Saturday, February 20, 2010

Indolenza 20/02/2010

Our philosophical regular, Giorgio, tells me he’s not going to bother voting in the upcoming elections for mayor. ‘What’s the point?’ he asks, ‘Do you think anything is ever going to change here?’ He laughs derisively. ‘What I hate most about this time of year, is that you see the same old faces you haven’t seen for three years or so; now it’s election time, they are out scouting for support, smiling at you like you’re their best friend. What a load of rubbish!’

The thing that annoys me most, I say, is the lack of rubbish collection, and the fact that there is no recycling. Uncivilised, developing country issues. Any chance this will change with a new administration? Giorgio laughs again: ‘Sure that’s all a ‘giro di interesse’’, he says, looking at me carefully to see if I know what he means. ‘Vested interests’ is another way of saying, that’s mafia territory, without having to mention the M-word. I know, I say, but I can’t believe no one does anything about it: You all complain to each other – the lamento is a typical Sicilian attitude - but there are never any demonstrations or organised protests. It’s outrageous.

‘Ah’, says, Giorgio, that’s because the Sicilian is essentially indolent. Indolenza, e menofreguismo, a couldn’t care-less attitude, that’s how we survive, he says. 'How else could we put up with what’s been going on here on our island for decades. Like Tomaso de Lampedusa writes, in ‘Il Gattopardo’, we Sicilians think we are gods; we’re gods, so why should we bother to do anything?' But why are you indolent, I want to know. Could it be, as he also writes, that Sicilians are tired?; tired of the sun beating down on your head six months of the year, tired of the mistral and scirocco winds battering you for the other six. It’s true – the winds here cause huge damage through the winter. Giorgio nods, 'yes, maybe that’s true, it’s so hot most of the time, it makes us lazy. Or the foreign domination, we’re tired of being told what to do for centuries – Phoenicians, Arabs, Greeks, Normans, Spanish .. and now the giro di interesse.'

Not a great outlook. On a hillwalk just outside town today, my friend and I are admiring the slopes of orange trees and wondering whether we could help ourselves to a few, since so many have already fallen off the trees and are rotting in the ground. An old man pulls in on the narrow road. ‘Girls, what a pity about the weather today (it’s a nice enough day – a bit cloudy, but it hasn’t rained yet and the sun gets through the clouds now and again).’ The farmer greets us with the typical lamenting attitude. ‘Look at the state of the roads, you can hardly walk down them. They’ve been promising to fix them up for years, but sure you know round here the politicians just pocket the money.’ There were old abandoned farmhouses, the bamboo sticks used as insulation sticking out of the walls, a derelict building with rusty iron bars on the windows, the number three still nailed to the crumbling wall and a postbox that looked like it hadn’t been used for years. We had passed a few men tending to their ramshackle vegetable plots, raking out the land, pruning olive trees – nascent green buds just beginning to appear on some. The older men stared and looked over their ground protectively. The younger men wished us a pleasant walk. But the houses were all built on fabulous positions with views over the valleys and out to the sea. ‘What a shame the houses have been abandoned, ‘ we say. ‘Oh, for years now. Nobody will bother about them now.’ The farmer shrugs. We try to cheer him up. ‘And the lovely orange trees, why don’t the owners pick the oranges?’ ‘The manpower needed to collect them wouldn’t be worth what you can get for them on the market, ‘ he said, shaking his head. ‘Now the oranges belong to the ground.’


  1. I can see I am going to love your site!
    joe zarba

  2. Oh Dear, what a sad post. But very interesting. To add some sadness I can tell you that in Sevilla didnt stop raining for monthes and that the Guadalquivir is overflowing, sinking some villages under water. About Eurovisión we kiked out a bad manner and worst singer young man and now a typical Eurovisión singer will represent us with a love song. No chance.
    Keep on writing brooonch!

  3. ah Dani, don't worry, Eurovision is just embarrassing. Can't believe all the rain in Sevilla - reminds me of when I lived there! Desastre. Oh well, look forward to Spring.

  4. Thanks Joe! Check out the older posts too - some of the craziest things happened at the beginning ...