7 May 1983
Hi Mom & Dad,
It was good to talk to you. I'll try to tell you more in this letter than I could on the phone. We talked a little more than 4 minutes and it cost $14.75 -- $3.60 a minute. It would not cost you that much to call us however -- if we can get a phone. It takes 6-18 months to get a phone.
The flight over went very well. The kids did as well as you could expect them to do. There were several other families with kids sitting close to us. I think that helped. They didn't sleep well that night on the plane, though. No one did. It just didn't seem like the middle of the night when we got off the plane in Rota, Spain, for 1 1/2 hours. It was about supper time back in the States and "jet lag" had already set in. About the time we got them settled in to go to sleep after taking off again, they turned the lights on and served breakfast at 4:00 AM! I never will figure that one out. The kids finally went to sleep after that.
When we landed in Sicily we could see red hot lava flowing down Mt. Etna. I'm glad we weren't getting off to stay there.
We landed in Naples about 8:00 AM. By 10:00 we were settled in our hotel - "Hideaway Hotel." Michael went off to the hospital to check in and such with our sponsor, & the kids and I took a good nap. It took us about 3 days to adjust to the time difference.
I don't think we've stopped since we've been here. Maybe next week will be calmer since Michael will start seeing patients Monday and I'll be here with the kids. We spent all last week in ICR (Intercultural Relations). That's a class to help us over the culture shock. We had a very basic Italian course & talked about their customs, driving, hand gestures, money & the city. We spent three days actually touring Naples. We learned how to ride the trains, buses & trams and the necessary Italian phrases to buy tickets and ask locations and order meals, etc. We were supposed to learn to bargain, but I haven't had the opportunity to do any yet. We saw the beautiful churches, museums, the opera house, the royal palace, a couple of markets & shopping areas and an ancient Roman amphitheater. There are old Roman aqueducts and other ruins around in this area. Boy, I'm glad I took Latin in high school and studied all this stuff. It was a very fun week, but very tiring. We usually went out looking for houses when we got back.
A lady from the church volunteered to keep the kids while we were in ICR. The kids enjoyed her and her 2 sons who are 5 & 8 years old.
The houses are better than we expected, but quite different from our ranch style houses. They're all 2 & 3 stories with flat roofs and possibly a patio on top of the house. I think we've found a house that we can be into in about 1 1/2 weeks. Michael & the kids love it. I would, too, if it had a larger kitchen. It is tiny. It has a large living room, large dining room, 3 bedrooms and a good sized bathroom on the main floor. It's built on a slope. Downstairs is the very large garage, a big bathroom where I'll also put the washer & dryer and a huge room that will serve as a study for Michael, a guest room & a play room. The staircase is marble. The Italians use marble & tile liberally. The yard is fenced and is generously sized by Italian standards - small by our standards. There is room for a swingset out back. There are a couple of lemon trees in the front. About 200 yards behind the house is a lake (Lago Patria). We have a good view of it from the bedroom balconies. There is an open field between us and the lake. I'm sure they will build houses back there someday -- Hopefully not for 3 years or so.
The neighborhood has many Americans in it. It's a very popular place with the Navy & NATO people. The Mediterranean Sea can't be more than a couple of miles from our house. The house is about 3 1/2 years old. I just wish I could rebuild the kitchen!
There are several preschools around for us to choose from. There is one in our neighborhood & one about 5 miles from the house where Angelique will go to the 1st grade. And the missionary's wife is going to try to start one. I think they all have day care centers also for dropping kids off to make appointments or to go shopping or whatever.
The people at church have been real nice and eager to help us get settled. Sunday mornings are typical. Sunday night everyone brings their sandwiches and meets at someone's house and they listen to taped sermons. If you hear any outstanding sermons, send us the tape & we'll send it back in a month or two. We may try to have singings at our house on Wednesday nights once or twice a month. They don't meet in the middle of the week here.
Michael & I are fine. I don't think either of us feel real relaxed here yet. Hopefully that will come when we get into a house. The kids are doing fine, too, although nap times have been rather chaotic with our weird schedules and babysitters.
Steven is talking more & more. He even says "I love you" when told to. When you ask him any question he shakes his head & says, "No," unless you tell him the answer is "Yes." Then he nods & says, "Yes," if he feels like it. He sings along on several songs and every once in awhile I'll notice he's trying to sing one by himself. Eating is still his favorite thing to do, but he seems to be losing some of his chubbiness. He really enjoys slides & swings & playing with Angelique.
Angelique astounds her babysitters with her reading many words & all of her talking. I think she's growing some, too. Both the kids will be glad to get into a house & have their toys again. We weren't able to bring very many in our suitcases & haven't been anywhere to get any here.
Did you get that plaque to Alisa that Michael's mother did? Did you get the water hooked up to the refrigerator? I'm sure gonna miss that refrigerator. Italians use very small ones because they normally go to market every day. We haven't found a car yet. Hopefully we'll have time to get one this week. Michael's Rabbit won't be here for a month or two.
You've gotta come see us. Italy is so pretty & the Italians are so colorful. You won't believe the way they drive until you see it. It really is wonderful to be here, but I'm sure we'll be ready to come back in 3 years. You can get so many beautiful things here so cheap, but a lot of things are real expensive, too. The food is WONDERFUL! And there are places to eat everywhere you look, it seems. I actually tried an octopus salad last week and some squid. I couldn't get past the tentacles, though. The pastas & pastries & ice creams are excellent. The pizzas are different, but also excellent. Come see for yourself.
I better get to bed. Write when you can, & plan on getting your passports in July or so. You've got to come see all this -- it's great!
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