Rainbows and Dioscuri

After our visit to the Valle di Templi, Dad and I went into the upper town to find lunch. After much wandering and losing our way, we discovered an open restaurant called Capricchio di Mare, on — you guessed it — Piazza Marconi, the square in front of the railroad station. Imagine that.

Dad had Caponata, which is a traditional Sicilian dish made with eggplant, and I had a sampler of local shellfish, as our first course. For a second course, I had a pasta with octopus, and dad had a pasta of some kind. It was pretty good.

We went back to the hotel afterward because Dad’s cough was acting up. The surf on the breakwater beyond the hotel was astounding — twenty feet high or more. As each wave broke, it cast up spindrifts that actually landed in the inner harbor within the breakwater. Seemed pretty scary to go out there, and Dad decided to pass on the walk. “I can do anything,” he pronounced, “as long as I don’t get wet. If I’m wet, all bets are off.” This from the former Navy man.

I wound up walking out on the breakwater, anyway, because I wanted to see the view. Here, on the breakwater into Dioscuri Bay, I saw a rainbow over the mountains in the east.

Returning to the hotel, I joined Dad for a nap. Part of me wonders what the staffs at the various hotels must think? Are we father and son traveling? Are we a gay couple traveling? Here we insisted on a room with two beds, so they must know we’re not sleeping together, at least in theory. Because the weather was so terrible — it’s windy with occasional rain — we walked just up the street for dinner, to Pizzaria Marco Polo. The food was not bad; we had traditional Sicilian pizza with olives, artichokes and local cheese, and a local wine made by a winery called Donna Fugata. At first, I thought their emblem on the label was an archway and walls on either side built of stone… but on closer examination (after two and a half glasses) I realized it was actually a woman with a high forehead; the walls were actually the locks of her hair spread out by the wind. Good wine, too, and made just up the highway about four miles or so, based on the waiter’s comments.

Afterward, we came back to the hotel. The clouds had cleared, and we wound up watching the moon for a while. The Dioscuri stars — Castor and Pollux — were visible beside and above the moon. Had the sea been calmer, they would have been reflected in the waters. Somewhere behind me on the cliffs of Akragas were the ruins of the temple to the Dioscuri. Temple, Waters, Stars, all named Dioscuri. I’m thinking I’m almost ready to write a poem for the Dioscuri. They’re the “Curing Gods”, or the “two curers” (though there’s another etymology that suggests it’s “Dios kouroi” or “sons of Zeus”). To the Christians, they were saints Cosmas and Damien. I think they’re worthy of pagan interest and notice in the modern world. A pair of characters, half-mortal and half-immortal, who spend half their time in Olympus and half in Hades, is kind of a metaphor for us festival-goers, who wander in the modern world waiting for the next festival when we can feel ‘really’ alive. It bears thinking on.

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