Sunday, August 21, 2011
“Wow, it’s late for you.” Aiko said to me as I walked out to the central area of the hostel. Maurizio sat on stool, a blank expression on his face as always; something I found highly odd for an Italian, to only have one face of emotion. “You want breakfast?” She asked me. I shook my head. I was going for a walk.
“You know, nothing will be open.” Maurizio added. It was Sunday, in a small town, in the south of Italy. I knew.
Walking along the street, in the heat, and lack of wind, the humidity starting slowly to escape out into the atmosphere. I wanted to turn back, but yet my want to actually be out of the hostel was of more extremity than that of my sweltering skin, thus I mustered on.
When I came to the street with all of the vendors, the first bread shop had a giant sign reading “DOMENICA APERTO”. The first thing to be open. I walked on, hoping the bar would be open where I purchased my cream filled pastry the other morning. It wasn’t; but there was a fish shop and another bakery. I went into the bakery and bought a handful of taralli normale, e piccante; the tiny bread rings of Puglia...one of the normal version, the other flavored with a bit of spice. The woman behind the counter handed me my 85 cents worth of flakey goodies and I placed them into my purse. I didn’t get but 6 feet away from the shop before I dug into them. So much for my train snack tomorrow. I would find something else.
At the hostel I sat and ate my complimentary breakfast of watermelon, drank my delicious almond scented cappuccino courtesy of Dillon’s experimental concoction while hanging around with the girls. We all wanted to go to the beach, but with waiting for one person to get off, and for the staff to eat lunch and such, it would have to wait until later in the afternoon. However by later in the afternoon, we were thinking 2.
After a series of small happenings; a large blow out fight between Maurizio and his girlfriend who stormed out on him as he screamed after her “Why do you always fucking walk away from me when I’m talking?!”. He continued his rant for another 2 hours in the kitchen, something about him and some other girl, before he went to the store. He took Dillon with him to get ingredients for lunch and then returned to cook something that needed, what seemed like, hours in the oven. We did not leave until closer to 4...and then there was the problem with the bus(es).
Finally out of the hostel, Aiko, Ellie, and I were only too excited to lie on the sand and swim in the salty sea, but first, we had to get there. We stood at the stop across the street from the hostel, waiting for number 4. But number 4 never came. Number 3 did, and when we asked him if he was going anywhere near the beach, he shook his head. Then it was as if a lightbulb went off, as his head swung upward and he told us to get on. He dropped us off 80 seconds later down the hill and told us to cross the street and wait for number 4, which should be coming in 5 minutes.
There was no “4” written at the stop, and after ten minutes, we had only seen a bus 3, and A. There was no 4. Despite being told by another bus driver it would come, and talking to a biker who told us to go somewhere else for a completely different bus all together, there was no beach bus coming our way. Then we got the brilliant, somewhat of a serious joke idea, to hitch.
We got a lot of honks as we positioned ourselves there on the side of the road. Aika, not knowing the international hitch sign, was waving at everyone who passed. Not sure as to what she wanted, there was a sudden extraordinary slew of honks, a few waves, some smiles and laughter. Then I showed her the normal hitch symbol. I let the girls do the work, standing at the side of the road in short attire for the beach, their arms out and thumbs up. Eventually someone stopped, 100 meters ahead of us, in a white van, and slowly backed up. Now, does everyone remember one of the first lessons they ever learned, that being, never get into a stranger’s car, especially, if it’s a van. Well this went against everything we had learned as children, but seeing the bubbly smile of the plump old woman in the passenger seat and her tanned cheery equally old husband, we figured we would be ok and hopped into the back of the van.
There were 2 small stools on the floor of the back on which the girls sat, along with 2 giant blow up pool mattresses. In between the back and the front was a barred opening, kind of like a prison door to a much smaller degree, and I stood up, talking to the couple through that. They were on their way to the beach to visit their family, the woman had explained, her crooked smile and lack of teeth now being shown as she lit up speaking of her children and grandchildren. She was heavy, wearing a purple tank top that went neither with her figure, her skin tone or her dyed black hair. Her husband was pudgy, solid for an old man and so tan that he would make any girl in LA jealous. He wore a red basketball jersey style red tank, had short white hair and his smile, too, was lacking teeth and dental care. His accent was thick and hard to understand, her voice was high and jolly. They were like a summery Italian Santa and Mrs. Claus. I loved them.
The wife explained if we saw a cop, to get down, because this was not allowed. I laughed and told her not to worry. Soon we were at the first of a stretch of beaches. The first was all rock and part of it was closed off.
“Is there one with sand?” Ellie asked.
“´Cè una con sabbia?” I asked them.
“Si. Si.” they both answered...and we continued to drive along a winding road over looking beach after beach. The first sandy beach we came to, we decided was it and said our goodbyes. Crowded and completely overfilled with people, we had to search for a spot, but once found, we were golden. We set up in between a large family gathering and a group of friends, and lay down to catch the end of the sun’s day at work; her rays still beaming down, strong and fierce, but slightly less than earlier.
After enough of a relaxing rest, we ran for the water. The girls gently allowed themselves time to acclimate to the water while I went in, slightly ahead of them, and dove into the waves. The guys next to us played water soccer. It consisted of 3 guys. 2 of them very big guys, their sagging stomachs and man boobs (or moobs as I like to say). The third was so stereotypically Italian looking, it was almost funny. He wore a hideous bathing suit that was short and tight and meant to look like jeans, and a silver chain around his neck. He had a tattoo on the front of his right shoulder in the shape of a sun, and another on his left hip bone saying something. He was tall, dark, and handsome. His jaw bone was especially spectacularly chiseled and atop of it sat a really sexy bit of groomed stubble. He was hot and he knew it. He stood in the water along with one of the other guys, while the third stood on the beach running after the ball; his stomach and moobs jiggling with each run for the ball. I wanted to hand him a sports bra, but refrained.
Back on the sand, couples were playing with rackets and a little ball, bouncing it back and forth. Children were running around with ice cream and popsicles, and everyone was having a good time. Free slices of (warm) watermelon were being passed out and a DJ was playing music, testing his microphone in between songs with creepy voices and odd noises.
There was a group of women in front of us. One in an orange bikini got up in a flash, like she knew she was late for something, and began to dance as soon as she heard the music. She put her hand in the air like she was at a party and moved back and forth. She had no perception of other people around her. She just got up, and did what she wanted, for the hell of it. It didn’t matter that her stomach wobbled round as she shook. It didn’t matter to her friend who stood up to join her a second later, that every time she wiggled from side to side, her muscle lacking ass wiggled too. And it didn’t matter to their other friend who later joined them, that her cellulite, stretch marks, and pock marked thighs swayed with each back and forth step. They just wanted to have fun and didn’t care what they looked like doing it or who saw them. The same went for the boys playing soccer. They didn’t care that they were big and jiggly, they went to have fun, and that’s just what they did. This whole thing about body image and stick perfection, well of course it exists in Italy. But down here, most of them really could give a fuck.
After a free piece of sun heated watermelon cut by a large man with a larger knife, handed out by tiny women who weighed less than the trays they were carrying, we went to get crepes from a few women who set up a stall on the sand.
The crepe stall consisted of 3 women, hand written signs on old cut up card board boxes and some nutella. They also had panini and drinks, but we came for the crepe. The main woman running the show, making the crepes was about 5 foot 2 inches. She wore (what used to be white) a beige colored backwards baseball cap that came down to right above her eyes. She wore a pair of short shorts and a black tube top bikini, showing off her older woman figure, and chewed gum with her mouth open, like a cow chewing its cud. I ordered for the girls; 2 crepes with nutella and white chocolate.
The woman looked perpetually pissed. Like some terrible thing was happening to her, when all it was was dropping a spatula or needing another utensil. Her face became contorted, a look of being unhappy, she would roll her eyes and her mouth would drop into a slightly disgusted, partially aggravated expression, caused by just about anything. She made Aiko’s, then Ellie’s and finally mine, with “solo nutella” smiling at me and joking with me while I patiently stood there waiting. She handed it to me and we sat down to eat. 2 minutes later she looked over, “Buona?” she asked. We all smiled and nodded.
We honestly could not have finished our crepes at a better moment.
“We should probably get going.” Aiko announced as she sat there waiting for Allie and me to finish. I happily consumed my last bite, now Ellie just needed to eat hers. It sat in our bellies like sweet stone, after really filling each of us up. Ellie took her last bite, we thanked the woman and walked up the sand, scoping out people who were leaving to catch a ride back with, when we saw our bus. I ran for it, but got trapped behind a bicycle. Aiko bolted ahead, running across oncoming traffic to stop the bus. He looked at us like we were nuts, stopped the bus and we ran on. Had we not gotten it there, we would not have made it to the actual stop.
The bus filled up quickly, growing hot, mucky, and humid. It was gross. We all desperately needed a shower. Aiko stood on the bus, still wearing just her bikini top, and no sandals. People were looking at her. The Italians, for what ever reason, like when u wear shoes, even inside the house. It prevents your feet from getting dirty, keeps them warm, and blah blah blah blah blah. I told her to put them on, people were looking at her funny.
We were coming up soon to the hostel, the question was, which stop was it? We all soon began to recognize, but decided to wait one more, thinking it would continue to go straight. When we passed the hostel and went down a hill, we realized we had missed it, as a guy next to us pointed at the hostel and laughed and a Polish woman told us she used to stay there. We got off at the bottom of the hill and walked back up; none of us very happy with that, Ellie even less so as she walked 8 paces ahead of us, swearing under her breath.
That shower could honestly not have been better. Well, ok. Aside from the dirty shower, the hair clogged drain, the lack of water pressure and the inconsistent temperature, it was great. I was clean. I sat out with the girls, skyping with Dario, my friend from Sardegna. One by one, they all came over to see him, saying things about him while they thought he could not hear. Just because I had head phones on and they could not hear him, did not mean he could not hear them. It was beautiful.
While the girls ate dinner, I looked for more flights and more trains to better prepare myself for the following days, coming up with nothing and just stressing myself out. I shut the computer and decided to just lie down until they came to get me.
Unfortunately Ellie had to work, Dillon was going on a motorcycle ride and Cat had to stay with Ellie, but Aiko, the new English girl Kelly, a lone American Matt and I walked down the road, to the sailor’s monument to get some gelato. After ordering for everyone, we walked out to the wall overlooking the water and ate our goodies.
“Cé L’hai un acendino?” a guy and his friend asked in passing.
“Does anyone have a lighter?” I asked. They all shook their heads.
“Ah. Lighter. No?” The guy asked again. They walked away and came back ten minutes later. “Tu parli italiano?” He said to me.
“Si.” I said. He began asking a bunch of questions, what were we doing here, how did we like it, how long were we staying, saying it was odd because they do not usually see a lot of tourists hanging around and for that he wanted to know our story.
“What’s he saying?” Aiko would ask from time to time, just as I was about to translate.
“Ko-may Ti Kee-ami?” (Come ti chiami?) Kelly asked in her british accent. His name was Enrico, his friend was Gabriele. Enrico did most of the talking. He was cute and seemed sweet, wanting to invite the girls to meet with him and his friends another night to show them the city. His friend didn’t talk, except in private conversation, I overheared something about “sciffo” (disgusting) and he just stood there, like a good wingman does I guess. He had a monroe piercing, the one above your lip where she kept her mole, his hair, which was spiked, had probably taken him an hour to do, and he was wearing tight clothing. They were both fairly on the short side.
Aiko asked if he wanted to go to Lecce tomorrow.
“Oh Lecce. It is a good city, but not for me.” Was his response. Instead they would meet tomorrow night at 11 p.m. and he would show them down town Brindisi. They waved good by as they walked away and we left within a minute after, trailing slowly behind them, and then meeting them as he backed his car out.
“He has a volvo!” Kelly squealed. Since when was that a cool thing?
Walking back along the road now, it was nearing 1 in the morning. I walked ahead with Matt and we talked about traveling and and how he missed Pompeii. The girls slowly doddled far behind. Cars were still honking or yelling at us...and at some point I heard one of the girls scream at one of the two. Matt laughed; he said it reminded him of where he grew up.
When we got back to the hostel Matt went to bed and Aiko, Ellie and I went to hang laundry. Aiko lost it. She was laughing at anything and everything, until Ellie stuck her face through a sheet, scaring Aiko into a scream from a thriller movie. We sat around and chilled, one by one slowly dropping off like flies. First Cat, then Kelly. Dillon came back soon, giggly and giddy from her 2 hours of motorcycle riding. She would one day get one. On that note, I went to bed. It was nearly 3 and I still had stuff to pack in the morning. I was screwed.
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