Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Kyle Adds a Bit of Perspective

[Kyle]Firstly, in response to Maryanne's recent post of balance and thanks. Of course I’m not going to let Maryanne walk 2 hours with me on a dark road to the train station! She’d just have to turn around and walk another 2 to get back when almost everybody else in this part of the world is asleep.

I managed to escape the bulk of the rain this time. It started when I was about five blocks from the station. There were enough awnings and balconies to walk under that I wasn’t too wet when I got there.

The train ride was the worst I’ve ever had. The station was heavily populated with the sleeping lumps of the homeless, a few ranting drunks and one particularly scary fellow who seemed like he needed meds having a violent screaming match with himself. He didn’t hurt anyone, just yelled a lot. Everybody gave him a wide berth.

I was relieved when the train arrived. I shouldn’t have been. The inside of the train had a very seedy atmosphere. The lights were all out, presumably so people could sleep. The only lighting in the car was what came through the windows. from the station and a dim bulb at each end by the door. Each car was divided into compartments of six seats each with a narrow hallway down one side, like a cell block. As soon as I boarded, it became apparent that they had sold way more tickets than seats. Every bit of flat space was covered with people trying to sleep in the least uncomfortable position they could manage. I carefully squeezed by people standing while simultaneously trying to avoid stepping on the hands or hair of people sleeping on the floor. When I reached it, my compartment was a mass of bodies all stretched out horizontally with their feet on the opposite seats. My seat was occupied by someone who I would not have been able to disturb without waking up the whole compartment. I started to wonder if I had somehow boarded the wrong car. I was not about to re-climb my way back over the fifty people I had already disturbed and the train was leaving in a few seconds anyway. In the end, I stood until the next stop hoping my seat would clear then. It didn’t. I eventually found myself on a fold-down, backless seat in the aisle with my bag between my feet. At first, I would get up to let people squeeze by. By the end of the trip, I was just letting them rake over me with their luggage like everyone else was doing. I spent the three-hour and forty-five minute trip in a miserable state of half sleep alternating between balancing my head on my hands, my shoulder and a nearby handrail. Time has rarely passed so slowly for me.

I took the 2:15 train to avoid losing another precious half-day off and another €100 for a hotel. These days, we simply can’t spare either. If Calnited would give me back my flight benefits, I would have been able to take a 7:00 flight out of Pisa instead.

Maryanne’s right about the marinas, too. The +60% catamaran surcharge that seems to be common around here is killing us. In spite of the nice things she said about me preferring her in a marina, which I do for her safety and convenience, I think we’re going to have to go back to our old mode of finding a nearby anchorage and rowing in. Good anchorages that are well protected from all sides are few and far between on this coast, but we have to try something.

Maryanne has been really good about supporting me through my half of our lives. She’s been a great sport about doing everything she possibly can on her end so that all I’m left with when I finally do make it home is the long, overnight sails. We occasionally have a little conflict when she wants to really pile up the tourist itinerary but I just can’t spare the energy for the whole thing. She is super-sweet and she is only doing it because she doesn’t want me to miss anything. She doesn’t want me to feel like my life is all of the work and none of the fun. It’s possible to get so tired that I no longer care about missing some really neat museum in town, though. I just need to get a little rest – the real kind, not sitting up. She’s been getting better lately about looking into my glazed eyes and suggesting we take it easy this afternoon.

1 comment:

kate said...

talk about the train ride from hell. that sounded rough. and i bet you avoided capturing every last miserable detail, just to spare your readers in case they were on a full stomach. blech! i'm truly sorry about the loss of your flight benefits - what crappy options it leaves you. can you imagine how much harder it would be if you didn't have maryanne thinking up wonderful itineraries to off-set them? yes, i'm sure you can :)