I will never understand the how quickly the leap from being one of the wide eyed touristico to resenting them, I would find myself crossing the street to avoid them and only speaking Italian around them, saying “Mi scusi, mi scusi” to get past. What if travelers tales of grumpy inhabitants are actually interactions with tourists gone rogue?
Still savoring the aftertaste of Manarola’s complex flavors the ferry delivered us to one of the more bustling towns in Cinque Terre, Vernazza. It had a more metropolitan feel, from its wide and accessible peir, its signature church and steeple next to the open square brimming with cafes and attendant boats and a foozball table?!
I noted the stench of rotten fish just adjacent to the diners and boats, a collection of black rubbish sacks fermenting in the afternoon sun in a line next to the boat ramp while several nearby tables of touristico pretended not to notice. “Breathe in that atmosphere deep while enjoying your cappuchini after 11 AM .” I internalized, the Anti-tourist bubbling to the surface.
Following the surge of touristico we ventured deeper into Vernazza, we already were well watered and fed from Manarola, so a cursory exploration was all that we could manage. With the heat, bustle and the curved arches to me It almost felt like middle eastern bazaar in places. (Mental note to one day go to Istanbul or Morocco to learn what this really means) To our right on the way back to the port there was a cave which I immediately made for leading through the stone cliff.
Beyond the Narnia cave, a modest pebble beach on the other side replete with bathers, also escaping from the shuffling zombie hordes. After a brief respite, it was time to leave Narnia, breaking away from the crowds, crossing the square past the boats, and cafes to the twisting tendrils of an amazing sun mosaic on the threshold of the Church of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia. Lingering inside for a moment before venturing back into the throng and to the pier.
The ferry returned one of the crew nodded, barked in Italian and threw a bow line at me which I deftly sidestepped wondering if they resented having to baby sit us that much that they needed to maim us in the process. While having this meaningful internal dialogue one of the other touristico secured the bowline to a mooring. “Oh, Okay. Missed my chance to be a fellow nautical explorer there.” I scolded myself filing up the gangplank, back on board, underway, thoughts quickly forgotten.
There is something about the simplistic chaos of the ocean that throws up a white noise enough to drown out the noise inside your head for a while.