Tuesday 20 April 2010

On the Beach

Souvenirs from Sicily, Part VII

Still in Porto Empedocle, and still in October 1987, Brigitte and I have recovered from our trip to Agrigento and decide we want to have a lazy day for a change.

To stay home with our hosting family is certainly not the kind of lazy day we are looking for; both the children and Nunzia herself are sweet, but there is no such thing as privacy and quiet time to oneself to be found in their house, and so we agree to have a look at the beach.

We are, after all, on Sicily, and so far, I have not even set foot anywhere near the Mediterranean - having arrived on a ship does not count, since that was a huge ferry and the water was far below the deck where we spent the journey.

The beach it is, then, and although I have no recollection of how we got there from the house - whether we walked or a bus took us - we spend a very relaxing day on the beach, equipped with towels, books, water bottles and most likely something to eat, lovingly prepared for us by Nunzia.

Of course, at this time of the year, the beach is deserted. The tourists have all gone, and no native Sicilian is to be found at or in the Sea after August, unless they have to, because they make a living by fishing.

We are German, though, and so to us, the sand and the water still feel pleasantly warm, and we enjoy the solitude.

At some point in the afternoon, when we begin to think about getting back into town, a group of three or four men appear on top of the hill or cliff rising above the beach (sorry, I really can't remember whether it was one or the other, and I have no pictures from back then to freshen up my memory).

Wary of what happened during our day in Agrigento, we only need to look at each other, at the men who have now started to climb down the path in our direction, and start immediately to gather our belongings and, most importantly, put our clothes on over our swimsuits.

By the time we have packed up everything, the men have reached us, and while two of them are instantly recognizable as Sicilian men, the taller one in the middle introduces himself in English with an immaculate British accent. It could be that he says his name is Robert, but my memory is not very reliable after 23 years, so let's just call him Robert for now.
He asks where we are from, and a short conversation ensues, during which we repeatedly tell them that we are leaving now, since our friends in town are expecting us back.
Robert tells us he is an English teacher at one of the schools here, and that he is pleased to make our acquaintance - and would be especially pleased to get to know me a bit better.

This time, I don't need Brigitte to interpret for me. My English is good enough to tell him that we are going to leave tomorrow anyway and now we really must get back into town, and no, tonight we can't come to the piazza to meet him and his friends because it is our farewell dinner.

I am 19 years old, very inexperienced when it comes to boys or men, and certainly do not intend to start that kind of experience with a total stranger who appears to be much older than myself and who, in all likelihood, I am never going to meet again.
So we politely say good-bye to the three men, and are just glad we had almost all day to ourselves.

Tomorrow we are to take the train to Catania, almost at the opposite side of the island.
We are sorry to leave Nunzia and her children, and at the same time very much looking forward to the next chapter of our holiday.

(both pictures pinched from somewhere on the internet)

No comments:

Post a Comment