Monday, March 28, 2011

Sicily for Sicilians

Today it rained – typical scirocco weather. Interesting to watch the Sicilians in the unusual weather. I took bambino out for a walk anyway as he was oblivious to the light rain in his sturdy rainproof stroller. My husband’s cugina pulled up in her car – ‘It could only be you, out walking the baby in this weather!’ she says. A light drizzle, nothing to worry about. Warm enough to sit outside under the canopy while I have my cappuccino and bambino sleeps. Four middle-aged men, one shorter than the other, join me but chat among themselves. Some people are well-prepared for the weather – an elderly gentleman in a tweed coat and dapper cap steps carefully. Others hold a magazine over their head and scuttle from A to B (never far as they park as close to their destination as the flexible parking laws allow). Nothing like the bowed-down hunched-shoulders marching against the elements you see on the streets of London or Dublin. There are good things here too.

Though an English girl married to a Milazzo-man told me he was talking seriously of coming back. They both have good jobs and live in a nice place in England, and can come here to their apartment to visit the nonni whenever they want. ‘Don’t be seduced by the sun!’ I warned. You both will be too used to life in the UK. The state here gives you nothing. No child benefit, rubbish pension (you only get about a quarter of the taxes you pay for pension when you reach 65), no rubbish collection, poor health system –(never get sick here!), poor education for your kids, and serious lack of opportunities for them. Is the sun and the sea enough in compensation? And what would you do? Your husband might not get a job here (he’s a doctor) and you would have to give up your career and teach English- Is that enticing? You’ll have no friends, because all the interesting people our age have moved away long ago. Think long and hard and if you agree to come, make sure you have a goal for yourself so the move is not just for your husband’s sake. That is the only way to survive life in Sicily. Sicily is for Sicilians, I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Yes, you are ‘accepted’ once you have kids with your Sicilian man, but you are still 'straniera'.

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