Back in Catania after our day trip to Taormina, we decide to cook dinner tonight, since our small hostel is equipped with an adorably retro, fully functioning kitchen. Here we meet our hostelmates, David and Victor. Victor works at the hostel and we meet David when we learn he’s going to join our hike to Mount Etna with recommended geologist guide, Carmelo. With a few one-night exceptions in and out, they end up being almost our only roommates during our stay, turning the hostel into our own little shared apartment.
We all combine our groceries for a “family meal” celebrating our new acquaintance, and get to know each other over dinner. Both are originally from Spain. Victor, a photographer and video designer now lives and works in Catania and David is traveling around Sicily working on a guidebook. Along our travels, Jenn is our primary communicator, knowing far more Italian than I, thanks to her summer language program in Salerno. Here, though, she encourages me to practice my Spanish with the guys… which I do… a bit. After dinner the guys get ready to head to the bars, inviting us to join them later. We have no phone, so we get an address or two of where they might be and tell them we’ll “see what happens.”
Later when out, we head first to a popular outdoor bar in a piazza near the Pescharia… down by the duomo. Luckily, we snagged a table and enjoy some light snacks and wine while watching the goings-on. There is a large group of Italian girls behind us… somebody’s birthday. There are European tourists staying in the nearby hostel flirting and laughing and drinking way too much. Everyone is having a good time. The place fills quickly and by the time we leave a couple of hours later, the scene has spilled out onto the whole of the piazza.
Jenn and I decide to head for one of the bars the guys mentioned, choosing one at random, and surprisingly, there they are. We spend the rest of the evening there: meeting their friends, talking about politics, music, and literature; drinking and laughing. Victor tells us the story of meeting his girlfriend, Fabiola. They were both at a film festival in England and hit it off right away. They dated while there and once it was over he returned to Spain, missing her madly. They tried long distance, which rarely works… and eventually it ended. Victor was so in love with this girl that he couldn’t stop thinking about, so a year later he took a chance, selling all of his stuff to move to Catania. He found a job… and then found Fabiola one day… with flowers and wine. She tells us how surprised she was since he hadn’t even told her he was coming! “How could I resist?” she asks with a shrug and a smile. Victor fails to accept our swoons of how romantic we think it is, casually shrugging and summing it up with, “If someone loves you, of course they would do that.” Just that simple, eh? Right…
The night drags into the late hours, when we all remember we’re hiking a volcano early the next this morning! Hugs and kisses farewell… and back across town to bed.
Tomorrow, Mount Etna will try to best us.