Obsessed with helping me feel at home, the Mother introduced me to a few more of her friends who had daughters around my age. One, who soon became a close companion, informed me of a local designer shoe store but warned that they are so gorgeous I would not be able to leave without a pair! That’ll help me find my feet 🙂 Over another restaurant dinner we were greeted by the Father’s business partner, family & their Australian Au Pair who hadn’t been there long either. She was fun, confident & knew much more Italian than me! Thankfully, she appears later in the story too.
With weekends still being leisure time (school holidays) we make the most of it & set across the waves for Ponza. A beautiful island best viewed from the sea. Little mosaic houses line the ‘porto’ creating the left overs of an original fishing town, with formations of rocks that create little nooks & crannies, ready to delve in to.
As we sail past the port I teach the children the lyrics to ‘Little Boxes’, which they pick up with ease but apparently I can’t sing?! Hmmmm. The engine stops as we drift in to a little bay & we race into the water with our flippers (not easy to run in!) & snorkels.
A boat full of Italian tourists trails past us at regular intervals, around the Natural Arch & then on to another sight. I feel secretly pleased that in-between these trips we are in solitude (the VIP access) & this is where we remain; making speedboat trips out to explore caves & coves, beaches & bays. We sail from one to the other, roping up & swimming into the warm rock craters, dipping our eye-masks into the water to see millions of colourful tiny fish scattering around, darting in & out of their hiding places. No wonder Nemo got lost!!
We dine at sea, by only the light of the boat & stars above, listening to Lucio Dalla. The table is crowded & we all dive in to plate up, the Buffalo Mozzarella disappears almost instantly & the parents & I pass round a bottle of Lazio red wine.
Once I’ve tucked the children into their cabin beds, exhausted, I curl up on the deck sofa & fall asleep. The Mother wraps a blanket around me as I have just done with her children & retires to the below deck. The following morning, by gentle rock of the boat & the crisp sea breeze, I open my eyes to the most beautiful view. The view from the boat.
Back on dry land, I carefully open the box lid & glow when I remove the cherry-red, patent heels that fit as though they were made just for me. I slide my feet into them Cinderella style & fasten the straps. The Mother has offered her Ralph Lauren bag with matching deep red buckles for me to venture out for the evening.
The Aussie & I meet at a local Irish pub then head to the Beer Fest tent in the city center. Weaving through the lederhosen dancing around the room & taking in the live band music, smell of Bratwurst, tankards clinking, chatter & laughter… we make our way to the bar. Beer in hand, we locate a bench near the door so we can smoke & start discussing life. I am pleased to find someone who enjoys food, drink & travel as much as I do. We arrange to meet weekly.
I experienced my first tropical storm at 3am. The tear of thunder & flash of lightening had woken me with a fright, making me shoot out of bed to join the Mother on ensuring a full house lock down. I was thankful we were no longer on the boat but it signified the beginning of change…
Early starts, having to dress the children before they were even awake, constant nagging whilst I tried to get them to eat their breakfasts (what ever I had prepared deemed not good enough) before setting off for the walk to school. A walk that should have taken 5/10 minutes… that in reality took half an hour! It’s as though they were walking backwards! I know the Italians do not rush things & everything happens ‘DOMANI’ (tomorrow) but this was taking it to the extreme!
Although a housewife, the Mother was hardly to be seen around the home & they began to rely on me 100% to be there for the children 24/7. To clean on the cleaners’ days off, do daily chores, to collect the children from school, cook them lunch, ensure they had completed their homework before play time, take & collect them to & from their activities (with constant arguments & tantrums on not wanting to go, using petrol paid out of my wages), entertain them until dinner, cook them dinner, make sure the house was tidied after them (they couldn’t even put their own shoes away!). Ensure they were bathed & ready for bed by 8pm, but then not let them go to bed until 11pm.
It wasn’t what I had agreed to… but I had to think about the positives.
Of which I had only tasted!