The Italian Job

Ciao amico!
I am writing to you to explain my recent absence. I am in Italy, Meta – a commune in the metropolitan city of Naples. Here for a voluntary job for 8 months with 7 likeminded animals. Surprised? Well, so am I!

DSC_0107My explanation starts on a Thursday evening some three weeks ago. In that particular evening I impulsively applied for a marine protection/ecotourism European voluntary service project. The following Friday I was already having a Skype interview. Not long after I was promised a place in the project. Why didn’t I say anything sooner? Doubt and uncertainty, and all of their friends where having a party in my mind. I had decided that I will only believe that I am going to Italy when I get the plane ticket.  I received the plane ticket only a couple of day’s prior departure. Departure that was a bit more than a week ago.

Here starts one of the greatest adventures in my life so far! I am in the Rome airport, where I have just gotten off the airplane. I call my mom and let her know that the plane landed when, where and how it was supposed to. Some 20 minutes later I am on a train to Rome central station. From there I take a 3 hour train ride to Naples. On my way to Naples I found it hard to keep my gaze of the ever changing landscape outside the window. Mountains after mountains. Big cities and small. Seaside and land, and so much more. When it got too dark to see anything outside, I turned my attention to what was inside – the Italians. Some moments after, I found myself having a conversation with an Italian man and his daughter. A conversation might however be an exaggeration, for we didn’t understand most of what the other side was saying. One of the last things they told me was that Naples train station is quite dangerous this late. Especially for tourists. Luckily, my next ride was just outside the station – A green WV bus. Together with it: the project coordinator and the volunteer mentor – lovely people. With them I had my first real Italian pizza and a drink. Both of which were more than fine. Oooh, the pizza. Whatever I had called pizza before lost its place in my heart. We stopped on the roadside, before our final destination. From that roadside I was able to see all of Meta together with its neighbour municipalities – Piano and Sorrento and some more. Amazing! There were fireworks somewhere on the beach and it struck me that those particular fireworks where under me. I was looking at them from above. I had probably never been so high, apart from being on a plane.
My first morning in Italy consisted of true Italian coffee and a light breakfast, and a view of the mountains, the city and the sea altogether. I have to say that it was one of the finest mornings in all of my 22 years of life. Still, I was not yet at my final destination, so we got in the car again and finished the journey to the residence of the next 8 months of my life. There I joined other volunteers that had already arrived before me. The place we live at has lemon, orange and olive trees all around, also some other trees of fruit, of whose existence I didn’t even knew. I am happy that I do now.  The first trip I had with the volunteers was to the supermarket. There we bought food for all of us for a week and a bit more. We had to divide some of the food in two parts for the guys and the girls had to live in two different houses until our planned casa was ready. However, most of the time we ate together at the same table anyway.
IMG_20150531_143027[1]This is the part where I had a dream come true. We had a mountain hike. At this point already 7 of the volunteers had arrived. 6 of us + 3 Italians (our guides for the climb) took two cars and got to the starting point of the climb, which was next to one of the many small villages at the base of the mountain. I feel it important to add, that Italy is densely populated, so there is life even in some parts of the mountains. The name of the mountain we climbed will not be disclosed for I don’t remember it. The climb was everything and more of what I had ever imagined it would be. Full of trees, cliffsides, fresh water, some sheep’s with their three guard dogs and a lot of crosses (there for the people who had lost their life’s while climbing those mountain peaks). And at the top (which, I was told, was approximately 1400 meters high) we had a sandwich. Together with the view over a small bay full of yachts, on the other side, not so far away, the volcano Mount Vesuvius could be seen, with the ever so famous city of Pompeii at the base of it.DSC_0140I’ll make the last part of the beginning of my story short. I am alive and more than well. Intensively learning Italian language, which quite often confuses me with just how little sense it makes. The city is great. Everything is great, except the internet connection, which, come to think of it, is great. I am having my first diving lesson tomorrow! Will write to you when I can, until then salve!

Your friend,

A bit more italic version of Kristaps Zelavs