A drive to Gatwick

I had finally finished packing. I had to buy an extra bag and still left out a lot of stuff: is hard to move to another place when you have so much crap.

There were a lot of things to do, left undone…whatever…

Me and V went to our neighbour Turkish restaurant and ate our last lunch there. My last lunch in London, actually my last meal in London, and pita bread with hummus and  tzatziki seemed to be just right. Went home after that, said goodbye to my flatmates and called a cab that never arrived, not very impressed! so decided to walk to the local minicabs with four bags, a terrible attitude and a confused boyfriend. We got there almost crawling and got a minicab to Gatwick for the exact amount of cash that I was carrying with me and prayed that cab didn’t smell of cat piss like the last time, but it was all fine. Put the bags in the trunk, gave my boyfriend the last kiss in months and left.

The cab driver looked like he had just arrived from Pakistan, I tried to chat to him but he smiled and replied “Me, little speak”. So I guess that was it, it was going to be a long trip by myself.

We had to go back a little bit to take the big road so we passed next to my flat, the flat where I had lived for more than a year, the first flat I lived with my boyfriend, the friends, the cat. Awesome memories. Then we went through my neighbourhood, there was a man taking some cabbages into my favourite Polish restaurant and the ladies by the window display of the Turkish cafeterias were baking the bread.

Then we passed through the park were I usually ran, and saw the kids, the birdies and the trees. All for the last time. We then moved east. I could see Hackney Wick and brought me all of these great memories from the summer job that had just ended, the people, the canal, the music….was so absorbed with my thoughts that didn’t notice we were going in the wrong direction.

-“Excuse me Sir, but Gatwick is down south and we are going east, soon in Essex!”

-“Me, little English”

-“Holy smoke, I am gonna have to trust you and shut down my brain so I don’t go nuts”

-“Good, good. Music?”

He turned on the radio on a station that plays same music as Heaven, a gay club on Monday nights, and he seemed to enjoy the music. At least one of us was happy.

He drove me then to a traffic jam, then to another, and another. So I put myself in meditation mode and decided to enjoy my last minutes in the UK. The sky looked incredible and I thanked the universe for that amazing experience: The traffic jam, the time to meditate, the clouds, the driver, the music, the time in London, the friends, the new adventure and my new awesome leather jacket.

We finally arrived after two hours in the car,it should have been one, but who cares? I was glad to be there finally. And there I was, with a 25 Kg luggage, a 21 Kg or the heaviest backpack in the world, a mini luggage, another bag on my shoulders that weighted the same as a stone basketball, a leather jacket on my hands, with a scarf, a cardigan and a coat (just because I didn’t have space to pack them and it was 25 degrees outside) and last but not least, my super hero purple travel pillow that transforms into a squared pillow too. I was just there, standing with no cash, and the gazillion bags: Putting all my money into my bank account before flying didn’t seem like a great idea in that moment!

So the driver came to save me, bless him! He took a pound coin from his pocket and got me a trolley. I thanked him with my life, what an awesome guy, no words needed…

With a full trolley and an hour delay, I finally got into the airport.

Colombia here I come!

7 Years, many boxes

Is summer in London, all I can see outside are the clear blue skies, people drinking Pimms and lemonade at the pubs, girls that had bought sandals, shorts and dresses since April, are finally happy to be able to wear them now that is warm enough, and basically everyone at the park taking sunbaths (is no one working??). Laughter, sunny days and sunglasses.

My situation is a big different at the moment. Yes, I’ve taken the sun at the park and Yes, I have drank Pimms and lemonade with friends, but right here at home is not bright and sunny, but awfully dark and cloudy.

The reason is simple: Boxes.

We are now packing, and even though we managed to sell some of our stuff, our flat is full of big, heavy, dark boxes that are sitting there all the time, open and miserable, reminding us that we have a lot of useless stuff that we should get rid of, but instead, we decided to keep and pack.

I have been living a lot of years in London, but now that I have gone through my things to decide what to take with me and what to give away, I have realized that all these years I have been drunk. Otherwise, how could I explain the amount of crap that I have bought and kept through all these years? I really need help, but I’m googling Compulsive Crap Buyers Anonymous and apparently no one else in the universe buys so much crap, that is need of help, like me. Shopaholics Anonymous will have to do.

Between the stuff that I found there’s a giraffe tiara (?), a blonde wig, a pirate wig, a Kaleidoscope that I bought for an after party, 30 pairs of shoes, a full box of stripy socks, 25 bottles of hair products, fake long cigarettes that I used for pretending to be Cruella Deville and a sweater that my mum wore when she was in uni, a real keeper!

In the last visit to the charity shop just in front of our place, I found out that they have a room full of stuff up to the ceiling, waiting to be organised and put to sell, but most of that stuff is ours, apparently is too much for them too…

Last night I managed to close the sixth box, then this morning I reopened them and organised everything again in 5! 5 impossible to carry boxes, that have as many things inside as Felix the Cat has in its bag and all of them about to explode. Plus, another 4 humongous bags that I would take with me.

Then the guy from the international moving company was about to arrive so I was still jumping on the boxes, trying to squeeze them as much as possible and sticking everything with tape, and my boyfriend was just standing in front of me, trying to figure out how to help me, but I asked him to stay away:

He should never find out that I managed to keep and pack my awesome Cruella Deville long cigarette, among other useless stuff without the ones my existence would have no meaning 😉

101-dalmatians-disneyscreencaps.com-1291

Meet the Fockers Part 2. What NOT to do with your Italian in-laws

So my in-laws came to visit us almost a year ago and since, I have started a bible with commandment laws that I have memorised, but still need to read each time before I meet them.

I need to admit that Madame T and Monsieur M, my boyfriend’s parents, are pretty cool and super nice to me, and therefor I need to be really thankful. I have heard some pretty nasty stories about Italian mothers protecting their beloved cubbie-bears from the evil daughters-in-law. But luckily for me, they’re caring and loving, and opened their heart and home to me from the time we met, and send me lots of presents. They even got us Santa knocking on the door on Christmas Day with presents…. They completely stole my heart with that beautiful gesture.

But, enough flowers. Is time for the ugly truth:

Last year, as you may have read on the other post, they came to visit.

Madame T, Vincenzo’s mother, kept on cooking all the time. She cooked so delicious! is true that Italian mothers are all about the food. So I thought I should cook for them at least once and give them to try something different. Colombian food! Why not?! Brilliant idea!

So we were, Vincenzo’s parents, sisters (only three of them, because one stayed in Italy), one of our flatmates and us. 2+3+1+2=8!

Omg 8! I had never cooked before for 8 people! I mean, I had cooked for maximum 4… ‘Ok, fine, everything is under control. Must be the same, just double’.

Even if I’m not virtuous preparing Colombian food, I thought it would be easy. I had the engredients, the time and the motivation. My grandma did it, she had nine babies. If she could, I could too. No fuzz!

I bought some empanadas and decided to keep it simple: I would make arepas (corn tortilla) with Carne desmechada (pulled beef in a typical Colombian stew), simple.

Arepa-con-Carne-Desmechada
This is how it should’ve looked like…in theory Taken from mycolombianrecipes.com

After three and a half hours cooking and using every single pan and pot from our kitchen, I managed to serve a wonderful meal: eight dishes of cold and chewy empanadas and smelly tasteless meat over a hard dry corn tortilla, which I managed to eat partially, thanks to the help of six glasses of water and almost an entire bottle of wine.
One of the sisters is vegetarian but saw how much effort I put on cooking, that she ate the whole plate, and poor her, she was just 15 years old so she couldn’t drink the wine. Seriously, how did she do it? Let’s be honest, the food was so terrible that not even I could eat it!

Embarrassed of myself, decided to down all the wine we had, and was still not enough to kill me or soak the dry throat that horrible tortilla left me….

What was the mother going to think? Would she think that her poor little boy was going to starve to death because of me? My drunk self started a big argument inside my head: Madame T needed to understand that we are a contemporary couple! Vincenzo cooks, I clean, organise and drink. At the same time, multitask! She should be grateful to have a daughter-in-law that can make cocktails like me! And did I mention that I can multitask? It’s a shame she doesn’t drink…

When the argument that was taking place in my head finished, I noticed that she didn’t complain or say anything about my cooking. Wow. I loved her for her solidarity, but still:

Rule No. 1:

NEVER COOK FOR YOUR ITALIAN PARENTS IN-LAW

Life with an Italian

Meet the Fockers Part 1

A year ago, when me and my boyfriend had been living together for only three months, we received the news:

– His family would come to visit us in London for three weeks –

Uhhh scary! It was finally time to….

Meet the Fockers!

But wait…

The Fockers as the parents of the boyfriend. The in-laws. Not as a crazy hippie couple. And by the way, they were nothing at all like Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman’s characters in the movie. Phew.

Vincenzo kept on insisting that three weeks were too long and that the flights should be changed, so they finally changed the dates, and they would stay for ten days.

Now, my boyfriend’s family is very special. He is the oldest son from a beautiful couple from Pomigliano D’Arco nearby Naples. After him, four more sisters were born: Maria who is a bit younger than me and speaks Spanish (Hooray!). Then there’s Sara, who is in the middle of her teenage years, and somehow she’s handling it very well (Not at all like me. I was a complete mess as a teenager. The dark past). And then Claudia and Vivi, who are the youngest sisters and are twins, but not identical. Remember science class in school? Well, they’re not monozygotic, but very similar…

I knew Maria before from Facebook, but only the parents, and the other three sisters were going to come to visit. That got me seriously nervous, because when my boyfriend told me that he had to work and I would have to pick up his family from the train station, if Maria wasn’t coming, I would have no translator. Screwed!

So The day arrived and I went to pick them up at the train station. My Italian in that moment was reduced to Grazie, Ciao and Piacere so I used those words all the time. And nothing else. I couldn’t understand a single word they said, they couldn’t understand me either, so they just followed me.

When we were sorting out their travel cards, we realised that the two youngest sisters needed to take a picture for their cards. We then found a photo booth, and don’t know how I managed to explain myself, but I convinced them of getting the picture of just one of them twice. I mean, they looked alike! we would cheat on the tube operators, but they would save time and money. It was a great idea! Great idea? my in-laws would think that I was a trouble maker that loved avoiding rules and breaking the law. All after a minute of meeting each other… Simply great.

On their stay we managed to do a lot of sightseeing. In the night, my boyfriend’s mother or Madame T as I call her, cooked for us traditional Italian dinners while the father, Monsieur M tried to teach me Pomiglianese and Napolitano.

Their visit ended up being fun but short. From that time I fell in love with the in-laws and the girls, and learned a big lesson: Rule No.1 What NOT to do with your Italian in-laws

Should I stay or should I go?

So my boyfriend and I had finally The Talk. Not really sure when it happened. I think it was that day that we had lunch at Carluccio’s, a chain of Italian restaurants where I always ask for Zuppa di pancetta e funghi, a soup with bacon and mushrooms served with the softest buttery bread, YUM! My favourite soup in the world! But that day I didn’t ask for it. I could feel the tension, got a salad instead. Salad is good with tension, salad and wine….

V: “I think it’s time to leave London”

WHAT??!!

I’ve been living here for seven and a half years, I’ve seen friends come and go but never really thought that one day it would be me. So let’s keep it clear, ‘is just an idea’ for the moment. So we thought we should give it a go to those prons and cons lists that I love so much…

Pros of living in London

  • Reason No.1 is obviously my friends! …. and the cat 🙂
  • London is The City par excellence. You can find a great party even on a Tuesday night, up until 6 AM or have a kebab or a sandwich at any time of the night and in almost any place in the city.

24 hours restaurant, check✔️

24 hours Internet cafe, check✔️

24 hours transport, check✔️

Is just non stop.

  • Money here is great. If you work a lot, you will get good money. There are lots of jobs everywhere. Maybe not in your field, but you will never starve. Also there are lots of positions for jobs that somewhere else in the world would be impossible to live from, and here are “somewhat paid”, like artists, bartenders, sportsmen and gym trainers, carers, builders and specially the guys who open your door when you get locked outside, the locksmiths. Not sure how much they earn, but it must be a fortune simply because they CHARGE A FORTUNE. (I always thought that that’s a diamond business here)
  • Nightlife! of course. Concerts and performances
  • Public transportation! Back home I used to own a car. I was a student, so I had a student car, a Twingo. It was awesome, because public transport in my city is meh…..

I love the Metro, is clean and beautiful but buses…. BUSES!

Buses in my city leave me speechless. Bus drivers drive like in The Fast and the Furious! racing all the time and with this loud music from hell… Buses are so annoying that your only option is to get a car to pollute the air and to get stuck in traffic with thousands of people with more cars, that think the same way like you. But in London I kinda lost the interest in cars. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving but I can avoid all the stress from traffic, finding a parking space, or a petrol station. Also, I can go out and drink because I don’t need to drive home (this is a top reason for a wine drinker), and the tube is so much faster, the buses run 24 hours and they take you everywhere. I love you Tfl ❤️

  • The parks. I love the parks! They’re so pretty, and they’re everywhere! Just in the middle of the chaotic city, you can find a space full of flowers and trees to disconnect. And if you’re luckier, you can even find mini lakes with swans and … Pelicans? 
  • The Thames and the canals. They’re my favourite part of the city. Is just so beautiful to walk by them. Water brings me so much peace, and who doesn’t adore those cute little ducklings on the way?
A picture of Tower Bridge, taken from a party boat over the Thames. What a night!
A picture of Tower Bridge, taken from a party boat over the Thames. What a night!
  • Museums are free. Try going to St Paul’s cathedral or to Westminster Abbey and you will be charged (??). But not in most museums 🙂 English have collected amazing things from all over the world, specially Greece and Egypt (Let’s don’t discuss how) and yes, it’s all for free. 
  • People don’t stare at you. Yeyy!!!! You can dress up as you want, do as you like, and nobody gives a damn, unless you’re disrespectful. It’s simply awesome!
  • London is so international! I get to hang out with people from countries that I couldn’t even locate in a map before meeting them, and I love it. In London everyone is welcomed and treated respectfully. London is like a mini Earth, where you can find people from every single country in the world. And best of all: The food. There are restaurants from every single cuisine! and if I leave, sure I would miss the Peruvian food, Turkish, Japanese and Ethiopian. My favourites.

Cons of living in London

  • The weather. The city is so beautiful but the weather is like, seriously? Is it even possible to have a worse weather than this? (Is not a dare). Compared to other cities in Europe, London’ winter is not that cold, reaching minimum -2 mostly. But then the rest of the year is like a long Autumn soaked in endless wind and humidity, and sometimes even Autumn is sunnier than Summer time. Not to mention that the sky is always grey. What’s up with that?
  • The rent. Rents are high. High like mofo! Most people can’t afford a place, like us, so we share a flat with our friends. There are people even sharing their room, like a hostel, with 10 more people. And worst of all, we reached the point where we think this is normal.
  • Housing. There’s no chance for me to buy a house in here. I understand if you buy to then sell and make a little profit, but not a house to live in. The smallest, ugliest house could costs around £250.000 and did I mention that it will also be very far from the centre and that you need to change the pipes and cables and everything because they’re basically so old that Mozart could’ve been visiting your place in his days and somehow, that’s not really a good thing….
  • I must now apologise to all the vegetarians out there, but it’s time to talk about meat. But not a great talk. Beef is quite expensive here and not so great. They seem to be very proud of putting everywhere the “100% British beef Guaranty” stamp. But they shouldn’t be so proud of it….. I mean, Bravo! for eradicating the Crazy Cow disease, but beef tastes so much better anywhere else
  • Mice. I have noticed that most Europeans have a lot of acceptance to rodents (??!!) still not a good thing if they want to live under your roof without paying rent. Bless our friend’s cat! We have never had the squicky little visitors.

To this list I would like to add the fact that I’ve been living here long enough to make this place my home, and that we know we have everything here and would be difficult to start from scratch anywhere else. But then again, most of our friends have moved away or back to their home countries, so that made us raise the question among other stuff.

We haven’t decided yet but I better start packing…

Reasons to break up 

So we have been together already for one year and, well almost two. And I’m actually surprised that we have survived together this long, since we have a serious list of reasons to break up. But the main reason is well ehm, me…

-—————

Me: We need to talk. You are using too much oil when you cook.

V: Is not THAT much oil. I just…

Me: See! You’re never gonna change the way you cook, and I can’t live with that much oil anymore. I think we should break up.

—————-

Me: Having a Colombian girlfriend is such a big hassle. No visas needed if you date an Italian girl.

——————-

Me:You don’t want to wear a suit? I’m calling your mother!

———————

Me: Why don’t you want to eat my Beef Stroganoff? Is it just because is a BIT BURNT? I’m never cooking again for you!!

———————-

Me: You never water the plants! I’m always watering them, is like I’m a single mother of your babies.

Btw the Rosemary manages to grow in every park in Italy against the inclement weather, but I don’t know how, ours died. Oops!

———————-

Me: You are killing me! (After he jumped on my head and threw me to the flames while playing Super Mario Bros on the Wii U)

——————-

Me: I just need to rest my eyes for ten minutes (Falling asleep every time we watch an Italian movie or documentary just after it starts)

———————-

V: You shouldn’t wear your ‘I ❤️ Verona’ jumper in a flat full of Neapolitans (the regional footballer distress)

———————–

V: What happened with the taralucci I brought from my last trip?

Me: I ate them all.

—————

(Vincenzo walking heavy around the flat, like a Tyrannosaurus rex)

———————–

Me: V-v-visibility

V: You mean ‘Visibility’?

Me: It sounds the same to me…

V: No, you don’t pronounce the V. You say ‘Bisibility’.

Me: 😓

V: You also pronounce my name ‘Bincenzo’

———————-

Me: I had a little accident with the washing machine and now all your clothes are pink.

V: WHAT?!

—————————–

Me: Asian babies are so cute! I want to have a Corean baby!

————————

Me: OMG what happened to you?

V: I just got a haircut for £5 at the place next door…

Me: You have just resigned from your rights as my boyfriend.

———————