Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, Sicilian Style

It seems like every tour we’ve been on has had its own version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Sicily is no exception.  In Modica, we careened through the narrow streets in vintage fiats.  No seat belts or other sissy stuff in these cars.  It’s just you,  your driver, and two other passengers sandwiched into these tiny vehicles.  I was wondering whether Mike would be able to get into one of these, and if he did, would he ever be able to get back OUT?

Okay, so now we know the answer to the first half of the question!

I was also glad to see that Jesus was riding along with Mike. In fact, it looks like he’s sitting in Mike’s lap.  Jesus’ name was undoubtedly invoked multiple times during our race through the alleys that the locals mistakenly think of as streets.

A few weeks ago, someone on the OAT forum asked whether WE would be able to drive a Fiat 5000.   After looking at the clearance on either side of the cars, you’ll have your answer.   Unless you have  a death wish, you wouldn’t WANT to!  The streets of Modica are ridiculously narrow, with blind corners, sharp turns, and steep hills.   I was very grateful to have an experienced local behind the wheel.

You definitely had to be there, but these photos will give you an inkling of what it was like!

Being by far the largest woman in the group, I decided to ride with smaller companions.  That scored me a front seat, from which I took those photos.

Here we are: Sue, our driver, me and Ann, still smiling after our ride ended.

The intrepid travelers assembled on the steps of one of Modica’s many churches for a group photo.

The views from the cathedral area were breath taking!

We ended our evening with a visit to a chocolate shop (yes, I made purchases, which could possibly become prizes. My sisters, nieces and cousins know what THAT means!).  As usual, we had an amazing dinner.  As usual, there was far more food than I could possibly eat.

A special treat was an unexpected visit to the local community band’s practice session.  We could hear them from the street, so Daniel (our wonderful guide) got permission for us to go inside.  Check out that young boy.  He was an AMAZING drummer.

They very nicely played John Phillip Souza’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” just for us!  What a wonderful memory.

Mazara, Sicily

What an incredible stay we had at Agriturismo Berlinger, a beautiful resort about 45 minutes from Mazara.  As usual, the breakfasts and two dinners we enjoyed here featured all of the farm’s products.  

Some of the group took advantage of the beautiful pool, but I wasn’t about to risk it with my cold.  I was just content to wander around the property, enjoying being in the middle of a vineyard! 

Our two days in Mazara were very active, starting with a guided tour through the kasbah, home to the city’s Tunisian community.  

It didn’t take long for us to notice the beautiful ceramics scattered throughout–vases, tiles, wall plaques.  Oznee, our 18 year old Tunisian guide, told us the mayor of Mazara, an artist, sponsored this ceramic extravaganza.

The kasbah is a labyrinth, intentionally designed to confuse the enemy.  What looks like a straight path ends up being a dead end trap, where the invaders could be set upon by the home team.   

Before our tour concluded, we met Oznee’s grandmother, who emigrated here from Tunisia with her husband and six children.  Oznee’s parents divorced, leaving him with his grandmother when he was 11.  Since then he has been working, recently supporting himself by giving these tours.  

The town is rightfully proud of its treasure,  the “Dancing Satyr,” a Greek bronze statue discovered by local fishermen in 1998.  The statue is displayed in the former medival church of San Francesco, now repurposed as a museum.  

Here’s a closer look:

After we left the museum, we were treated to several wonderful surprises.  

First we met the mayor, looking very much like the artist he is.  

The gentleman in the background, to the left, wearing jeans, is Antonio, who took us to the restored Garibaldi museum where he serenaded us with “Volare” and “New York, New York”.   (He was magnificent!) 

Finally, we met Captain Ciccio, whose fishing crew pulled up  the satyr’s leg in their fishing net. They kept returning to the area in the hope that they would find the rest of him. 

The captain told us that after they snagged this 6 foot statue, the crew gathered round, ridiculing the small size of his “joystick”. Suddenly the statue spoke to them, and this is what he said. “I’d like to see what YOURS would look like after being underwater for 2,000 years!”

So what did the captain get for discovering this priceless treasure?  

Well, in addition to bragging rights and the satisfaction of doing something wonderful for his community, he was given sufficient money to marry off his three daughters.  To him, the satyr is the son he never had!  

We ended our day with a cooking class at a local restaurant.  Our group divided into 4 teams,  with each team contributing one dish.  We had a bread ball appetizer, a wonderful baked eggplant dish, tomato pesto with home made pasta, and a delicious variation on tiramasu.  It was the perfect ending for a great first day in Mazara.  

You Call This Work?

I am recovering from my cold, so I thought I’d reblog my post from 2 years ago. It accurately describes our work assignment here in Queretaro, but the photos are of the 2015 team. 

Destination NOW

So, what EXACTLY do Global Volunteers do in Querétaro, Mexico? As with all other GV projects, the volunteers do whatever our host asks us to do. And boy oh boy, are we well utilized here!

Five out of our group of eleven volunteers Five out of our group of eleven volunteers At the Universidad Tecnológica de Querétaro (UTEQ), we spend four to five hours a day talking with highly motivated, enthusiastic students. Our schedule varies from day to day, to ensure that the early morning and late afternoon students also get an opportunity to interact with us. For example, on Tuesdays, we catch our cab for UTEQ at 7:20 AM for an 8 AM class and are finished teaching at noon. On Wednesday, we start teaching at 5:00 PM and are done at 9:00 PM. On the remaining days, our start times range from 9 AM to 12 PM. I’m here to tell Ya–I have even more respect…

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