My Sicilian Trip Journal: April 1st to April 29th, 2005   [Part 2]

April 9, 2005

I awoke early and caught up on my journal before talking a walk to the piazza at around 9:00am. I purchased a few of the sugar topped sweet breads and when I came out I met Giuseppe LoDico, Pietro's brother in the square. I decided to walk down by the library and find the shortcut up to the apartment.

Finishing my breakfast, I went up to attend church Mass only to be told it wasn't today but Sunday. With time, I returned and went with John to the supermarket in the next town of Madonnuzza. We stocked up on water, wine and some pasta for the next few days.

Upon returning I decided to take a trip to Blufi so I loaded up my bag with my camera and essentials and drove to Blufi in search of the quartiere of Malpasso. It was late morning and I ran out of time to meet anyone on the street. I found a few scenic spots and took a few photos before I proceeded on the the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Oils taking more photos of the scenery. I found a small courtyard off the Sanctuary and discovered a LoDico family crypt within the Sanctuary's walls. It is said the Sanctuary was built by the Templar Knights at around the time of the Crusades.

My next stop was in Locati, taking more photos of the church in the piazza, and finally on to Bompietro as I began the loop back to Petralia. In Bompietro I stopped at the same Tavola Caldra and asked for Rosmario, my friend who spoke English on my last visit four years ago. The old men in the main piazza didn't know him and once I explained my mane and my grandfather's birth in Bompietro, I came to understand that there probably wasn't any LoDico left in town but in Locati there might be some.

I headed back to Petralia and grabbed a quick lunch of cheese, bread, water and fruit to hold me over until our dinner tonight.

My brother began cooking for the dinner around 6:30pm and by 7:20pm we were ready to take the meal: chicken and salad to Leonardo and Franca. Don Calogero LaPlaca, the priest and Santina, the teacher who spoke English the day before at Rosario and Gianluca home joined us. Gathered this night was Pietro, John, Elaine, Mariella, Leonardo, Franca, Rosalina, Maria Grazia, Santina, don Calogero and myself. We dined on John's chicken and salad and Franca's roast pork and veal. There was fresh mushrooms in a oil and vinegar dressing, olives, fresh bread, and artichoke fritters. This was followed by fruit, then a chocolate tiramisu cake and about two dozen small cannolies of two types cinnamon and vanilla flavoring. Of course, through the meal there was Pietro's white vino locali.

It was another wonderful evening. Sitting between Pietro and don Calogero I was finally able to fully understand the generosity and acceptance of Pietro. He offered to take John and I mushroom hunting later that week. He insisted that upon our next visit to Petralia Soprana I was to stay with him in Santa Caterina LoDico.

Don Calogero is a wonder. A member of MENSA and the founder of the first school for gifted children in 1967-8, he showed us photos of the school and his meetings with such notables as Prince Charles and Margaret Meade.

When I brought up my day in Blufi, the Sanctuary and the small LoDico crypt I found on the grounds he informed me this was very sacred ground and to have a crypt there indicated the LoDicos were part of a small, select family. He offered to contact the priest of Blufi and arraign a meeting to discuss this. Of course I thanked him for his kind offer.

He later offered to show us, after church Sunday, a very special and sacred item that is kept in the church. From my reading of the history of Petralia Soprana I guessed it was the carved crucifix by frate Umile Pintino that very few visitors ever get to see.

After four hours we reluctantly said our good-nights. We headed back to Petralia and met Rosario in the piazza and agreed to have a nightcap at Lucia's. Even though it was after 11:00pm the piazza was crowded and we had our drinks and met more local people. My favorite drink is fast becoming the Muscato.

April 10, 2005

Sunday would be a very busy day. We had Mass to attend and view the sacred items offered by don Calogero, lunch at Mimma's, torta (cake) at Lucia's father's (Santo) 91st birthday party, and then dinner with don Calogero. There was no way I was even hungry this morning so I got caught up on reading some of the brochures and a gift book on the Madonie given to me by Gianluca.

After attending Mass at 11:00am I joined John and Elaine at Mimma's. There were about 20 people there. Giuseppe and his wife have a large wonderful family like his brother Pietro. We dined on lasagna, beef stew, asparagus cooked with eggs, sausages, bread, and a salad. That was followed by strawberries, oranges, and a chocolate cake. Santina, who spoke some English, helped translate. Paolo LoDico showed up later and offered us a tour of the salt mine which is the largest industry in the area. The meal lasted for more than two hours and to save time Elaine agreed to visit Santo's 91st birthday party alone while John and I stayed at Mimma's.

By 4:30pm we made in back and could rest up for our 8:00pm dinner with don Calogero LoDico. It seemed like just a few minutes but I napped for about 2 hours before it was 7:30pm and we had to get ready for dinner with don Calogero. On exiting our apartment we ran into Pietro, Lucia and Rosmario and invited them in for a look at our apartment. They were all impressed at its size and looks. We said our good-byes but not before Pietro reminded me of our Tuesday date to go mushroom hunting.

Dinner was to be at Cerasella, the local restaurant on the outskirts of Petralia. We had learned earlier from don Calogero LaPlaca that this was the site of his school for gifted children, built in 1967-8. At dinner was don Calogero, Santina, Rosario, Elaine, John and myself. It was hard to imagine another dinner that would be as memorable as the few previous dinner but once again I was wrong. Our hostess was don Calogero's sister and our cook was his nephew who waited on us just a few nights before. As guests of don Calogero we first dined on a selection of antipastos: sun dried red peppers, deep fried artichokes, olives, roasted meats, cheeses, onions, and fritters of various meat fillings. This was followed by roast veal and sausage, followed by a pasta ricotta platter, followed by breaded zucchini. We sampled red wine made locally. We then had a course of sweet Sicilian pastry bread filled covered with a honey glaze. Don Calogero brought a gift for Elaine: a bottle of whiskey and Santina brought a box of Italian chocolates for us to take home. The meal was topped off with a local digestivo liquor made from local herbs, flowers, and alcohol.

During the meal we discussed everything from the culture of Sicily to the basic philosophy of life. I asked don Calogero about the 11:00am Mass I attended and the apparent wedding vows being taken by a couple. He indicated it was their 25th anniversary and it was a custom to recognize that event during a Mass and that is what I witnessed. Later I told don Calogero that in November I would be celebrating my own 30th anniversary, he said that if I returned in November for that event he would not only recognized it but would write to the new Pope and ask for a special recognition from him. Needless to say I was once again deeply touched by his kind offer.

There was hardly a topic not touched. Life in America; the cultural differences between Sicily and America; jobs, work, lifestyles, the Mafia, schools, fast food, politics, and of course life itself.

As a member of MENSA, don Calogero, now over 80 had lived and is living a full rich life. He asked me directly if I felt something within me when I heard the Sicilian dialect. I told him how when I hear an older person speak the ancient tongue I imagined that was how my grandfather spoke. I went on to say how two things, my love of stone walls, things made of stone and cactus have always appealed to me. How I always stopped to admire a stone wall and I always found cactus to be fascinating, owning many and always admiring them in my travels. It wasn't much later in life I learned my Restivo side (my father's mother) came from a long line of stone masons and how just yesterday when I visited Blufi I was struck by the vast amount of cactus that virtually littered every corner of the town. I don't think I saw as much cactus anywhere in my life as abundant as in Blufi.

Don Calogero then smiled at me and asked if this would touch me somewhere inside. He began to sing a song in the ancient Sicilian dialect just to me.

He then told us he had written many poems but didn't believe in publishing them. He told us one how a woman has within her everything, the sun and moon and the tempest of all that is and could be known. It is in the man to search, to seek and learn from women that which makes each of them complete.

He asked, "Why is it we do not educate ourselves for life?"

Don LaPlaca told us how life can be complicated by television, work, the fast hectic pace of today's world and how in the past, the Sicilian contadino (peasant) wasn't distracted by any of this and could gaze the sky and starts and be free to contemplate existence.

He spoke of two mice, one a country mouse invited to dinner in his brothers large and spaciously rich city house. While eating they heard a noise and the city mouse was frightened and could not eat. The country mouse, unfazed, continued to eat and asked what is wrong. The city mouse said the owner was home and he was always frightened by the fact he could be harmed by him. Later when home the country mouse looked around at his meager life and was content to know he didn't experience that same fear and inability to eat his meal.

Later don Calogero LaPlaca spoke about the sun in the sky and how it set in the ocean, turning it a bright red. The ocean felt it had captured the sun, but in truth it had not.

The wonderful evening came to an end at 1:00pm and we said our good-byes and headed to bed. Tomorrow would come early for all of us as we headed to Marianopoli and more relatives.

April 11, 2005

We were all up early and on the road to Marianopoli by 8:30am. It was another rainy day, as has been every day but one so far. Funny how I cant recall a greater vacation while having this bad of a weather pattern. We arrived in Marianopoli just before 10:00 and found out Michela Vullo was not at work today. My brother learned his friend Emmanule Cusamano had passed away since his last visit here. when we visited Rose Cusucci we discovered she wasn't at home. We caught a quick coffee and walked through town some before deciding to head for Villalba. John got a few things for sandwiches, fruit and water and we made the dive in about 30 minutes. It was still being a cold windy and rainy day when we had a small snack in the town piazza in our car before deciding to head back to Marianopoli to check on Rose. Our note was still on her door so we did some shopping and headed out.

I drove back to Blufi and onto the Sanctuary grounds once again. This time I found the small shrine dedicated the the mysterious oil that flows from the hillside. We headed into Blufi and found a small shop and had sandwiches made for us as we were now hungry. We asked the shop keeper where was the quartiere of Malpasso and her directions took us back to the very spot where I had stopped before and taken most of my photos. We walked through the quartiere and as we climbed the terraced streets we found ourselves going back in time to more and more ancient buildings. At the top of the terraced hillside we found the oldest buildings. In front of us and below lay the the entire quartiere of Malpasso, followed by gentle rolling hills across a valley and then back up to the hill where the Sanctuary lay. Behind us was a small orchard and gardens as they sloped down to another valley and more rolling hills.

I took more photos and we then headed back through Petralia Sottana to do some food shopping for the next day or so. We walked the steep streets and wound are way through the shopping center of town. A large memorial to Petralia's war veterans caught my attention and I photographed a LoDico (WW2) and Restivo (WW1) name on the memorial. It was still rainy and much colder in the higher elevations of the Petralias and we were quite wet and chilled by the time we found are car again. We drove through Petralia Sottana and the Madonie park grounds and entered Petralia Soprana from the north end of town. By 9:00pm we were finally home.

We had a late night snack on cheese, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and wine and I called it a night by  10:30pm. Tomorrow would be mushroom hunting with Pietro and I wanted to rested.

April 12, 2005

Tuesday morning was another cold rainy day in Petralia. I had an early breakfast of mushrooms, green peppers, and garlic, scrambled with an egg and milk. The weather remained blustery and cold and we sat around relaxing and talking for most of the chilly afternoon.

I took another long walk around town and stopped in the local bar for a hot cappucinno before heading home. John arrived from his walk with some vino locali from Pietro. Rosario showed up as I was working on my computer, writing down the street addresses of my ancestors in Petralia Soprana. I showed Rosario one and he recognized it and gave me directions to find it.

We relaxed some while a big storm moved in and the rain pelted down on our roof. By 8:00pm we decided on getting dinner in Petralia Sottana and we found a nice restaurant in the center of town. I had gnocchi with mushrooms and wild boar sauce, followed by a mixed roast platter of wild boar, sausage and lamb and then a mixed green salad. Back in Petralia Soprana we stopped in Lucia's bar for a nightcap of Muscato wine and after a bit of time chatting in back in our house we went to bed.

April 13, 2005

The weather finally broke some on Wednesday and I spent the better part of the morning cleaning up some of my genealogy notes and doing some laundry and house cleaning. By noon I took a long walk with my brother down past the school where Elaine was spending time with two of Santina's English classes. We went first to the cemetery to find the LoDico crypt and then found an old villa on the edge of town to explore. I took a number of photos of the villa and the view of the snow capped Madonie peaks as well as different perspectives of the town.

Elaine returned with the name of a teacher at school who spoke English and wanted very much to meet me and discuss genealogy. We saw Rosario's mother drive by as well as Franca, as we walked back into town, had a cappucinno, bought a piece of pizza and had a bit of lunch at the apartment. John and Elaine took another walk and returned with some of Pietro's vino locali and two invites: coffee and some time back with Leonardo, Franca, Pietro and Lucia in Santa Caterina LoDico and then dinner with Rosario and Gianluca parents.

We had just enough time to clean up and by a gift for each set of invites (a bottle of brandy) before reaching Santa Caterina LoDico. Pietro offered to show us his sister's garden and vineyards we all donned boots for the mud, piled into his jeep and drove about a mile to his sisters. We saw the vineyard and spent time chatting with his sister Calogera LoDico's family. Calogera's husband was wearing a baseball cap with the name LODICO across the front; a gift from a LoDico relative who owns a door making factory in Germany. After commenting on how we liked it he went out and came back with three hats just for us. Another example of the warm reception we continued to receive from our new relatives.

On returning to the farm Pietro stopped at the small church on the land and showed us the inside. On my brief stop four years ago I thought it was just being used as a barn but when we walked in I was amazed to see a complete church with a beautiful painting of the Madonna and decorated altar. It was truly amazing.

We had coffee and pastry at Leonardo and Franca's and then exchanged addresses before heading back to town to get ready for dinner at Rosario's parents. There was Rosario, Gianluca, Valentina and their parents Grazella and Domenico as well as Santina our official translator. We dined on pasta, roasted meats, fava beans, an antipasto, mixed salad, mushrooms and of course, more vino locali. The photo albums came out and we saw many photos of Domenico's family. We finally took photos before heading home to fall into our beds for another full and exhausting day.

April 14, 2005

Thursday dawned with the promise of being the best day of weather yet. The clouds parted early and the sun shown bright. After some housekeeping John and I went for a walk looking for don Calogero LaPlaca. Today would be the day we would get to see some of his church: Chiesa Madre, Saints Peter and Paul. We were joined by Rosario, who I learned was the church archivist.  We were sidetracked a little when a tour arrived from either Palermo or Catania and don Calogero begged off for awhile while he gave the tour bus full of people his attention. Rosario took me to the room of archives dating back to around 1500. By the time Don Calogero joined us again I was already looking for records before 1810, the limit of my genealogy research on-line. Don Calogero pulled out a big leather bound book of Gregorian chants and was soon singing to us. Another few documents were dated around the time of the Gutenberg Bible and were some of the first printed pages in history. It wasn't long before I found the marriage record of my great (6x) grandfather Mauro LoDico to Maria Guarnuto in Blufi. It was a double wedding with his brother Antonio LoDico to Maria's sister: Calogera Giuseppa Guarnuto, in October of 1765. Mauro and Antonio's parents were Calogero LoDico and Vincenza di Geraci. I had just added another generation to my family tree in just 20 minutes of research.

John and Elaine headed over to Pietro and Lucia's for lunch and I remained behind, totally absorbed in the archives with Rosario. Soon don Calogero left for lunch and John called me from Santa Caterina LoDico telling me I must come to lunch as I was missed and Franca was heading over to pick me up. I reluctantly let Rosario close up the archives and joined Franca and Maria Grazia as we headed back to Santa Caterina LoDico.

We dined up with Pietro and Lucia starting with a rice and mushroom dish, followed by roast wild boar which Pietro had killed just five months ago. It was very tender and without a trace of wild game taste. This was followed by roast pork, a mixed salad and fresh bread and wine. Lucia served us some fresh cheeses, followed by fruit and then gelato. We had some cream lemon chella and couldn't eat another thing.

Heading back to town we again saw Rosario, Valentina, and Santina and we headed over to the church again to meet up with don Calogero. We were ushered into the Sacristy room and don Calogero showed us the silk robes used in the Mass. He then showed us some of the greatest treasures of this church: a gold chalice dating back to the 1500's and a lead chalice used by the Normans. We then got to view the most cherished treasures of this church and we all felt quite honored to have this rare privilege extended to us by the kind and generous priest. After spending hours with us showing us his church he asked us to meet him back at his residence in town. We walked back with Rosario and his younger sister Valentina as Santina and don Calogero rode back.

Don Calogero has a wonderful small house located at the entrance into Petralia Soprana. It was five floors tall with a staircase the took you to five small rooms. Offset from each room was one or two smaller rooms. The kitchen was located at the top floor with a great view of the countryside around Petralia. Don Calogero lived with his sister, the cook at Cerasella and we shared some pastries and a toast to life and friendship. Don Calogero, knowing John and Elaine were soon to return to America, gave John a bottle of sangria and Elaine a very old book in Latin. He looked at me and said because they were leaving in a day the gifts were for them and mine would come later. John graciously said that meeting don Calogero and his friendship was a great gift in itself and I echoed my brother's words.

We soon parted ways and hurried off to join Leonardo and Franca. Tonight was band practice and we were looking forward to hearing the Soprana musical band. Maria Grazia played clarinet in the band and soon we were gather out front of the band practice room as about 35 townspeople began to show up. I spotted Leonardo Cancillari, who wasn't due back for two more days from Germany. I had little time to just introduce myself before he had to set-up for practice. It was nice to know my transition from being with John and Elaine would be easier now with Leonardo back.

We listened while the band practiced for two hours. The first piece they played was an original score by the Maestro Antonio Sabatino who conducted the band. It was a wonderful arrangement and they rehearsed about five pieces before calling it a night.

We all headed to the piazza for a nightcap and then said our good-nights. After a quick bite to eat at our apartment, I added some entries into my journal and called it a night.

April 15, 2005

Friday would be John and Elaine's last day here and we all made it an early start to catch most of the day. We learned the open market was back and we walked down with Mimma and saw Rosario there. I bought a few more things yet have been unable to find anything yet with the name Petralia Soprana on it. We walked back to Rosario's house with his mother Grazella and had coffee after being shown the house. Grazella showed Elaine a hand stitched towel she made and then offered it to her as a gift. It was a wonderful moment. We met up with Santina and she drove us over to Petralia Sottana where her relative has a shop. On the way we took the long route to take in the mountains, now covered in snow and the waterfall and woods surrounding this part of the Madonie park. After shopping we came back to Petralia Soprana and went into Madonnuzza for a quick lunch.

After resting we all headed over to Leonardo and Franca's for dinner. John went ahead of us and was learning how to make Franca's artichoke fritters. It was another wonderful meal and no one wanted it to end. When we said our goodbyes it was a tearful occasion for all of us. We drove back to Petralia Soprana in silence as we had promised Mimma and others we would met them there for more final goodbyes.

At the piazza we had another tearful scene with Maria Grazia not wanting Elaine to leave and Liliana was heartbroken as well. With all our goodbyes done we made it back to the apartment, discussed the day some and turned in for about a four hour nap.

April 16, 2005

We were up at 6:00am and John and Elaine were all packed from the night before and we headed out by 7:00am. I drove down SS120 and caught the autostrada as the dawn was proving to be another sunny warm day. We got through Palermo with little traffic and soon I said my goodbyes to John and Elaine as they headed home to Boston via London.

I drove back and decided to take the Resuttano exit but discovered the road had a mudslide and was closed, so I drove back one exit on the autostrada and returned to Petralia as we had left it earlier that day.

I finished cleaning up the apartment, packed all my belongings into my car and paid Lucia LaPlaca for the last week of rent. It was still a few hours before I agreed to meet Mimma at 3:00pm to be shown where Leonardo lived so I took a ride back up by the park and shot some photographs.

At 3:00pm I came back to the piazza and ran into Mimma and she showed me where Leonardo Cancillari lived. We visited for a few hours as he played an electric keyboard, then accordion and lots of music on his laptop computer through the keyboard. It became obvious as we all talked some that something was lost in the translation. I finally learned that there were TWO Leonardo Cancillari's in town and this one really didn't know me. The other Leonardo was still in Germany! I suddenly realized I was a man without a place to sleep for the night. We said our goodbyes and I thanked this Leonardo for his hospitality and I drove over to Santa Caterina LoDico.

With Mariella help I explained what had happened and was given a room for the night. I was quite exhausted by the long day and wasn't really hungry, but after another dinner with the family and some television, I headed off to bed and slept through the night.

April 17, 2005

I slowly awoke Sunday morning to the birds in Santa Caterina LoDico. It was a pleasant country day, all quiet, when I was startled by the loud moo of the cows. I forgot they were kept under the living quarters of the house as they sounded like they were in my room. Later when I told the story at breakfast, everyone laughed.

I spent the better part of the morning there as the day began as a warm sunny day. Franca told me if there was any problem to return in the evening to stay the night, but I assured her it was only a mistaken identity and a language barrier that was the problem yesterday. I accompanied Leonardo to an almond orchard later that morning and helped him plant three new saplings where three trees had either died or been damaged beyond repair.

As Leonardo, Franca, Mariella and Rosella prepared to spend the Sunday afternoon visiting Franca's parents, I said my goodbyes and drove east towards Gangi. I had a few hours before going to Vittorio and Mimma's for lunch so I wanted to take some photos of Santa Caterina LoDico and Petralia from another perspective. As I drove east the weather changed dramatically from warm to rain and bitter cold. The wind picked up and the clouds soon turned gray again. I managed to take a few great photos while the sky's were clear but by the time I arrived back in Petralia Soprana I wasn't too happy I didn't have a home for the night. Mimma showed me where the other Leonard Cancillari lived and explained that this Leonardo did speak a number of languages and it appeared he was the one I had been corresponding by emails with for about two years now.

By 1:00pm we had another wonderful lunch of pasta, a simmered stuffed beef dish and roasted rabbit, salad, and of course, pastry as it was Mimma's 37th birthday. We were joined at the lunch by Maria Grazia's girlfriend Nadia who was very curious about California and American music and Hollywood. During the meal it began to hale and there was even snow flurries as the cold weather and chilly wind continued. By 6:00pm we tried Leonardo's apartment again but no one answered so I again headed back to my car and over to Santa Caterina LoDico.

I was greeted by Pietro's mother Maria Grazia who was home alone and keeping a fire going. She knew if I returned then it meant Leonardo Cancillari wasn't back yet from Germany so we chatted some and I helped her tend the fire in the wood stove. Leonardo, Franca and the girls hadn't returned yet and by 8:00pm Pietro showed up and also was concerned. We watched some television and Maria Santa had a late snack, but by 9:30pm I was exhausted and said my good nights as I headed back to the same bedroom as last night.

April 18, 2005

I awoke early again but rested and after the girls headed off to school I came down and had coffee with Franca and Pietro. Leonardo had already left for work at the construction site near Petralia Soprana. After coffee and a pastry I joined Pietro and we loaded up the jeep with some tools and headed out. We drove towards Petralia Sottana and wound up at a chain saw repair place where Pietro had his chain saw fixed. We then headed out towards Blufi and met up at his friend Antonio's house on the outskirts of Blufi. Antonio had a great house and garden and Pietro was interested in Antonio's seed collection. Antonio had about 50 storage jars of seeds. Some were varieties of eggplant, zucchini, and other vegetables. After much discussion, Pietro got what he wanted and we headed into the back yard where Pietro pruned Antonio's lemon and apple tree, but not before we filled up another plastic bag full of lemons. We went up to another house and pruned that lemon tree and then sampled Antonio's two year old barrel of red wine.

Soon we headed up to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the oils and I took some photos of Pietro and Antonio at the source of the oil. Later I showed both Antonio and Pietro the LoDico crypt in the sanctuary and I watched as these two men grew silent and blessed themselves on this sacred ground.

Soon Pietro and I said our goodbyes to Antonio and drove into Blufi where Pietro found another friend and he cut their two lemon trees on the main street in downtown Blufi. Soon a few old men were gathered offering Pietro advice on how to prune the trees which he didn't need or want. It was obviously good kidding all around. After coffee there we returned to Santa Caterina LoDico in time for a lunch of pasta, salad, vino locali, and potato fritters by Lucia.

After lunch I helped Pietro plant some of his garden as the girls came home for lunch and teased me about being an 'orlatano' [gardener] and 'contadino' [peasant].

By 2:00pm I was anxious to get back into town and find Leonardo or approach Lucia LaPlaca again on a room. I dropped Rosella off at school and headed up to meet Leonardo. He wasn't home and his mail was still in his mailbox so I headed back to the piazza and found Lucia's son Francesco and explained my problem. He understood and said his mother would be home soon to handle it.

When Lucia returned she took charge and walked me back to the same two bedroom apartment we just had for two weeks. I tried to explain I was alone now and didn't need such a big place. She showed me a small more ideal one bed, one bath, no kitchen place in the same building but said the upstairs would be better.

When we got back to the bar she told Francesco that I would be there for 11 days and to give it to me at the one person rate, because in her words 'my house is your house'. It was another kind gesture on the part of these people of Petralia Soprana, who have so much opened their hearts to me these past few weeks.

Soon I was settled in and had my lodging all set for the remained of my trip. I could now begin to plan my last dozen days here.