Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well time is flying here in Rome and I have experienced many amazing things. I am happy to say that my cooking has improved due to the helpful instruction of Rosa, our beautiful Italian cook who has been teaching us once a week. So far I have learnt how to make rissotto (we made it with fresh pumpkin which was really tasty), pasta frolla (a cake with layers of apple and marmalade...soooo good, I just hope I can repeat this again), a meat roll with vegetables inside, and basic pasta recipes.
I am also learning to play guitar from Sr. Sandra every friday which is really great because having a teacher keeps you focused and makes you want to learn more. I am slowly learning the chords and trying to strum and sing at the same time, hahaha, this is pretty hilarious because I don't have the greatest rhythm. My French is coming along as well, I feel more confident speaking which is great. I also have discovered that next to the French church near Piazza Navona there is a French library where you can go and study, listen to French tapes and read. They also have a French cinema which I hope to go to before I leave.
I am starting to feel comfortable here in Rome and my Italian is getting a little better. I don't think I have mentioned about our monday night service at Caritas International yet. is quite an experience! Caritas serves meals to the homeless people of Rome every night right next to the main train station in a hall. They serve 500 people every night so it is a really busy place. When we go there on mondays we usually sign people's names in or hand them their trays and of course try to greet them and talk a bit. My vocabulary is limited to: buona serra, buon appetito, ciao, grazie, come es ti (not sure how to spell). The other day I actually was able to say: Ho voglio imparare Italiano (I want to learn Italian...I think the spelling is off too). I would like to paint a picture of the type of people we encounter here:
First there are the people who just want to talk to someone and babble away in Italian to me, and I just stand and smile and that's it. It's pretty funny because sometimes they will talk to me for a full minute without realizing that I have no clue what they just told me. I don't think they even care really if I understand them, they just want to talk to anyone who is willing to lsiten. Then there are the bubbly men who want to know where you're from and try to practice their English with you. Of course they start off with "Ciao Bella!" This is a very frequent phrase here in Italy. There are many Africans that come every night and their eyes are always staring at you, it makes me feel really uncomfortable and awkward. It's as though they've never seen someone with blonde hair or something. I guess I had better get used to this. Then you get the 70 year old Italian men who are gruff, rude and don't say thank you to you at all. You can see on their worn faces that they have lived a rough life. Then there are a few of my favourite characters here at Caritas: the old man who comes wearing pjamas, a cigarette behind his ear and babbles to himself constantly; the comedian with wiry greyish hair who every time gives you his ticket and then jokingly grabs it back and laughs every time...apparently this doesn't grow old...he has this twinkle in his eye that you tell he is thinking of some funny joke or antic in his mind, he makes me laugh; the old man who EVERY TIME gives his ticket and then continues to grab someones tray and cheat the line followed by roars of anger; my favourite is this lady from Ukraine named Lydia. We speak in broken Italian together and smile and ask how each of us are. She is so beautiful and sweet. I wish I could speak more Italian so I could connect with her more; and lastly an interesting character is this red haired young guy from Romania who comes in every time fiddling with a plastercine figurine of the devil. One night he came up to me when he was leaving and gave me a figurine of a Spartan as a gift for me, hahah. We then spoke French together and when he found out that I come only on mondays, he proceeded to say that he looks forward to every monday...hahaha, yep, there definitely are some interesting people here. It's a great experience to see what the other side of Rome is: the poor, the rejected, the lonely, the homeless who live in this beautiful city and struggle every day to just live and survive.
I have also gotten to know the community of people who go to the International Youth Centre which was started by Pope John Paul II. The chapel next to the Centre has the World Youth Day Cross which was really cool to see. There are young people from all over the world and they gather after mass where people are speaking in at least 3 different languages. I hope to get to know the community of young people here more as I still have 4 more weeks here in Rome.

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