Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Weather Started Getting Rough...

My Trip to Naples Pt 2

The spaghetti dinner was only the beginning. We actually ate dinner BEFORE we started sailing across the Adriatic and we were tucked into our bunks by the time the engines were humming. Friday had been a rainy day but we had no idea that the rain was just the kickoff for a night of wind, rain, and swelling seas. Before we even shut our eyes we were feeling the rocking of the waves. I thought it would be nice- sort of the same feeling as a baby being rocked to sleep in a cradle. But no. Oh No. I was way off.

It quickly became apparent that we would not sleep this night. We giggled and every few minutes we yelped as we were tossed around in the beds. B was on the top bunk and was sure she was going to fall off. She tucked the thin blanket into the sides between the rail and the mattress and hoped it would keep her safe. We braced our feet against the bottom of the bunks and our hands to the side. My hip grew sore as I was lifted off the bed and smashed back down into the thin mattress time after time. The creaking walls were another bad sign. I softly sang the Gilligan's Island theme song- "The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed.... If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost, the Minnow would be lost".

We were on the 9th level- the top deck- and our window was belted with one crashing wave after another. There was no way we could either get up or sleep. The only choice was to try to keep ourselves in a horizontal position and ride out the storm. That would have been alright but the walls of the ferry were very thin and we quickly became aware of the unpleasant sounds of other passengers emptying their stomachs over and over again through the night. "Wimps" I whispered, unsympathetically.

I thought about "boat people", refugees, those who had tried to escape tyrannical regimes. Yes, in situations like this your mind tends to wander. I remembered photos of the Albanians clinging to sides of ships in the early 90's in conditions much worse than ours. I could see the lifeboats right outside our cabin window but they would have been useless in such a swelling sea.

I checked my watch many times throughout the night, desperately praying for the morning light. By 8 am we stretched our necks and joyfully spotted land. We threw on our clothes, packed our bags and waited for the disembarkment announcement. It never came. When we looked out the window to see if we were any closer we were shocked to no longer see any land, only the sea, the choppy, choppy sea.

"Hummm", we wondered. "What is happening?"

We wandered down two decks below and asked one of the Italian staff for an explanation.

"Ehhhh-- we waiting."

"Yes", we said, "For what and for how long?"

"Ehhhh-- maybe one hour or two. We no know. Eeesa too rough to go into da porto".

Visions of ferries crashing into docks filled my head and we sat down once again. But I needed my morning coffee and we had absolutely no money. We walked down the hall to the reception desk where amazingly we found two of the crew.

"We have a problem" we said, trying to look very sad. "We have no money and we really want a coffee".

"Ehhhh-- (and they mumbled a few words in Italian to each other)-- we aska da capitan. Momento."

We waited.

"You a go to da bar now-- eeesa cafe fora you".


And we wandered back to the bar where we made those two tiny coffees last as long as possible.

We waited...... and waited.... and waited. Hours went by. I read an entire book and B did a lot of knitting. We realised we were going around in circles, spotting the coast of Italy once an hour or so.

Finally at 5 PM we made our way into the port. The sun was setting, the sky was an awesome shade of red, and I thought of the old rhyme "Red sky at night, Sailors delight", and was calmed by the thought that the morning would bring good weather and a smooth return trip the next evening.

We drove off the ferry and along the beautiful coast of Bari, where the last waves of the storm were still crashing over the seawalls. I loaded the CD player with good ole comforting country music and we sang non-stop for the 3 hour drive to Naples.


ITS said...

Who knew that the smelly, slimey, still Adriatic sea could have such an attitude?

I am glad that it all ended well, and now you have a cool story to tell...

Judith in Umbria said...

This is so funny I copied it to the crazed American friend who wanted me to get on one of those ferries recently for a one day visit to Croatia!

(I think I am supposed to be more sensitive and sorry for you, but IT WAS FUNNY.)

Judith in Umbria

oreneta said...

What an adventure...glad the ship held up...

and you got coffee.

ados said...

Did you met the napolitans ??

Rowena said...

Oh my god! That boat ride across already sounded like enough of an adventure, but then you still headed off for Naples! Please tell me that you are getting by on a GPS and not a plain ol' map. This is sounding like something right out of Thelma & Louise! We want the next installment!!

Jeff Gromen said...

So you're saying I should wait for a nice calm night and then decide to go. This trip is getting tougher all the time. The weather is incredibly unstable this time of year.
Do they take Euro in Albania?


james said...

I LOVE the title. I've had the theme song to Gilligan's Island memorized for years now. Though your story was a bit rough for you, the title definitely brought a smile to my face.