We have just passed our two week anniversary, so I thought I would jot out a quick email describing some of our earliest experiences. First of all, sickness has ravaged our team. It seems as though everybody over here has had some kind of sickness. As we left I was in the middle of taking medications to get over bronchitis. When we arrived Angie's allergies started reacting to her new environment. When I was almost out of the woods, I acquired something like a severe strep throat. Wow, I don't remember when my throat hurt so bad. It kept me in bed more than I wanted and hindered some of the exploring that I wanted to do. I got to feeling better yesterday, so when Angie and I had to get out to see an apartment, we decided to do a little exploring on our own. We went to several shops in the center of town, then went down the hill to visit a little more of the city. This morning is the first morning in almost a week that my throat didn't feel like bloated sandpaper. Now it feels like a normal sore throat, that I think is going away.
One day last week, we made it to the Blockbuster Video store. How refreshing to see a familiar sight. They have two rows of movies in English and quite a few DVD's that have English as an option for language. We found one to rent and we went to the counter and I whipped out my Blockbuster card and asked if I could transfer my membership. The lady behind the counter swiped the card and said sure I just need to update your address and phone number. Wow, as if I wasn't already impressed by technology, isn't it neat to think a Blockbuster Video card works all the way around the world.
We have had a good time settling in with our team here in Italy, the only thing that is lacking is one of the couples, the Cormodes, aren't here currently. They had to return to the states to switch their visas. They return April 12, so our team will all coexist in the same city for almost two months!!! We are staying with Jason and Heather Casey, who have been very gracious hosts. We haven't had to worry about spending money eating out because they have joyfully been providing so much. However, we are in Italy, so of course we have gotten out to taste the local food. Most of it has been really good. It is very different than Italian food in the states, but great nonetheless. Although last Saturday, I went to run an errand with Jason. We stopped for a quick breakfast snack (timewise it was more like brunch). Jason got a sweet pastry, but I wanted something other than sweets. I saw a fried something that looked good and had Jason ask what it was. He said he wasn't sure. From the name it sounded like fried zucchini. That sounded pretty good for a quick snack, a couple of pieces of hot fried zucchini. Jason thought that might be right, but still wasn't sure. I said I was willing to take the risk. I ordered it and they handed it to me on a napkin. My first reaction was that it was cold. I thought well, you never know until you try it. So, I bit into it. There was a crunch as I bit through the fried exterior into the soft center. It's first taste was that of zucchini. I thought great I did a good job of guesswork for this order. As I began chewing it, I looked into the piece left in my hand. My eyes were drawn to the intense yellow color I saw in the middle, upon further inspection I noticed what appeared to be small little yellow hairs inside this fried green and yellow "thing." Before I had a chance to be revolted I looked again to see if I could make out any recognition of a known food. Now when I was younger I used to plant a garden at my parents house, one of things I grew one year was zucchini. As I peered into my morning snack I discovered I was biting into a fried zucchini flower!! I finished most of it. Then I thought about the fact I have some allergies to pollen, I wondered what would happen. As Jason and I rode the bus down the hill, nothing ended up happening except some queasiness. The queasiness could have in fact been caused by several things, but most likely the greasiness which the batter was filled with. Anyway, no permanent damage, and I know now what I am ordering when I choose the "fiori di zucchi fritti".
Last thing I will share with you is how the apartment hunting is going. We have with Jason's help got our name in about 14 agencies. We have now seen three apartments, and another by pictures (which was withdrawn by the landlord because he didn't want to rent it for a year). None of these seemed plausible, except one of the ones we saw, however it 's biggest drawback is the distance from it to our language classes. This may not be a problem if we get adjusted quickly to the bus transportation system and get an unlimited yearlong pass (which run about $224 per person). We have two other leads and will continue to research those as you continue to pray for this need of ours. Thank you for all your encouragement, cares and support. We are so fortunate to be loved by God, who takes care of all our needs. As for our apt in the states I believe they are signing a new contract on our old apt, which means we will be released from the lease. Thank you for your prayers.
Matteo e Angela