Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Volcanic heat 29/08/09

The last few days have been too hot to even go to the beach. I can’t stand being cooped up in the house any more with the limited aircon on, breathing in artificial air. The Sicilians get browner and I am getting whiter as I can’t even go out in the blazing sunlight it hurts my eyes even through the super strong sunglasses. There is nowhere to go. It is too hot to even go for a coffee under the blinding glare of the sun. And if I do go anywhere I will be spotted; by neighbours, clients, family, friends. If I go for a walk at the fisherman’s port, a swim at the levante beach or a coffee, mio marito generally knows about it before I am even home. Talk about neighbourhood watch! It is wearing me out. So today I went to the island of Vulcano, beyond the regard of the locals. I was safely there, browsing the touristy shops, enjoying a panino at the beach café and sweltering on the hot volcanic sand – the black sand burnt my feet – but got a quiet spot under some bushes away from the crowds roasting their flesh. Lovely pink and purple shades in the evening on the yellow rock by the sulphur mud baths. They reeked in the heat. I wouldn’t fancy a hot mud bath in August – even the sea here on Vulcano is warm. But such a relief just to get the change of scene. Away from the small aircon room in our flat, the chaos of the restaurant, the prying eyes of the locals. Peace. Freedom. Mio marito called and was most surprised. He’ll understand one day when he thinks about it. At least I hope so. He doesn’t suffer from the heat, having grown up with it; there are no foreigners to sympathise. It was actually never part of the deal that I’d be here in August, I knew it would be unbearable heat for me. But of course I couldn’t abandon ship now …

Last night at 3.15am the people at the tables outside were showing no sign of leaving so I told them we were closing – the entire restaurant was closed, tables up, barman finished, waiters waiting to carry the chairs inside. They more or less ignored me, and ten minutes later I went back and said it again, politely and they kind of laughed and made some funny comments I didn’t quite get. I thought of how it would be at home, with bouncers and waiters calling ‘Time folks!’ and sweeping you out on to the street. So I started clearing their table of empties shortly after. They started to look like they might be contemplating leaving, but then unfortunately I took a glass that looked like it had the remains of water in it, but was actually vodka. As I found out when the owner of the drink came back from the toilet and shrieked that her glass had gone. ‘Don’t worry,’ I said, ‘it is just sitting inside on the counter.’ But she came back most perturbed that there was already another glass stacked on top. I said we’d get her another, but at this point it seemed the table had had enough and they made a big fuss about leaving as if they were being kicked out. They were probably drunk, hence the rudeness. Or maybe not. Anyway, inside mio marito wanted to know exactly what had happened as if I had devised a whole campaign of kicking out these people. The waiters had informed him. The barman was watching. Again, the foreigner got it wrong.

So it was good to get away to Vulcano. Mio marito’s friends asked what I thought later on. I am sure it caused quite a stir that went off there on my own. Not one of them would ever contemplate doing such a thing.

Peter Pan and the bikeshed gang (mio marito and his mates all approaching 40) were all whispering at the end of the night, making cryptic comments and signals; where to go for their nightly smoke, and how to get there without attracting hangers on to their exclusive circle. So cool. Such rebels.

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