I take it back
Fri 30 Jul 2010 17:38
G: We had only just arrived in Italy, and I already hated it. I hated it, them, everything. I had never really noticed how uncooperative the Italians were. When attempting to communicate to any harbor via VHF we never had any response. Switching over to mobile phone meant being hung up upon when pronouncing the first English word (or German, French or Dutch for that matter). Face to face meant being yelled at in Italian without any attempt to ensure you had any clue what they were talking about. And IF you're able make it to shore, ignoring yelling stupids, you quickly find out that this was just the beginning... Everywhere unclarity. 'A' early reported some examples of how they can bounce you around when trying to go through customs. As we are experts in avoiding (intentionally and unintentionally) customs, we decided to skip customs and raise a little protest, together with the Italian flag. We figured we would be yelled at no matter what.
And if I made up my mind about something, you will really have to do your utter best to persuade me to review my opinion. And there was the first challenger... Josaf. And they had sent their best candidate, the only English speaking Italian, apparently they DO exist... He helped us to explain the harbor master that we would stay for 2 nights and appointed a birth where we were welcome, sure. But the idea of being on a birth with the outlook of endless water supplies was enough to force a 'gracias' from my lips. I figured I would just stay on the boat for the next 2 days and ignore these people for as long as I could. 'A' however suggested to explore the old town and have a local bite for dinner. We had to buy some cigarettes and dispose our garbage, so I agreed to make it to the closest garbage bin, and find some fast foot (preferably from a different location).
At the end of the peer, Josaf was at his post. They even went to the next step, he was accompanied by his lovely (non-english speaking) wife and son. When he understood that we were going for a bite, he offered to bring us to the best pizza place. We thought that meant 'pointing out', but we soon were sitting in the back of his car and were taken sight seeing through the old town. Josaf asked us to join them for dinner as they were also heading out to eat. Or, maybe we wanted to eat even more locally and he could take us to his place and cook us a meal? ...Did you ever had the feeling that someone was playing a trick on you? What about being yelled at and make you walk around in circles? This could not be true, so we suspected Josaf to be a hijacker, killer, or part of the Mafia. He at least was not a real Italian, he clearly wanted something from us. But Josaf did what he was supposed to do, he did his 'utter best to persuade me to review my opinion'. So we ended up in a pizza place with the 5 of us. Thereafter Josaf took us back to his house and served us some self made cake, cigarettes (as the 'Tobacco' shops were long closed) and a drink. We were confused and overwhelmed. Around 11 he drove us back to the city centre so we could still have a little city walk, and walk back to the boat (5 minutes).
During our dinner we asked Josaf if he knew a place close by, to do our laundry (no harm meant to the 'magic machine', but it also has it's limitations). So the next morning the harbor master 'knocked on our door' to come and collect the laundry..? With hands and feet he explained that his wife would wash it for us, including drying, ironing and folding... had they all gone crazy?? But as his hand and feet communication was a theater play of about 10 minutes, we could not disappoint him and let him leave barehanded. And really... after a few hours he re-appeared with washed, dried, ironed and folded clothing!
All of a sudden they had regrouped in a huge offense of kindness. People offering us their fenders (unasked for) when the neighbor boat was dangerously banging our sides. An other person offering us a passarelle (loopplank) as he thought the jumping on and off board was too dangerous. An old man (with half fingers) guided us a few blocks on our way to the 'Tim' shop for an UMTS card. People from the shops printing google maps to help us find the next shop while holding on to our groceries so we would not have to carry them so far. And if they would not hold on to it for us, they offered to help us carry it to our boat (you could not refuse, and we really tried)... it was almost ridiculous, well... it was ridiculous. But I have to admit, I was not holding stand against so much kindness and charm. They did it... they had me reviewing my opinion. I loved them! So much kindness and help, and it didn't even annoy me anymore that no one spoke English! If you get used to the hands and feet communication, you start to believe you don't even need to speak Italian. Or English, or any language.
So, I would like to dedicate this blog to the people who made it possible:
- Josaf, his wife Lucienna and son Niko - for showing us the old town and bringing us to the best pizza place
- The harbor master and his wife - who put (again) a floral smell on our wardrobe
- Our boat neighbors - who complimented us a zillion times on our boat and leant us their fenders
- Mr. nice guy - someone from the harbor who leant us a passerelle and explained me about a medusa (beautiful, see photo below)
- 4-half fingered man - for guiding us to the UMTS shop, without whom this blog would never be read...
- Shop owners - who printed maps, and guarded or even carried our stuff
- The catering, the other unnamed locals and the nice weather :)