'How I Spent My Summer Vacation"... Pieraccini-Style.
Posted October 1, 2012
When we asked the Delbarton faculty how they spent their summer vacations, Italian teacher Dan Pieraccini's reply was so unique we wanted to share it verbatim. From Shanghai to Reykjavik to Glacier National Park , Pieraccini got around this past summer. Here is his story:
“Chah-men Mao say ‘anyone who cwime Gwate Wawh is Chinese he-woah,’” repeated Mr. Lee, our tour guide. “Yes.” (He always finished his sentences with a definitive, “Yes.”) (Editor's translation: 'Anyone who climb the Great Wall is a Chinese hero.')
So I guess this summer, among other things, I joined the ranks of the great Chinese heroes, right before climbing into a large plate of Peking Duck, “the high-wight of ow day,” as Mr. Lee would insist. “Yes.”
But hero isn’t really the right word for it; visitor might be closer to the point. But then again, a different day, a different synonym.
Perhaps I was a literal holidaymaker when I enticed two islanders from Reykjavik to join us on a road trip north to Akureyri, where the sun casts a perpetual mid-afternoon upon the lava fields, overgrown with red grass and glistening with mossy springs of translucent glacier water.
I most certainly was a bit of a boulevardier as I took the stage with a cover band and deep-fried a politely quiet room of Shanghai-ers with some Guns N’ Whoases.
I was the sojourner of a capacious white Chevy Impala for a month, only leaving its generically gray felt domicile for the sweet familiarity of some twenty Extended Stay Motels, with their bed-bugged mattresses and tragically failed actors from LA all proudly stacked on display in their sad parking lots.
I was a sightseer as I peered at my reflection, always the same yet always different, in the lightly stirring waters of Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald, the deep, clear crater lake of Kerið, and the mossy, goldfish-filled canals of Suzhou, the Venice of the East.
Others might have found me a curious rubbernecker as I watched students from Wuxi peek at their Liar’s Dice underneath plastic red cups in tiny western-style pubs; or as I calculated the odds when native Icelanders prayed silent orisons to trolls, fairies, and sea sprites for free libations while Nordic barkeeps spun large wheels-of-fortune behind their bars; or even as I watched nerds from Seattle share a pitcher of Pike while summoning dragons into battle at Card Kingdom…. Others might have found me a curious rubbernecker until I learned all these games and joined in.
So anyone who makes it to the Great Wall is a hero, huh? Well, in retrospect, maybe the Great Wall was all it was cracked up to be—I mean it’s still cracked in quite a few places!—but I think hero might be overdoing it.
Maybe the heroes are all the people in these different time zones, hemispheres, and continents who welcomed me to their countries; and maybe the best synonym for visitor I felt was guest. “Yes!”