Friday, October 17, 2014

Snake on the steps

Snake on the steps, poo in the piazza... Another thing that always strikes me when I return is the state of the streets.

Steps lead from this beautiful fifteenth century Spanish church to the school below where my son attends pre-school. On my way to pick him up last week I almost stepped on a snake that was slithering off into the overgrown bushes flanking the steps. I know there are snakes in Sicily, but I just don't expect to see them practically on my doorstep.

Also last week my son and I were playing ball in the piazza while bambina snoozed in the stroller. But we had to give up because the ball kept rolling into dog poo...

Dear Mr Mayor, could you kindly clean up the crap (or fine the losers who let their dogs do their business in the piazza), and cut the grass? And while you are at it, resurface our street, the potholes have ruined my car's suspension and the stroller wheels get stuck in them...

I love Sicily, I do ...

Back with a blast

Milazz's beautiful castle stencilled against the industrial zone

I returned to Milazzo mid-September after a long summer in Ireland - time enough to give birth to our bambina in the wonderful mid-wife led facilities in the north of Ireland - a far cry from local birthing options.

What awaited me upon our return? Extravagant heat - still in the 30s in the shade, exhausting sirocco wind, mosquitoes and cockroaches galore and ...

... a HUGE FIRE at the oil refinery, located a mere five kilometres from the town centre. A westerly wind was blowing the night the massive refinery caught fire, sending huge plumes of smoke spiralling towards mountain towns behind. The people of Pace del Mela and Santa Lucia packed their cars and fled in droves as the flames illuminated Milazzo's Manhattan skyline.

No one was hurt, and refinery workers managed to contain the fire so as to limit damage. But for several days after, mushroom clouds spread in the direction of prevailing winds, so that nowhere was unaffected by the fallout.

What have we been breathing since then? All the invisible, noxious particles that make their way into our lungs... What if there had been a sirocco wind that night? We'd have had to pack up and flee for Montalbano with our five week old and four year old.

We've been thinking lately: do we really want to stay here, inhaling unknown quantities of pollution? I say it every time I come back from Ireland: the first thing you notice about Milazzo is the poor air quality.