Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Random Bits

I still owe you some pics and stories from our Sunday tour, but that will have to come in a day or two. I'm just too tired tonight to upload photos, label them, and write up a description. I thought I'd just share a little bit of the daily stuff. I started language classes yesterday, and I think they're going to be really helpful. It's a four-week immersion class that meets in downtown Napoli for four hours a day, Monday-Friday. It's through an Italian school, not affiliated with the military. The only problem is the distance...

Getting to school in downtown Napoli involves getting a ride to the nearest train station, training into downtown  35 minutes, and a 25 minute walk to school. The reverse trip includes an extra bus ride on a bus that only runs once/hour, so if we (a friend is also in the class) miss it, it's a long wait. You may recall my mentioning the emphasis in our Area Orientation on "getting outside the wire." I find this highly ironic considering that most incoming families do not have transportation. Therefore, in order to leave the base to go anywhere, one must take a bus to the nearest train station. The bus picks up outside the gates, but in order to take it, you have to have a ticket purchased in advance - it's not available from the bus driver. The office on base which is supposed to sell these tickets always seems to be sold out. So you can't get on the bus. And when I've asked the question (I've brought this up with several different people now) about how to get the tickets, I'm told, "You have to go to the train station." I really enjoy looking at the person and saying, "How do I get to the train station." They always say, "You take the bus." I just look at them and wait a few seconds - usually the light dawns quickly, but if it doesn't, we get to play an interesting round of "Who's on First."

The class is a lot of fun, and four afternoons per week, we have some sort of optional activity - a film, a lecture, a sightseeing tour.

I missed the activity for this afternoon because...drum roll...we met with Housing and our landlords today. We are officially in pre-contract. Today was negotiating day. Our landlady and her son came in, and we loved meeting her son. He is really nice, speaks great English, and is planning to open a pizzeria in Florida next year. For the negotiating, we'd hoped we could get the rent lowered as we're coming out of pocket quite a bit. Naturally, when the time came to ask for this, we choked. I brought it up, but we were sitting across from this sweet, 76 year old lady who tells us how pretty we are every time we meet her. We both started backpedaling. We're terrible negotiators. By the end of that discussion, the landlord had offered a lower rent, and we actually offered to pay more!!! Sweet, little Italian ladies are a powerful negotiation tool.

The only thing we asked for was that the alarm system be hooked up to private police, which the landlord assured us is completely unnecessary. He sensed how uncomfortable I was, and the Housing rep told him that we're American, so we don't understand the area and security issues...the upshot after only a brief discussion was that our landlord offered to install for us a video monitoring system, and after a few months of living there, if we feel unsafe, we can have the private police. Our landlord offered for us to use the pool at his hotel whenever we'd like and for us to come to dinner with their family at the restaurant. When Nathan told him he'd like to learn how to make an authentic Napolitano pizza, he offered to teach Nathan using our outdoor pizza oven. We were very happy to meet our landlady's son and are looking forward to developing a nice relationship with them.

We now enter an even longer bureaucratic process. The home inspection takes place on 12 October and probably won't pass (apparently this is very common). Something will have to be fixed, then a 2nd inspection. Once the house has passed, we'll get an appointment 3-5 days later to sign the contract. After the contract is signed, we'll have a move-in date of about 5 days after that. We're easily looking at the end of October before we're moving in [big sigh from me and Scully]. For now, though, it's off to try to get a good night's sleep. Although my mind is taken up with figuring out how to get to and from school on Friday as the Italian transportation workers are going on strike, and when we asked at school about parking for those of us with a car, the teacher just laughed.

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