All day on Tuesday I thought that we were preparing to go to Toto’s farm. But it turns out that there was an apparent language barrier. After Toto returned from his weekly visit to his farm we went to visit him for the last time. He expressed frustration in not being able to talk with me, but we were able to use Mariella and Enrica as translators. He told us that our great grandfather was a well respected man in Prizzi. He worked as an intermediary or negotiator for agricultural commodities. He said that the entire family lived in that small house and the entire family was respected for their hard work. We kissed each other’s cheeks and said goodbye.
After our visit with Toto we took another stroll as a passegenatta with no specific goal. We enjoyed the town. At one point the traffic at one of the main intersections was wild. Pedestrians, cars and vespas were all trying to use the same space that was designed for donkeys. The madness of it all brought a smile to Elizabeth’s face, especially after an older Prizziana commented on the bedlam.
It was now our last night. Even though the quality and quantity of the food had been exceptional they saved the best for last. They brought out the Arancini, stuffed rice balls. They also served a puffed pastry shrimp dish, antipasto, salad and other dishes. We ate until we were stuffed to the top. Elizabeth and I felt like we would not need to eat again for the rest of our trip. Both Alice and Salvatore arrived late because of 12 hour school days. They were very tired. Salvatore is preparing for his final exams. He wants to study political science. Enrica’s volleyball team is playing in the regional tournament this weekend. The kids are very active, engaging and a delight to be around.
We had our final discussions. We all agreed that we had overcome the language barrier though Enzo felt frustrated because he had more to say. Giovanni, who appeared to understand English, did not have the same frustrations. The children were polite but appeared to be satisfied with the communication of our visit. Everyone had carried an Italian/English dictionary around. We had used Google translator on many occasions. We all laughed when someone would pull out the dictionary or go to the computer. But we were able to openly discuss family, politics, religion, culture, finance, sports, lifestyles and of course Sicilian cooking. We truly shared our time together. We communicated as a family. We departed with many hugs and kisses.
For several days we had been discussing the quickest way for us to drive to the airport in Catania. Enzo was the most experienced and was able to identify the quickest and easiest route. The following morning he even drove us to the on ramp for the highway. It was near his ranch. Even in his own frustrated way he was able to contribute. He was the last to say goodbye.
We are a lucky family to have located and been introduced to this group of cousins. These two families are exceptional. Our visit was not their ordinary life. I do not know what their daily routine really is but I can tell that their family structure is based on values of trust, love and dedication to family. To me, the two families acted as one. My cousins are extraordinary human beings. They are intelligent, loving, hardworking and sensitive. They have raised children that are the same. They have husbands that support who they are. They have built a life that to me appears to be very fulfilling. Their lifestyle is humble but very comfortable. They appear to be frugal and prepared for the uncertain future of the Italian economy. Mariella is unconventional in her intellectual pursuits. Rosalba seems to be a classic nurturer. They both respect tradition but can see past it, into the future for their families The unsung heroine in this adventure was my wife. She was able to bond with these two women almost immediately. The three women seemed to be giggling like school girls at every moment. My cvousins even told me that if my wife had not been with me I would have been in trouble. I do not disagree.
I like Sicilia. I like the slow paced life style, the small shops, the long lunch hour, the natural food process, the family structure. I was average height there. And even though I earned the reputation of being totally illiterate in Italian, I was able to have conversations with people on the street and achieved every communication I wanted. Toto thinks I look like a Siciliano. As I told Elizabeth, it was because I wore a jacket.