I spent the Sabbath with the Jewish community in Florence, the city where they found the Renaissance. The synagogue is big and about 150 years old, give or take a few decades. I was walking around during services looking things over. I was up front near the elevated Torah porch, when a man wearing a black hat started hissing and grunting at me, waving his head, that I wasn't allowed to be there. Once I was sure of what he was saying, I gave him my own “bug off” face. I don't respond to grunts and gestures, and I don't take orders from people who haven't introduced themselves.* As a Jew, I won't be told that I'm not allowed to be up front in a synagogue sanctuary, even if I do look like a bum. It turned out the man was the rabbi.
On Sunday I arrived at my kayak too late in the day to make any real progress, so I decided to do some work on my boat. I have been meaning to attach bungees to the top of the cockpit making a shelf for my rockets. Armed with super glue, I managed to attach them to my fingers, but not the Kevlar lining.
Day 53, Tuesday Jan 18th:
It wasn't a prophesy of doom and destruction like all the famous prophets had, it was more my style. It's not that I'm saying I'm a prophet, I'll leave it to you to read what happened and decide. However, if you don't come to that conclusion, know that you're wrong.
I woke up this morning with one line from a song in my mind: “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” It was there and it was strong so I sang out loud as I walked to the marina's offices to get a weather update and ask them to call ahead to arrange a place for the night.
There she was. At the desk, was the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. She was beautiful, and enthusiastic, and friendly, and helpful. Her eyes were amazing. Here's an excerpt from the conversation.
“So why are you doing this trip?” the girl with kaleidoscope eyes asked me.
I wanted to come up with an example of something hard that she had done that she found worthwhile. I went with languages, she spoke seven. “For you is learning languages easy?” thinking she would say 'No, but it's really great.'
“Yah, for me it's really easy.” She said.
Rats, I would need to come up with another way to relate the idea. At any rate, she gave me her contact information before I left.
“You are not only the most helpful secretary I have met, but the prettiest.” I told her.
I paddled from Marina di Grosseto to Porto Steffano.
The beginning of my trip took me along a mostly empty beach. There were piles ofwashed up pieces of wood and debris. A golden lab was out for a walk and saw me. Intensely interested he was clearly considering swimming out to get a closer look, but a man nearby told it not to, too bad. The man said something to me in Italian and I said “Ci” and smiled. The man said something else, and then seemed to understand that I'm an idiot and stopped talking to me.
I also saw a man on a chariot being pulled through the water by a horse.
As I made my crossing to the peninsula, I felt a tug on my line. I caught an old piece of plastic. I passed through a garbagy area, uchh.
Finally I pulled into an extremely large mostly empty port. I was paddling alongside amotor boat and called out to him asking where the capitaneria was. He couldn't hear me over the sound of his motor and told me so. I tried a few more times screaming, and eventually, rather then turn his motor off, he started to ignore me completely.
There are frequently castles above old ports, and I always think it's cool.
This port, like many others in Italy, is run by the Italian Coast Guard. I asked in the captain's office if I could leave my boat in the port over night. My boat was parked on the opposite side, about a 15 minute walk away. The answer was simple, I could not leave my kayak anywhere in the port area. Finally after much deliberation they showed me a beach just outside of the port where I could leave my boat. It was the sort of spot that shouted “Please steal anything you see here.” I said no problem thinking that my boat was just fine where it was, surrounded by mid level yachts.
The next problem I needed to solve was a place to sleep. As usual, all I needed was a spot of floor so I thought, unwisely 'It can't hurt to ask.'
“No, there is no place here for you to sleep.”
“What about there?” I asked pointing to a small storage shed.
“It's locked.” The coast guard kid said.
“Who has the key?” Locked shouldn't be a hard problem to solve.
“I don't know.”
I checked the door. It was held shut with a chain lock. It would be easy for me to squeeze through.
He said something to me in Italian that I didn't understand. At the end of his comment he put his hands together at the wrist, as though showing handcuffs. I didn't believe he was being so rude.
“I don't understand.” I said.
“If you sleep here, you will go to jail.”
He could have just said from the beginning that there were regulations against it or something, instead of the bit about it being locked. Either way, I solved the problem by shoving him into the harbor and kicking seagull poo onto him. Spectators cheered and declared a holiday in my honor.
Meanwhile, today I lost my spoon between the floor boards of the dock, I could see it beneath so I got out my screwdriver to take up the boards.** Unfortunately the screws were too small. I still have a fork though. Until now, it's been virtually unused.
* Or anyone else. ~ ed.
** Wouldn't it have been easier to find a new spoon? ~ ed.
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