Well January has taken a long time to get through, but we don’t mind so much as the weather has been lovely with beautiful sunsets.
Off to Hospital We Go!
This month we have had our first experience in an Italian hospital, well John has, I was just there in support.
John has an eye problem, he has a cataract, and it has got progressively worse over the past few months. Maybe because of the abundant bright sunshine, who knows, but we need to get it sorted. We are still waiting for the Italian health service cards, so we decided to go to an ophthalmologist privately to get it seen to.
Ivan brought us to an eye doctor in Scalea who specialises in cataract operations. He is based in an apartment block on the main road which looks nothing like a professional surgery from the outside, but once you enter his office, it is a lovely surgery. John went through all the tests there and less than a week later he had an appointment at the hospital for blood and further eye tests. The problem was that it was in the hospital in Cetraro.
We had never been to Cetraro, so when we were told about John’s appointment whilst we were walking around Scalea, we decided to get the next train to Cetraro to see how accessible it is. The train fare was only 3 euros, so why not?
Cetraro is a small seaside town south of Scalea about 40 minutes by car. There is not a lot there, although we have not been around the old town on the hill (typical Calabrese), but we had a very nice gelato near the train station. We saw the hospital from the train on a hill we went under, so it is quite a walk away. We asked the woman who owned the Gelateria if there is a way to get to the hospital. She told us there is a bus on the main road, but we did not know how often the bus is and there is no taxi. John’s appointment was 8.00am the next day, so after having a lovely lunch and a look around the seaside part of the town, we decided to get a taxi to the hospital the following day.
The next day, after a 40-minute taxi drive and a beautiful sunrise, we arrived at the hospital. It didn’t look like the best maintained hospital, and like all hospitals I have ever been into, the signs were difficult to follow. We followed the signs for Oculistico and then the signs disappeared. So, it took a while for us to find where we needed to be. But eventually after John asked someone for help, we found it. It was called Oculare, slightly different but not the word we were expecting. Anyway, the staff were friendly, they apologised for not speaking English as people do here. The place was spotlessly clean, it had plants and a little shrine if we wanted to pray – nice touch.
I waited in the waiting room whilst John had his blood and eye tests. It really didn’t take long at all. We were in and out in under 2 hours. So now we wait to be contacted for the appointment of the actual operation. Who knows when?
Next, as we could not see where we would get the bus, we walked back to the train station (the bus passed us on the way, typical). It was downhill so it was not a problem. It was a lovely warm January day so it was very pleasant, but it would not be great for John after he has his operation, so we will need a car both ways. Taxi it is then. We walked around the marina which was actually very nice. Then got the train home.
This year is the year we learn Italian, we started before Christmas as I said in the previous post, but now we are four weeks into it. The lessons are on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is really intense! John is struggling, because he can’t really see the text in the textbook. We mainly use the textbook and the teacher Carmelina comes back to us to explain the verbs etc. (all in Italian) and test us at the end. But as John has difficulties at the moment, she basically tests me. My head hurts afterwards, guess I haven’t used my brain in that way for a good while. Unfortunately, we missed a couple of lessons as we both had a really strange bug that knocked us out for 2 days but were right as rain immediately after. Also, we had to go to Cetraro. I suppose we will get there, we just have to persevere. It is working I think, but it has only been about 8 lessons so far.
Friends will be Friends
As you may have read previously, we have made friends with a few people who have moved to live here. There’s Tony E from the UK but he lived in South Africa for a long time. He has lived here for 9 years or so and has been retired for longer. Miro and Denisa from Slovakia who moved in September from the UK and Tony N and Angela from Sweden who had a holiday apartment and bought a permanent place so they can keep their horses. Of course, there are also our lovely friends we have made who have holiday homes, but these are people who live here permanently. We regularly meet up for drinks or meals and give each other advice and basically help each other out.
John and I want to go to a garden centre, to well, get stuff for the garden. I found a local one online and we were talking to Miro about it and he said he wants things for his garden too. So we decided we’ll go one day, they have a car so we can go with them. I showed him the location, not far away at all. This was before Christmas. Denisa works in a local hotel and is not always sure when she gets a day off.
One day she had a morning off, so they contacted us to say so we can go to the garden centre I found. Great! Problem was I could not find this garden centre again online. Anyway, it was not far so we had a drive in that direction that we remembered on the map. Could we find it? No way whatsoever. It seemed like it has been wiped off the face of the earth. But we remembered Tony E said there was one near him. We were close to where he lives so we popped in to ask where it was. Tony decided to show us the way. So we have Tony and John in one car and Miro, Denisa, Laura (their daughter) and me in the other car following. We went down a road towards major roadworks. Earlier we saw that road and just turned around, but no Tony decided to go through it. We thought well he must know something we don’t, so followed. Before we knew it, we were off road in the middle of roadworks and the workmen were ushering us away to turn around. The thing is that we were also followed by another vehicle. It was hilarious. No one was angry, we were all laughing. It was so ridiculous. There’s no way would we have done that in the UK, but somehow here everything seems possible. But this time it wasn’t. The workmen then decided to put tape over the the entrance of the site so that people like us wouldn’t try to drive through it. Maybe they should have done that before haha.
Tony E also helps us out with picking us up from the supermarket in his car after a big shop as we do not have a car. We help him with stuff too, that’s what friends are for. The other day he picked us up and we were going back to his place for lunch, but when we arrived, he realised he had lost his house keys. Oh no! What do you do?
Well firstly, we retraced his steps of the day. We returned to the supermarket and other places he had been, but unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found. So, we went to Bar da Pietro to calm down of course and decided to call the local builder Giuseppe who has done work to our place in the past. Luckily, he had a guy called Luca who was available. So, we went back to Tony’s place and watched Luca remove the old house lock and replace it. It did take quite a while though, which I suppose is a good thing as it proved how good his lock was. I guess the keys will turn up somewhere at some point, but they would be useless now.
Talking of friends, on one of our meals or drinks out. We were basically told off by our friends for not asking for help. We were talking about our visit to the hospital and taking a taxi etc. First Miro told us off, in a nice way of course. He said he has a car and is not doing a lot and we should have asked him to take us to the hospital. The next day Tony N also told us off for not asking him. This is not something we are used to. We know they are friends, but we have not really been in the position to ask for help before, it didn’t enter our heads to ask. But the funny thing is we always offer help and tell others off for not asking us for help, but then we do the same thing. We’ll all get used to it. It is just so lovely that we have a circle of friends already that are close by who we can turn to when needed and more importantly have a giggle and a drink with.
John is Getting Famous
Other news is that John is on a video! It is for Tony H – yes most men seem to be called Tony here, but they are not necessarily Italian! Anyway, this Tony is the estate agent who we bought our property through. He wants to show the world what Scalea is really like to live in, so thought an interview would be good of people that have bought and live here. I think he wanted both of us, but me being me said no chance haha.
We went to a lovely traditional Scaleoti restaurant in the old town to be interviewed by an Italian. It is called Antica Trattoria A’ Taverna. In the summer people eat outside on large tables. It is open most of the year as they also have places inside. We met with the two guys who we already know and were conducting the interview. One was Renato, the technical one who videoed and sorted lights and sound, and the other was Domenico who was the interviewer. It was very interesting to watch it being done and the bonus was that the restaurant supplied is with apertivo and wine, it was so nice!! If you want to see the video, it is on Facebook CLICK HERE
The Big Exit
No, not that one!
As I write this, our besties Steve and Sally are each having their work’s leaving parties. They are following their dream of leaving the rat race and becoming wardens of a caravan park. They had to go through quite a rigorous interviewing process to get the job and they start training next month. It is a big move, but they are actually doing it. You can follow how they get on as they too have a blog and it is 2gocaravanning.com
So to Steve and Sally, you may be too drunk or have a hangover to read this when it is posted but when you do read it, I just want to let you know that we both wish you the very best on living your dream and lots of love.
Well, that is it. Our plans for February? Hopefully John gets his eye fixed and we go to Rome with Tony E to make sure he gets on a plane to see his daughter, Helen in South Africa.
For now, arrivederci!