After crying our tears for Pannayiotis and Georgos on the ferry from Crete to Brindisi, Katrine and I still had to make our way back to France with not much money left in the piggy bank. We were young, penniless and always ready for adventure!!
Just outside the Port area of Brindisi we were picked up in a combi with 3 gorgeous olive skinned dark greasy haired Italian studs; those kind that wind the windows down, stick tanned elbows out rested on the window sill of the car and half the face hanging outside to allow the wind to blow their hair back in the breeze!! We needed a lift out of Brindisi to the main highway on the road aimed for the north. It was already late afternoon and we didn’t have money to stay in the centre of town. These hunks drove us around stopping every now and then to chat and definitely some wheeler dealing was taking place. As it got darker we started getting a little nervous and eventually in our scarred voices we insisted that they drop us off with our bags. We were not into nonsense you know!! They drove around a while longer and dropped us on a large grassy patch with our bags. Headlights blazing all around and lots of traffic noise!! Ohh for a quiet sleep on a beach with only the sound of waves!!
We took out the ground sheet, slept in our sleeping bags and woke up in the morning in the middle of six highways and pantechnicon trucks going every which direction!! We jumped up very quickly and had our thumbs out in no time. Chewing gum as teeth cleaning facilities were non existent!! A big truck stopped and this time a kindly gentleman did take us 100 km’s out of town and put us on the right highway headed up north!!
In no time our thumbs out, a zooty black Alfa Romeo skidded to a halt to offer us a lift. He was going to Monza way up north and was happy to give us a lift. This Italian was afflicted with short shit syndrome in a flashy car and drove us 900km’s in half as many hours. If that car exists today you will definitely still find teeth marks on the dash board and finger nail marks on either side of the leather seats on the front passenger side. Unbeknown to us it was the weekend of the Monza grand prix and this young man did not want to miss out on any action. In fact I think he thought at times along that road that he was practising for his debut ride!! We did get there in one piece and alive to tell the tale. I don’t remember how we got in without paying. Maybe our Italian stallion had something to do with it!! We watched some rounds being raced on the race track, scored a checkered flag and late afternoon after an African wash in the basin in the toilet we decided that it was time to move on and continue with our journey to France. This time we kept our thumbs to ourselves and used the checkered flag to grab the attention we sought and a lift out of town.
You would have thought we had learned our lesson by this time. Once again we got into a car with a few young Italians and asked to be dropped on the road to France. Once again these young men drove around and around gesticulating as only Italians know how and talking loudly amongst themselves and even stopping a few times in the streets talking to different people. In times like these I often wondered if I disappeared at that point would there be any one who would recognise a picture of me and be able to tell someone where and when they last saw me alive!!
Katrine and I obviously had a talent in those days and it was to sound convincing enough to get these drivers to drop us off with our bags unharmed.
This time they drove around and eventually dropped us off in a dark secluded place with no lights or buildings in sight and dirt roads. We walked a little way feeling in the dark but decided it was just no use. Out came our ground sheets and sleeping bags and that little pen knife to ward off the attackers later!! We heard cars come and go in the night and really thought that our car load of Italians would come back to do us harm. Maybe they couldn’t find us in that maize. In the morning we woke with the first suns rays and realised we were in a quarry type come rubbish dump area literally in the middle of nowhere and no idea which way to start walking out!!
Once again the good always comes after the bad and an old man driving a tip truck picked us up. He took us to a garage stop and bought us a coffee and croissant before dropping us on the highway headed for France.
We got a lift to a border town and after an hours haggling at the border post between Torino and Grenoble the French Gendarme finally let me through. My Visa for France had expired and I had to convince the good looking French officer without sexual favours I might add that my Irish passport was waiting for me at the Irish Embassy in Paris and that once obtained I would not have to worry about the visa in the South African passport I did not have!! He finally believed me and let us through!! In Grenoble Kathryn phoned her mom who organised a train ticket for us back to Paris where we arrived after our 2 month summer ordeal? Tanned, worn out and lucky to be safe and sound back home!!