On the left is the small beach we found whilst walking along the marina, it’s family owned but not really suitable for sunbathing or anything. I thought it was so cute with the little boats and it looks out upon the mountains which you can sort of see in the background (I feel like iphone never does your eyes justice scenery always comes out differently on the camera). They had just made homemade lemonade which attracts all the motor wasps but it was so good and you can sit here and watch the boats sail into Palermo Harbor.
A beautiful gelateria along the seafront opposite the marina I spent so much time in here. I wanted to bring every single person I knew so I could get them to try a gelato brioche, oh my days they are amazing! Nearly every cafe/trattoria in Sicily is family owned so you get to know the owners well and they get you to try almost everything haha, and really you can’t say no. The first day I arrived I sat down and ordered a cafe freddo (ice coffee) from the waitor, but he wouldnt let me order it insisting he had something better for me. After a couple of minutes he comes out with a small cup full of what looked like beige slush and a spoon. ‘Provalo, Provalo’ (try it) he said, so a little bit hesitant I did and it tasted so good. Coffee granita Sicilian style is incredible. So he easily persuaded me to have one instead and then every time I came back he had one waiting for me. Sold.
Left is Sicily’s secret beach reserved for Sicilian families and their friends, it’s not advertised and you can only find it if you know where it is pretty much. The water is so clear and kids just run about catching fish and hermit crabs, we seemed to gain so many little followers whenever we went into the water and ended up trying to keep about 7 kids on a lilo they thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. That was one of the best days of the trip, you can’t see from the picture but the backdrop looks like you are in the dip of a canyon and all its walls are surrounding you and all you can see apart from houses along the front is the sea and waves. Reggeaton music is so popular so that’s all you hear playing which let me tell you is not hard to listen to especially on a beach :D
Mondello beach is the tourist beach of Palermo and they actually hold work outs there in the water and on sand. The girl who leads them just rocks up with a massive stereo, honestly I decided at that point that was my dream job !
I guess it’s a bit different from being a tourist but in the same sense the people of Sicily are so welcoming to people from all walks of life and from anywhere around the globe. They love to learn about other cultures and in return love to share with you their own. They (like most Italians) are extremely proud of their heritage, they will get you to try every flavour of gelato, all their recipes (guilty) drink their wine and marvel at their architecture. But in all honesty – who would refuse, it’s gorgeous.
There are so many elegant buildings and statues in and around the city you can’t really walk a street without seeing something interesting. Sicily has been inhabited by many different peoples over time including Arabs and Normans and all have left their mark in some way or another.
Palermo is made up of Piazza’s and Palazzo’s which if you don’t know your way around or have a map handy you’re gonna get pretty lost. The Piazza above is Piazza Domenico which is breathtaking, there’s a convent nearby so there’s nuns running around everywhere too lol. In the city center you have Teatro Massimo which is one of the largest theaters in Europe (below).
It’s so weird when you travel to different places and are so welcome. I couldn’t help but think that somehow we don’t do the same justice in London. Like imagine if everyone in London treated foreigners or migrants with the same respect and compassion that we expect when we travel, it’s really crazy when you think about it. Yes, abroad, they are polite and courteous because they want us to enjoy ourselves and spend our money, but is the opposite not being compassionate or understanding to people in devastating situations because they have nothing to offer?… like it’s inhumane. And all the time while I was travelling I just kept thinking about it, and what pisses me off even more if that I have no idea how to help or make a change.
She had lived in the slum for a couple of months. A dot on the map of Merolas.
Abia knew its streets like the back of her hand. She had learnt its land and the ways of it’s people. Mainly because of Tariq. Because She would have gone anywhere with him, and because he knew everywhere to go.
When she lived in purple corner (that was normally where newcomers settled, on the outskirts it was less daunting by name and nature) Tariq lived on Arco Iris (Rainbow), which sounded like a dream to Abia.
After convincing her mother that it was closer to the market, caught more heat and sunlight during the hours they were awake, and was just enough west of the wind that blew in gusts from the city, they packed up their possessions and carted their salvaged home (if you could call it that) in bits to the block of multi-color.
Rainbow was central but it homed a backstreet all the way to the city edge. The rat run was a store for secrets.
Within a week she had learned which roofs to climb for a birds eye view, which shrubs to avoid because although they looked smooth on the outside, they had tiny little thorns that would jab at your fingers should you touch them. Sometimes her neighbors would ask her to run errands, usually in the morning when they knew she would wake early. She would appeared with the sunrise, take their orders and seize her opportunity. A young woman in the streets without reason to accompany her was Spanish for trouble. With one she could exercise freedom. She knew where to get the cheapest cloth, even the silky satin kind coveted by all Merolas women. (Sometimes Mr Avedias would get her items especially from the cita. Knowing not all her neighbors would approve, Abia usually handed them over without words, but they rarely asked, so she rarely had to lie.
© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town
Before the Favela
Her mother would tell her, as if like bedtime stories, anecdotes about her father. Abia could always see him in details if she closed her eyes. Thick dark hair with eyes wide like hazelnuts, glistening in the sun. But she liked to hear him spoken aloud, given presence with words. So even when he was gone he was there.
Her father belonged to no one, but her memories of him belonged to her.
Her favorite tale, one she could not decide was a recollection or a wish, (of both her and her mother), was the one she learned to ride a bike.
They had practiced every evening start to finish of sundown. Up and down their street, the wind through their hair and gliding feet, until Abia did not need her fathers hand to steady her, or his eyes to guide her.
She could listen to stories, she could sink into memories.
She could wish and she could dream.
But she wouldn’t ask why he had left. She couldn’t ask why he wouldn’t stay.
Such was Abia’s life. There were lines she could cross and ones that she couldn’t. There were lines she would cross and ones that she wouldn’t. Lines drawn as shapes in the sand, ones drawn in the stars that shaped her destiny.
© elenaxtina.com, 2015 in Skies over A Shanty Town