We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Americans in a boat

Yesterday, I was a little late arriving at the Bucintoro for our Wednesday afternoon rowing practice. As I was just about to the door, I could see that  most of the Lionesses were already out on the street with oars in hand, getting ready to climb into the dragon boat, and they were all making a fuss, yelling to me "Karen, Karen, hurry up, hurry up!"  (Note: YES, the lionesses ALL call me Karen!)

I ran upstairs, changed quickly, grabbed my paddle and life vest, and ran for the boat. I was nearly tackled by lionesses, all clamoring at me, all at the same time. They were all trying to tell me that we had a special guest rowing with us that afternoon, a fellow breast cancer survivor dragon boater from Philadelphia.  The head of our group, Anna, wanted to make sure that I understood I would be the one rowing next to this woman, Lynne, and that I should translate for the rest of the group as we rowed.  Oh, this should be a lot of fun, I thought.  When all of them get speaking a mile a minute at the same time, I don't do so well with my Italian. I said a quick prayer to the patron saint of Italian language learners and hoped for the best!

While in the boat, Lynne explained to me that she and others from her Philadelphia group had been competing in dragon boat races in Ravenna during the previous week, and now she and her husband were wrapping up their vacation with a brief two day stay in Venice.  On Tuesday afternoon, while taking a walk down the Zattere, they happened into the Bucintoro and noticed photos on the wall of the Pink Lionesses. Lynn asked someone at the clubhouse about the lionesses, and was directed to talk to Marissa, one of our lionesse who by happenstance was also there at the club at the same time. Marissa doesn't speak any English, and Lynne doesn't speak any Italian, but somehow they managed to communicate for about 30 minutes, during which time Marissa invited Lynne to show up on Wednesday to row with us.

What a happy coincidence this must have been for Lynne!  Isn't it wonderful when worlds collide unexpectedly?  The lionesses were ecstatic to be able to share some rowing time with a fellow cancer survivor.  For Lynne, it might have been an opportunity of a lifetime.  As we rowed the boat onto the Grand Canal, she was as awestruck by that moment as I am every time I get the chance to row on that canal.  Something about it just takes your breath away.

While we rowed, Lynne bombarded me with  questions about our group. She was particularly interested in our boat, commenting on how beautiful it was compared to the boat her group rows in back home, and also that this was the first time she had been in a boat with cushions on the seats. What a luxury!  I agreed wholeheartedly! Those cushions are a godsend after you've been rowing for about an hour. Another first for her was to be seated in the boat while it was being lifted in a crane to go in and out of the water. Lynne thought we had some high tech methods over here!  They normally push the boat into the river where they row.

Lynne is competing in the International Breast Cancer survivors regatta in Sarasota, Florida which will be held in October. One of our own lionesses, Tiziana, will be making her very first trip to the US to compete in that race with the Rome team. Lynne got a chance to connect with Tiziana during our row, both promising to meet up again in Florida.

At the end of each of our normal practices, the boat is lifted out of the water, and we all pitch in to wash and dry the boat in order to get all the salt water off of it before it gets stored in the boat house.  Lynne was invited to join with this task.  Her group never  has to wash their boat off.  While we were washing, the lionesses wanted to explain to Lynne what we were doing.  In sort of mime fashion, they demonstrated  hosing down the boat and using the  sponges to soak up the water inside the boat. Lucia, one of the lionesses, asked me how to say that we were cleaning and drying the boat with sponges, in English. (Fyi, sponge, in Italian, is spugna) As I got the word "sponge" out of my mouth, Cristina, working  next to me, started repeating what came out like "Spuuun-ge"  "Spuuun-ge", making a very Italian sounding end to the word every time.  We all had a little English pronunciation lesson right then and there, with everyone saying "Sponge" "Sponge" "Sponge",  in between laughing and drying. Sort of a little like "Whistle while you work"... lioness style.

Lynne certainly had a unique Venetian experience Wednesday afternoon!


Anonymous said...

Oh Karen, what an absolutely wonderful collision of worlds. We can feel your happiness through your words.

Lynne and Tiziana will feel like sisters when they meet again in Florida.

Your Italian must be improving by leaps and bounds.

(PS Strani stars in my most recent post. I can't wait to get back there.)

Andrew H said...

The patron saint of interpreters is St. Jerome apparently. And his attribute is the lion!

karen said...

Ciao, Yvonne!

I am happy beyond words. Every day is better than the one before, and trust me, I didn't ever imagine almost 7 years have gone by, and still I'm having new, incredible experiences.

Yes, my Italian is improving daily but the Leonesse want me to speak Venetian! Ha ha ha!

Strani continues to be on our daily list of stops, but you must put Al Vecio Calice on your list too. It's near the very front of Via Garibaldi, they are delightful, fabulous wines, good nibbles too. And of course, I get greeted daily by Michele with "Ciao, Carol!"
I don't complain, at least he recognizes and acknowledges me!

May won't come soon enough, looking forward to seeing you again!

karen said...

Thanks for that info, Andrew! My zodiac sign is Leo, so I've always had a close connection with lions. I fit right in as a Lioness! And if St Jerome is the patron saint of interpreters, I hope he is listening to my prayers, I need all the help I can get! Baci to your lovely wife, please, and of course to you as well. When will we see you again?