Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kindness is a Sort of Magic

The nice people in last night’s port were kind enough to let me use a small room.  They also loaned me a space heater, which I was quite excited about.  The room stank of benzine so I opened the windows not to be poisoned by the fumes (yes, running a heater with the windows open is a sin, but this was an extenuating circumstance.)

The heater hummed, pointed at me warningly.  Before going to sleep I watched a portion of The Princess Bride on my computer.

“Sleep well, and dream of large woman.”  The Man in Black said.

The floor was wet.  What?  Why was the floor wet?  I looked around.  There was a large puddle taking up most of the floor of the room.  The pile of my stuff in the corner had somehow magically been spared.  I had left the nozzle of my water bag open.  Rats.  The area in front of the heater was dry.  For the rest of the night I would use the heater to dry off the floor rather than warm me.  It was still much nicer inside than out.

Day 36:
I went shopping for rice for breakfast.  Pasta was much cheaper, there were also more different kinds of pasta in this little market here in Italy then I have ever seen in one place before.  I am now in the land of pasta.

Walking back from the market I noticed a frozen puddle.  It had been a cold night out, and I was comfy thanks to good old fashion kindness.  A magic that I would later learn is in short supply.

The sky was overcast and the day was one of the coldest yet.  I paddled into an ugly headwind.  One works harder paddling into a headwind, so I kept chipper with frequent stops to eat.  While it's frustrating to be blown backwards while stopped, the invigorating effects of a snack on aching muscles, overall energy, and mental state are fantastic.  Occasionally I would find a good eddy or slightly sheltered place for my snacks.

At 2:40 I got to a port (43.839108,7.916508).  I looked on my map, I didn't know if I could make it to the next port before dark.  It was cold out so I wanted very much to be on land before the temperature dropped even more.

“Hi, I kayaked from Barcelona, can I leave my boat here overnight?”

“How long is it?”  The receptionist asked me.  She had an expression on her face that said 'I'm not your friend, and it's American hippies like you that are the cause of all the troubles in the world'.

'I'm not a hippie.'  I thought about telling her, but instead I said

“I don't know.  It's just a kayak, a very small boat.  Maybe it's 50 centimeters wide.”  I didn't want to tell her how long my Epic 18 is because I knew where this was going.  She was going to look up how much it costs to keep an 18 foot boat in the port for one night.

“It doesn't need to be kept in the water, anywhere is fine.” I added in the hope that this would deter her.  It only delayed.

“This is a port, everything on land is for cars.”  She told me.  Her heart was black as asphalt and it would cost me 20 Euro to keep my boat there for the night.

I paddled on for a while longer.  There was a small cliff to my left with a walking path above it.

Occasionally stairs would come down to a small pebble beach or rocky area with a ladder into the water. I thought about taking my boat out at these places, but decided a port with a chance of finding a host and maybe a shower would be best.

In time I did get to another port, the day was almost over when I made my way into the captain’s office.

“Hi, I kayaked from Barcelona, can I leave my kayak here overnight?”

“You can, but this is a private port.  You will have to pay.”  Two in a row, what devilry was this?  It was now very cold out.

The receptionist recommended a public port that I had passed on my way.

Whatever public port he was referring to, I hadn't seen it.  All the marinas I had been at so far were private.  But he was talking to me and trying to help.  I could sense there was good in him.

More talking.  More asking nicely and explaining that I'm very poor.

He called his boss.  The conversation was agonizingly long.  If the answer was no, then I would want to leave to try to make the next port as soon as possible.

But it was yes.  “You can't stay in the marina overnight, and you need to provide us with documentation proving that you really did kayak from Barcelona.”

Cool, I've paddled far enough so that people no longer believe me.

Outside, changing into my land clothing was an extremely cold activity.

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