The Way Home
This is the way home:
The stairs are steep and uneven,
Step carefully, until you reach the path
It winds a bit, until your feet reach the arc of the road
Where the gravel crunches underfoot.
Then you will see Lago di Venere,
Turning to shades of pink, like the sky
Losing the light of day To the sea behind the mountains.
If you pause for a little while
You will see the moon suspend itself from the heavens
And the stars, as they pierce the infinite, dark sky
Vainly trying to lure the Goddess of the Lake
From her ancient place of peace, saying:
“It is time to return home beautiful one. Come back,
to the sky and favour your brothers and sisters with your presence.
These mortals cannot be worthy of the mirror of Venus,”
Smiling gently, she answers “oh, but they are”, and stays.
Tuesday of this week we were invited to dinner by an American ex-pat and renowned chef by the name of Peter. Both he and his family treated us to a wonderful dinner where I experienced flavours and combinations of various flora that I would not have considered previously. Peter evidently possesses a talent that I cannot begin to comprehend. Needless to say, the meal was delicious. I was able to gain a better sense of the conditions and techniques relied upon to acquire food in this semi-arid climate.
We spent last Saturday night in town and had wonderful appetizers at our landlord’s bar. We started digging on the site Sunday morning, the work is hard but fulfilling while bruises, blisters, and sore muscles are felt by everyone in the group. After starting work, we’ve been taking it a little easier with our excursions as we mostly spend lunch and dinner at the houses on the lake. We’ve been taking it in turns to prepare meals but we’ve had the help from our Maltese Assistant Director, Clive, who has been teaching us some Mediterranean dishes. However on Tuesday night we went to the house of an American chef, named Peter, for dinner. He taught us how to make pizza, and his daughter showed us around his garden and told us about growing plants on Pantelleria.
They say our school mascot is a badger, but if anyone from administration was here, they would know it would be a cross between wild cats and friendly dogs. House One has fully adopted a pretty kitty we named Nigella and House Three is visited quite frequently by the lovers, Bageera and Aurelia, whom we also had the pleasure of naming. The boys aren’t too fond of the
m, apart from Mike, but they can’t argue that they are loyal. Nigella never leaves, and even slee
s at our door; the other two show up for dinner religiously. On the other hand, we also have ‘Dog on a Mission’, a.k.a. ‘Rocky’, who does his rounds to all the houses around the lake, and also has time to stop at site and have a nice long visit with us while we work. This year BUAPP is sponsored by the loyal and adorable wildlife of Pantelleria.
This week we really started to work on our site. The site itself is really starting to take shape, and the direction that it is going seems to be pretty good. When we are not working, we spend our free time doing things like swimming in the beautiful lake that our house is right beside, or we just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Although the work is tiring, the satisfaction that you get seeing things fall into place at the site makes it all worth it. I’m looking forward to what the next couple of weeks will mean for us as we continue working on this site.
So this past week we went to the house of an American couple called Peter and Amy. Peter is a chef from New York and we had a ‘make your own pizza’ night at his home and he made deep fried zucchini flowers for an appetizer and it was really amazing! For dessert, he made these awesome tarts with strawberries on top and another type of deep fried zucchini flower but this time with chocolate in the middle and a roasted marshmallow on top and it was super delicious! Then their daughter Lily took Heather and me on a tour of their gardens and taught us all about the flowers and the different types of fruits and vegetables that they grow there and what their uses are and were in history. All in all I’m really glad to have met them and was able to taste the amazing food that Peter makes and I’m thankful that they invited us into their home.
The excavation is progressing well and I have learned a fair amount about archaeological methods and techniques. I am constantly surprised by the hospitality of those who live on the island. We were invited to our landlord’s bar for free drinks and food. Peter, a local chef, also hosted a dinner party for the team and on a later day brought lunch to one of our houses after we had finished work. There are a few trails around the Lago di Venere one of which took me up a steep stone path to the top of the volcanic crater providing a view of the entire lake and the ocean. I intend to visit the other trails in the near future.
I never realized how hot the weather would be here and just when I think I’m getting used to it I realize how wrong I am. We made pizza at a local chef’s home, it was so delicious and after we ate his homemade desserts. It was a night of great food, company and a very sad volley-ball game. The other night I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen and it just brightened my week.
This week has gone by so fast; it is hard to believe we have already been here more than a week. Everything is starting to get into sort of rhythm however including the local animals. Each morning Rocky, the local dog, comes to check out our site before running off again on some mysterious mission, and the local cats have been conveniently stopping by at lunch and dinner and will most likely be fat by the end of our four weeks. As for ourselves, we were invited to a pizza night with an American family who live on the island and we each got to make our own pizza in a wood fired oven. It was truly an experience to remember.
My second week in Pantelleria can be described in one word: breath-taking. The views of the natural landscapes are spectacular from all angles. Hiking on Pantelleria’s volcanoes was my favourite activity this week. Several examples of steam from rock fissures was absolutely astounding to both watch and feel. We visited several ancient settlements and enjoyed fresh hard boiled eggs cooked in a natural crevice in the mountains. Overall, this week at Pantelleria has been very special especially among a great group of classmates.
Week one is now finished, and everyone has been working hard to get there work done and the dirt out of their clothes as there is a lot of it. Aside from learning different archaeological techniques we have been introduced to how to prepare and bake proper Italian pizza with our friend on the island, as well has the different agricultural methods people need to follow in order to thrive here. Since the island has been inhabited by many different people since the Bronze Age, there have been numerous changes to the landscape. One aspect includes influences from North Africa and their resourceful methods the protect lemon tress from violent winds by building a circular wall around it while still providing the plant enough water and sunlight to survive.