Friday, July 21, 2017

Pescara, Bari, Brindisi - Italy

A good idea while hitchhiking is to keep an eye on traffic traveling in the other direction because sometimes a driver will do a u-turn and come back to pick you up. And it's a smart move to decline the ride.

Hitching with my friend Mary Lynne from Rome to Pescara, I noticed a white, compact car slow down on the busy highway, the driver craning his neck out his side window to get a better look at us. He finally stopped, and when the road was clear, took a u-turn and came back and stopped. He was in his thirties and a woman with bright, red hair all punked out was sitting next to him.

In broken English he asked where we were going and when we said 'Pescara' he waved and said okay, okay, okay.  'We take you there,' he said.   Mary Lynne and I stood on the highway discussing whether to take the ride of not, or rather, I tried to convince her we didn't want to go because why are people turning around on the highway to pick people up?  It was a red flag, but in the end, we got in.

We protested the return to sweltering Rome, it had taken us so long to get out of the city, but they continued until we arrived at a hair salon where we sat with our bags for about an hour while they debated something with two others, occasionally pointing at us.  What was going on?  I asked them a few times and when I tried to break into their conversation, they looked at me like I had crawled out of an ice floe, so I picked up my bag, looked at Mary Lynne and said,  'We should go, this is nuts.'

What did they want? I never knew, but best not to climb into any car that has made a u-turn to pick you up.

We finally made it to Pescara, where we camped out on the beach for the night; it's easy to find a place to unroll your bed if you stay outside of town. We usually hitched for two to four hours a day and stopped where it looked convenient to throw up our tent. And we never hitched at night!

In Bari, the Luparelli family put us up for a few days, friends of Mary Lynne who were kind enough to offer us a place to stay. The heat was phenomenal in Bari, I couldn't breath for the humidity, and at 1:00 pm everyday at the peak of this oppressive heat, the family ate their main meal with red wine, a huge Italian spread of pastas and breads and meats that the aunts and grandmother spent the morning preparing in the kitchen. Dressed in black, they spent most of their time in the kitchen, like crows huddled around the stove. I gained weight, I couldn't walk after eating and the father would point at the food and say 'eat more, have more.'  I usually staggered to the bedroom to lie down after lunch.  Luckily, we only stayed three days.

We said our tearful goodbyes to the Luparellis (yes, after three days they had that much impact) and then hitched to Brindisi, a beautiful seaside city, where we camped out for one night before taking the ferry to Corfu. Greece!