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Always the Little Things

Last night we boiled water to have a shower. It was 15°C/58° F in the night and we had a long day of working on the compost toilet, finalising the last bit of structure before we start the roof and flooring.

Jo came up with a brilliant idea that we could boil some water for a shower because I had all but resigned on having a shower before bed. He knows that  for me a shower before bed is a massive deal but I really just couldn’t manage the freeze. The water is already cold on normal nights, let alone a night like this. But when he suggested boiling, I thought "this could work". Particularly since we now have a rocket stove that fires up properly and doesn’t get affected by the wind—and can also double as a mosquito deterrent and a heater.

With that, we grabbed some water from the hose, fired up the stove and got our things ready. It turned out to be delightful with the addition of a strainer and we took turns pouring the water on each other once we found the perfect temperature. It was quick but effective and we were able to go to bed clean with the hope of having a rest day tomorrow.

Tomorrow is today, and we woke up this morning with the intention of going to Viterbo. We checked the bus times and set up ourselves with Sergio (the head of the land/project and effectively our “boss”) to get to Farnese. From there we could get on the bus toward what is meant to be a bigger town than we've seen here so far. We intended to get some good food and gelato and to do some laundry.

Instead, we waited almost an hour for a bus that never came. And the one that did, which we got on without asking where to, was not going to Viterbo. At some point the bus driver asked where we were going and told us that it might be better to get off now and wait for the bus that actually would go where we intended. That bus wouldn’t be for another 3 hours and 15 minutes. And he dropped us off in a desolate town on the top of a mountain where the windchill was stifling. No taxis. And as it’s Sunday, and practically almost siesta time, everything was either closed or on the verge.

We managed to find an open bar (translated as a cafe) where we could at least sit inside away from the wind and figure out our next plan. I threw out many ideas, maybe a bit too soon, and overwhelmed Jo and Mette, who is our trusty companion in all things Farnese. So I stopped with the talking for a bit so everyone could have a moment to think.

After some negotiation, I was able to convince them both that walking back to Farnese was a better option than walking to Capodimonte for laundry and gelato, because at least we’d be closer to where we need to be and we know the food options are better in Farnese than Capo. So we finished our spremutas (freshly squeezed orange juice) and they their cappuccinos and we loaded up with the undone laundry and our backpacks to head out for the 2-hour walk back through the mountains.

Half-heartedly, we decided to stick out our thumbs as we walked in case someone might decide to stop and give us a lift. None of us had ever hitched a ride before but I think we all thought there is power in numbers to help us feel safe.

I had already given up on getting picked up and had pulled my phone out to start writing (dictating) this blog about the crazy adventure of a day when I noticed a car pulled up beside us. Mette had kept her thumb out, and to my surprise someone actually stopped. He asked Jo where we were headed and said he would be willing to take us only about halfway. Halfway was better than nothing so we agreed and got in the car.

Turns out Smeraldo (emerald) was the head of the police department in the town where he said would drop us, and after hearing about our volunteer work decided that we are good people so he’d take us all the way. Jo made conversation with him in Italian while Mette and I rejoiced in the backseat, thinking maybe we would finally make it to a lunch place before it closes for siesta and that the last day off hadn’t, in fact, gone to shit. This little gesture of a 10-minute drive saved us several hours and another day of eating marinara pizza or bread in the town because nothing else is open.

Now, we are having lunch and vino at the slow food restaurant we’ve been eyeing since our first visit to the abandoned town last weekend. When we finish we will have to try and figure out how we will get back to the farm and when, or whether we'd try again for the bus.

Other than that, we don’t really have any other worries.

La dolce vita.

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