Friday morning, getting ready for a big weekend!

Alright, no running today, tomorrow morning I’ll do my usual route, then Sunday it’s time for my first long run in Italy, what a way to end January!!!
And seriously, look at where my month started and where it’s ending, this is crazy, right? I’m loving it though. Before I had spent that time in the hospital, I would have never been able to put all this together. I was way too comfortable, even though I was in misery. Overweight, smoking, taking terrible care of myself. Sometimes I suppose, it takes a terrible tragedy to get us moving. To make us realize that life is more than just going from one day to the next doing what you feel you must to pay the bills, and hope you have a little enjoyment out of some diversions now and then.
That’s something I talked about in one of my adult conversation classes this week. Conversation classes, I should explain, are extra classes students can take where a teacher directs a conversation in the target language to help the students get a more natural speaking voice in the target language. That is the goal of all language learning, have the students speaking, listening, reading and writing in as close to a native way as possible. Well, my conversation class on Wednesday night asked me why I was here, why I moved away from the New York Tri-state area? (They didn’t say Tri-state, they don’t know what that is) My answer was simple, while I enjoyed the people at many of my jobs, while I had friends and family, I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. I felt trapped, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile. I was just going from job to job, just trying to make ends meet. I’ve said before, that I don’t think that is a good way to live, and with January done, I can say, while I’ve had financial and logistical problems, while I’ve had some disappointments, and I do miss my friends and family, I was right.
My students really enjoy my classes, one of them wrote on the desk last night (the staff pointed it out to me this morning) “Chris sis un buon” which is Neapolitan dialect for “Chris is good”. Yay me!
But more than that, when I teach something, that moment when I realize the students have understood the lesson and have actually learned something new, it’s an amazing feeling! What a rush I got last night when one girl in my Juniors class understood how to turn the past simple negative. She was struggling so much I stopped the class and focused on her, and when she realized how to do it, it was just too cool for school! I hope I have many more experiences like that, and I hope the kids keep enjoying my lessons. What a great adventure I have started, I can’t wait to see where it leads!
So right now I’m going to try and get the Circumvesuviana train schedule loaded into google maps to help me, and my fellow teachers and various area ex-pats out with transportation. Wish me luck! Have fun, keep running, and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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Thursday already!

Today we took a little bit of a different route and ran uphill for a bit. It was a nice change, and a nice challenge. I was also late and had to run fairly hard the first 1/2 mile to catch up. Saturday I think we may do a little more distance, but looming on Sunday is a long run. I think I’ll keep this simple with an out and back. Probably use the East side of the mountain, it seems simpler, less chance to get lost, and slightly less elevation change.
So other than that, I’ve just been relaxing and getting my work done. Went shopping today, came up with some ideas to get through to payday, and got tons of food for not a lot of money. It’s amazing how cheap some things are here, and how expensive other things are. Nuts, very expensive, pasta (not surprisingly) ridiculously cheap. Tomorrow, I get to head to the Bangladeshi community in San Giuseppe and check out what they have in their stores. I imagine there are a fair amount of vegetarians buying food there too, so on top of fantastic spices (so I’m told), I should be able to find some other things that are hard to find in this area.
What really amazes me, is when people ask me about food and find out I’m a vegetarian, and the reactions around here, and not just from the locals, but from some of the other staff at the school. The locals, it’s understandable, they have a very specific diet (generally) and a limited palate. There are picky eaters abound here. Not that that’s a bad thing, we all know that Italian cooking is some of the best in the world. I won’t argue that. But they tend not to stray too far outside of that flavor profile. But I have to remind myself with the other teachers, most of them, it’s a matter of being trained that meat is what we’re supposed to eat. that they’ve been brainwashed by decades of industry advertising telling them to buy this stuff, because that’s what they need to survive.
This was all prompted by the new teacher, an older gentleman from Canada, being concerned that somehow I was deficient in certain amino acids, etc. Eating eggs and dairy makes it much easier for me, but the fact is even those aren’t needed to have a proper diet. Oh well, I am happy with the fact that my roommate has not only not complained about the lack of meat (which I would cook it for him if he purchased some and asked), but has been very pleased with the quality of the meals I’ve been preparing.
Tonight, I’m going to use the sauce I made last night after work, cook up some penne, mix it all together with some cheese and bake it up. Yep, you heard me right, I don’t usually do baked ziti, but tonight I’m feeling it. A little salad and bread on the side and we’re golden.
Tomorrow marks the end of three weeks, and while I’m still sans tax code, cellphone, internet and bank account, I’m perfectly pleased with how everything is going. I know there are times I’m going to miss home, I’ll be tired of cooking, I’ll be missing friends, and conveniences, tv shows and sporting events. All that is mitigated by the fact this feels right, I’m enjoying, really enjoying, what I’m doing for the first time in a very long time. I feel like I’m useful, that I’m helping, that somehow in a small way, I’m making a difference. I’m also expanding my knowledge, I’m out of my comfort zone, and I’m surviving. The other good part of it is my family is surviving without me. That is my main worry, and will continue to be for a while. Hopefully, everything works out, even though I’m sure there will be bumps in the road.
Sorry for all the reflection about stuff and junk. With my nephew’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, and the fact I forgot to cancel a dentist’s appointment the other day, I’ve been on the phone to home (well WhatsApp really) often. So I’ve been thinking about these things. In the meantime, have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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Who ran today?

This guy! That’s who! It was a super-easy 5 miles. I actually forgot to turn my watch on the first third of a mile or so. The boys were back, one of them was sick last week, that’s why they weren’t around. Also, according to the weather app on my mostly useless phone, it’s going to be near, or above 60 (15.5 c) all week! With the nights being a pleasant 45 (7.2 c). Much more livable when you only have a 10 liter water heater. (Thanks Daniel Webster for having me write liter, instead of litre, why are the English always trying to be French?)
So I have to get some nice pictures of Sorrento up. It was mostly empty, it’s the off-season for a beach town. But there were some tourists mucking about, mostly Koreans, which I found odd. We didn’t spend too much time there, as it was Sunday, and I had to call home because it was my godson’s first birthday party. So it was a perfect opportunity to get to talk to everyone all at once, which was cool. The best part is, with the state of the public transit system the whole trip was free! Also, the tourists that missed the stop for Pompeii where hilarious, if there’s one stop on the whole trip that is excruciatingly well marked, it’s the Pompeii stop. Bureaucracy may run amok here, but they know where their bread is buttered, and they make sure only a complete fool, or someone not paying attention at all would miss the Pompeii stop.
The first thing you notice immediately is how steep the cliffs are!
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Then how clear the water is:
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No really, that’s a mooring block, seriously, so clear:
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It’s really a beautiful place, and since it’s Italy, churches everywhere:
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This guy looks important:
And of course Vesuvius on the way back.
Alright, time to get to work, so have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run, then so can you!

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It was either pictures or a recipe

So it’s been a busy day and still no proper Internet. So instead of pictures of Sorrento I will just give you the recipe. Also, I ran yesterday and got my 30 miles in for the week. Sorry to keep this short but it’s late and I have to get home and cook, plus my phone battery is dying.

So, quick and easy pasta fagioli recipe.


1 can Ceci beans (chick peas)

1/2 package ditalini pasta

4 cloves garlic (sliced thin)

1 14 Oz can tomato puree

1 Tbsp crushed red pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp romano cheese (grated)


Cook ditalini per package instructions. Do not drain fully, leave about 1/2 cup water in with pasta,  and save about 1 cup pasta water on side, in case pasta is too dry.

Sautee garlic slices in olive oil, in large enough pan to fit all ingredients. Once soft and translucent, add tomato puree, beans, salt and pepper (both kinds). Add pasta with water, stir in romano cheese. If pasta is still tight, add water until it is slightly soupy and creamy. Enjoy!

Sorry for the quickie tonight, still delayed on getting phone and Internet. Have fun, keep running and remember; if Gil Can Run then so can you!


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I’ve been running, but still no internet

Still having to use the internet at work, next week it looks like the planets will align on that one. They did this week. So I ran Friday, and did an out-and-back this morning. My running friends were not there, or maybe I was late, I’m not sure. But that’s ok, I’ll meet up with them on Tuesday I suppose.
Today I head into Napoli, there’s a vegan shop called ToBio, and I’m going to try and find it and get some Vital Wheat Gluten, Textured Vegetable Protein and Nutritional Yeast. My other quest today is to find avocados and sweet potatoes. Looking yesterday, people had no idea what a sweet potato was, but I’m sure if I can find it anywhere down here, it’ll be in Napoli. There is a US military base there. So I should be able to find more products that come from the Americas.
Last night, I found a very nice market behind the school branch in San Giuseppe, they had Marsala, and some other products I could not find in the store in Somma Vesuviana. There was spinach too! Need to find good spices. Need chili powder, dill, onion powder and some other stuff. I’ve seen hot sauce in stores, so at least that’s easy to come by. One thing I have noticed missing, and I’m glad for is cilantro. Folks, cilantro tastes like soapy water, dirty, soapy water. Apparently, it’s a genetic thing and it’s relatively rare. But I can’t stand it.
So come Monday, I hope to have some nice pictures of Napoli for you. And maybe some from around Somma. It’s still colder than normal around here, but at least I’m not dealing with a giant snowstorm, sorry folks back int he Northeast! Hope you all have your YakTrax and cold weather gear at the ready! Either way we should both be having an adventure!
Have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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An interesting Thursday

So I woke up, my running friends had cancelled the Thursday morning run. Instead I just went to work, then when I got back from my morning class, I ran. It was great. Short sleeves, daylight, not a ton of acrid wood stove smoke in the air. I kept a pretty good pace throughout the entire circuit. I also think I’ve figured out how I’ll do my long runs around here. I was really pleased with my performance today. Tomorrow I think I’ll try to go a little further, and I have to do it a little earlier in the morning, but I don’t have a class in the morning.
There are a coupe funny things I noticed today. First, I’m running in shorts and a t-shirt and yet everyone here is still bundled up like they were extras in Nanook of the North. Seriously, They have no tolerance for cold weather, which I’ve noticed, but it’s not that cold today. It’s mid-40s (13 c), that’s mid-Spring temperatures for me! It was a little overcast, but I was running so I was definitely warm the whole way through. The other thing I’ve noticed is, with rare exception, no one runs on the sidewalks, and you tend to run with traffic. Of course, that’s assuming the cars are travelling on the correct side of the road, which they don’t always do. While there are rules, and they drive on the same side of the road as everywhere else that’s not the UK, a former UK colony that’s not in North America, or Japan, they tend not to follow the rules. It’s sort of the Italian version of the Wild West, maybe they watch too many Italian Spaghetti Westerns, which are still a thing here. But it’s still pretty neat to turn to go back toward town and get to see Somma (the North peak of what we would refer to as Vesuvius) dominating the skyline.
My other adventure today had to do with bathrooms in Italy. As many of you know, my occasional need for KT Tape keeps me shaving my legs, plus the fact it makes my tattoos look even more awesome. I have not shaved in a couple weeks, because when have I had the time? But I did this afternoon. So, I set about trying to figure it out. The showers are way too small, there is no tub, so I used the bidet. It’s pretty much across from the sink, so that works out. Keep my leg over the bidet and rinse the razor and soap up in the sink. I cut my legs up a bit worse than I normally do, but I still find it easier than shaving my face.
It’s time to get ready to teach my evening classes here. I’ve been trying to sort out a dinner for tonight and I need eggs for tomorrow morning. Well, I don’t need them, I want them. I also need to find a source for avocados, and some vital wheat gluten and textured vegetable protein. I think I’ll have to go into Napoli for those things. I will find out this weekend, as I have two days to mess about and head into the city and see what I can sort out. I will run more tomorrow and fill you all in on how it goes. Until then, have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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Sorry for the delays

Still no internet and it is now looking like that won’t be sorted by the end of the week. I did run yesterday, but I missed today, and now I have to scramble to make up lost miles. But that’s ok. I think I will do a few miles tomorrow and then run Friday, Saturday and Sunday and hit some big miles Friday morning. I was just scouting a good 8 mile course around here, I just hope I don’t get lost! Have to make sure to wait until the sun comes out before trying it.
Meanwhile, I am adjusting. A couple things at work have bothered me, but that’s alright. Nothing in this world is perfect. But my high school class today in Sant’ Anastasia was awesome. Totally well-behaved, eager to learn, very bright, already have a good foundation with the language.
So we’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a tough week, yesterday just wiped me out. It was so busy between work and training. Tuesdays and Thursdays are by far my busiest, and now I hear I will be losing my Saturday’s off. That makes me a sad panda. I have to head out though, time to start making dinner and getting ready for tomorrow!
Have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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Monday, so I have internet again!

So no internet all day on Sunday! Can you believe it? Hopefully, I’ll have that situation sussed out by the end of the week. So it was actually cold here this weekend, near freezing. And the feast of St Anthony of Egypt was yesterday, that was a wild time. There were bonfires, parades, animals, interesting event. Not only did I run, and then had to add on another mile. I then hiked halfway up Vesuvius with my roommate. A very weird day overall.
So I’m preparing to start my second week at work. I’m surviving, I definitely need to settle in and get things into a routine. Then I need to get out and explore. But for right now it’s work and shopping and cooking. So, I suppose I need to make with a recipe for your Meatless Monday goodness. Then I’ll share some pictures of my trip up Vesuvio.

Warm Lentil Salad with Mustard Vinagrette

For lentils:
–       2 Tbsp. olive oil
–       1 leek (the white and light green parts only, sliced)
–       2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced horizontally
–       1 tsp. (or more) minced garlic
–       1 cup green lentils
–       1 whole onion, peeled
–       6 whole cloves, stuck into the onion
–       1 turnip, cut in half
–       1 tsp. unsalted butter
For vinaigrette:
–       ¼ c. olive oil
–       4 tsp. Dijon mustard
–       2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
–       1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
–       kosher salt, to taste
Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a pan. Add the leek and carrots; cook for about 5 minutes, until leek is beginning to soften and become fragrant. Add garlic; cook for one more minute, just to soften garlic.
Meanwhile, put the lentils, 4 cups of water, the onion (stuck with cloves), and the turnip in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the leeks/carrots, and simmer uncovered until the lentils absorb all the water (about 15-20 minutes). The lentils should be tender at this point, but test them to make sure; if they’re not tender, add more water little by little and let it absorb until they do get tender.
Remove from heat; remove the onion and turnip. Add the butter and stir in.
While the lentils, etc. have been cooking, make the vinaigrette: whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients. Add to lentils when they’re off the heat and stir to combine. Let lentils cool for a few minutes (this will help the flavors meld). Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

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Another run with the guys

Up early, met up with Gennario and Vincenzo, a 10k today! I have to get some more miles in tomorrow, and maybe a hike up Somma (North side of Vesuvius). I ended up working this morning, small classes. Had to cover for the woman who normally does it because she was sick.
It was actually cold this morning, in the 30s! So I put my jacket on and headed out, I should have worn gloves as well. But I got through. It’s good my new running friends take it a little slower than I usually do. I need to focus on learning the roads, and there are plenty of potholes and other oddities to turn an ankle on. Plus, I have no idea where I’m going. So it works out well. The last stretch today, Vincenzo actually started legging it out and I stayed with him for the most part. I find that the smog/fireplace smoke is causing me mild breathing problems. I’m sure I will adjust eventually.
I have to head out and grab some lunch, so until next time. Have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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With no regular internet the show is postponed

I ran yesterday! I was going to run today, but it was raining this morning and these streets are plain slick when they’re wet. Yesterday’s run was a relaxing affair. But it is dark out in the morning still, so I didn’t get any good pictures, and can’t see much because I’m so focused on avoiding potholes and bumps in the road.
So the show is on hold until I can sort a steady internet connection and have some time. I also have to change to Fridays or Saturdays, as Thursdays are my busy days.
Meanwhile, I have to head down to San Giuseppe for my one class today. Normally on Fridays I will have a class and then a private tutoring session. But not this week, as the student needed to change the day due to personal commitments. But I met him, smart guy, likes Star Wars, I think we’ll do well.
I have to run and get my work done and get prepared for this afternoon, as well as dealing with the logistical nightmare I find myself in, with a status in flux and unsure. I did find out to sort the Tax Code part I have to go to Nola on Monday, so that’s one thing. Once that is sorted I can do a bank account, cellphone and internet, I hope.
Ciao Ciao! Have fun, keep running and remember; If Gil can run then so can you!

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