The news is not good. In Italia the term for bad weather is tempo brutto. Really bad...Tempo brutissimo. Well, it's brutissimo. In sunny seaside Italy it is raining to rival any rain in Oregon. Il mio ombrello will be small comfort. My relative who seemed so enthusiastic about my arrival is not answering her phone. Yesterday someone there hung up on me. And all the extensive research I did for this trip, I am staying in the wrong city for convenient access to my destination--my grandparents home town of Maierato in Calabria.
The good news is that hotel does not have that mosquito net,promised by booking.com, and there is no need for one. In fact, I adore the wonderful old couple who own the Hotel Piccolo. I don't think you will find a surgery facility that is cleaner...although given the germs in hospitals these days, I could be doing this place a disservice by the comparison.
Cinzia the Plant survived the train ride verynwell but now wonders also what she's doing here. I've decided to leave her at the hotel with Pasquale and his sweet wife...don't know her name yet and Lulu the dog....a small brown and white dog of mutt origins who wears a fine white leather collar with rhinestones.
The wifi only reaches the downstairs. I have to walk down just two floors because when they learned I was here to meet the family they moved me down from the top floor and have been like a supportive aunt and uncle.
And talk about kind.. No restaurant opens until around eight for dinner. But the Europa took me in at 6:45 because I was starving. The risotto with vegetables they created for me was squisito...molto bello...fantastico. Since I was alone they turned on the TV to occupy me while i sipped my wine. The program was a kind of Italian Animal Planet. I joked that this was to help me with my Italian.
With a glass of vino, it came to 8€, about $10. I left 2€ additional, not required as the servizio was included. on the way back to the hotel, i turned around, went back, and gave them the going rate in Rome. They were resistant but very happy when I insisted...however, I think they were more entertained than anything by my description in Italian of the wonderful service and beautiful meal.
In fact, no one here speaks English. It has been an adventure, especially at the train station here in La Mezia Terme where there are no schedules to take home to study, the wifi is iffy, and the one huge schedule is on the wall next to the ticket counter and quick-ticket machines. So while the town isn't busy, there is a massive crowd at the station office. The ticket master, and he is that, often doubles a Customer Service agent. He is a cranky bald man who can go from kind to annoyed to berserk for no clear reason. I have been lucky to experience only annoyed.
When it became clear that reaching Maierato from here or anywhere was nothing anyone wanted to do except for a very large amount do cash, I realized my prospects were grim. I could stay here for two long tedious days, or I could take the train to Pizzo with the hope of finding someone to get me up the mountain to the town where no one wanted to go...a fact confirmed that this place has no formal transportation to or from it. As a result taxis are molto costoso.
My first indication of the strangeness that lay ahead was the train itself.
The second was the conversation with the two friendly men on the platform. Having come to mistrust instructions, I wanted to be sure this was the train that would take me to my roots.
I asked. The man above looked at the other man, who looked like maybe an attorney or business man. He rolled his eyes. " Speriamo," he replied and laughed. (We hope) He then explained that this train usually leaves from another track. We waited. The break in the rain stopped. The man above got on the train. It began to pour. I got on the train, soon followed by the third commuter...who nodded toward the speaker shouting out some static. "Confirmata," he said. We all settled in.
The next hint I had of the strange turn was the realization that began to dawn when I got off the train alone in Pizzo and found the station boarded up. Tight.
I had no return ticket, thinking I would let events of the day determine whether I took the 5:30 or 6:30.
It was now 11:00 a.m. The word deserted does not cover the fact that I walked for fifteen minutes and saw no one, no hint that this so-called resort town was inhabited. The sea to my left was wild and inhospitable.
This was clearly the craziest thing I'd ever done in my life. I was suddenly terrified.
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