Warm, sweaty, and delicious

As you all know by now, we’re in Italy. Besides the fact that it’s very warm and also very sweaty, there’s also some more to it. They’re of course very well-known for the food they make in this country, and Italy being Italy, it’s gonna be pizza or pasta. Pizza we had yesterday, and I thought it was alright. The Italian friend we are spending the week with seemed unimpressed. Nothing to write home about.

Today was different.

Today we wanted to change our standard ritual a bit, and do some stuff besides being in the heat. We decided to go for lunch in a nice local restaurant, which was next to some Etruscan ruins. Now, don’t ask me what an Etruscan is. Probably the ancestral Tuscan. Whatever. We saw the ruins from a distance, and decided that we were too cheap to go in (in our defense: the price was really pretty steep). We did order lots of nice options off the menu at the local restaurant, and it was amazing. We’re right on the coast, so obviously we expected seafood. We rarely eat seafood these days, so when we do, we take it as a real treat. Fir starters, we had fried anchovies with a perfect coat of thin crispy batter, accompanied by the best grilled octopus I’ve had. The meat was so soft and tender, and the saffron legume cream only made it better, For mains we shared bacala with tomatoes. This sounds simple, but the sauce was herby and delicious, and the cod was soft and melted in our mouths. We also had the ink pasta with shrimp. Maybe it’s just some hype hipster shit, but tombe honest, I couldn’t give a damn. The taste was perfect. All of it was fucking amazing. Even the memory of it tastes good! My son had the simplest spaghetti, and even that was absolutely delicious. It also looked amazing, but as is the trend these days, I forgot to take pictures of the food. They would’ve made excellent Instagram bangers though, and they would’ve most certainly spiced up today’s blog. Sorry for being so lame. I’m just trying to give your imagination some space to go all out…

I did take a colorful picture during breakfast this morning, which wasn’t as delicious, but at least had the same excellent company!

Warm and sweaty (and what’s tickling there?)

You guessed it right. Today was bloody warm, and extremely sweaty. Due to the exorbitant amounts of sunscreen I put on me today, I still feel like baby buttocks, and any crisp that was present after yesterday completely disappeared overnight.

Today was just so warm. The kind of warm that makes you not want to do anything. (I need this, otherwise I’ll never rest.) And so we sat under our pine trees again, and did absolutely nothing.

I guess the ants liked the smell of sunscreen, because the bloody critters were all over me. Luckily these ants didn’t sting. They only bit.

It was different during dinner, where we were accompanied by a different kind of ant, harvester ants, that suddenly came out by the millions. They had set their minds on harvesting our pizza. Our entire pitch was covered in ants. They’re everywhere. Luckily, harvesters also don’t sting (I think), and despite the impressive mandibles on the soldiers, they don’t seem to be too eager to bite either.

So there’s that. We did nothing. Then ants came. Here’s a picture I took from our roof, because I obviously didn’t take pictures today. I may try tomorrow!

Sorry for this useless picture.

Warm and sweaty (and slightly crispy)

What can I say. The title says it all. Italy hit 36 degrees today. That counts as warm in my book. It’s hot as balls here. And that, yes, makes me very sweaty. Despite hiding under thick Mediterranean pine canopy all day, and wearing my t shirt most of the day, I feel somewhat burnt as well. My white boii skin is just shit for these conditions. My arms and face are tanned from working the field and all, but the moment I expose my milky white flesh shirt to sun, it’s like ‘wtf are you doing buddy?’ I know I know. Even more sunscreen tomorrow. I will, I promise. I also promised my wife.

By the way, if you were thinking of abandoning ship, and we’re already considering looking for better blogs: there’s no better time than now. Most blogs at this point will be better quality than mine, at least this week, and I can promise that this is what it will be like this week or two. It’s going to be just warm and sweaty and slightly boring stuff. I’ll try to spare you on warm and sweaty details, but no guarantees there either. Also: I know I promised pictures and stuff, but honestly, I didn’t even bring my phone today… Forgive me. Some day I’ll be better.

This is a horrible shot I just took from my camper window… The blog may suck a bit for a while, but it’s still written with love for you all.

Relax (and warm and sweaty)

I have the feeling that the title of all my posts the next few weeks could be ‘warm and sweaty’, but I already wrote one post before with that title a while ago. I don’t have the faintest memory of what that post was about. You can read it here and let me know in the comments. I was probably camping in a warm and sweaty place then, just like we are today.

We were on the beach all day. We bought two umbrellas from a Senegalese vendor, and it was a great mutualism. The umbrellas made us very happy, and the steep price, I think, made him feel fantastic. A good deal.

For a change, I didn’t bring my phone anywhere today. For the first time in 2.5 years I haven’t checked my email the whole day, and I’m planning on making it through the day without doing so. It’s a nasty habit that makes relaxing very tough. So far the day has been relaxed, and warm and sweaty.

Eating nice food with nice people. Life ain’t bad.

Seven days

I’m not sure if it is because I stop more often to drink coffee, or for other reasons, but driving times in Italy always take about twice as long as indicated by Google Maps. Despite taking long to do so, we reached the Italian coast close to Piombino, where we met our friends. Luckily, they are Mediterranean folks, so we arrived comparatively early.

We swam in the sea, found a shabby cantina that served excellent panini that filled us for dinner, and I think I managed to knock the kids out despite the blistering heat. The coming week we’ll spend here in one place. We have never camped in one spot for this long. I think this is an excellent place and time to shut down the mind.

Lara quite enjoys the Italian sun and heat

This is the most beautiful place he’s ever been…

Here we are, parked in the empty parking lot of a Tuscan motocross club. No motorcycle in sight. Yet, my son has already declared it the most beautiful parking lot he’s ever been. He’s – and I quote – “so very happy that we can sleep here”. I don’t see what it’s all about. It’s grass, next to a circuit we can barely see. The road is rather noisy, but nothing extreme. It’s free. We can’t complain.

As I’m writing this, I am wondering why I even take the effort. The signal here is non-existent. Nothing. I can certainly not upload this post today. Writing blogs always already feels a bit like who the fuck are you talking to?? I can tell you, that feeling is stronger if you write knowing that today’s audience will not be there. Maybe, hopefully, they will be patient enough to wait for tomorrow to read this one? They will get a double post as a reward. I might even add a picture to tomorrow’s post! You’re all gonna be spoiled and extra lucky. Until then, you’ll have to do with nothing for now, then this sloppy post whenever it uploads tomorrow, and then perhaps a good one.


A pleasant surprise

It’s always interesting to just drive to an unknown location when it’s after dark. Often you really have no clue where you end up. Many of the more remote locations are poorly lit, seeing where you park is limited to exactly the place where you park. Surroundings are for imagination. Yesterday was a bit like that. We found an official RV lot, and we knew it was in the Central Alps. What does that mean?

A pleasant surprise

It was alright waking up to this. The other side of the van bordered a nice Alpine flower meadow. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It doesn’t mean I slept well. I developed a strange feeling in my abdomen and legs while driving yesterday. I figured it was the result of being a bit bloated and not drinking enough water (I forget…). I also was completely eaten alive yesterday by horse flies while doing field work yesterday mornint. My legs hurt and turned numb. The combination was very strange. Sitting in the driver’s seat was just very uncomfortable. I figured it would disappear with some good rest. The night, however, was horrible. My legs were so restless, and my gut just felt strange. As if everything below my belly button was waking up from some drug. I could barely sleep. I rolled, twisted and turned, and rolled some more. By the time that it was getting lighter, I discovered a certain stretch that alleviated the leg pain, and I finally fell asleep. I woke up feeling fine. The leg pain was 90% gone. The gut still felt weird, but no longer that weird. It might be a bit of a covid afterburn? I’m not sure. I’m still not back to my old fit level.

Later this morning we continued our drive to Italy, and are now at a tiny lake close to Trento. We already had a little swim, and it’s quite alright here. Expensive parking (35 eu a night for an RV park is the steepest we’ve encountered), but it’s alright. Tomorrow we’ll probably drive the last leg of our journey to the coast. I can’t wait to just float in the sea for a bit. There’s something about the sea that cannot be matched by a lake. I love the sea.

Pretend the horrible spaceship isn’t there. The views are alright!

On the road again

Today marked the last day of the work week, the last day of the teaching period, and well, the first day of my three weeks of holidays. I needed them now more than ever. Covid got me good, and three weeks of mild chilling will be the best I could do with my time.

We weren’t sure whether we should already leave this evening, but I’m glad we did. We drove about three hours and are now on an RV lot in Trins, Austria. This is a small town right next to the Brenner pass, which we will cross tomorrow.

We arrived in the pitch dark. I have no clue what it looks like here, but judging from the sirens we just heard, we are right next to the fire station. I’m not sure if that should make me feel safe, or worried about sleep interruptions?

I’ll try to have a good rest, and tomorrow we’ll drive into one of my favorite countries in Europe. I’ll indulge in many espresso, and the occasional pasta, on the Mediterranean coast. I can’t wait!

The landlord dude and his chicks

Time for yet another episode in the ‘Landlord dude’ series.

The landlord dude had a big heart when it came to animals. He loved animals more than he loved humans. Although he sometimes also forgot all about them.

One day, he decided with our Argentinian house mate, that he needed a chicken coop. For weeks on end he drove across the country to pick up free materials everywhere. Before long, the driveway and the garden looked like a horrible mess with wood of varying quality, and in various stages of decay, was left to continue what it had already started doing. The place, the mansion, looked more shabby by the week.

The wood was planned to become a chicken coop. In a dead corner of the garden, a ramshackle little house was built, and around it, some sort of fence was created out of netting. The kind of netting used to protect cherries from birds. Let’s say it wasn’t very high quality, and soon after installing, I had to free the first red squirrels from death from hanging themselves. It didn’t keep the predators out either. Soon after, the number of the pretty little hens the landlord had acquired started dwindling. Until there were only two competitive roosters left.

I’m not sure why, but the roosters were left untouched. They started calling at 4am every morning, and seemed to only be getting worse and worse. One day, a neighbor came to ask if the landlord dude could do something about the roosters. Her husband suffered chronic disease that included sleeping disorders. The landlord dude replied that he was quite fond of his roosters, but that he’d look into it. I overheard the conversation, and knew what it meant. He didn’t give a fuck. I killed the two roosters within the hour. The Argentinian and the landlord dude grilled the two scrawny birds on the barbecue that night. What an odd celebration.

You’d think this story ends here, but you’d be wrong.

To make up for the lost roosters, the landlord bought new chickens. This time around, he bought chickens of the massive broiler kind. No fox or marten would dare come close to one if these Big Birds. The landlord dude loved it. This namely allowed him to remove fencing and netting altogether, because why wouldn’t you want six huge chickens running around in your garden?

Five chickens stayed in the garden. Miss six, however, was smarter than that. She used the cat door to reach inside the house. She basically lived inside the living room and the foyer. Landlord dude didn’t care. We’d often come home to find the golden retriever, the red tom cat, and miss six chilling together in the living room, on the white leather sofa. I still have a picture somewhere, but I can’t find it. A happy animal family.

Miss six didn’t care about being with her sisters. She also didn’t eat the food that was provided outside. I’m not too sure there was always food out anyway. Because she didn’t get the minerals she required, she laid eggs that had very thin shells. But laying eggs she did. Age dropped them everywhere. The white leather couch soon became a yellow yolky stained couch. I also loved the two shellless eggs she deposited in an open toolbox, somewhere between some screwdrivers and a monkey wrench.

One Saturday morning, we slept in late. It must have been 8.30am or so, when we heard weird muffled noises coming from downstairs. As if someone was lifting a crate of empty bottles. The hollow glassy sounds sounded familiar, yet unrecognizable. After a minute, silence returned. About half an hour later, the sounds returned, became louder, and soon I turned into sounds of dishes shattering…

We heard the landlord dude come from his bedroom on the other side of our floor. He hurried down the stairs, and started screaming at his animals. It wasn’t the dog. It wasn’t the cat. “Chicky, chicky, what are you doing?” he exclaimed. “Are you cleaning up the dishes?”

Probably for the lack of food outside, miss six had decided to feast on the leftover dinner the landlord had had with one of his ladies the night before. Miss six was rather clumsy, although something makes me think she did it on purpose.

Miss six and her five sisters made for a very lively garden experience. I never knew what happened to them. I can’t remember if they were still around when we left when the house was sold. I’m sure they left a few golden eggs here or there.

All clear

I wouldn’t have thought that the sense of freedom after testing negative this morning would be as strong as it was! It’s amazing. We tested negative, and almost immediately went outside, Heike and the kids for a long stroll, me to help some colleagues on a field project. It wasn’t important what we did. It was just amazing to be outside again. Twelve days… It seems so small, and we take it for granted until it isn’t possible any longer. I just need being outside. As much as possible. The feeling of being cooped up to recover was probably as bad as the disease. Luckily, those feelings are quickly forgotten, whereas the virus may still take time to overcome.

That’s how I prefer my tests!

I’m still exhausted, tired as fuck really, but I don’t mind. The most important part is that it’s out of my system. There will be time to rest. We’re approaching 3 weeks of holiday, and it’s hopefully going to be all the rest I need to fully recover. We’ll meet some good friends in Italy after more than three years, so that’s gonna be awesome.

That’ll be it for now. I don’t feel like writing much. I wrote an introduction to my next paper this afternoon, and it went kinda smooth. That’ll be enough writing for today.