I've been reluctant to talk about what happened after my glorious afternoon row with the Pink Lionesses, but I've decided it's time to add more to the story.
Yes, I did go back and row that Friday. Twice in one week! I couldn't have been more blessed. When I arrived on Friday I got very enthusiastic greetings from my fellow rowers, which bowled me over completely. Truth be told, for as long as I've lived in Venice already, I have found Venetians to be quite closed. They stick to themselves. I've not had an easy time of it making friends, aside from expats. But among the locals, I am pretty much ignored. I did not come to Italy to marry an Italian, I don't have other Italian family here in this area, and don't have school age children. The normal ways to integrate into local life weren't going to work for me. So to be greeted so warmly took me by surprise. These women truly have big hearts.
The row was fantastic. I was expecting to take the same route we did on Wednesday, with a left turn onto the Grand Canal and up all the way to Ferrovia. Instead, we took a right turn and headed towards St. Mark's. As we rounded Dogana Point, Francesco steered us across the Giudecca Canal. We rowed between San Giorgio and Giudecca Island passing the Cipriani Hotel and out into the open lagoon. We then rowed towards Lido, almost to Sant'Elena! I could see Ca'Hendersoni from the boat! We rowed over to San Servolo, then over to San Clemente, and headed back towards Giudecca, passing La Grazia. Cutting through a canal on Giudecca island we entered the Giudecca Canal, then cut across a canal in Dorsoduro which took us to the Grand Canal by the Guggenheim, and then finally back down one more canal where we all disembarked. Rowing on the open lagoon is quite different than on a smaller canal. This afternoon there were quite a few waves, so we all came home drenched- but smiling. Even me!
The next Monday, I received an email from Donatella asking me to meet on Wednesday to meet with the capogruppo (the head of the group), whom I had not yet met as she had been away on vacation. I was also instructed to come prepared to row, and bring a change of clothes in case we got soaked again this time.
A third row! I was in heaven.
Meeting Anna, the capogruppo, was a bit intimidating for me. She questioned me about why I had asked to join the group, if I was intending to stay in Venice, and if so, would I plan to be active in all the group's activities, including all the non-rowing events. I was fearful my Italian speaking wouldn't be good enough, but I did my best to stammer through my answers. At this point, I had zero expectations. After the question/answer session, we suited up and went rowing. This time three rowers from the Pink Lioness group in Mestre came over to Venice to practice for the Vogalonga, the huge rowing event coming up on June 8. We rowed in open water again, and yes, we came home soaked. But happy. I was sitting at the rear of the boat this time, doing my best to row as well as I could. The time before I was a disaster. At one point Francesco yelled out "Karen, megio!" (Karen, better!), which was great encouragement for me.
After another wet row, we returned to the Maggazino del Sale to clean, dry and put away the boat. As I was leaving for the day, I got another "Come row with us again next time" invitation. Yes, I went home really happy.
The next day I received another email from Donatella, telling me she had had a phone call from Anna, the capogruppo. Anna thought I was serious and sincere about why I wanted to join the Pink Lionesses. Yay! I passed that round! Next they would all vote on accepting me as a "supporting" member, meaning I could not particpate in certain events that were only for regular members (a regular member being one who has had the surgery). That was more than ok by me! The vote is to take place at their next meeting on May 30 meeting, and in the meantime I should not row until I heard the results of the vote.
Honestly, I will be completely shocked if I get accepted into the group. There are only two other supporting members and they have a very different association with the group than I do. They were instrumental in helping organize the Venice chapter of the Pink Lionesses and getting the sponsorship of the Bucintoro rowing club. They really don't have any good reason to bother having me around.
The other day I was sitting on the Zattere enjoying some sun when along came 4 of the Pink Lionesses. They had just finished a row and were on their way home. They stopped to chat with me (wow- Venetian women stopping to chat with me?? Did that actually happen?), and they reminded me of the vote coming up. I mentioned that I didn't expect to be voted in, and their response was "Don't be silly! We'll see you soon!"
The vote is this Friday. I need all the positive energy in the world, so if you are out there reading this, please send some good thoughts my way. Nothing would please me more than to be able to participate with these marvelous women. Wish me luck.
ps (the photo above was taken on my first row out into the lagoon, and I am in the photo, but I'm hiding right behind the woman with the pink headband in the front!)