So, we made our first stop in Sicily today and I had the unaccustomed experience of being in a place where 1) just about everybody looks sort of like me and 2) I'm really not all that short, comparatively speaking.
This morning, we were guided around a country garden by the lady who owns it, Princess Borghese. Cool chick. Wide and varied knowledge of horticulture. Good taste in hats. Had a signed pic of the Queen Mum on the table in her library. Widow. Alas, not looking for a short, swarthy American husband to help mow the lawn.
Catania is a fun place but just a smidge rough around the edges. I signed up for ship/shore shuttle service and set off on my own. I'd been off the bus and in the public market for maybe five minutes when a screaming match broke out and quickly erupted into a full scale brawl. You know the Montague/Capulet fight at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet? Like that, only instead of Escalus breaking things up it was a butcher who looked like Ernest Borgnine.
No, I did not take pictures. I got the hell out of there.
Most of the other travelers hated Catania but it's the sort of place I enjoy as long as I have a camera to play with. Most of my favorite shots have come from stops where there's "nothing to see." Probably because I have no preconceptions about what I should shoot.
Dolores, it turns out, was on the ship. She had just taken up with a couple from Newcastle-on-Tyne who'd organized a swingers party after hours in their stateroom. I was drifting off to sleep when she burst in and said, "Listen, do we have any more of those shortbread fingers they put on the tea tray?" (I like them, and have been hoarding them as bedtime snacks.)
"Better you shouldn't know."
And she grabbed a bunch, and was gone.
I'm never eating shortbread again.
I don't know how she does it, but by the time I got up and dressed and out on deck this morning she was already there, smoking a Gauloise and looking satiated.
"Ready to meet the princess?" I said.
She just let out a long drag.
About an hour later, we filed off the motorcoach and into the Borghese family chapel at Case del Ribbiere. Signora la Principessa stood in front of the Rococo altarpiece and said, "Welcome, my dear guests, to my home..."
And then she squealed.
"Dolores! Bella mia! What you doing in Sicilia? Why you not call me?"
I should have known, right?