Wed., 4 Jan 84
Dear Mom & Dad,
I would have written earlier this week but I thought I might get a letter from you. I will probably get one as soon as I mail this. It seems that's what often happens.
I am still enjoying Pinetamare clinic. I saw 296 patients last month. That is probably more than twice as many as any physician at the hospital saw. About 700 patients were seen at the clinic in December. It is quiet busy, but sure beats the hospital.
We got your package the middle of last week. The kids have really enjoyed their presents. Angelique was really excited about the Barbie McDonald's stand & would not rest until I had it put together. We appreciate the presents & don't mind at all that your package didn't get here before Christmas.
The week between Christmas & New Year's wasn't very busy.
Saturday morning we all went to Capodimonte but got terribly lost & drove down a lot of narrow streets with dead ends. It took us about 45 minutes to find what we were looking for. Capodimonte is close to the center of Naples, but just off the Tange, so we thought it would be easy to drive there.
We went to the Capodimonte Palace, which is now a museum with paintings, furniture, and ceramics primarily. We saw nothing there that is particularly famous except for some of Leonardo da Vinci's works (& they were only there as a special exhibition). I guess the most famous work kept at the museum is called "Danae." It is by Titian and inspired all the reclining nude girls that hung over the bars in saloons in the old West. The kids didn't enjoy this museum as much as others we have been to.
After that we went to several shops that sell Capodimonte ceramic (like your pin). We found two pieces that we both liked a lot, but they were $500 and $1200. We did not like them that much. It sure was hard to look and hang on to the kids so nothing gets broken. In Italy, if you break it, you buy it.
After we had some good Italian food, we drove to the Naples Aquarium, which is in a park close to the bay. It is the oldest aquarium in Europe and has sea life from the Bay of Naples. The kids loved it. Matter of fact, so did Jeannie & I. It was very fascinating to see all these living animals & plants that most people never even see pictures of. It wasn't like a zoo where all the animals just lay around. Even the plants moved. We saw octopus, sea turtles, sea horses, jelly fish, eel, sting ray, & several other things that I don't know the names of, because I've never seen them before. There were also lots of fish.
After this, we drove farther downtown to see Castel Nuovo. This is an old castle. It is near one of the busiest intersections in Naples. We were there late on a Saturday afternoon and it wasn't too bad. We are one of the few Americans ever to drive there.
We got home before dark Saturday night. We had been invited to 2 New Year's Eve parties but didn't feel like staying up that late. We were tired. We woke up at midnight because of all the firecrackers. The Italians shoot fireworks this time of the year (day & night) like Americans do around the 4th of July.
This is our landlord, Diodato Capaldo, his wife Amelia,
and their children, Paola, Teresa, and Constantino,
with Jeannie at our house at Christmas.
Sunday after church, our landlord came to lead us to his house. He lives 10 1/2 miles from here in a village called Casapessana. We ate lunch with his family & had a good time, though we couldn't communicate very well. We couldn't believe there was so much food to eat. There were about 4 courses. Everything was very good, except the rum cake was too strong for us. They knew we didn't drink wine so they served Coke. We took pictures from the States and of the kids growing up so we would have something to talk about. We also took them a tract from church. It was hard explaining to them in Italian how we are different from the Catholic Church. The tract was real general. (It was in Italian.)
Monday, we left Angelique & Steven at the babysitter's & went by train to downtown (center of) Naples. We then walked about 1/2 mile to a big market called "Shoe Alley" by the Americans. We bought about as much as we could carry. I got 3 pairs of shoes. The most expensive pair was about $23 and, of course, I argued with the seller to try to get him to come down. They would have cost 3 times as much in the States. It was an interesting market and had a little of everything, but mostly shoes. It was very crowded & not a good place for kids. We ate lunch near the train station. (It only cost about 30¢ to ride the train.)
We picked the kids up about 3:30. They had gone to a nearby farm & saw lots of animals. They even got to see some pigs being born.
Yesterday, Steven got a new bed. Since it was my afternoon off, I spent most of the afternoon setting it up and taking apart the baby bed. I even packed the baby bed into boxes. He has been really excited about sleeping in a big bed. He was up this morning as soon as I got up.
The enclosed material is from curtains Jeannie put up in the dining room and our bedroom (blue print). The material was bought at the market in Caserta.
Until next time ...
Michael, Jeannie, Angelique, & Steven
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