THe glory of a story
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life. Sharing experiences, memories and ideas so that they are out in the world for you to find when the time is right.
THe glory of a story
We've been amazed throughout our tour here at how the tradition of 'siesta' or what I understand is called 'riposo' here, as I think siesta is the Spanish term, is very much alive. Most of the stores, restaurants and shops close down from 2pm until after 5pm, and even here at the resort the quiet please sign is up for the hours of 2:30 to 6:30, although it doesn't seem to matter how noisy you want to be at night! Very different for us from the Canadian Prairies. Makes for a nice quiet time to do writing, as I am today....but a strange thing to get used to if you put off your lunch, or just want to grab something from the grocery.
After the siesta period, we headed down to the beach. There was only one other person down there, a man reading his paper, and the lifeguard who still looked like he was enjoying a siesta himself. We sat in the sun, I continuing my reading of Mitch Albom's 'The Time Keeper', and enjoyed the sound of the waves while Cec enjoyed a dip in the water. A much cooler day than the last, it didn't seem to phase him.
After a dinner of tomato, mozza, olives and dry bread at our apartment, we headed back down to the beach with my camera and a bottle of wine to enjoy a very gentle sunset.
We headed left down the beach, as far as we could and came across the cornerstone ruins of another old building. Being able to go no farther, we settled there, soaking up the view.
We watched as the coastguard came in very close to the shore, seemingly looking for something. Within minutes, they turned around and headed back to Otranto. Shortly after that a man in full diving suit came down the beach towards us, carrying his spear gun and the fish he had caught attached to the belt on the back of the suit. I might have taken a pictures, but the speargun made me a little nervous, so we watched him walk off into the distance. So many things we are just not used to seeing in our day to day life.
When the sun had set, we headed back to the apartment for an early night. Looking through pictures and memories of our trip to that point, something I saw reminded me of the bells on the churches at Maratea...chiming every hour on the hour, then followed by one higher ding for quarter past the hour, two for half past, three for quarter to, then the next hour. Loved those sounds.
We'd set the clock for 6am the next morning, and headed down to catch the sunrise. That day we got a spectacular view, as the clouds gave way to the glory of the eastern rising. We enjoyed it thoroughly, wondering why we didn't make this a part of our day to day life, rather than a rare occasion in a distant land. It was breathtaking and much more enjoyable because we'd remembered to take our towels and sweaters.
The plan for the day was to explore Otranto. We'd been lost in the town a couple of times, but never really seen too much of it. Over morning coffee, I had read through the brochure that was given to us when we checked into the hotel, and decided to make sure that we saw both the remains of the castle as well as the Cathedral.
We parked a few blocks away and were there in good time, prior to 9am. The streets were relatively calm, with many shops not yet even open as we began to explore the seaboard and the streets leading up to it. We continued to make our way along the marina wall until we found the outer shell of the castle.
Once inside, it was like we'd walked into an entirely different town! The streets became even narrower, lined with shop upon shop selling all manner of souvenirs, jewelry, shoes, clothing, pastas and breads. There was little you couldn't find there, although many of the restaurants and shops were still closed.
We walked to the end of the castle walls, then made our way back, stopping to check a few of the many shops for souvenir ideas, and local crafts. Pottery is a huge thing in the area, and many of the shops had walls and walls of cute chubby little pottery people, dressed in every kind of apparel. They were adorable, and several caught my eye, but the worry about how to get them home with out having them shatter convinced me to leave them where they were.
After finishing most of the first street's sites, we took a walk upward, on another narrow winding street, not knowing where it lead, but curious to continue exploring.
Half way up or so, we realized that we had found the Cathedral that I'd read about. We entered in, and found ourselves in a beautiful ancient structure. There wasn't a clear indication as to when it was built, but the Pantaleone Mosaic on the cathedral floor was to have been done by a monk from the Abbey of San Nicola di Casole between 1163 and 1166. His artistry depicted life of all kinds from that period, both mythological and real, as the floor was covered completely with symbols, animals, humans and what is likely the 'Tree of Life'. How painstakingly patient he must have been to place the tens of thousands of tiny tiles in their position as he created the artwork that remains today.
When the Turks attacked Ontranto on August 14, 1480, many women and children took refuge in the Cathedral we stood in, but history tells that in the end the sanctuary was invaded, and most were killed. Over 800 people died trying to defend the town from the invasion, and in one small room on the right side of the church, glass cases house the bones and skulls of many of the murdered people, the men, women and the children. It's a chilling reminder to all of the brutality of war.
There is an eeriness to spending time in such a place, as you think about the horror of their deaths, the lives unlived, the centuries between then and now. This is but one reminder of atrocities that have been committed when men pit themselves against men. You can't help but think about how the spirits of those who died live on in the history and architecture of this town, and so many other ancient towns like it. It's a reminder of the shortness of life...both theirs and our own. It makes you want to grab onto life with both hands and hold on tight, as all to soon it will be over.
I was left wondering how many dreams were sealed behind the glass with the bones of the dead. Then I had to ask myself what dreams have I put behind glass, not allowing them to breath and come to life. How long will I leave them there stagnant and protected, before I realize that the days are long, but the years are short, and the clock continues to tick.
What dreams do you have tucked behind glass yourself? When will you take them out, dust them off and bring them to life?
Italy was such an adventure for me. It's confirmed many of my dreams of what it would be like, but in other ways it has held a certain sadness...in how much garbage there is always found along the roadways, how frightening driving can be with so many determined, aggressive drivers sharing the highways, how much I don't understand because I didn't invest the time necessary to learn more of the language. But really, those are all small things compared to the joy of just actually being here, after so many years of imagining it.
I found I would dream about Shane almost ever night here. I dream about him a lot at home as well, but these were different dreams. They were dreams that included the sadness and frustration of things that he could not do or enjoy. I wonder if it was because one thing I'd noticed so much was that in all likelihood if Shane were still here this would never be a place he could enjoy being himself. There is very little that is even moderately accessible, and maybe that is another part of the acceptance that I continue to walk through. Whatever the cause, there weren't many mornings where I've awoken and he's been very far away.
The afternoon was pretty lazy. We wandered over to the #1 resort again in pursuit of the elusive mini-mart, once again didn't find it, then returned home and had a couple of ' almost warm' showers to get the sand out of our hair, then relaxed in the apartment. A nice change to some of the steady going that we'd had over the past couple of days. We relaxed at the apartment until 6pm then loaded our beach bag with some towels, wine and 'pink' red-cups, then headed down to catch the sunset.
That night we had the beach all to ourselves, as the crowds had headed in for the day, so we found a sheltered place along the dunes and enjoyed the colors of the setting sun. It was nice to talk about hopes, dreams, passions. I am focusing on mine and wanted for Cecil to think about doing the same. Although he says he doesn't have any, I know that is not the case. He is just afraid to verbalize them I think, for fear they will either sound silly or unattainable..or maybe that he's dissatisfied with how things currently are. I try to keep explaining that we can be very, very happy with how things are, but still need to have a dream to move towards. It's those dreams and passions that keep us growing!
It was a quiet night after that. Went back to another dinner of dried bread and cheese, a couple of glasses of wine and some hours spent on Pinterest as I try to keep building my plan for better social marketing to work towards my ideal life...that is just around the corner.
Next morning we managed to catch the alarm and headed to the beach to try and capture the sunrise. I read on a quote that you should try to catch at least one sunrise a year, so I guess we tried, but it really wasn't much of one. There were very big clouds to the east, and they blocked what would likely have been a magnificent show. It was very cool out along the water, I was very glad that Cecil thought to bring a towel. We joked about 'City of Angels' as we sat there waiting for the day to begin, realizing neither of us can remember if the angels went to the water for sunrise or sunset, so I guess we'll have to take the time to watch i once again.
We headed back to the apartment after about an hour, had our coffee and decided it really was too early to get going, so went back for a nap for an hour or so prior heading back to the beach.
On the beach there were a lot less people, but the lifeguard on duty was very determined that we sit in assigned seating. The wind was much stronger and although I didn't attempt to tackle the waves at all, Cec strode out into them after a while. However even he found they were too strong for him!
We enjoyed an hour or two of just soaking up the sun, rare for either of us. While sitting there I did a bit of a meditation, enjoying how the rhythm of the waves moves along with my own breath. What kept surfacing for me was my need to continue clarifying my own passions, and building my life around those. I'd recorded them on my iphone, and made a commitment to myself to revisit where I'd left off and expand with my markers, building upon the passionate life I already get to enjoy. I promised myself that I'd walk the talk more fully with each new day. They were clearer for me and I knew we are well on our way moving in the right direction.
After an hour of reading Mitch Albom's 'Time Keeper', we headed for a long walk down the beach in search of a vendor that might be still open to serve lunch. It was a long walk to find one, as most of this area was closing down after the summer season. It was amazing to us that so much of what we'd enjoyed is a season that only lasts from May until the end of September, yet the weather was still so gorgeous here, and the sea so warm. The question kept rising, what do people do for the other 7 or 8 months of the year when all of these resorts are closed down?
The one we found had a limited menu, but we were able enjoy a Corona, a white wine, some freshly made Bruschetta and Cecil had a salmon panini that he said was one of the tastiest meals yet. It was a lovely view from the deck and we enjoyed the moment, closely watched over by a server who looked all the world like my friend Keith did when I first met him. Very uncanny!
After a while, we made our way back to our own resort,and decided it was a good time to get out of the sun for a while. We remain two of the whitest species on the beach, but I know that spending more time there would only take me from white to red, not to the beautiful bronze that is displayed by so many others on the beach. It's a funny place here. Anything and everything goes as far as who wears what. I am beyond a doubt the most overdressed person along the stretch of sand, and though I look at so many around me knowing that if they can wear those small two piece outfits, I should be able to as well now, I have no desire to even try. My mother obviously raised me to be much too modest. I often do wish I were braver.
As the sun peaked in through the slats of the doorway, it was pretty clear we'd missed sunrise. The alarm was set, but the volume on my cell was turned all the way off so we missed hearing it, which was really disappointing as we really wanted to go catch it. Tomorrow.
After coffee and figuring out the hot water (everything is different it seems), we headed over to the beach for the morning. The first hour or so was very relaxing. The wind was brisk, but the weather was +25, so it still felt warm. I stayed on a chair and enjoyed my book while Cecil went out and wrestled with the waves for the early part of the day.
It wasn't long before the privacy and enjoyment of the surf was interrupted by the men who paced the beach selling their wares. I got bamboozled into buying 5 bracelets and a ring before the morning was up, and although I made the final decision to purchase, I'm a little miffed at the constant intrusion of privacy that led up to that. Tomorrow I will be tougher. We stayed on the beach until noon, then headed back to our apartment to dress for lunch, thinking we'd go to Alimini 1, where they have a restaurant. When we found that it was closed, we decided to carry on to the Universal restaurant down the road instead.
At first we could find no one there that spoke any English, so we wrestled with our translation book until we could figure out what to eat. I must have done something right, as I had the best meal I've had since arriving!
After lunch, we continued our search for a mini mart to buy a few groceries. Otranto was completely shut down as was Maglie, so we finally ended up finding a mall in Lecce that was open. Not only did we find beer, wine and groceries, I also found a camera connector for the ipad, which left me very excited to look at some of the pics I'd taken!
We left the mall thinking it would be a fairly easy drive home, but somehow we were confused about where exactly we'd ended up, and when we finally arrived back at home it was almost 7pm, actually coming back into Otranto from the south of all things! Even with the GPS we were confused! As we finally arrived in Otranto it was obvious there was something exciting happening in town but we were too tired to explore it.
We made our way home for a dinner of dried bread and cheese, took a couple of shots of the sunset, and settled into the apartment with our wine and beer to relax for the evening and get over the busy traveling day.
The morning started out about 7:30 when someone's car alarm went off, continuing for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality it might only have been a few minutes. Cecil was excited to get on his way, as he often is when traveling, and had us all packed up to go before 8:30. I am much slower, but pushed to finish my coffee and notes and get ready so he didn't leave without me!
It was a much longer day than we'd anticipated. We left Maratea around 9am, and still didn't arrive in Ontranto until close to 6pm. The day was great though! Although there was lots of driving, there were also lots of sights to see. We headed down the coastline to the south, then cut across the mountains, and made our way to the gulf.
The water on the gulf was amazing, the blues and turquoise colors, melding together in the most brilliant shades! The mountains in the background only added to the beauty. We stopped at a little town just past Sabari, and had a drink by the water. We walked the beach for a bit, with the intent of stopping for a lunch of leftovers, but as we drove along, we headed away from the water. The idea of stopping to eat inland seemed a waste with so much beautiful scenery behind us. We continued on instead, seeing more agricultural land than we could imagine.
Taranto was a vast seaport, but the smell in the area was quite putrid to those of us who are accustomed to the acres and acres of open farmland that we are usually surrounded by. I don't know if it was the oil refinery or the steel works. The seaport colors were just as beautiful, but the industry took away from it all somehow.
We continued to meander along until Lecce, where we ventured off the busier roads finding our way to San Caldalto. Once there, it didn't take too long before we decided that rather than stop there, we might as well make our way down to Otranto.
The last leg of the journey was a cacophony of frustration, as the RCI address and directions left us in the center of Otranto, with no resort in sight. We finally pulled off and went into a small cafe where fortunately a young lady there spoke enough English to help us to know that the resort was about 10 kms back.
We finally found our way, and gratefully, they let us check in one day early, as things are slow. We checked into a cute little two bedroom apartment, with no living room, but that was okay.
It was actually quite a bit nicer than the Maratea accommodations, although parking is more challenging. Wifi was free, power included, there were lots of dishes. Best of all we were only 100 meters from the sea.
After check-in we checked out the sunset at the beach enjoying the view across the Adriatic, and imagining the sites of Greece across the water.
Later, after a couple of drinks at the little bar we called it a night. It was an early one, but after a long day we headed to bed with full intentions of getting up to enjoy the sunrise in the morning.
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