It was cold and raining when we arrived in Milano a week ago. Taking the EasyJet plane from Milano to Olbia, filled with kids of all ages, wide-eyed smiling mothers and understanding fathers, and seated next to two blonde girls in their late teens or early twenties dressed in tank tops and low-hanging jeans who were all smiles to my daughter and helping her out with her seat belt and sandals, it was such a drastic change from the Filipino-filled Etihad plane from Manila to Abu Dhabi, and the mixture of Italians dressed in casual and business attires from Abu Dhabi to Milano. I watched my daughter stay up the first three hours enjoying the television and movies on the Etihad plane to just sleeping through all the connecting flights.
From El Nido to Manila to Abu Dhabi to Milan and to Olbia, we took a total of four planes, and in the van from the Olbia airport to our home in Villagio Porto Coda Cavallo, rolling through the sunny, bush-filled hills and plains of Sardegna, I was thinking to my little girl self, “In this big, big world, how did I manage to get found? I have come sooo…. far.”
The first week was spent getting to know the immediate areas and the people in them – the bar in the piazzetta where Lia and I take my daily dose of macchiato and her gelatto, the beaches of Salina Bamba, just in front of our home, and Giardanchini, a mere fifteen minutes walk from our village through grazing fields and hills; the dive shop, market, pharmacy, and boutique. I spend the mornings saying “Boungiorno” to the garden keepers who water the lawn and trim the flowering plants, while watching the various birds hop about from bush to bush and tree to tree, and gazing at the sea. We have been to San Teodoro and Olbia more times than I cared to count because I craved for sweets and we needed supplies – groceries, medicines, supplies for Lia’s home schooling, slippers, beach and sand toys, and a new smartphone because apparently, my roaming bill is now approximately Php25,000.
We have been to Punta Est to dine at an expense of 90 euros and Punta Tavolara at the expense of 95, and yesterday, I was at the mall called Auchan where I could not, for the life of me, be taken to the regular Italian snack bar and insisted on eating at McDonalds, because the food is familiar, and comforting, and I wanted a Big Mac and Lia, french fries (large-sized which she devoured in 5 minutes or less), for the price of about 12 euros, which in the current conversion is Php700. Gaah.
I search in vain for guide books in English and cannot stop hitting myself in the head because I balked at the buying the Learning Italian book and CD at Fully Booked in BGC. I thought I could simply learn Italian by being in Italy. I can be so stupid sometimes. Though, after a week, it is with great pride that I can now say my Italian is better than my French. I deeply regret that I was with such a degree of hesitation in coming here that I failed at anticipation. I could have prepared better by buying supplies like medicines, crayons, pencils, toys, and all the Lonely Planet guide books and maps I could get my hands on in the Philippines – where everything is, without a doubt, cheap. And in English.
The little town of San Teodoro is beautiful, with its narrow streets, and pretty stores — but where the f*** is the bookstore. Maybe I just order from Amazon and have it shipped to here.
The little towns and the views are pretty but there is no public transportation. I like being able to go around on my own and it has been a great source of frustration that it is not common knowledge that there is a public bus, with its schedule even more of a myth than actual reality, that is accessible from the main road, which is 4-kilometers from our home.
The mornings I spend cleaning house, homeschooling Lia, doing a bit of laundry, hanging at the beach, and standing by the sink and through the kitchen window, watching the dive boat go out; whereas the afternoons are always spontaneous, depending on the weather and the work load of my designated driver and tour guide. I could even spend hours doing things like meditation and yoga, or putting on make-up, if you know what I mean. (If you don’t, my apologies).
Even more apologies to all the guests of Outventure and The Last Beach Cottages traveling these months of July, August, and September, as I have been amiss at [speedy] responses. It took us a week to adjust our body clocks and deal with connectivity issues. I have moved from one remote island in the Philippines to another island in Italy and believe me when I say that my frustration over the internet has gone to such levels that I wanted to be on the next plane back.
I take my camera with me everywhere I go even if I take so few photos these past months that I can no longer properly call myself a photographer because supposedly, everything is picturesque. I deal with people staring at me in the malls and supermarkets, because I look different, or more specifically, Asian. I have been told they stare at me because they could not resist doing so at such a beautiful creature but of course I can only hope that it is even remotely close to the truth. A few days ago, Lia and I were taking the long walk from Salina Bimba back to our home when we met a Filipina pushing a baby stroller who said to me, “This is the first time I have seen another Filipina here!” and of course to me, that came as a shock. But what?! I thought there is no place in this world where there is no Filipino! Filipinos are everywhere! I should have taken her number so we could schedule beach trips together.
When we go out on our own and we go to a snack bar, I almost always say, “Do you speak English?” and you cannot imagine my sigh of relief when I get an “A little bit” for a response. Hooray! I will get something I actually ordered! [Fireworks].
I eat three cups of rice swimming in sabaw in the Philippines. I get so sad here during meal times. In my head I am almost always screaming, “No I do not want a panini! No I do not want a grissini! No I do not want anymore pasta… I want rice!!! No, not risotto! Rice! Riceeee! Rice!!” and then I go and say, “Si, bread and cheese please, grazie.”
*Photos were taken from Facebook… and FourSquare check-ins… or what is now known as Swarm. (Gah, I hate this new app. Bring back FourSquare please.)