Sorry to keep everyone hanging. I didn't mean to, honestly. I was going to stay after work yesterday in order to catch everything up but the weather was so nasty and rainy and I was SOAKED from cleaning...everything...all day long. All I wanted was to go home and take a hot shower with a nice glass of red wine. What actually happened was Giulia and I got to the house to discover that the electricity had been off for a while. It was not only cold outside, but now also inside, and I was still soaked, and no use taking a nice hot shower because the water heater wasn't working if the electricty wasn't working. Also we were starving and coudln't open the fridge or turn on the stove (probably one of the only 10 houses in Roncá that has an electric rather than gas stove). AND on top of all of that we had to search in the dark to find the ONE bottle (amoung a lot of bottles of wine) that was a red wine. Luckily, it was delicious. Antonio had to come home from the cantina to fix the electricity and we had to wait about an hour to shower. By the time I got got take a shower I ended up flooding my bathroom and bedroom floor with soapy water because when I thought the water was going down the drain it was actually running out onto the floor. However, the night ended beautifully with Giulia and I sharing the Merlot/Cabernet blend made in the Veneto region that was mostly ripe berries all around with taste and smell, no oaky-ness at all and actually died a little on the back palate, perfect for the moment. We also watched Bride Wars, which I can now say is the second movie that I've seen first in Spanish, then in English, and now in Italian. And actually, I own this movie and before I found out I was coming to Italy I thought I might go to France and I watched the French version one time as well! I found an extra thick blanket to add to my bedding and slept all warm and cozy. So a great ending to an okay sort of day.
Okay, so now on to what everyone has been asking for! My birthday in Italy!!! Friday 24th, I left the Cantina early to go out to eat with Sarah and her brothers who flew in from England for the weekend since the 25th was Sarah's birthday. We first met at one of the two bars in Roncá for a drink before dinner. The bar owner was a really interesting man. He could speak fluent Italian (obviously), as well as Spanish, and pretty fluent English, and I'm pretty sure he mentioned he could speak French and German as well. Talk about having a knack for learning languages. My brain is getting confused tryign to keep a hold of three! The bar owner and I also had a nice long conversation (we chose to speak in Italian because right now my brain can only focus on learning rather than remembering what I've already learned of Spanish) about Costa Rica! He had taken one of his holiday's there and we were able to chat about the different areas and the beauty of the pure land there. After the Roncá bar we headed off to dinner. Sarah's brother were incredibly entertaining. They were actually quite mean to me, kind of like an older brother should be. They picked on me all night long, calling me things like half-pint and telling me I just claimed to know what I was talking about when it came to wine. It was really a very enjoyable night for me because it was the first night that I was able to be the translator rather than the one being translated for! Rafaiella (Sarah and I's Italian friend) came with us to dinner and I was able to translate what the boys were saying to her when Sarah had gone out for a smoke. I was impressed with myself that I was able to help her understand and not just confuse the daylights out of her. It was nice for one night to be completely "in the know" and not kind of picking up on only half of the converstaion. After dinner we went to another wine bar close by for about an hour until I convinced everyone it was time to go home. It was actually an early night arriving at the house around 12:30am.
Saturday morning I was able to sleep in, so I did. I slept until about 11:30, woke up, made myself breakfast and brought it back up to my bed where I ate, wrote in my journal, and then read my book (currently Under the Tuscan Sun) until abooooout 2:00 when I finally decided I had better shower because Daniela was coming to pick Giulia and I up at 3:00 to go shopping. Daniela took Giulia and I to the biggest shopping center in the Veneto and you had better believe that on a Saturday at 4 in the afternoon that the place was PACKED. I'm talking packed like Christmas Eve mall shopping packed. It was a beautiful mall and I found everything my heart desired, and bought that which my heart desired and I could actually afford. One store in particular made me realize just how much Italians really love shoes. The store (still in the mall) was actully more like a warehouse sized shoe store. You could buy everything from €10 knock offs to €250 pure Italian leather knee high boots (beautiful). Also the Italian food court was fun to compare to ours. The only name I recognized was McDonald's, but there was a Mediterranian place, a place that served the real Italian pizza (I say that because we have places in our food courts in the USA that claim the have "Italian pizza" but really, it doesn't compare), and a place that was all belgium style waffles and gelato, and obviously a coffee bar or two...or three, Italians love their tiny coffee. It was after shopping on the way home that I was starting to feel a turn of events in the wonderful day. I had found out at this point that we wouldn't be going to the disco because if it rained like the forecast predicted then we would be outside, wet, and cold. Instead what I understood is that we were going to a bar. Hmmm...okay, no worries, it'll be great none the less. Then I could not get an answer from my friends still working at the cantina as to whether or not they would be able to come out with us as well. At this point it would be just me, Daniela, and Giulia, which was good, but the more friends the more fun! So we went home got ready and ended up being late to meet up with friends at a tiny bar that reminded me of the old local bars in Springfield, just a bar with some seats and a place where a local band can play. I did find it interesting that the band that night choose to play only 80s music that they sang all in English. I mentioned that we were late getting to this bar but we were not the latEST to get to the bar. We waited about an hour and a half for all of the group of people Daniela knew to arrive...and we waited outside, in the cold, and I was dressed for the dance club in my special birthday dress...buuuuurrrr. Thank goodness I had bought a coat that morning at the mall! So by now, I'm cold, I'm cranky, and all I want is wine. We left the tiny bar in a group of 15 and went to another place about 30 minutes away called Bar Jamaica. As we walked up I could hear the Beach Boys singing "California Girls" and I could feel the heat seeping from the front doors...okay, my mood was starting to shape up. When we got to the table it was around midnight, and we sat for what seemed another 30 minutes before we even saw our server (yes, anyone from HRA reading this, this was NOT good customer service!). So by now at least I was warm and listening to some good music, but I was still terribly thirty and the last message I had received from anyone at the winery said they might be able to go home in an hour (1 am) and would also all have to work the next day. I gave up by then. I put my phone away and tried started in on the large bowls of fruity drink they brought to the table for everyone to share with ridiculously long straws (in case you were wondering the big fruity drinks were alcohol free because they were so large). About 10 minutes into my fruity drink Giulia tapped me on the arm and said "Rachel, I think you have a surprise." I looked up and there were my friends from the winery!!! They had all surprised me, every single one of them was in on the surprise. I couldn't have been happier (okay, probably a glass of wine and I could've been happier, I tried to order one but we had somehow managed ON MY BIRTHDAY to find the ONLY bar that didn't serve any wine at all). From this bar we went to a disco that was inside called Belfais. This had to be the only disco in the area that didn't serve wine of any sort. I wasn't lucking out on the wine situation, but at least now all my friends were together and I got to dance! They even announced my birthday over the loud speaker for me. Unfortunetly all I understood was my name, but still, it was pretty darn cool! We left Belfais at 4am...because that's when they closed. We stopped at a Food Truck that served paninis. However, they were without a panini that didn't have meat, they also didn't serve fried potatoes or pizza. So they made a sandwhich for me that was cheese, mushrooms, and ketchup...well, it sounded good a the time. It was actually quite delicious and I ate the whole thing leavning only the trail of crumbs on my lovely new black coat. We got home at 6:30am. I slept like a rock until 11:30am on my Birthday!
Sunday when I woke up I did the same routine as Saturday. Breakfast in bed, read, shower. Around 4 I went out with my friends for just some quite time at the house, we all needed a little relaxing time after the night before. That night we had pizza at the house and then GELATO. Delicious gelato. I tried about 6 different kinds including liciorice and pistachio (which was surprisingly and pleasantly salty). I ate so much gelato that I woke up on the next morning and for the first time didn't want to so much as look at gelato. All in all, it was an amazing birthday. My mom and Dad sent me beautiful flowers, which I posted pictures of. I got a bottle of aqua di gio, a jacket that actually fits me (from my friends in the winery who make fun of my too-large hand-me-downs), a bracelet, so far two cards in the mail, a bag of my favorite candy here (chupa chup suckers), and amazingly wonderful time with all my friends.
I've declared my purchse of blue earrings today my final purchse for myself that I can write off as "Happy Birthday to Me" gift. On the way back from the shopping center I noticed that around 5:00pm everyday in this area there are what my Dad likes to call Tractor parades...this means that one tractor leads about 10 cars through the windy curvy no-passing zone roads going about 15 miles per hour. It's a funny occurance to watch, as long as you're not watching from behind the tractor. :) That's all for tonight I'm so tired my contacts are blurred and I can no longer see my computer screen!