Week 187 October 28, 2017

We began this week in Verona with with dear friends, on a visit to Verona’s city center. My weather app had said the predicted rain was delayed to 4pm, a change from earlier in the day. But… it was wrong. We had cloudy skies at the start of our walk but then were rained on the rest of the time. Fortunately our friend was prepared with an umbrella and we also had hoods that we pulled up over our heads. 

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The rain did not prevent some jocks from participating in, and enthusiasts from watching a tournament of an ancient sport called Scianco. The play is a bit like baseball, a little like football, and some like the Scottish Highland Games, and totally different.

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We returned for a delicious meal with the rest of the family. The kids were preparing to return to their homes for their work/school week, while our friends took us for needed supplies. Then they offered us delicious minestrone soup and spinach quiche. We so appreciate the fun times with this lovely family, and enjoy their cooking skills too! With two of our birthdays just 6 months apart, it is a special connection. One thing our friend reminisces about is how the first English he was taught was: The book is on the table. When Loren and I were in Spain last month, and I was dredging up memories of my primitive Spanish, it dawned on me that the first things I learned were El libro and La mesa. I am thinking that points out differences between masculine and feminine objects. Now our friends have helped me learn how Il libro e sul tavolo is how it is said in Italian!

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Our one friend was off to work early on Monday morning, and soon afterwards the other drove us to the train station on his way to work. I had a nice conversation with Kofi, my seat mate on the crowded regional train to Milan. I learned that in Ghana, each child is named the same as the day of their birth, then often have additional Christian names. That is why his first name is the same as former UN Secretary-General Annan. His English skills are excellent, as he grew up speaking it, the official language of Ghana, and has learned Italian while living in Italy for the past 12 years.

Kofi would prefer to live in Ghana – his parents, 3 brothers and 2 sisters all live there, as well as his son who lives with one of his sisters. Kofi hopes to return to Ghana someday if economic conditions there improve. In the meantime, he was on his way to Milan to prepare papers in hopes to bring his son, who is now 18 and a high school graduate, to Italy to study. He has previously helped another of his brothers move to Italy for work too. In Kofi’s tribal language, Fante, which is understood by those who speak the very similar Akan language (the two main tribes of Ghana), days of the week are: Kofi for Friday, and Kwabena, his son’s name, for Tuesday. In case you are interested as I was, Kojo is Monday, Kweku is Wednesday, Yao (said Eyow) is Thursday, Kwame means Saturday and Kwesi is Sunday.

On Monday, Loren and I spent the night in Milano, where Agnese and Matteo live. They met us at a Bar near the university and joined us in attending a Toastmasters meeting there. Loren and I had learned about The Milliners club from David, who we had met at the Morsasco Castle a couple of weeks ago. What a smaller and smaller world it is, as Loren had been a Toastmaster – for help developing skills around public speaking and listening, for about 15 years. I had been involved in a club at work for a few years at Loren’s suggestion. It was nice to see David again and to participate briefly in the vitality of his TM club. We said our final farewells to Agnese and Matteo – just for now we hope, then in the morning Loren and I were off again on the train, then bus to Lago di Como.

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In Torno we have stayed in a little studio apartment, across the lake from Moltrasio where we had visited once before. Hermann Hesse immortalized Torno with writing about his falling in love on first seeing it by boat. We have had a couple of days of delightful sunshine after the rain, for taking walks around the steep mountainside town, and before the haze returned on our last full day here.

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One day we took a hike over 4 hours, up and around the mountain and down, behind and above Torno. It reminded me a bit of our walking on the Camino!

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We have caught up on some travel planning and a bit of email too while we were here. We reminisced over our walk in early September on the Camino de Santiago – thanks to receiving a batch of great photos taken by new friends who we had made while there. They are from Florida and all safely returned to their hurricane threatened homes. 

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Tomorrow we leave from Malpensa airport for Cairo, where first we have a one day tour planned, then an 8 day tour to see parts of Egypt – officially, the Arab Republic of Egypt.

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