Multicultural, busy, dirty, beautiful … how the city of Palermo is, the city where I will spend my next 5 months.
Writing in situ, in my new room in my new house, it’s been hailing outside and now the sun reappears from behind the clouds and the noise of cars and street vendors of fruit and vegetables arrive up to my window on the fourth floor of an ancient building. I’ve only been a week in this city and I feel it a little mine.
The first days of EVS are usually free for us to familiarize ourselves with the hosting country, so I’ve decided to do a little trip around the north and east of Sicily. This weekend we saw Cefalù, Tindari, Taormina… typical postcard villages: turquoise waters, green mountains that reach the shore of the sea, tranquillity … villages which confirmed all the clichés and preconceptions that I had of the Mediterranean islands. Palermo, however, changed my mind; here I have the sensation of being in Africa instead being in Europe.
Palermo is the largest city in Sicily, bigger than any of Tenerife. Very long avenues you have to walk (public transport does not work very well), souks, that they call markets, full of colourful aubergines, oranges, cheese… ladies who take their clothes lines outside and leave their clothes drying under the sun while passers by continuously have to avoid them, and it’s full of people everywhere. Lots of people and lots of life.
It may seem silly but the first thing I had to learn, or rather relearn, was crossing the street. Apparently, while the Sicilians have a European driving license, in theory like ours, here the driving rules are quite different: to save time drivers go in no entry streets, 4 rows of cars where there are only 3 lanes, stops that are made as a give way… The trick is to wait until the cars are at a safe distance and dive into the street (not advisable to wait at the crosswalk to let a car decides to stop because you could die of boredom or even old age), in a duel of looks that takes just a second we can see who is more reckless, kamikaze pedestrians that pulled over the car or the Sicilian driver who have just skip three red lights, then, almost always, the car slows down leaving just enough time to run and not be hit.
Thank God all European volunteers have life insurance and if something happens to me one day, my body will be taken to Tenerife … but if I have to die under a car, the Bellissima Palermo is a nice place to do it.
Kisses! Or rather, baci!