Saturday, 19 April 2014 ~ Meeting the bosses


       We found the phone shop just around the corner, but it was closed. For lunch. Until 4pm. Another thing we learned about Napoli that day. Shops close for lunch, usually from 2 to 4pm. Basically all the shops. We were a bit frustrated, not to mention annoyed, but we decided to try our luck and go to the school anyway.
       We went back by Metro; Piazza Vanvitelli to Dante, and then a short walk down along Via Toledo, then we walked past a cinema (yay!), Piazza Gesu Novo. There’s a huge church there. God, this church is so beautiful. Must come here for the mass on Sunday. And then I looked at my right. Another huge church! Oh, my God, and another one!
       I looked at my map and realized where we were.
      ‘Lisa, this is the famous Spaccanapoli!’ Remember that one we saw from the top of the castle yesterday? Look how long it is.’
      ‘I know. And look at that pasta shop. Haha I’d never seen so many different types of pasta in my life. But the map says we should turn right into… ah, here. Via Santa Chiara. And there’s a very famous church there too.
     ’ We turned right into Via Santa Chiara and walked down. Soon we were in the school street. We found the building and I was thrilled.
       ‘Lisa, we’re about to visit our first palazzo!’ 
       We were buzzed in by a man’s voice. 
      ‘I guess it’s Gwen’s husband,’ Lisa said. ‘Let’s go.’ 
     We went in through a massive, heavy wooden door, into a courtyard. Lisa and I looked at each other and we couldn’t believe how big it was inside. I had thought the whole building would be the school, but it was divided in many apartments, with balconies all around, all looking out at the courtyard. Just every princess’ dream… 
     ‘Carolina, you’re daydreaming again. Haha. Come on. They’re waiting for us.’
    We walked up to the first floor, and this doll-sized, cute woman and a very friendly looking man were waiting for us, smiling.
    ‘Hi! Come on in. How are you? My name is Gwen, and this is my husband Carl. I hope you had a good flight. Have you had time to go sightseeing yet? Is the B&B ok? What do you think of Napoli so far?’
     Carl laughed. 
    ‘Hey, darling, give them time to answer.’ And he turned to us. ‘Now, first things, first. Would you like an espresso?’ 
     ‘Er… Yes, sure. Thanks,’ I said, thinking how nice they were and hoping they’d always be that nice.
       Gwen asked us again. 
       ‘So, how have you been?’ 
      ‘Great,’ said Lisa. ‘The B&B is great. Gennaro is so funny and helpful, and he speaks a bit of English, which is great.’ 
     ‘Yeah, but we were terrified the night we arrived here,’ I completed.
    ‘Really,’ Carl asked, sounding a bit worried. ‘Why?’ 
   ‘We got here at night and had no idea where to go and we were afraid of walking in the streets alone,’ I said. ‘We had our B&B breakfasts for dinner that night, cause we couldn’t find a place to eat. We walked all the way to the port and didn’t find anywhere decent open to eat.’ 
     Gwen and Carl looked surprised. 
    ‘You two walked to the port area, at night? Oh Dio… No wonder you were afraid. Gwen, darling, can you pass me those cups, please?’ 
     ‘Why?’ I was curious now. I guess I’d had my first real adventure without even knowing. 
     ‘Tales of Napoli, Carolina. And I must say, they are not children’s stories,’ Carl’s voice was full of mystery. ‘I’ll tell you girls one day. Now, let’s have our coffee, or it’s going to get cold.’
    My creative mind had already started working. Gee, Carolina… You see stories everywhere. Stop it. Now. 
     The espresso was really good and we started talking about the school. Lisa asked Gwen and Carl loads of things. How they’d started it, students, where we were going to teach, etc. She was a real teacher, after all. I just listened, very carefully, to everything. Gwen noticed I was anxious. 
      ‘Ah, don’t you worry now, pet. You’ll do well. I know you’re not a teacher, but your English certificates are so good. Also, as a doctor, I’m sure you’ll be great at one-to-one teaching. It’s much different to teaching a big group. I hope you like children.’ 
    ‘Yes! I love children. And you’re right. I am worried. I’ve never taught anything in my life.’ 
     ‘Don’t worry. I’ll help you with anything you need. Let’s see how it goes and I can train you little by little.’ 
     That gave me a bit of peace of mind. Gwen had been a teacher and teacher trainer in the UK all her life, so I know I’d be in good hands. I just hoped I could live up to her expectations. 
    ‘Ok, so now, let’s see who and where you’ll be teaching for the next 9 months, shall we?’ 
     Gwen went into an office and came back with two huge files. School contract, school rules, students’ files and street maps. She explained how everything worked. 
       We would go to our students’ houses once a week, for an hour. Luckily our students were scheduled to us according to where they lived and the day of the week we’d be teaching. So, basically, we would walk or take a short metro/funicolare journey from one student’s house to another. She also mentioned some in-company classes in the morning. Monday to Thursday, starting in two weeks. To be honest, I so wanted to say ‘No, thanks’, but at that point, no knowing how much we’d spend per month, I put my fear aside and accepted. 
      ‘What do you think,’ Gwen asked. 
      ‘It’s all fine, I guess,’ Lisa looked at me enquiring with her eyes. 
     And then I remembered that we only had 2 more nights in the B&B. We needed to find a place to live. Soon. 
    ‘Gwen, we need to find a place to live. We’ve only booked the B&B for two more nights,’ I said. 
    ‘Oh, dear. Right, right. I’d totally forgotten about that. Carl, the girls need a place to live,’ she shouted towards the office. 
     I chuckled. Funny couple. Fun to be around, I mean.
    ‘Right, I was just checking with the people we know who’d have a place to rent. You know, we usually have a couple of back up people who are always willing to rent at short notice. I’ve just given him a ring and arranged to go see it tomorrow morning. Can you be here at 8am?’ 
     ‘Yes, sure,’ we both replied at the same time.
     Carl continued. ‘It’s not in the centre, but it’s only 5 minutes from the Metro station. It’s one of three houses in a gated plot and we’ve had a few teachers living there before. It’s even got a little garden and it’s very safe,’ he smiled reassuringly. 
     ‘Ok. We’ll be here tomorrow at 8am. Thank you so much for all your help. We can’t wait to start,’ Lisa said and stood up. I guessed we were leaving.
       Speak for yourself, I thought and stood up as well. 
      ‘Great. Well, welcome to Napoli. I’m sure you’re going to love this city.’ 
     ‘Yes,’ completed Gwen, ‘and please let us know if you need anything. We’ll see you tomorrow. If you get here a tad earlier, I’ll have some coffee ready for you,’ she winked. 
       We smiled and said our thank you’s and goodbye’s. 
       As we walked through the courtyard, I looked up and saw them waving from the balcony. This is going to be a very different year...


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