Friday, June 22, 2007

A random accumulation of musings

Originally written: 6/12/07(ish)

Today, we went to cliff-dive and hang out at the beach at a town in Liguria called Camogli.

The beach at sunrise.

Camogli has a rocky beach, and somone was driving a bulldozer between the sunbathers.

A Mexican volunteer (Carlos) and I were looking on, with that mix of astonishment and complete lack of surprise that anyone who's spent any time in this lovely country will be familiar with. We were both speechless. Then he lit a cigarette, took a drag, and said: "In Mexico, that man would be shot."

Luckily, this was Italy and no one cared, so I did not have to go to the police station and give a statement, and I can tell you the following brief tale of miscommunication:

One of the jobs in our work camp is to clear local park trails of pesky trees and vines. Since this is a job which frequently involves the removal of large quantities of grass and trees, we were of course supplied by the communities in which we worked with the proper tools.

Which is to say, we were given two rakes, a couple sets of pruning shears, and two large knives.

A Slovakian girl (Daniela) and I have pioneered a new method of tree removal:

  1. 1 person climbs a tree, or to the top of a convenient hill, grabs the top of tree, and jumps toward the ground.

  2. 2nd person hacks at tree trunk with pruning shears until the tree gives up and splinters and the 1st person falls to the ground.

  3. Felled tree is dragged into the woods and placed on a rubbish heap, where a pile of other dead trees and shrubs, many with thorns, awaits.

Needless to say, I have scars. And I was standing on the trail at one day, when Sergio, the Spanish guy, says to me: "Andrea, look good!"

Now, the logical part of my brian knew that this was not true. It was 3pm. We had been working since 9am. I was covered in dirt, sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, and red ants. My hair was so filled with leaves, bugs and soil that it made grinding noises when I ran my hands through it. I had been wearing the same clothes for two days, and I had just spilled varnish on them. I had 31 mosquito bites, poison ivy on both arms, and I was carrying a giant ball of nettles, which I was about to drop on the rubbish heap, over my head.

But there was a tiny girlish part of my mind that desperately, desperately, wanted "look good" to be real.

"Um," I said. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, yes," he said emphatically. "Look good!"

I put down my ball of nettles. "Well, thank you, Sergio!" I smiled. There was a pause. Then he put his finger to his cheek and said:

"No, is not word. It is...look OUT!"

An uprooted tree stump whizzed by, 3 inches from my face, and landed on the rubbish heap. Which goes to show you where vanity will land you.

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