I’ve been keeping busy with many wonderful things, including a brief trip to Sicily. My boyfriend, M, was in Europe for work for 5 weeks, and I joined him in the final week in Sicily. We spent the better part of the week in Favignana, a tiny island on the coast where locals like to take their holidays and mini-breaks.
Rarely can you find a place to vacation to that affords an exotic feeling without being bombarded by other foreigners. Favignana was true escape – a destination only frequented by the Sicilians themselves. Hot, dry weather with cloudless days. A landscape covered by cacti, succulents, oleanders. Desert-like, and a bit rugged, it at times reminded me of Newfoundland. The Mediterranean was crystal clear, so clear that the soft sand carpeting the sea floor is entirely visible while swimming in shallow waters, and you can easily see the occasional fish swimming around your feet. One day we took a boat excursion to Cala Rossa (above), and I was happy that my fear of water was calmed by the protective, buoyant nature of the salt water, giving me confidence to swim in deep waters without a fear of drowning.
I used it as an opportunity to connect with a couple of friends who live in Europe and joined us in Sicily. One is dear friend from my days back in Oxford – a very special friend of mine who I’ve only been able to see once every few years (she is Dutch and lives in Holland). Her fiancee joined us too, which is quite wonderful because I got to know him better and strengthen my friendship with him too. Days spent catching up while lying on the beach or eating gelato were some of the best.
The trip was unfortunately punctuated by annoyances caused by a number of misdeeds that included a comedy of errors caused my airline (Lufthansa) and my hotel, resulting in me not getting my luggage until literally a few hours before I left Sicily. The most annoying part about it was the constant ups and downs, confusion, and ongoing strained communication between the airline and other parties involved. This caused a huge amount of frustration and several instances of tears. What didn’t bother me so much… was not actually having the stuff itself.
I had ignored my better judgement to pack essentials in my hand luggage. My carry-on contained a copy of The Hunger Games, a neck rest, a tooth-brush and a hairbrush. That’s it. No clothes, no pajamas, no deodorant, not even a change of underwear. (And really, when you’ve travelled for over 20 hours straight and have been awake for over 24 hours, clean underwear and deodorant are high on the list of wants.) It meant I had to go shopping. Immediately. Having to make repeated visits to stores when I wanted to be sightseeing was irritating, but I managed to get what I needed. In fact, on day two, when I learned I would be leaving Palermo sans-luggage, and heading on to Favignana (where there would be almost no shopping available), I discovered the holy sight of an H&M. There I got the job done. In about an hour, I picked out a bikini, flip flops, a dress, sandals to match, underwear, socks, a bra, pajamas, denim shorts, some t-shirts, a tank-top, a cardigan sweater and some other necessities. I could feel my heart beating as I crossed the
finish line checkout line. It’s amazing how quickly you can get your shopping done when you’re going to miss a ferry. Prior to my trip I’d spent hours shopping, picking out the right shoes, the right dress, the right bathing suit. Under this time crunch, I bought the first bikini I tried on. (And you know what? I love it! It even turned out to be the same bikini my friend from Holland had!)
Not only did I get what I needed, I was reminded that there is something delicious about having fewer choices. This knowledge has guided me towards frugality in the past because I’ve recognized that simplicity enables you to take pleasure in what you have and simultaneously focus more on enjoying other important things around you.
So, I went a week without make up. I had to make several trips to purchase things like sunscreen, aloe for my sunburn(!), a beach towel, and some more clothes and underwear. Shopping for these basic needs was irritating enough and I wasn’t going to waste my time shopping for make up. Apart from one night out when I borrowed some cosmetics from my friend, my routine – day or night – was: Shower. Brush hair. Dress. Done.
M loved it! No more waiting for me to get ready! I was always ready to go in minutes! It felt weird to go to a 9-course conference dinner with a bare face, but oddly refreshing.
(Coincidentally, on the flight home, I noticed in the Globe & Mail this humorous and somewhat relatable article on going without a makeup for a week.)
M and I are heading back to Italy to visit is family at the end of the summer. I’ve dusted off my Learn to Speak Italian book after realizing how incredibly frustrating it is to be in a country and not know how to say anything except for greetings and ask for a coffee. (I’ve since learned how to ask for a beer). As well, despite all these lessons learned, you can bet that this time, underwear will be packed in my carry-on.
Side-note to the lesson learned: Palermo was great fun. It contains the energy of Southern Italy but felt – to me, at least – safer, and more well-behaved than Naples. The market was a particular highlight: miles of fresh produce, fish, olives and cheese, surrounding you with pungent colours and odors, and the sounds of vendors calling out to patrons… only Italian men can make selling radicchio sound so beautiful. As well, the pizza, pasta, vino and seafood (and I’m talking octopus, squid, prawns, tuna, swordfish, sardines, crawfish – I’ll stop naming seafood before I start to sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump) was prolific and delicious).