When I stored my boat in the forest yesterday afternoon, it was with Mario’s blessing. Mario is the pseudonym of the fellow who picked me up five hours late on Friday. His cousins owned the property, it should be safe back in the woods.
This morning I woke up, checked the weather, checked facebook, and then went to my boat. On facebook I had received the following message:
“ieri pomeriggio ho visto un ragazzo a piedi scalzi vicino un supermercato.... oggi vicino la mia spiaggia in pineta abbiamo trovato un kayak... facendo delle ricerche sembrerebbe il tuo se vuoi contattarci il n è 3288276345”
[Yesterday afternoon I saw a guy walking barefoot near a supermarket .... today in the woods near my beach we found a kayak ... doing research would seem your if you want to contact the n is 5558276345]
Apparently I come up high enough on Google searches that a few clues and a boat on the woods are enough to find me, cool.
I walked from the bed and breakfast to the woods. I took some pictures on the way and went over a song in my head that I hoped to perform for this blog on the subject of how wonderful my trip is.
When I found my kayak and all of my gear missing, I stopped feeling that way.
This was my second crime scene since graduating from ranger academy. This time there was quite a bit more to work with. The pine forest behind the dunes was grassy with a sandy dirt jeep trail running through it.
Before approaching the spot where my boat had been, I took out my camera.
There were footprints. I took pictures of two sets of fresh prints in the area as well as jeep tracks that went up onto the grass where my boat had been. I broke a stick off to save the exact width of the tracks.
I called Mario. He sounded hung over with only marginal levels of consciousness. He would come by to help me in the afternoon.
I found a man on the beach carrying a bundle of driftwood back to his car. He had not seen anything. I found a pretty lady with an enormous dreadlock-mangy-explosive-bundle-of-love dog and another smaller meaner short haired one.
She didn’t know what happened to my kayak, but she did invite me to her Christmas party. I don’t celebrate christmas. I think of the oppressive department store musical barrages and neighborhood celebrations in gaudiness as symbols of the roughly two thousand years of oppression my people have suffered at the hands of the church. But, I was happy to consider her invitation because I needed smiles.
In fact, I think that if Jesus showed up at that moment and offered me a smile and redemption if accepted his faith, then I probably would have. But he didn’t.
I went to the owner of the property, Mario's cousins. They lived in a a big red house between the woods and a farm about a ten minute walk from the scene of the crime. Maybe it wasn’t a crime scene. Maybe they found it and moved it for safe keeping.
Mario had told me that his cousins spoke English. And so they did. Valerie and Max are a sweet older couple. They only bickered a little.
They had not seen my kayak. But they did call Mario and told him to get his butt over there. They also called Mickey, their son and the owner of the B&B that was hosting me.
Valery, English, also sat me down with some hot tea and milk while I struggled with planning a route through the challenges ahead of me.
Miki arrived and asked me “What did happen to your kayak?”
Valery cut in. “What happened to your kayak?” she corrected her son.
I must have been feeling better because I laughed. My mind was further calmed when we set into action. We went to reexamine the crime scene. We found the jeep tracks from the crime scene all over the dunes. Someone had ended their joy ride of habitat destruction with a kayak theft.
We also found more tracks on the other side of the crime scene. These were in the grass. The blades were still bent and had sand on top of them, further indicating that they were recent and not randomly left there before the incident.
There was one last clue to follow up on. Someone had looked at my boat yesterday and found me on google to say hi. They left me there phone number. I had prepared three questions to ask them.
What time did you see my boat?
Was everything neatly put away, or disturbed?
Did you see anyone joy riding a jeep through the dunes?
The last of course had a number of obvious follow up questions.
Mario had arrived, so he made the call for me. I didn’t understand everything he was saying, and I didn’t even hear the other end of the conversation, but it didn’t sound like he was asking the questions I had prepared.
“We have your kayak.” He told me. The man at the other end of the phone was working, so I could only pick it up in the afternoon. He told Mario that he had taken it because he was worried someone might take it, and so he thought it should be protected.
I waited Miki’s office and read about kayaking as the afternoon came closer. Miki wasn’t there. A chunky Indian man came in because he was curious.
“I don’t speak italian,” I told him.
“Where are you from?” He asked me.
“I love Americans! America has money and jobs. Italian are racist. America has many colors. Look at Obama! Italians are all mafia.”
I had made a lot of friends here in southern Italy and part of me wanted to say good things about the people here. But most of me didn’t. Without too much help the crazy Indian ranted for another twenty minutes or so before showing himself out.
The people who had my boat and gear arranged to meet us at the shopping center. When they showed up, they looked like a couple of older hippies. They had driven my boat to the mall on the roof of their car very slowly without tying it down.
I was not as gracious as I usually try to be, but nicer than they probably deserved. I even smile as they took pictures of me posing with them next to the boat.
The hull is damaged with pock marks that tear through the gel coating and some of the carbon fiber. Hopefully I’ll be able to partially repair it.
All is well that ends well. I only lost another day.
Hopefully once Christmas is over random people will stop trying so hard to give me shoes.