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The Q8 and Arriving in Ischia

What a wild, hairy, skin-of-your-teeth kind of day it turned out to be. We left Amalfi today (I apologize....I know I am behind on adding the entries!). It seemed a basic enough task - drive 1.5 hours from Amalfi to Napoli, take the hour long ferry to Ischia, and check in to the hotel we booked last night.
First step was to haul all of our bags and groceries down the eight flights of winding staircases again from our apartment "perch" on top of Amalfi. We labored down slowly. The lady we were renting the apartment from was sincerely sad to see us leaving...I think she considered us house guests. Every day she would bring us something...today it was caffe' on the terrace, while she had an excuse to hold Bodhi and we sipped the juice. Clearly the best contribution Italians have made to society is their amazing espresso. I have not had a bad one yet... In fact, every one seems better than the last...but I digress. While we are sipping, she is trying to coerce us to stay another night, asking why we must leave. These are the moments I am glad I am not fluent because I really have no solid excuse for going, other than I am getting antsy and we feel we should move on. But I tell her best I can, so she will understand, that we need to meet family in Caserta, so we must go. I didn't tell her we aren't meeting them until the 5th...

She carries a bag down all those stairs for us... A retired woman in her seventies shlepping our bag, and giving us kisses goodbye. I kinda do wish they would adopt us so we could come back every year. I think they were definitely taken aback that I had found them again, and asked to stay at their apartment. They clearly weren't advertising it. Maybe they don't even rent it anymore, I don't know. But they were clearly pleased to have us, and it was nice to be welcomed so kindly.

So off we went in our little Fiat heading up the winding road again back to Vietri, since that was the direction the gps was pointing us. About ten kilometers in, I say to Chris, don't we still need gas? Oh no. The orange gas light is glowing, and we remember it had been on when we arrived in Amalfi days before...but we hadn't remembered until now. Utoh. There is nowhere to get off the Amalfi coast highway. It is no highway. It is a small winding road dug out from a rocky cliff line, with steep overhanging sections,and not much chance to pull off the road. I check the gps for a gas station. Next one is in Vietri (a lovely town by the way). We could turn around, but we'd have to backtrack PAST where we started from to find gas, so we press onward. Chris is attempting to coast in neutral whenever possible, as well as avoid passing motorbikes, oncoming tour buses on hairpin turns, and pedestrians walking alongside the road. It is a stressful enough stretch of road without thinking about abandoning your car along it and hiking to the nearest town. We consider stopping at a safe point and calling for reinforcements. But there aren't any safe looking spots to stop. The needle of the gas gauge actually passes UNDER the orange light, and I begin to get worried, as we are really below empty now. I am expecting the sputtering and stuttering of the engine any minute. Both of us are holding our breath. Both of us thinking, how could we let this happen? And Bodhi already getting hungry in the backseat, unaware of the current predicament he is in. I am doing a countdown as I grip the gps: 4 kilometers left, now 3.5. I see the town approaching and think, well, good, if we can get close enough to town, at least we can walk and not hitchhike to the station. We reach within 500 meters of where the gps is pointing us and think, yes! we made it, but no, that is just to another turn onto the highway. Another kilometer and a half to the final destination at a Q8 station. Another few minutes of silence as we hope for the best, and then we see the station around the corner. Shew, made it. We aren't cheering though, just sighing, thankfully exhaling our breath. We fill up the car and head to Napoli. That was more stressful than it had to be. I tell Chris - "That was a healthy dose of daily stress", but he doesn't laugh. It is one of those times you hope will become funny in a few days time but we are too close to it to find it funny now.
On to Naples. We drive into the center of town, toward the bullseye that designates European town centers, and I realize why this is the Italy everyone fears. There are piles of trash by the side of the road bigger than any I have seen outside of India. There is more trash strewn along the roadside. There are men loitering and winding their way through traffic trying to wash windows and sell plastic objects. A brush and dust pan, some children's toys, some other useless looking things. This place makes you feel on edge. It has a reputation for being dangerous, for pickpockets, thieves and scams. For noise, pollution and chaos. Driving through, I definitely feel no urge to stay. We head directly for the harbor, keeping our eyes averted. After a few misdirections, we reach the harbor and I venture in to fumble my way toward tickets to Ischia. The man says, "With a car? you must go to the OTHER harbor." So I hop back into the car and we go to the next row of boats, people, parking lots and trash. I go inside to buy tickets again. The man tells me, you have documents for the car? It is a rental car, I tell him. Yes, he says smugly, documents??? Just a minute. I run back to the car. We have only 15 minutes before this boat leaves. We thought the boat was at 14:30, but that was the passenger-only ferry. The ferry for cars leaves at 14:00 even. It is now 13:45 and we have yet to have lunch, feed, Bodhi or figure out how to get on. I grab everything in the glove box and bring it to the man at the ticket booth. Here. "See", he says, pointing to his eye, "documenti". I feel the urge to smack his glib little face. uh, huh, who knew you would need such a thing? I tel him, in America you just drive onto the ferry in your car. No document-i. He ignores me. I pay the 50 euro and rush back to the car. We literally drive onto the boat while it is idling, and five minutes later, we are enroute. It was good timing, after all. Somehow, it worked out, and we were able to eat a somewhat shabby sandwich lunch onboard a ferry bound for the island of Ischia. It is a reliief to get the heck out of Napoli...it doesn't seem a place to bring a baby. Too much ugliness, garbage, seedy-looking characters, strange stares. There aren't the kind smiles here that you get in the country. There are hardened looks. I feel a little bit sad to think our new friends from the terme are living here, in a cramped apartment filled with noise from the city. It's not a nice place, or a congenial place. The accent here I am starting to pick up, since I am hearing more words now that I understand. They chew on the ends of their words. Everything sounds like "brioche" or "schoch". It makes me hungry and I can't concentrate. Instead of capito, it is capisch. Instead of carciofi, carciof. Words end in a harsh chewing sound that makes the language sound ugly and slurred. This is definitely Italy's underbelly, and has a reputation that I think the rest of the country is trying to transcend. It is the old Italy I remember hearing about from guidebooks years and years ago, with stories about handicapped gypsy children stealing wallets and not entering a train station at night, or letting a stranger hand you something, because then they will demand money and make a commotion until you hand it over. All these stories I remember hearing abut Italy are coming back to my memory as we pass through Napoli and see the hoards of salesman, homeless, and the general chaos of the city. We are glad we are aboard the ship, putting miles between us and the city for at least a few days...

Posted by globalmomma 00:53 Archived in Italy Tagged coast highway language station amalfi naples gas crime napoli vietri accent

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You made me glad that we passed up Naples a number of years ago. No wonder the woman at the place we stayed suggested that we not go there!

by Willis Roberts (Chenelle's gram)

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