Friday morning we woke from sunshine hitting our faces after a night of down pour; a perfect start to an afternoon of all day travel – wretched weather of the Pacific Northwest, you will not be missed. Once I had my good morning stretch, I sat for a moment in complete gratitude for what I knew was about to lie ahead. Months of preparing documents and getting signatures from CJ’s command, having to deal with unnecessary grouchy, old witches [who clearly hate their jobs] having to sign, stamp, and deliver our visa applications and all 23543 others; a long and tiresome process, and moving every belonging we had accumulated in our entire lives (including our car) has led to this point- moving day.
Once we checked out of our hotel and moved all 11 of our bags (no, really)
into the shuttle, we were on our way to SeaTac Airport. Checking in and going through security turned out to be a smooth process – whew! We flew Lufthansa Airlines
which I couldn’t help myself but to repeat loof-thon-sah in low whispers because it was so fancy. Potential future pet name? I think YES.
Being conditioned travelers for the past 8 years now, we were prepared to endure a 10 hour flight to Germany and the hour and a half transfer flight to Naples. Leilani had a backpack full of activities to keep her entertained. Work books, huge sticker books (thank you, Siena!), her Kindle and DS, a blanket with 2 stuffed animals and a pillow pet were sure to keep her comfortable. I found a cubby full of magazines and pulled out the Oktober issue of Glamour – in German! (which gave me the idea of collecting European magazines while I’m here. OooOhh!) Of course, Lufthansa had TV’s with the best movies to make the time fly by… literally! We took our seats, got ourselves situated and about a half hour into the flight we turn our TV’s on. As I’m about to watch Monster’s University (no shame!), Leilani pushes “play” on a BBC documentary called “Galapagos with David Attenborough” about an island and its volcanic landscape and species that exist nowhere else in the world; completely intrigued by it. She ended up watching it twice. Really, Leilani?? Why that surprises me, I will never know. It is so like her to choose something educational. Needless to say, I was proud.
About 2 hours into the flight we are being fed dinner. I pass on “dinner” at that moment because I had just devoured a burger at noon, an hour before boarding our flight. You know, lunch time for American’s. Later, they pass out small snacks and beverages. Then what only felt like a few hours later, they pass out breakfast. I felt like we kept being fed! There is no better way to acclimate to changing time zones than being fed more food! It was all actually really good. Then again, what food isn’t delicious to me? Once Leilani had finished dinnersnackbreakfast, she changed into her Hello Kitty pajamas and sprawled out over me and fell asleep. Sure, Leilani. I’ll lose feeling in the lower half of my body as you drift off into pleasant dreams of unicorns and lollipops; because I’m not tired. Ah, the things we parents sacrifice for the content little hearts of our children.
10 hours and numb bottoms later, we make it to Frankfurt, Germany! We were there for all of 30 minutes until we boarded our next flight to Naples. Frankfurt Airport is one of the top 10 largest Airports in the world. It took 20 minutes after landing to drive to a terminal to unload. When we finally depart the plane, we head over to our gate for our final destination – Italy!
Before we knew it, a hop, skip, and a jump later, we had arrived! Leilani and I peer out the window and see such beauty beneath us (CJ was asleep, again. Go figure!). All the buildings were identical to each other; maybe 7 or 8 stories tall, and very, very crowded. These buildings went on as far as the eye can see. My jaw dropping moment was when it looked like we were headed straight for Mt. Vesuvius – we were that close. Such a sight to see! However, what wasn’t so captivating was when we were descending through a thick layer of smog. I have never seen anything like this before; it was awful. I am convinced Naples is responsible for contributing to the majority of global warming and its imminent climate disaster. Are YOU thinking what I’M thinking? This place could use…CAPTAIN PLANET!
Let the 90’s cartoon theme song ensue!
“Looting and polluting is not the way!” Has Captain Planet and the Planeteers taught you nothing, Naples?
When we touch down, we are greeted by Matt, CJ’s LPO (Lead Petty Officer/middle management) of the pharmacy he will be working in and the position he will be taking over. He was a Godsend! He drove us around Capodichino Navy base and gave us a quick tour, which was walking distance from the Airport. When we drove off base, we got a feel for what it was like to drive around locals. We nearly got clipped by another car coming in the opposite direction. Rules here are… there are no rules. But to drive reckless! Stop lights and traffic signs are street art to these folks. My thoughts exactly. This could be fun! On our drive to the NSA base, we notice the highway is littered with trash. Everywhere you turn, there was garbage. We even drove past a small gypsy town of homes people used to build with left over scraps. Ew! A half hour later we get to the base we will temporarily be living on. Matt gives us another tour – which is quite large – then shows us to the lodge we stayed in for the night until our home was ready for move-in the following morning. He surprised us with a few groceries to get us started and had arranged plans for dinner at his house with his wife and 2 small children. As soon as we unloaded our bags in the front room, Matt took CJ to finish check in at the hospital while Leilani and I stayed behind. That’s when it hit. An overwhelming wave of exhaustion had completely taken over our bodies and we collapsed on the bed for the next 5 hours. Upon waking up, I felt guilty. Whoops! There goes dinner with Matt and family. But, there too was CJ, fast asleep next to us. It was now 10 PM and we were all refreshed. We were so thrown off by the time difference that we spent all of Saturday afternoon sleeping as well!
Saturday morning we moved into our house. The best way I can describe our home is psych ward chic. Here are some photos.
We plan on living here in under a year until the housing department allows us to live off base and we find the perfect home in downtown Naples. Housing gave us loaner furniture until our home goods arrive. It took me about 5 seconds to look for the flush on the toilet when I remembered it’s in the wall. A GENIUS idea. This would be perfect back home for all toddlers who try flushing jewelry and toys down the toilet. They can’t reach. Right next to the toilet was its brother, the bidet; because sometimes toilet paper just doesn’t do the trick. About an hour after we move in, it’s storming! The weather from the Pacific Northwest had followed us and came after us with a vengeance. Once the storm passed and after we had our late afternoon “nap”, we went for a walk around base. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to breathe here. Have you ever thrown out garbage in an overflowing dump, unwillingly taking in a good whiff of that awful stench that burns your nose hairs? That is exactly what it smells like everywhere. There is no escaping it. The freshest air I get is from sticking my head in the freezer. I might start a fashion statement with surgical masks around here. The people of Naples have got to get a handle on their garbage system. We have Italian contractors on base that pick up our garbage whenever they please. Our dumps are just as bad as they are out in town. If this were any other base in America, that would NOT fly in the slightest. We unfortunately don’t have control over it. The Italian Mafia does. Another thing we don’t have control over is feeding stray cats!! There is cat food and bowls of water around every corner of every building. The Italian’s that work on base feed the stray cats. So, if we accidentally step on a cat, it was on, uhh, accident. Yes, accident.
After our night time stroll, we come back home and watch Harry Potter on our laptop since we still had no cable, internet, or anything else to keep us entertained. Then we all drift off to sleep again, occasionally being woken by thunder and lightning, and later, a power outage until 7:45 on Sunday morning. Of course.
It is now Tuesday evening, we have internet up and running and I am finally publishing this post. As you can tell, I am adjusting to the culture shock here. If there is anything I have learned in the past 4 days, it is how fortunate we are in America to have all the finer things. So, the next time you inhale that crisp, fresh air, or watch Waste Management drive off with your garbage each week, think of us and the people of Naples who aren’t so fortunate to have something as simple as clean air.
These last 4 days have felt like they’ve come and gone; partly because we slept most of the time and also because we were trapped indoors from the terrible weather. Living in Naples hasn’t quite hit me yet. When it does, I’ll be sure to describe that moment I burst into tears of joy. Perhaps while I’m strolling in downtown Naples, nibbling on cannolis and observing locals using hand gestures while shouting in the streets. Haha! Imagine, a mouthful of cannolis and a few tears streaming down my face. This cannoli is just so goohood! – That’s when I’ll know we are finally awake from our sleeping spell and no longer in Kansas anymore.
In unrelated news, I’d like to leave you with a few wise words of my fellow natives…