Ciao familiari e amici! We are very much in Italy!
We have been here for just over a week and have accomplished quite a lot in a short amount of time. We took the Area Orientation training, bought a car, selected a house got a new cell phone and many other things. Over the next few weeks I will go into the details required for each step, but so far, things are progressing better than expected.
The day we arrived was definitely the toughest day for me. After about 24 hours of travel from California to Naples, I was physically exhausted. We arrived in Naples with 11 bags of luggage for the family and were promptly picked up by some fellow sailors to take us to the Support Site Base in Gricignano. Stepping foot out of the airport and into Naples was about as underwhelming as passing the border into Tijuana. "What have we done?" was the first question running through my head. It was busy, dirty and nothing seemed to make sense. As we drove, you could see run down buildings and gypsy camps along the highway. It didn't look to good to me the first day. But as we looked past those things, you can see Mt. Vesuvius in all its glory. That made me think that there are good things here too.
We got to the base, and as soon as we checked in to our 2 bedroom villa and loaded it with all our bags, I was able to see that we were going to have to get used to a very different life. There was a closet in the master bedroom, but none in the other bedroom. I have all the kids clothes stacked up on a shelf in the hallway. We have a gas stove that has a manual light button (that doesn't always work the first time, so you may have to air out the kitchen before trying again to prevent an explosion). The villa has a washer and dryer - but before you get too excited there are many differences. Upon first appearance, they look brand new and look like miniature versions of the big fancy HE washers we have in the states. However the washer is only hookedup to cold water, and therefore the washer heats the water and a load of laundry can take up to an hour and a half or two hours to wash. The dryer does not have a drain. It collects the water in a removable flat basin and you must empty it between loads (and sometimes during a load so that you can actually finish). It can take 2-3 hours to dry and some have told me that some loads in the winter can take all night to dry! So most people line dry their clothes because it takes so much time and also the electricity is so much more expensive here. We are alloted 800 Euro for utilities per month!
Each bathroom also has a bidet, which my four year old son thinks is his own private sink - eww! "But Mommy! It's just my size!!!"
After starting to put away the clothes and unpack the bags I got an enormous migrane headache. I had to end up taking a double dose of Chris' prescription migrane medication to get over it. I think it was the stress of the travel and the emotional strain of the first impression.
Now that we have been here a week and have been around town, I have to say that Napoli is really growing on me. I love the neighborhoods and the people. The food is more than amazing and there really is a lot of beauty and history here. I already feel it is going to be difficult to say goodbye in three years.
Driving? Well, as they say here, "If you can drive in Naples, you can drive anywhere in the world!"
More topical posts are coming so subscribe and check back often! I am planning to write about house hunting, buying a car, driving, food, looking for schools and much, much more! You may have many questions and I'd love to hear them. Please post any questions I don't answer on the blogpost. :)