Bari, 37°C. Christmas songs.

September 2, 2007

So 2 days ago, we went to Bari. 37°C, it felt like 47. We walk along the major shopping street and what do we hear? Jingle Bells! We turn around and who do we see? No, not Santa Claus. But a guy, long black hair, in his late 20s, yellow T-shirt, playing on his electric guitar. Jingle bells. We turn around again, looking at each other but must admit that the song strangely fits the atmosphere. So we walk on, and when we reach the next corner, he changes song. Now it’s Happy Christmas. Maybe, we think, he likes Christmas. More than summer.


September 2, 2007

Ikea always makes me sad. I’d go inside with all the best intentions of just looking, then come out with a big bag of stuff. But that’s not the depressing thing. What’s depressing is that it shows you that in theory you could be living (alone) in a very nice place with you own furniture. Without stupid housemates who don’t centre the WC, who walk over the freshly cleaned – and still wet – floor, who eat what you buy – and pay – , who slam the door at 4 a.m. when they come back home and who ask you to cook for them when they wake up at 3 p.m. It shows you what could be possible. The nicely arranged little spaces, with the cutlery parallel to the plates, waiting for you to sit down and have dinner with all your Friends-style friends. Or the bedrooms, which invite you to lay down and in the morning wake up in a perfect world.

Or the living rooms with the cosy armchairs, who seem to be calling you. Sit down. Watch a movie.

If the sight of all these arrangements doesn’t depress you, then it’s definitely the couples, pregnant or not. It makes you want to marry tomorrow, make a baby and let your husband buy you a large empty house that you can fill with Ikea furniture. (In my case, all of this is obviously not possible. I live in Rome. Etc. etc.)

When you’ve paid and stepped out of the store (call it a store…), you see that it’s already dark outside. And you’ve made it once more. You survived Ikea. But you’d come back the next day.

Films for free

September 2, 2007

In Grumo Appula, where Emanuele comes from (the geographers amongst you might want to look it up in an atlas, but I’m not sure if you’ll find it. Very small.) there is not much to do. So when the weather is not that good or we’re tired doing the same (and only) walk at night in the “villa” – which somebody might dare call “centre” – we would rent movies. From a guy who was been in jail for renting illegal movies. In fact, two years ago, we saw all these films in the distributor which were still running in the cinemas. But now he’s free and rents out movies again. And in August, he rented them out for free. This might all not sound very exciting. But if you should ever come to Grumo Appula, you’d understand very quickly why the video store here is a fundamental entertainment institution. And watching movies for free allows you to watch all the stupid films you’d never pay for. Like Borat.

The Lake

September 2, 2007

So I haven’t been posting in such a long time…. And it’s already September…


I left Rome the end of July. To go to the lake.

Lago di Garda is a very beautiful place and since we’ve got a house close to the lake, I’ve been returning every summer for four years now. There’s always something new to do. And the best thing is that if you don’t want to do anything, you just don’t do anything.

Beautiful mountains, cloudy weather, an Iguacu-puzzle, translations from early morning till late evening between Roberto and Emanuele, always fresh vegetables in front of the door by people who know my aunt, super supermarkets, sun, waves, La Bohème at the Areana di Verona, awful gold rings, ice cream, books books books.

All in all: very nice but too short. As always.

47 degrees

June 28, 2007


Italy is a nice place. Rome is a nice place. In the summer, in Rome it gets pretty hot. Until yesterday, it was 36 degrees (In Bari, where Emanuele comes from, it was a chilly 47 (forty-seven) degrees). This is not even nice if you can go to the beach – which I cannot at the moment. These temperatures mean that we have to sleep with the window open. This in turn means I am not sleeping. One reason are the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes like me. Or maybe they simply prefer me when they have the choice between my boyfriend who has a lot of hair on his legs and me, smooth and hairless. I agree that it is more complicated to work oneself through a layer of fur. Apart from the mosquitoes, there are the nightly Roman noises. Of bottle banks being emptied. At 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and 3.30 a.m. Of crazy bus drivers who drive like crazy in order to finish their shift. Of other crazy drivers of all kinds of motorised vehicles. Of people shouting. Of dogs barking. I have not slept for one hour in a row for days.

But today, we bought… BENGAL! A vaporiser against mosquitoes. The solution of my sleepless nights *sssssss”. Oh well, but the window will still be open.

(For those who wonder if we have repaired the shutter: we haven’t. Because now, it is really broken, and serious mason work needs to be done).

I didn’t write anything during the whole month of May. That’s because nothing really happened (apart my one-week travel to Germany). I spend my days at the computer, trying to write my thesis. For a while, I did this in semidarkness, as our shutter was broken. Then somebody came to fix it, and for one week I saw the outside worl again. This morning, however, it broke again (at least this time it was not my fault). Which means that I am sitting in the semidark AGAIN.

Anyways. So nothing happened in my life for several weeks (oh we sang for the Pope and all is staff in a beautiful place behind San Pietro… But maybe you don’t want to hear about my Pope stories anymore…). So nothing happened – until Bush came to Rome on Friday night. And on Saturday, late afternoon, I had the very, VERY stupid idea to go to the centre to buy a dvd and a book at Feltrinelli, Largo Argentina. Firts, I had to walk half of the way, as the buses did not enter the centre. Fine. So I walked. Not straight, as there were police blocks EVERYWHERE. 10,000 policemen, and I think I have seen them all. So what usually would have taken me 1 1/4 hours, took me 3. Fine again. If on my way back to the bus stopp I wouldn’t have found myself between the police behind me and the protesters in front of me who decided to start running towards each other just then. A girl dressed up as a clown (don’t ask) and me, we jumped between two columns of the building next to us, hoping that we would look innocent and not be beaten up (like a guy only 10 metres away from us). If we had run away, we would’ve been suspicious (maybe me less than the clown next to me). Anyways, when the police on our left stopped running, we took the change and ran across the street in a safe (?) little vicolo. My heart has never beaten so fast (apart maybe that day on Lago Atitlan when I thought the crazy boat driver would kill us).

An old lady told the policemen that Bush should not come to Rome again, given the chaos that he causes. I totally agree.


April 30, 2007

I’ve been back to Rome for almost two weeks now, enjoying electricity and (hot) water 24hrs/day, I go out without calling a taxi (it feels as if I am re-discovering my legs…), I take public transport, I eat yummie Italian food, and the best thing is that while I do all this, I get absolutely no attention by anybody!

For the rest, I try to put together the results and data I collected while in Kenya, trying to slowly put together something like a thesis… This is not so easy, as it’s getting warmer each day here in Rome… spring… It’s hard to resist the temptation of going out for a walk…

On some days, I work busily, on others I stare out of the window into the blue sky, I write a lot of emails, I clean the bathroom, then the bedroom, I give water to my plants, I make coffee, I think about things, then I make another coffee. Or a tea just for a change. All this I do in my pyjamas.


Today is no exception. Apart from the rain.


Breakfast with elephants

April 23, 2007

Masai Mara is a beautiful place. It feels all the time like being in a National Geographic documentary.


Sleeping lions, fucking buffaloes and waiting crocodiles. Baboons eating, cheetahs dozing, giraffes posing, zebras staring, hippos bathing. Pumbas (here they call them Kenya Express) running.


And inbetween: us. That is Peio (Mr. Pellllo) from Spain (on duty travel), a Kenyan family (on vacation) and me. Plus two drivers, who, when they leave the car, take their large gun with them. Just in case.


So this morning we got up at 5 a.m. and started out game ride (for those who are as ignorant as I was until some weeks ago: game has nothing to do with playing. Games are the wild animals here). In the early morning hours, the animals are very active. The heat during the day makes you understand why many of them sleep during the day. Nothing else. They just sleep.


At 10 a.m., we stopped at the air strip (call it airport…) (deserted) to eat breakfast (packed). This scene might not seem too interesting if we had not been surrounded by groups of elephants which, in the not-so-far distance, were acting as if nothing was happening.


Breakfast with elephants. It makes Europeans VERY happy to have breakfast with wild animals. Some Africans don’t understand this, but it’s true.


Torn between swimming in the pool, reading my book or sleeping in the sun, my last weekend in Kenya is without any doubt the nicest of all.


April 12, 2007


So I spent the last 6 weeks in Kenya. Doing research for my thesis. Meeting a lot of interesting people. Touching a cheetah. Eating ugali. Drinking fresh mango juice almost every day. Moving in taxis. Unfortunately not learning Kiswaheli. Waiting for the rains. Doing interviews with farmers. Driving with a pick-up through meter-deep holes. Spending my 25th birthday at a beach on the Indian Ocean. Seeing zebras standing on the road side. Having little kids shouting “A muzungu!! How are you?!” when they see me. Matatus. Nakumatt. Avocados falling on the road in front of me, while I walk under a tree. Seeing the crazy contrasts in Nairobi, from an HIV/AIDS orphanage in Kibera slum to the posh villas in Karen and Westlands. Showering without a shower, by boiling water in the water boiler in the kitchen. Tee with milk. And sugar.


It was a very interesting experience that I don’t want to miss.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to go back to Rome. But at the end of a trip it’s always like that, isn’t it? The nearer the return home comes, the more one gets excited about it, no matter how long he could have stayed where he is.


But before I leave the country, I will go to Masai Mara on the weekend. Alone. Like in the old times =)


Last Days

March 1, 2007

Last Days are alsways sad. I don’t like Last Days, whether they are my Last Days or other’s Last Days. Today was my Last Day. Of the internship at FAO. Strange to realise that from tomorrow on, I will not wake up and take the metro A and then the B to go to Circo Massimo, see my colleagues and enjoy the view from the terrace over the city.

I came when it was warm and we ate outside, then the season changed, and it got crowded inside. Then came Christmas, it got cold, the new year came, everybody was back. Now it’s getting warmer again, but I will not eat outside on the terrace.

Strange also to think that people will change, that not everything will go on like it is now forever. But in my head, people and things will stil go on being as I left them today. It’s like when I left Marburg. In my head, things haven’t changed (though everybody is finishing, like I am, and some people have moved).

Sad sad, and I hate saying good bye. Getting attached to people and places is nice. On the one hand. On the other, when you leave, you wish people would have been less nice. Just for a second. Then you remember all the good days and you’re glad you had the chance to do what you’ve done.

Good bye internship. Hello future.