Feb 7, 2022

Last we wrote we were leaving Syracuse and heading back to MDR (Marina di Ragusa). We had a delightful sail for seven of the ten hours, anchored overnight, and then motored the rest of the way with the wind on the nose. It was glorious weather and we enjoyed being outside in the sunshine in January, albeit with gloves.

Since our return, we have been dropping into a more relaxed yet energized mode consisting of reading, walking, dancing, writing, and adventuring.

In Syracuse, we picked up a couple of books about Sicily, one the Vittorini book we learned about in the library, Conversations in Sicily, and the other a novel about one of the wealthiest families in Sicily, The Florios of Sicily. Both were engaging and gave us a better sense of the history of Sicily and its people. While we missed the illusions to fascism which had the book banned, Vittorini’s book was a very poetic take on working-class Sicily in the 30’s. The other was a more mercenary tale of the spice trade of Palermo through the centuries, with power and revenge at the center, a less appealing theme to us. Will and I love to read out loud to each other so that way we get to share the books in the moment.

We have been taking long walks along the beach and waterfront, which feels great. The promenade is often jammed with people, especially on the weekends in nice weather. There are couples, often smartly dressed or in jogging suits, families with kids on tiny bikes, and older folks walking arm in arm. For the most part, these are not power walkers but rather people out walking at a slow pace enjoying the sunshine. There are joggers as well, just as in America, but the passeggiata is an Italian specialty to be savored.

One day shortly after we returned, I was feeling the deep need to dance, so we brought my speaker down to the beach, put on one of my Spotify playlists, and danced. With the ocean view, breaking waves, warm sunshine, and sand on our feet, it felt great to move in such an expansive way after spending so much time in the more confined space of the boat and marina.

The next time, we posted our dance on the MDR Liveaboards Facebook page, and a German woman from the marina showed up. It turns out she is a dance therapist and has done conscious movement for years, so we had a lot in common. Next thing you know, we spent a couple of hours over a cappuccino talking about dance therapy, which was very inspiring for me. The next time we danced, a British woman came whom we’d met earlier, along with our Senegalese friend who is the chef at the restaurant on the beach where we dance. What a joyous communion of souls in motion! We’ve been dancing consistently twice a week now and does it ever feel great!

Click here to see a couple of videos taken by our surfer friend:

Dancing on the beach

Dancing with our Senegalese friend (Instagram)

In addition, Will finally found some people to play soccer with—a man and his son and his son’s friend. They played kids against adults and were fairly evenly matched. Not bad for a former pro at age 65!

Inspired by dance, my new German friend, and my ongoing pursuit of how to bring embodiment into daily life in a more conscious way, I have been doing some writing about such things. As a certified UZAZU facilitator, I’m re-energizing myself around how to support people in reconnecting with their authentic selves through their bodies. Will too has been spending some time writing his ideas about humanity, nature, and being—the acceptance of an ever-changing nature as the core experience of all beings.

One day we biked 7 kilometers along the coast to Donnafugata, a small beach town that was largely devoid of people, it being January. Looking for a restaurant, we encountered a friendly man named Salvo (a common name in Italy, short for Salvatore), who recommended a restaurant on the beach and walked with us there to make sure we found it. After twenty minutes of talking with him in Italian, we said, why don’t you join us, so he did! We had a fabulous meal of somewhat upscale, creative Italian fare, something we hadn’t seen before. Next thing you know, he’s offering to bring us some of his caponata di peperoni, a different take on the standard dish with eggplant. The next day, he showed up at the marina, dish in hand, and we spent some more time talking on the boat. Needless to say, we’ve found the people in Sicily to be amazingly friendly.

Another day we took the bus to Ragusa Ibla, the old hilltop city about 30 minutes from MDR. We walked and walked and walked up winding streets and stairs between ancient buildings until we got to the new city and turned right around and walked all the way down again. Eventually, we came upon a 18th century cathedral, which is always such a spectacle—so ornate. As usual, the town was largely devoid of people, it being January and lunchtime, when everyone goes home and the shops are all closed—very strange indeed but it’s the Italian way. After all that walking, we luckily found an open restaurant and ate a nice meal, then made our way back to the bus. It was a pleasant day away from the marina for a change of scenery.

We also rented a car and went for the day with Bill and Nancy to Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, about a two-hour drive from MDR. This archeological site is an old Roman governor’s hunting lodge from the 4th century, which was covered in mud until the 1970s. When it was unearthed, they discovered room after room of all manner of amazing mosaics. Completed over two centuries, the place is a feat of human artistry and imagination. We especially appreciated some of their attempts at 3-dimensionality and the representation of shadow and underwater bodies, all using tiny tiles.

After a long day of driving, including a swing by a house that a friend is interested in buying and lunch in Piazza Armerina where narrow, steep, one-way streets with blockades nearly had us trapped, Will and I decided to take advantage of the car and drive to the nearby city of Scicli about 25 minutes up the coast. It was different being out at night in a city that people actually live in, so instead of the feeling of a ghost town that we often have encountered during the day, there were plenty of people around. We asked an older woman climbing the stairs with her evening shopping where a good place to eat was, and she turned right around and escorted us two blocks to a nuovo Siciliano place where we had the chef’s version of caponata and grilled octopus served on a bed of melted cheese. We ended the evening with a box of 14 mini cannoli of different flavors, ohmy!

As with most opportunities, our trip to Sicily has been a wonderful slice of life that has come with various ups and downs, adventures and routine, activity and reflection, vitality and sickness. The abundance of fresh, inexpensive food has been especially delightful. And it’s been great to spend time with my Dad and Nancy, and to be around so many sailors, albeit tethered to a dock.

And in a couple days we fly back to Portland, where February snows and temperatures await us. We hope the weather isn’t too much of a shock to our systems!

Tasha & Will

2 thoughts on “CASCADE II S2:E5

  1. Thanks for mentioning our talks and dancings together Tasha – this was a great pleasure for me too.
    Whishing you all the best for your return into your home- stay healthy you both and hope we’ll stay in contact. Yours dearly Birgit


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