The World at Large

Moving to the US

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Yesterday and today have both seen me working here in Cosenza. It's a beautiful place, with the sea to the West, and mountains on all other sides. The atmosphere here is quieter than Chicago, regardless of the local traffic. The air smells fresh, though often at night there seems to be a lot of smoke about, as if someone is burning timber somewhere nearby.

All in all, it's a pleasant place.


My hotel room is larger than last time. This time I have a couch, and a kitchenette. Luckily I have timber floors, rather than the tiles that everyone else has. However despite the air conditioning units in the unit, the winter nights are quite cool, so I miss the carpet at home. However, the days have been beautiful. We all regret having to work inside.

Something that startled me last time I was here is that there is no way to do laundry. There is nothing in the hotel, and no laundromats nearby. This means that we have to pack everything we are likely to need in a week. It's annoying to have to carry so much while traveling, and I inevitably end up washing something in my bathroom sink and hoping it will dry inside.

Staying at the hotel is also a good chance to pick up as much Italian as possible, as most of the staff don't know any English. Whenever I collect my room key I'm glad I've remember my Italian counting from primary school. Duecento dieci, per favore. Breakfast too: Un cappuccino, una ciotola e latte, per favore. Unfortunately, jet lag has my head in a state of permanent vertigo, so it is difficult to remember very much that is new.


We've also gone out to dinner a couple of times now, and the food has been spectacular, as you'd expect. Seafood is a specialty of this region, and they do it really well. The only problem is that it is taking me right up to my budget. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to avoid when people want to go out with you each night. Once I've committed to the outing I typically see something that I think will be worth eating... and it always is. The problem is quantity and cost. We went out to nice restaurants for the last two nights, but I'm thinking we can tone it back for the rest of the week. After all, I know that the guys I'm with don't want to spend too much either.

My first move should be to stick to "Primi" only. There seems to be an expectation that you will have both Primi (usually pasta) and Secondi (usually meat), and I've done this unnecessarily for both of the last two nights. Unfortunately, tonight someone ordered an appetizer for everyone as well. He said he would be getting a big plate that everyone could have. All of us from the USA thought he meant one large plate of food in the middle. However we all got a large plate, covered with cheeses (grilled and plain), soppresatas, pane with spreads, and more. I instantly regretted having ordered a secondi, but I was stuck. I only ate half of each part of the meal, but I still ended up eating too much.


Hours of walking around Milano while carrying a bag took its toll today. I was aching all day yesterday, but that didn't compare to the pain I woke up with today. It took me 30 minutes of yoga before I could stand up unsupported. The bed may have also contributed, as it feels nearly as hard as the timber floor (each of my fellow guests have also made this observation, so perhaps it's a Southern Italian thing). Having a desk job didn't help me at all today, as sitting was torture.

The moment I get back to the USA I have to start swimming again. I couldn't do any in Victoria (as I couldn't get to a pool), and didn't get back into it in my 15 days back in Chicago before flying to Italy. I'm really regretting this now. Though, now that I think of it, I'm extra grateful that I took the opportunity to swim in Brisbane while I was there. I won't be seeing another 50m pool for a long time, and it's great to be able to stretch out into some full length laps.

In the meantime I'll be doing as much yoga as possible. It helps a lot, otherwise I would have been bed ridden today. I was literally unable to stand or walk when I tried to get out of bed, and had to move on my hands and knees to start with.

I learned the little yoga I know from a man named Graham, at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, back when my back was in similar shape to today. He was living proof of how effective it can be. When I first met him he appeared to be completely unexceptional, and he walked around normally. But then he changed into shorts for the class and it became clear that one of his legs is about 1/3 the width of the other. He had polio as a child, and as is usually the case, the effect was debilitating. However, after years of yoga he claimed to have completely overcome the pain, and achieved a normal quality of life. Just one look at the shape of his legs, and yet his complete ease of movement was enough to confirm his story.

I had shown up at the hospital skeptical of how useful the yoga class would be, but Graham was the perfect advertisement for what he was teaching. I really ought to go to a class and work at getting better at it, but it can be very time consuming, and I tend to get into different types of exercise once I'm no longer in pain. Maybe I can try the Bikram Yoga that is 7 minutes walk up the road from me. I've heard really good things about it, and today I'm feeling like I could use all the help I can get.

Anyway, I'd better get to bed. Maybe the solid bed will help my back after all. I can always hope!


At 9:45 AM, Blogger Tiger said...

If you do decide to give Bikram Yoga a try, here's an interesting resource: - it's local hot yoga studio locations & reviews

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Quoll said...

My father pointed out that I'd accidentally said the sea was to the "East" instead of the "West". Put it down to being overtired.


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