In April 2010 I was invited to help friends of friends paint and prepare their summer home in Pula, Sardegna.
One day we were exploring the town and found a comfortable café to sit in and pass the late afternoon hours. Some attention was drawn to us due to our obvious “tourist” status however the guitar we were playing at an outside table was more proof than our skin tone.
My friend Erin and I drank Pernods in honor of Hemingway, Miller, Durrell, and all our other admired artists who found beauty and life in the European way of life. The “European way of life” includes sitting for hours at a café…you know you love it.
While we sat we managed to make friends with a few locals and the manager of the café who ran off to find his friend who played the guitar. The sun was beginning to set and we were encouraged to come inside from the cold but also where there was a bigger space for a performance.
What you will see in the video is a type of call and response in Sardo. “Sardo” is simply another dialect of Sardinian.
Our hosts continued to sing a traditional Sardo song that resembled to me a kind of battle of the wits. Each line is improvised and meant to make a joke at the other’s expense. Even though we could not understand the language (it differs completely from Italian) we knew they were really having it out at one another. At one line you can see the bartender bowl over with laughter.
This certainly was one of those special travel experiences that only an open heart and blank itinerary can provide. The men (of course Erin and I were the only women in the entire café) gave us a typical Sardinian welcome with a few drinks on the house, several smiles, and kisses on cheeks. There is NO exaggeration to the fact that this song lasted for 2 hours!
In truth I don’t believe this was a normal thing for our hosts either. Ultimately our guitar and their enthusiasm for guests created something that benefited all of us. Every time I watch this video I notice the smiles on the faces of the older men sitting next to Erin.
When we left there was a sense of gratitude that over took the little café. Our gratitude in being welcomed like family at this local gathering and their gratitude for our genuine enthusiasm in their culture.
In the end music brought us together.
“Music is only love looking for words.”