Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

By Claire
We took Homer in for his first service today. We arrived promptly at 8 am when they opened, hoping to get it done quickly so we could do some things in Catania. But we're in Sicily, of course, and things don't move particularly fast. 3-1/2 hours later, we emerged bloody but unbowed. This entire time was spent with Michelangelo, the service manager (love that name!) trying his very best and with great patience, to communicate with us. He even used a translator on his computer. We finally seemed to communicate with the understanding that they would do an oil and filter change and check the fluids. We also mentioned the grinding noise in the transmission when shifting. He typed up one last message to us, as follows: "wait still here on the farm?, or we see early on the afternoon." We decided to come back rather than "stay on the farm." He suggested 3 pm.

We happily left in search of a Sicilian pizza. Walking about 2 km and finding nothing up to our standards, we came upon a camper place where we talked to a very nice man who did not speak English. I really liked his red leather watch band. I'm finding that the men in Italy really like to add color to their wardrobe with either the frames of their glasses or a scarf or a watch band. Anyway, he found someone who spoke a little English and it was determined that we should come back at 4 pm when they would re-open after lunch. So, on to finding the perfect pizza.

Walking all the way back to the campground in the hope that our very own restaurant might be serving, we were disappointed to learn that pizza is only served in the evening. However, the campground manager suggested a really good place right on the sea and only 1-1/2 km. away. Sigh. We decided to go for it and it was well worth the walk. I ordered the Regina: fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, oil and marjoram with a few nicely placed basil leaves. Chuck ordered the classic Margherita: tomato sauce, mozzarella, oregano, basil and oil.

The Regina

The Margherita

We really felt it was our duty as travelers to taste test the pizza in all the different regions of Italy. I can honestly say that Sicily wins, hands down. We both loved our pizzas and shared back and forth to compare. The crust was especially good and the ingredients tasted very fresh and had a real zing to the flavor. Come to Sicily for the best pizza in the world!

We walked back to the Fiat place, once again struggling with communication. Michelangelo took us on a test drive and tried to explain something about the transmission and 5,000 km. He finally suggested with hand signals and some basic words that we have the campground manager call him to translate, which we did. It wasn't good news. He thinks a synchronization ring will need to be replaced in 5,000 km. We have emailed René.

In the meantime, we drove back to the camper place and in no time at all, they removed the damaged lock, found a used one and replaced it for just €20. They wanted €150 for a new one. We still have to get the passenger door lock fixed but that will wait for another day. Driving back in the dark during the evening rush hour was quite the experience. We were glad to be back at our campsite, safely parked for the night. Later we plan to join the other campers at the campground restaurant for roasted chestnuts and wine celebrating a saint's day.

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages. ~ Dave Barry

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