You have old skin? Wear a shawl!

I thought yesterday would be my last post from Praiano. I’m sorry. There’s too much magic. I have one more story to tell.

Three days ago I stopped at Centro Market for this and that and who did I run into but Felicia. You may remember her from the Cooking in Italy post. We greeted each other like long lost sisters and I caught one word: coffee. I frantically sought help but no one spoke English. What about coffee?

I apologized. By now you probably know my one Italian sentence as well as I do: Mi dispiace, non parlo Italiano! She left and I continued browsing.

A few minutes later I heard, “Sherry! Sherry!” Felicia was back. She handed me a bag with a bowl of something warm inside and made eating motions. I scolded her and thanked her, then rushed home to see what she’d given me.

I pried the lid off. Water spinach. I’d know that veggie anywhere. Along with it, potatoes and ribs. Felicia had evidently run to her house, scooped up a bowl of her dinner, then returned to deliver it while I was still in the store.

I’ve eaten a lot of water spinach in Bali and I can’t say it’s the most exciting dish. But the flavors in Felicia’s combo woke up my mouth. Olive oil, lemon – what else? How could water spinach taste so good? I polished off the meal with gusto but the coffee question plagued me.

I texted Nicola, told him I’d run into Felicia and she’d said something about coffee but I hadn’t understood what she wanted. He explained it’s customary when you meet a friend you invite them in for coffee.

“You mean immediately, like right then?”


Oh, darn. I’d blown that opportunity.

But there was still Felicia’s bowl. My mother taught me never to return a dish empty. Oh, Mom! Your words still ring in my ears after all these years. I had to return the bowl filled with something and time was getting short.

Felicia’s house is about ten steps from Centro Market. I’d noticed the market had a kilo (2.2 pounds) of Himalayan pink salt for $3 U.S. That’s much cheaper than what I pay in Bali. I wanted it and a box of goji berry tea. It was my last day in Praiano. I could kill two birds with one stone.

With the translation app’s help, I wrote a note in Italian telling Felicia how my mother taught me never to return a dish empty. Then I heated a pot of kale/carrot/sausage/lentil stew and spooned it into Felicia’s bowl. I’d stop at the market first, pick up my tea and salt, then I’d drop the bowl off at Felicia’s.

As I entered Centro Market, there was Felicia chatting with the owners. After a boisterous greeting I took the bag out of my purse and handed it to her. At first she said No! No! Then she read the note and laughed.

Another volley of Italian and – there it was again – coffee. This time I was ready.

“I don’t want to disturb…”

Non disturbare! Non disturbare!”

I left with Felicia. As soon as we were seated at her kitchen table with steaming cups and tiny anise cookies – because you never JUST have coffee – I whipped out the translate app on my phone and the chatter began.

I was commenting on her fashionable outfit when she stopped me mid-sentence and jumped up. “Un momento,” she said and disappeared. She came back carrying clothing: a spaghetti-strap dress, a filmy red scarf, and a silver camisole.

She talked fast. I thought she was telling me she worked with a resale shop in Positano, that she brought donated clothing home, washed and ironed it so it was cleaned before offered for sale. When she sat expectantly waiting for my response I knew I’d missed something.

“Felicia, per favore.” I handed her the phone. She spoke and I read the translation. Whoops! How could I have been so mistaken?

The clothes were for me.

“But Felicia,” I spoke to the app. “I have old skin! These are beautiful but they show too much!”

She read the Italian and made a very unlady-like sound, grabbed the phone and said: Hai la pelle vecchia? Indossa uno scialle.

I took it from her and read:

You have old skin? Wear a shawl.

I howled with laughter.

There’s a distinct similarity between Italian and Balinese women. They’re both extremely hard-headed and refuse to take no for an answer.

It was time to go but Felicia had one more thing to show me. She rents her house next door to tourists.”Prego! Prego!” she said. Italian spaghetti sauce? No, it means after you, or please, or you’re welcome, or just about whatever you want it to mean! I went in.

She pointed out the new patio garden. Lovely. We toured three bedrooms, two baths, and a large eat-in kitchen. Then she picked up a book and motioned me to the terrace.

For the next twenty minutes Felicia flipped page after page of food images in full-color. Her picture was featured on many of them with her famous recipes. She pointed out her brother’s contributions as well as those of restaurant owners up and down the Amalfi Coast shown with their best aperitivi, antipasti, primi, secondi, insalati, and desserts.

This woman never ceases to amaze me. I could hardly wait to get home and google it. Sure enough Amalfi Coast Recipes is available on Amazon.

There are used copies for sale. They cost just over $20. A new one is $894.94 U.S. dollars. Used is fine. The recipes are in English.

Cookbook under control, I tried on clothes. Felicia wanted photos. I wrapped the scarf around my neck and slipped into the dress. It fit like skin. The cami, too. Surely there’ll be an occasion…?

It’s surreal, like a dream-state. I’ve moved from one unlikely event to the next as though they were pre-planned to happen just so. But they weren’t. Nothing was. What a thrill!

Okay. That’s all. I promise. This really is the last post for a while.

Wish me luck with flights and some interesting travel bans that have just been announced back home. This adventure isn’t over yet.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevecastley
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 03:30:25

    Safe travels. I hope you get here soon and the bans don’t affect you.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Karin Grouf
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 04:30:21

    The book is $21.68 new hard cover, I bought it

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person


  3. Sebastian Luciano
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 05:31:43

    Brava, bellissima. Una meraviglia. Thought I’d introduce you to some new words. Funny how all italian moms are the same.
    I’d love to rent that space you rented. Was it air bnb or another site?
    Maybe a fall honeymoon if it’s safe to travel by then.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 06, 2020 @ 16:20:26

      Wonderful! If I can just learn a phrase or two at a time so I don’t scare myself with the enormity of a new language, I’ll be fine! The name of the house is La Scaletta and it is on Airbnb and and probably other sites as well. Nicola Irace manages it. It would be a fabulous honeymoon destination – especially in the fall. Are congratulations in order???!



      • Sebastian Luciano
        Mar 07, 2020 @ 05:53:40

        Been trying to get married for a decade
        Lol we want small but my parents insist on inviting hundreds of people so we cancel every year.
        Maybe we’ll just elope and run away to Italy. I love the amalfi coast in the summer but no tourists seems wonderful.
        Thank you for your help.

        Liked by 1 person


        • writingforselfdiscovery
          Mar 08, 2020 @ 17:15:38

          You’ve been trying to get married for a decade!!! I say you either A) do your honeymoon in Bali first – then work on the wedding part, or B) do a destination wedding/honeymoon in Bali. Free advice – thank me later…HAHAHAHA!



  4. Kate
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 07:57:48

    You look bellissiima!! ( I had to look that up)… so floaty and delighted, and always, ready for anything. Travel in the safety bubble and please let us know when you have arrived and are safely ensconced in your own sweet spot.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Anonymous
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 10:12:11

    Hysterical….just had the “droopy” skin chat with someone today! Can’t be helped. It is what it is and shawls work GREAT! What an exciting last adventure (hopefully) for you. Safe and healthy journey home!! sl

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Diane Struble
    Mar 06, 2020 @ 15:14:18

    Felicia gave you good advice. You two do wonderfully well communicating considering that you don’t speak a common language. Your app is a miracle. Safe travels.

    Liked by 1 person


    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Mar 06, 2020 @ 16:29:14

      That app was a lifesaver and Felicia’s a very intuitive woman. When words failed, her mind-reading skills kicked in! It was such fun! I leave for the airport in about 2 1/2 hours. I have short layovers which always makes me happy. I’m eager to get home.



  7. Anonymous
    Mar 08, 2020 @ 12:58:56

    Hope you’ve made it home. Check in when you can.

    Liked by 1 person


  8. carole maclachlan.
    Mar 10, 2020 @ 13:26:28

    love your stories, they were great fun. glad you got back when you did, before they started closing borders.

    Liked by 1 person


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