Welcome to part 2 of Seasoned Italian Style.
Italian Style: Baguette, slices of salami, and red bananas.
Vegetarian American Style: Fruit and grain bar and amazing left-over homemade popcorn (Avocado Oil. Popcorn Salt. Garlic Powder. Nutritional Yeast. Seriously – try it some time).
Plus, a great conversation = ideal meal on the rocks.
During our climb together, we had successfully broken the ice and shared stories. I learned what abseiling is; the same thing as repelling. For the longest time I thought he was saying “upsliding”, which really did not make sense to me at the time knowing that you weren’t necessarily sliding up the rope. Luca shared that there was a subtle preconception about American’s being scary. I laughed and responded with how American women stereotype Italians: A Lady’s Man. He shook his head, laughed, and shrugged his shoulders saying “Well, it’s true.”
It was getting hot in the canyon by this time and we were both a bit spent. Besides, it was the 4th of July and he had the option of tagging along for a BBQ. We decided to hike back down to the car. This time, Luca decided to forge the river differently.
Off to the BBQ.
We stopped by the International Hostel so he could change and drop off his stuff. After speaking with the host of the BBQ, our mission was to bring Champagne for Mimosas. She told me I’d better warn Luca he was getting into the thick of things now. Her family puts on awesome get-togethers with amazing food, so I knew this adventure was going to be great. There were a few excellent car conversations.
Villages and Patchwork Conversation
We eventually stumbled upon the fact that I was born in California and moved here when I turned two.
“You Americans, you are all like patchwork. You’re born in one place, raised in Texas, go to school in New York, take a job in Wyoming, take another job in another state, move again to Oregon just because you want to, and die in Colorado.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, in Italy, if you say you are from a village, then it is assumed that your parents lived in that village, you were born in that village, you work in that village (or maybe the next village over), and so you are going to die in that village.”
“The police here, they look just like they do in the movies.”
“Do they look different in Italy?”
“Well no, but is it true if they stop you and you get out of the car, they shoot you?”
It took me a few to really understand what he was trying to say and immediately began laughing. But he looked at me in all seriousness, “All of the guide books in Italy say if you do not put your hands on the wheel and stay in the car, they shoot you.”
I thought about it…and I confirmed that yes, you had to stay in the car but they wouldn’t shoot you right away if you stepped out of the vehicle. However, it was an interesting realization because in some senses, the police really do not like it when you exit your vehicle.
Liquor Store Conversation
“Would you like a bag with that?”
“Well, yeah, we need a bag right? Otherwise we get arrested?”
Cube Wine Conversation
“I had Colorado wine last night.”
“Like wine actually made in Colorado?”
“Yeah, it was uh, uh, cube wine.” He described his encounter with his hands, “It looked like this (creating a cube) and it didn’t have a cork at all but instead this plastic insert thing with a spout that you pour out of!”
“Cube wine? Oh! You mean box wine?”
He turned to me in a let’s get real kind of manner, “You really just can’t drink wine that way. You Americans are crazy.”
Later on, I received an email titled “Blasphemy” with the following caption:
Ice Cream Conversation
The hosts of the BBQ were making homemade ice cream. Luca had never heard of this and was purely fascinated.
“In Italy, the ice cream comes from the ice cream store.”
From my perspective, Luca really enjoyed himself experiencing a large family, American BBQ. Everyone was friendly and engaged him in conversation. All of us laughed trying to explain idioms like cheesy, kinky, rad, legit, “that’s what she said”… Really though, how would you explain those idioms without using other idioms?
We talked for a good portion of the evening before I had to drop him off at the bus stop so he could get a ride back to the hostel. He shared about his life in Italy, let me watch a documentary he made with his girlfriend about climbing at Todra Canyon in Morocco, and that he was off to learn Arabic in Egypt for a month when he got back to Italy. As for the reason he was in Colorado, his sister and parents were flying out on the 6th and they were going to road trip through some of the major State and National Parks within the surrounding states making sure to hit Mesa Verde, Arches, Rocking Mountain, and Yellowstone.
Meeting Luca was an amazing and inspirational experience, in addition to being like a freshly developed dark-room print portraying the variances between cultures. Not to mention, I got to listen to an Italian accent the entire time. We even met up for a beer at the Wynkoop Brewery after he picked up his parents from the airport. I must say, I am quite surprised at how well he navigated the city of Denver in a car.
In reflection, I have realized how endless the duality of teaching and learning from each other was in regards to our countries. It is the perfect definition of being an immortally true student of life. I gained a soft, treasured knowledge that extends beyond the rock. I do have confidence. I do have the knowledge it takes to climb. I have an ocean of soft, mental strength just waiting to be tapped into. Most of all, the ability to believe in myself. Me. Of all people, me.
I truly love a great story. I wish you well on your journey, Luca, and I’ll cheers to you… with cube wine. 🙂
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