Tuesday August 16, 2016
So there I was. Walking down the roadway at 10pm. Or was it 11? I don’t know. I had turned off my phone due to the fact I had 19% battery left. I might want to have enough juice to catch the sunrise in the morning. It was dark. Cars were zooming by. I was up on a raised edgeway, a wall of sorts, overlooking the river. It was 1.5 meters to the road on one side and abut 7 meters on the other side down to the railway tracks, followed by the gorgeous lake far below. Lightening flashed up ahead in the distance behind the hills. That is the direction I was headed. To the Italian border.
I had just gotten dropped off a few hours earlier by my BlahBlah car. I had told him to just drop me off wherever, explaining to my fellow passengers I just wanted to check it out on my way to Italy, besides, I had 60 francs left to spend. They thought I was crazy. That’s ok. I felt a little crazy.
I wandered around the big, Swiss-Italian city, exploring the nooks and crannies, finding gorgeous street art, super fancy restaurants and beautiful views. The Palm trees reminded me of my sweet, sweet California. The lowering sun beat down on me, creating a raging thirst for a nice cold beer.
I looked up local pubs… There were too many fancy looking restaurants with crisp white tablecloths, candles, huge wine glasses and baskets of bread. Those were not my people. I loved pubs… But the only two that popped up on my google maps were closed. So I walked along the waters edge, picking up a gelato and a beer for dinner. Why not.
I took in the picturesque sunset over the lake and debated my options. I knew that if I continued south along the lake I would be in Italy soon.. There was no way I was forking out 200+ francs for a hotel. The hostels were full. So I started walking, in hopes I would find an appropriate little patch of trees or grass or whatnot to sleep.
It soon grew dark. The sidewalk narrowed to a tiny little raised bit about the width of my two feet. The streetlights ended. Soon, my walkway turned into a wall I had to climb on.
The lightening up ahead flashed sporadically, causing the world around me to light up like a disco. The flashes grew in intensity and frequency. The moon, my favorite thing, showed its creamy full belly with pride, teasing me, playing hide and seek as it went behind the clouds.
I was torn between, “what in the world am I doing?” “This doesn’t seem safe” and “wow what an adventure this is!”
I kept walking… The sides of the road were too slopey to crawl off and find a place to sleep. It grew darker. I had to concentrate on my footing as the cars that drove by shone their headlights in my face.
The wall I was walking on grew thinner and thinner as it weaved up and down the hillside around the lake. And then it ended. And I felt something cold and wet land on my cheek.
Ohhhhh mannnnn I guess it wasn’t heat lightening that I was seeing.
I walked across the road to a little side road that wound into up the dark woods.
Should I go up and see what was up there? Maybe there will be enough trees to create a canopy…
The rain came down harder.
A car pulled off the road. It slowed to a stop a couple metes from me. Engine running, headlights on. A window rolled down and I heard someone calling to me.
Well, here we go….
I walked over, an old man, about 70 years old was leaning over spouting something in Italian.
“…English…?” I hesitantly asked.
“Oh sure. But a little bit. Where are you going? Are you ok?”
I explained that I was just walking. No place to go.
He looked at me like I was crazy. Which was fine, cuz I felt like I was crazy.
He told me that he had a couch I could sleep on just 5 minutes down the road and he would take me to the train station in the morning.
I debated. The droplets of rain were quickly becoming a torrential downpour. Thunder was crashing.
Fuck it. I was wet. I was cold. I was exhausted. I had no idea where I was or what time it was.
I hopped in. My hair and clothes and backpack drenched.
We talked briefly. He always had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth… In the car… In his apartment… Morning… Night… I don’t even think I remembered to ask his name. But he worked at his shop in a village near Lugano. Had worked and lived there his entire life. He had no family left. He spent 3 months every year living it up in Thailand and Cambodia.
Cambodia!! Another person…
We got to his place.. It was tiny. There was a huge bed and a tiny couch. He said I could relax in the bed or the couch. My choice. I chose the couch. Quickly changed into some dry clothes and curled up around a pillow. Thoughts swirling in my head.
This could be my last night alive.
He proceeded his nightly routine. Took off allll his clothes. No hesitation. No words. Just took them off, laid them gently on a chair, went over to a picture of him and a lady, leaned over and gently kissed it. The love and sadness evident in his eyes. He picked it up and showed me. Explaining his wife died of cancer 3 years ago. He set it down right where it was his eyes filled with longing. It was a sweet gesture.
He walked over to the couch where I was curled up in a ball. Above the couch, there was a window that was open. He leaned over and closed it. His junk hanging straight in my face. I scrunched my eyes closed, my eyes burning with the image. He walked back and crawled into his bed. Turned on the tv and wished me happy dreams. I thanked him, rolled over and closed my eyes. I pretended to sleep. The thunder continued to crash outside, shaking the walls and windows inside. The old man let out a surprised “FUCK!” Everytime. I focused on the sound of the rain hitting the balcony outside rather than the tv blaring next to me. Before too long I was out. Sleeping.
I awoke at 545. He was already awake, doing naked exercises. Squats and whatnot with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. I rolled back over, staring at the orange couch. Wishing he’d put pants on.
“Give me fifteen minutes and I’ll take you to the train.” He said.
And he did.
Just like that.
Beautiful stranger coming through for me again.
Today I take the train to Milan. And then make my way to Venice.
And already have gotten rerouted twice on my way to Milan.
Italian trains are a whole different boat than Swiss trains…:
Maybe I’ll continue on train. Maybe I’ll hitchhike.
What a strange, crazy world we live in.