Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Milan to A Leaning Tower in Pisa





Milan, cold and damp, was only three hours from Pisa and after all the rain in France and England, we were eager to get south. We didn't spend any time wandering around the city, but headed for the highway south. Within minutes of sticking our thumbs out, a Mercedes truck pulled over. The driver rolled down his window and stuck his head out.
“Pisa?” I asked.
“Oh, si, si, Pisa. No problema.” He waved us over.
We climbed into the truck but weren’t aware that Quasimoto was sleeping in the back of the cabin, rising from the dead as he wiped the sleep from his bulbous eyes. He leered at Mary Lynne as she got in beside him.
The two-lane highway with narrow shoulders twisted through high mountain bluffs overlooking the Mediterranean. It was beautiful, and although the smell of the truck was nauseating, we were getting to Pisa in good time. The driver, a dark-skinned, curly-headed fellow of about 40, was friendly, and we made do with our lack of language skills by adding vowels to the end of either French or English words and rolling them out. We always got our meaning across.
As we approached the exit to Pisa I asked him to stop, but when I looked over at him he kind of grinned and I immediately recognized 'the look.' The leer I’ve seen so many times, the look that tells me I'm gonna have to rip his face up and shed blood if I want to continue my journey. Stopping here was not his intention. I gestured for him to stop again and he continued to leer and drive, although he had slowed down considerably. The guy in the back was giggling, as he’d done ever since we got in the truck, then smacked the driver on the shoulder.
We were at a very high elevation, cliffs, steep inclines and ocean on our right side, mountain edges on the other. I looked at him then pointed again for him to pull over, but he didn't, so I told him in the body language and charades I'd developed that if he didn't stop, the truck would be going over the cliff and into the ocean. I suddenly lunged for the steering wheel and he hunched over it protectively, his arm out to stop me. A crazy woman! But before we got our feet on pavement they grabbed our rucksacks and threw them on the ground so hard our bags broke and clothes fell out.
We couldn't stop laughing as we picked up our underwear that blew down the highway, arguing about which guy we thought was cuter, when wouldn't you know it three young men from Lucca stopped and offered us a lift into town. They delivered us to a wonderful pensione then came back with a pizza.