A few years ago I had this dream. I dreamt of the most beautiful place in the world. There was a pristine mountain lake, some snow and some bright green grass. Almond trees in bloom. It was fairly spectacular. In looking for that place I've had a pretty amazing time. I hope the search never ends.
As for my trip, I did it, as long as I'm flexible about what ''it'' is. And I feel really good.
All that was left for me to do was get my boat home. I contacted a lot of shipping companies online that promised free 24 hour quotes. Only one got back to me. I also called a couple of airlines, and getting through to one of them found wonderful news. They would let me take my boat with me for a charge of 80 euro as sporting equipment. I stressed that the boat was very long, 549 cm, and was assured that it would be no problem.
I think that if you assure somebody of something, and turn out to be wrong, they should be allowed to punch you in the jaw really hard. If they're not strong, they should be allowed to find someone to punch you for them.
I was doing this research from a cozy youth hostel I found in Naples, where I also made friends with a couple of fellow travelers. Like me, they were low budget adventurers, and I'd like to think our souls bonded. Jack and Jill would come with me to the airport in a rental car to help me with onsite logistics.
Q: Dov, I heard you have this great blog. Can you tell me what it's about?
A: It's about people, good and bad. It's about deeds, kind and apathetic. It's the story of what happened to me when I stepped outside the lines, and found a different place.
The car that I could find to rent for the day, after walking from four rental places that were out of cars, only had stick shift. I drove a stick for a little bit about seven years ago. I drove through the streets of Naples to my boat. It was really close. I only stalled about five times and took one wrong turn.
Driving in Naples was the most dangerous thing I had done on my trip. Things like lanes, street signs, pedestrians, and other cars are ignored by the drivers of Naples as they would figments of their imaginations. The rest of Italy is only a little better.
Later Jack and Jill showed up, we got food for the day, loaded my boat on the car and were off. Jill had a stick shift at home, so she was willing to drive. My job was to navigate and tell her that she should try not to be too intimidated by the killers on the road. Jack kept track of the kayak and the makeshift racks. It was a good thing too, because he was first to notice when it was shifting dangerously. We stopped, fixed it, and were back on the road.
''The only thing I'm really scared of going wrong is that we'll show up at the airport and they won't let me take my boat.'' A similar thing had happened to me once before with a bicycle.
''What will you do then." asked Jill.
''I think he's under enough pressure without that sort of question." said Jack.
I had an answer. ''Cry, maybe."
By some miracle, we survived the Roads of Death, arriving at the airport in good shape. Jack and Jill began securing the boat for transit as I went to find out where to bring it. I waited in 1,000 lines, and then some more for a supervisor to get back to the woman at the ticket counter.
After a few hours I was told unequivocally, "No." My kayak could not come with me, I would have to leave it behind. No, I could not get my money back.
What to do? where to go? I remembered that Ostia was near the airport and that the LNI there was very kind to me. I looked into renting a car, it would be expensive. I tried to get a cab, but nobody wanted to take my boat. It was explained to me that the police didn't let people have anything on the roof of their car that extended beyond the front or back.
"Would I be willing to pay the 2000 euro fine?" One cab driver asked me.
"Yes." I tried.
Too bad, he wouldn't take me anyways.
Then there was one cab driver that was interested. He said he would take me the 15 kilometers. So Jack and Jill and I got all of our stuff up the hill over to where he was, since he wouldn't drive through the departure area. He took a look at the boat and said "No" again, despite the fact that I told him how long it was in advance. But another cab driver was also interested and began calling cabbies he knew with large vans that might be willing. Finally, after I finished saying goodbye to Jack and Jill, he took me himself.
The LNI was closed, so I found an out of the way place to leave my boat and planned to sleep under an awning for the night. I found in my pocket a single old piece of paper, folded and faded. Barely legible was the name and phone number of the vice president of the Ostia LNI. When his phone rang, he dropped what he was doing and came.
A: So yes, I would definitely like to think that my blog is about good people.
I want to thank all of them. All the people I met on the way who helped me. I don't remember a lot of your names, but I remember you faces. I remember your welcoming smiles and kind words of encouragement. I remember the warmth and care that you gave me. Thank you, so very very much.
Thank you KayakDov team:
Ben my brother and editor. Rachee for all the amazing help with the pictures. Mom and Dad who despite their claim that they would provide me with no assistance whatsoever, gave me overseas logistical support. And Toby, who was instrumental with the cool logo.
Thank you John from Kayak East, and Boyan from Epic. Both of you were very helpful in many ways and I hope that my readers seek you out when looking for relevant services. You both did great jobs above and beyond what one would expect from commercial enterprises.
Thank you DTBH and YPRC for your help in training over the summer.
Thank you friends and family who contributed gear and cash to my trip, as it happens, I'm finishing with no spare change so every cent counted.
And finally, thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read my words. In your reading, I was a little bit less alone. I hope you enjoyed my story. Keep your eyes open for other adventures of mine over the next few decades. If I have my way, there will be more.
Dream big and follow your dreams to where ever they may take you. I think you'll like it there.