Greta, by default I'm using a pseudonym for you, if you'd rather I use your real name just let me know.
Sunday morning I took the train back to Imperia and arrived late morning. I went to the captain’s office to get a weather report. The captain’s office was surrounded by a high fence and there was a video camera and microphone at the gate. Apparently it was a military base as well.
I buzzed. Then heard from a speaker pleasant sounding Italian words that probably amounted to “What do you want?” I like the sound of Italian.
“Umm, Bon journo.” I went on “Do you speak English? Meteo Journo?” It befuddles me to talk into a box, especially to try to do so in Italian.
“One moment.” I heard from the speaker.
I waited there for a time, and then a man in a uniform came out of the building bearing a double sided sheet of paper which he handed to me. Line after line of text, it was in English, but different from any weather report I had seen before. It had a list of seas, each one followed by a direction and a number. For example, one line might have been “Tiberian Sea NNE 5.” I actually don't know the name for the sea I'm on. No it's not “Mediterranean” wise ass. For the purposes of this report the Mediterranean had been divided up into a hundred smaller seas.
Fortunately one of them was in bold. And double checking on the internet, it was my sea. It was also under the list of “CURRENT GALE WARNINGS.” And had NE winds of force seven. I didn't know if that was for out in the center of the Gulf of Genova or along the coast. But a force seven head wind is much too strong to paddle into (More manly kayakers might be calling me a pansy, but I expect they probably stopped following my blog long ago in disgust).
I also found something else online. One of the couch surfing requests I sent out in this area had a response. In an effort to get out of the cold I had sent a request to everybody that was volunteering their couch in the area, and one of them was a pretty 18 year old girl who speaks only a little English.
“Hi, this is Greta's mother. Greta can't write back to you since she's out of town, but we'd be happy to host you tonight.”
I walked the length of the pier to feel the wind out on the edge of the marina. The conditions were bad but not terrible. The hour however had gotten a little bit late, so I would get on the train to meet my hosts.
I had a little time to explore before my train however, and I found a street lined with tangerine trees that looked as though their fruit were bursting with juicy tastiness. I picked one and … Well, let's just say that I wouldn't consider it the victory I had expected.
Greta and her mom met me at the station. Greta spoke a very little English. She's been studying it in school for four years.
“Oh, that's great, I'm learning Italian and this will give me a chance to practice.”
“How long have you been learning Italian?” She asked.
“About a week and a half.” And it was an opportunity to learn Italian. They were very patient and I have a handle on at least a dozen new words thanks to my time with them. Their house is in the mountains and has a great view of the sea in the distance. Greta's family was extremely warm and welcoming. They insisted I join them for dinner and it was with sorrow that I explained to them my dietary habits. But a salad and some other tasty options were available.
They have three much loved dogs, two cats, a rabbit, three egg laying chickens, and twohonking geese. It was like visiting Old McDonald, if Old McDonald was a super Italian lady and her daughter. Their dogs were very nice.
I had been given a guest house for the night and Greta came over to light up the wood stove. Greta's mother explained that wood stoves were better than the standard gas heating unit that they had. Their were lots of blankets, I piled them on top of me and slept better than I have in a long time.
I was invited back to stay over tonight also.
Today the wind was good, or at least not bad, though it was still cold and the sky was overcast and gloomy all day. If the world is ever destroyed in divine fury, the holocaust will be preceded by a day like today. A cold, dark calm before the storm. It's supposed to rain the rest of the week with possible intermittent flurries of snow.
With my paddle clothing on I was comfortable once I was moving. The wind was mostlyfrom my right but sometimes I could almost feel a tailwind and catch a wave. That was nice. It's been about two weeks since I wasn't fighting into a headwind and I felt strength flowing through me with the unaccustomed ease.
I sang a song by the Doors that I like and was in my head. Which song? That's none of your business, but if you think about them, you might be able to figure it out.
I stopped in the port closest to where Greta's mother works and I'll meet her at the end of her day to go back to their mountain home for another night of wood stove family warmth that heats body and soul.
The people at the port go into the super nice category, not only inviting me to use theshowers but handing me a bunch of coins to pay for them as though it had never occurred to them that I might pay myself.
The kindness of Greta's family and of the people at the port is proof enough that days like today will never harbinger anything other than cold weather and rain.