This post is out of order: see post below for a more recent entry!!
My flight to Rome was uneventful, and I arrived at the Fiumicino airport early on Wednesday morning. I found the express train to Termini, Rome's main train station, where I located the regional train to Zagarolo. Unfortunately, I just missed one of them, as I was unable to get my ticket validated in time. (If you don't validate your train ticket before boarding, you could be liable for a hefty fine!) Three of the machines I tried were broken, and the train pulled out before I could locate one that was working. This meant I had more than two hours to wait for the next train. With my luggage in tow, and my energy low, I could do little more than sit on one of the two benches available and wait.
Once I arrived in Zagarolo, Deborah met me at the station and drove me back to her house, about five minutes from the station. After I got settled in and met the cats that I'll be in charge of during my stay, we drove into town to begin my initiation into the life I'll be living over the next two months.
To be honest, I'm unsure of the sequence of events that occurred during the 4 days of my "orientation," as I was involved in a whirlwind of activities. But here a a few highlights:
I practiced driving Deborah's car, a standard - shift Renault Twingo. It was intimidating at first, but after a few days, I got the hang of maneuvering the winding roads, the roundabouts and the speeding Italian drivers. One day we got a flat tire from a nail in the road, so I learned about the "gommista," the guy who fixes and changes tires. Sure am glad it happened while Deborah was still here!
I made the round of meeting some of her friends and colleagues, including Silvia, the cats' vet, and Paola, who runs one of the caffè bars in town. Paola's son Mauro will come to trim the hedges at the house, since there might be wasp nests and I'm allergic to wasps. I also met some of the neighbors and an English couple, Ken and Maria, who live in the nearby town of Gallicano.
I also met Valeria and Anna, two professional women who have been working on their English with Deborah, and would like to continue their weekly conversations with me. So, for 3-5 hours a week, I'll have two paying students to talk to, and will make enough money to cover my weekly expenses while I'm here.
I know I'll be writing more about the people I've met and all that's going on at the house, so I won't go into details yet. I'm swamped with online work this week, so I don't have much time to write.
However, one thing that continues a theme from my stay in Florence: it's cold here! And once again, I didn't pack enough warm clothes. Fortunately, Deborah has some things to ease the discomfort until things warm up, and I'm making good use of the bathtub at night. Soon enough, I'll probably be complaining about the heat!