy of the Lega Navale at an incredible restaurant, La Cambusa, right next to the Norman castle for which the town was named. The primi piati were huge and diverse, so I got a great taste (punny) of Sicilian gastronomy at its finest! They included squid, octopus, whitefish, tuna, and some veggies - all in interesting forms of skewers, fried, battered, with lime, spices etcetera. The white wine was delightful and a specialty of the region (kill me for not remembering the name...) and the secondi piati were Sicilian style (North African-influenced) fish cous cous and handmade linguine with calamari dyed black with squid ink and topped with toasted cheese. I cannot handle.
   Plus there was a tour of Scopello, which used to be a tuna fish canning and selling factory and fishing town. Peppe taught us about the myths passed down through the years and their relevance to science. For example, people in the Mediterranean (as in, from ancient times) have always said that Tuna see from their left eye because they always swim clockwise. It is indeed due to small imbalances caused by the Coriolis effect of the Earth! Because they swim clockwise, they were easy to catch in the small port of Scopello because of a natural jetty - boats would run a net out from the outcrop and just encircle the tuna, forcing them against the coast and easily catching them. We also learned about the awesome fire signaling system installed by Muslim invaders centuries ago that encircles the Sicilian island along the coast. The entire island could receive the signal within 5 minutes. It is so Lord of the Rings!

Lord of the Rings-resembling fire signal tower on the little rock in the middle of the picture, Scopello

Alcamo! Shortly before I met the mayor... I think I'll just run for governor of Sicily next time I'm here considering the job offers I've gotten.

     Finally, we got a short preview of Alcamo, where Girolamo's old-money-Sicilian family is from and where I would stay for the next few days. Calm and beautiful town, conveniently half an hour from all the cities/sites I'm hoping to visit!



Thursday, May 30, 2013

Goodbye Kaylyn!


     Today was Kaylyn's last day... very bittersweet! Sad for us staying in Lampedusa, but sweet for her - she's on her way to tour Eastern Europe to finish off an incredible semester and summer in Europe. She has done her share of convincing me that I have just GOT to do something like it before I'm done with college. We had our typical cold pasta at the beach, her last Italian gelato, and a great aperitivo. She's not planning on sleeping tonight - we're all going out and helping her pack at 3 AM before she leaves at 5 AM... wish us luck!


  BEST OF LUCK, KAYLYN!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Squirt - first official release!

     Today was my first official sea turtle release! We were aboard a Guardia Costiera boat (which had picked up 80 Algerian immigrants the day before). The reason we had to do this release out at sea was because the turtle of the day was only a year old - too small to just leave on the beach. The boat was incredible and the coast guard were enthusiastic and lively - most of the men were pretty young (the military is probably one of the few stable and non-nepotist jobs available to Italian youth). Luckily, the Center has a great cooperative relationship with the local coast authorities. Seeing little Squirt swim away was one of the best feelings! Such a beautiful experience.
     There was also a BBC documentary filmmaker aboard the boat, filming some of the Guardia Costiera's daily work. He is making a documentary about immigration. On our way back from the release, I was even able to give him a reference to a Danish girl staying in Lampedusa doing her thesis on the phenomena. I hope I helped! Look out for the film, coming in 2014 or 2015!

 The faces of the Coast Guard when they got to hold Squirt were priceless!
 Sad to say goodbye to our cutest turtle, but it was a great day!


The BBC documentary filmmaker that we met downloads about 19 GB of data onto his hard drive every single night... that's a lot of video!   The last goodbye!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Birthdays and websites

Today was my cousin Eloi's and my best friend's birthday. My best friend (Jesse) is, ironically, going to be spending her summer in Nicaragua doing social NGO work, which is close to both of my parents' hearts, and spending time with my family - meanwhile I'm learning about sea turtles and the world of conservation, which is actually her dad's career.
     I am learning to cope with the spotty internet, although it makes it very difficult for me to work on my research, blog and Rescue Center website. Kaylyn is in charge of formatting and sorting through material for the website, and I work on translating, research and editing.
     The boys finished their masterpiece, a kind of boardwalk that goes around all of the tank holding room so that tourists can have a safe look at the turtles instead of the slippery bricks that there were before.

Here are Alessandro and Amedeo, finishing up work

     Finally, Daniela casually suggested a trip to Sicily for me, where she has arranged for me to stay with the director of a WWF reserve, assist in a turtle release, and explore another part of Italy. I am more than excited!! She has the best connections and is the absolute sweetest host for doing this for me - I did not expect my trip to turn out like this.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Linosa

We chose today to go to Linosa, a nearby volcanic island, because of the comparatively decent weather. As everything in this region, the ferry is highly dependent on the wind. Despite being reassured, the way there was essentially hell with 3 meter plus waves. It was like a less sturdy version of a roller coaster.
Dark sand beaches and rising sea temperatures means more male hatchlings from Linosa!

The island itself was very beautiful - completely different from Lampedusa except for the presence of cacti. The soil was black and there were many more types of plants because of the volcanic nutrients. It is only 6 square kilometers, even smaller than where I'm staying! The first inhabitants came about 170 years ago, and the entire island has only 10 surnames (I'm not being facetious when I say the population has undergone some slight genetic drift). Visually, the island looked like Latin America - the climate the vegetation, the houses, etc. We hiked around the crater of a dormant volcano (the name of which I don't know, but it was something like the Italian equivalent of "Mount Hill") and enjoyed sandwiches courtesy of the self-proclaimed "Panino Queen," Giulia.

The outside of the turtle rescue center - the interior was burned, but luckily there were no turtles or people inside that night.

We briefly visited the WWF-run turtle rescue center that had been burned down a week before, and of course had to pretend we were tourists and in no way affiliated with the cause, since local sentiments are not exactly welcoming (not sure why, though, as Linosa doesn't really have a prominent fishing population - perhaps it is cultural or superstitious).

Beautiful hikes up the volcanoes!

We were desperate for water by 15:00 but as we arrived in the tiny port town, we were notified by some local drunks that nothing is ever open between 13:00 and 17:00. We waited until then in the shade of a hotel, but we were out of luck - there was a funeral that day that apparently required the attendance of everyone on the island, including shopowners. The pharmacy was open for emergencies, so we checked it out and found a psychotic pharmacist that told us we would have dreams about dolphins if we bought her seasickness medicine. We survived, though, and the return ferry was fortunately pleasant.
Finally we had an aperitivo (caipirinha for me!) with Daniela to quench our thirst and hunger. There were so many delicious snacks, including panelle (chick pea patties - fried) and sufincino (cheese-less pizza with onions and anchovies - so not really pizza, but still delicious!).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Turtle guts


     After a day’s delay, we performed the autopsy on a sea turtle that passed away last November. Disgustingly, the only preservation it underwent was an industrial food freezer. This was probably the smelliest thing I have ever smelled. It was well worth it, though. I learned a lot, and it was so interesting to see in real a lot of the anatomical features that I learned about in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.    Here is a quick recap of the morning:
  •        Turtle aesophagus is specially designed to not allow regurgitation of live prey and to prevent stinging from cnidarian, one of its main food sources.
  •        Fibrin ‘scar’ tissue is not a good thing to find in and around wounds. It stops actual cicatrization from happening. Sadly, we found an abundance of it in this turtle, around incisions and inside the intestines in huge chunks
  •         This turtle had been found with a hook in its mouth, and the entire digestive track contained a line that exited from the anus
  •        There is a special veterinary technique used in turtle surgery that was developed here in Lampedusa by scientists from the University of Bari. It consists of making incisions on the pectoral side near the line between the flippers and the plastrone to temporarily remove the digestive tract from the inside of the turtle. Thus examinations and procedures can be done on the insides of the turtle without having to completely disrupt the fragile and slower-healing plastrone.
  •        The aforementioned procedure was successful in removing the line in this turtle, but because of a few vital mistakes, and the preexisting weakness of this starved turtle, the specimen died within a few months of the surgery.
  •      The turtle had been found with many infections and was suffering from malnutrition, as the fishing line was obstructing digestion and disabling consumption.
  •        The surgical procedure was carried out indelicately and seems to have broken or at least nicked part of the lower left kidney
  •        There was very little, if any, actual healing of any of the incisions or injuries that the turtle suffered, probably because of its depleted immune system and malnutrition
  •        Blood was found inside the digestive tract, suggesting an ulcer or incomplete/incorrect healing of the problems that had been found in the digestive tract
  •       The immediate cause of death was determined by opening the trachea. In this case, the turtle died from asphyxiation. The foam inside shows the presence of seawater in the respiratory tract. The turtle was likely weakened to the point of not being able to surface for air.


Also interestingly, in loggerhead turtles, unless the turtle is over about 30 years of age, the only anatomical difference between sexes is the presence of testicles or eggs. These are only found inside. There is almost no way to tell sexes apart besides dissection because hormones are unstable and constantly changing in both sexes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Different realities

     Tonight we went out (more than just getting a drink at a lazy bar) for the first time. We went to Janys’ house, which is actually a large residence. It is actually gorgeous and has a beautiful patio, which he took advantage of and hosted a small party before the first tourists arrived. At this point it seems like there is no one on the island, but apparently the first few days of June are a quick transformation, making Lampedusa a wonderful travel destination. I’m not that into the ‘going out’ scene here, although the people are very nice, there is not much to talk about. First of all is the language barrier (thank goodness I had Kaylyn with me), and second of all we don’t relate in any way. The other volunteers and I have much to talk about because we’re obviously interested in a similar cause and have similar, or at least compatible interests. The majority of the people I’ve met besides them, though, never made it past high school and are only concerned with making money off of tourism in whatever way is easiest to them.
     This, according to Daniela and many of the older or more concerned residents of Lampedusa, is the sad reality. The future looks stark based on the attitudes and lack of willingness to learn of today’s youth.
     We also met Anna, a spunky and friendly girl from rural Britain today. She is just the sweetest thing, and is au pairing with a family here. She comes back every summer to do this, and has turned down her place at uni for neurosciences to do so. For me, it’s unbelievable. But seeing her so happy and in her element makes me realize the importance of that annoying, yet maybe true phrase: “you do you”.