Monday, April 21, 2008


Well I will just write about it, and maybe the sour taste in my mouth will go away. But the bike will always be gone. That's right, GONE, within an hour of being in Italy. I had arrived from Greece on the ferry into the port town of Bari, Italy, stayed one night, and then spent Easter day at McDonald's, the only place open, waiting for my overnight train to Rome where I would meet Cindy. We would travel back to Bari and start our bike trip from there. I was able to leave my bike at a hostel in Bari while I traveled to Rome, Cindy was bringing her bike with her. She was excited about her bike and had spent a great deal of time with the bike shop guys in Fairfax getting it ready for a mountainous tour of Italy. Before leaving for Rome I had arranged for a hotel in Bari and was excited that our hotel had a locked lobby and had planned on staging the bikes in the lobby, tinkering with them and getting them ready to start our trip. Oh but there would be no tinkering. When we arrived at the hotel (in Bari) we left the boxed bike in the lobby, ran up four flights of stairs to check in and get the rest of her stuff in the room and went back down for the bike. It was gone. Finnito. Stolen. Roboerto. Nicked. D.U.N. I was ready to give up the bike trip. We'll just get on a stinking bus I thought, but Cindy undaunted, (well maybe a little daunted), suggested we find a another bike and get moving with our plans. And so we did. We spent the next three days going through what proved to be a good experience with the people of Italy. We found a bike shop guy that was really a motorbike shop guy but had a few bikes, particularly this used one, that was just what we needed, sort of, but he made it work for us. He was big, hairy,loud and spoke absolutely no English but was kind and made sure we had what it would take to get on the road. For two days while he was making repairs and adjustments on the bike we were out trying to buy a sleeping bag and clothes to replace the ones Cindy lost in the bike box. In a huge Walmart kind of place we asked a woman to use her phone to make a call to our bike guy and she ended up spending 20 minutes in difficult translation to help us get the bike guy to go ahead with a particular repair. We met an English speaking woman on the street who after hearing of our dilemma made phone calls to find a store, then took us to the store and translated for us so we could get a suitable bag, and gave us snacks on her departure. An old man showed us to a place to do laundry that was unfortunately closed for the afternoon. We thanked him, sat down to wait and he left, only to return about fifteen minutes later to take us to a laundromat that was open. The hotel guy was a weird one and seemingly not very helpful with the whole ordeal until on the second day after the incident he very shyly coerced us around the corner of his hallway and offered his bike to us. I think the bike was the one used in the film "Wizard of Oz" so it just wouldn't work, but we were touched by his gesture. Eventually we left Bari with everything we needed. Our confidence in Italians intact, though shaken.

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