Sunday, October 6, 2013

Summer lovin'

It's freezing. 

The cold is a brutal reminder that hot summer nights are now but a memory, and that it's going to be a painfully long year before I can once again bear witness to the beautiful image of my hunky Italian boyfriend showering in the open air: 

But if I allow myself to momentarily escape this chill that has deluged me, I can quite easily slip my chin into the crevice of my left palm and drool over what was really a beautiful summer.

It began when my longtime friend (who even after 15 years I still affectionately refer to as Eho) arrived with her husband Vince. We made a beeline for Liguria where we stripped down to our swimwear and willingly exposed our near naked bodies to nature and the public, swam through coves of the Italian Riviera, progressively melted into the patio chairs with each bottle of Prosecco rendered empty, noshed on cheeses, breads and salumi while waiting for the fish to grill, and generally speaking, laughed in quantities normally reserved only for the depraved. 

Here is a photo I took of them while Giulio supplied the bounce lighting:

Not long after Eho and Vince left, I hopped on a plane to Athens and off a ferry to Paros where I spent ten days with three Italian donne from Giulio's hometown. Two and a half years ago they affectionately took me under their wings as a matter of pietà when they realized how incompetent and desperately emotional I was. Our relationship is still pretty much the same:

But we managed to have some fun in between our swimwear catalogue photoshoots: 

fine dining experiences:

  appreciation of animals in their natural habitats: 

 making new friends:

and taking heaps of gorgeous selfies to document whats left of our fading youth:

After we returned, I had just over 24 hours of turnaround before Giulio and I boarded a plane to Sri Lanka. We flew Emirates which was such a sensational experience I could quite happily write a short story detailing the quality of the lamb dinner alone.

Sri Lanka is a perfect place for travel- lush, rich in culture and history, mountains to climb, temples to center yourself, empty beaches to relax, boatloads of weird animals to chase with your camera, exotic food to awaken your palate, and just the right blend of chaos to make you feel like you're having an adventure, while not too much to incite a temper tantrum. 

One such adventure fell halfway through our trip on the eve of the day we drove from Kandy (sea level) to the top of Nuwara Eliya (2000 meters), where we might as well have found ourselves at Base Camp in a tanktop. It was cold and rainy, but also humid, which you may or may not know is a really shitty combination. Nevertheless, our hostel appeared equipped with the right elements to shield us from the climate- hot tea, homemade curry, and a thick duvet. 

We made our way into town for a brief visit to the lone clothing store in search of anything warmer than the stupid cotton shorts we arrived in. The choices were limited- heinous for $6.00 or heinous for $8.00. But (as my (communist) mother always says) THIS WAS NOT A FASHION SHOW. 

Quite happy with ourselves for having chosen the cheaper option, we made our way back to the guesthouse. There, we spent the next 5 hours huddled in the warmest nook of the property, still freezing, and $12.00 more the poor: 

Eventually around midnight we decided to head back to our room for some sleep as we had booked a 5:30am pickup for a sunrise hike up Adam's peak. This is precisely when Giulio was plagued with the urgency to poop (an enterprise we anticipate whenever embarking on a journey to a place where vaccinations are required.)  Actually, we have come to view vomit and diarrhea as a tax to be paid whenever we travel, but had been feeling quite confident as it had been 7 days without even a glimmer of GI problems for either of us. 

Then I heard the echo disseminated by the frigid bathroom walls as Giulio dispassionately mumbled "oh shoot". 

"Are you okay babe?" I asked.
"Yea, but I just pooped blood."


Well, there was really no need to exaggerate the circumstance because Giulio always comes prepared with an arsenal of broad spectrum antibiotics, injectable anti-emetics, anti-diarrheals, and so on. He immediately popped a quinolone in his mouth the way I would a tic-tac, and we crawled into bed. 

This is when I realized I was about to endure the worst night of my life. 

When we got underneath the duvet, we were overwhelmed by the stench of human bodies. The humidity had permeated the fabric of the sheets, leaving it not only wet and freezing, but smelling of a combination of unwashed gym clothes and unwashed human feet.  Not just this, but Giulio had to get up to poop every hour, making sleeping an unreasonable option.

At 4:59am (exactly one minute before my alarm was supposed to go off), I was awoken by the churning of my own gut, and I knew immediately it was my turn to pay the tax.  For the next 3 hours, I oscillated between trips to the toilet to vomit and poop, which was decorated by the frequency of Giulio's own bowel-related agenda. The situation was so miserable and the room so squalid that we could not help but laugh in between each of these alternating trips to the toilet. But I am proud to share that our mutual physiological catastrophe never collided with the other's- a fact I attest to the profound nature of our synchrony. 

The morning passed and we made our way back to lower ground. By late afternoon, we were recovered enough to go on a small hike that required us to walk along the train tracks for 90 minutes before reaching the trailhead. We were warned of leeches (which we perfectly managed to avoid) however not of the scattered areas of human fecal matter, which despite my relative agility, I was not able to avoid.  Stepping on a huge human turd struck me as an omen that had gotten stuck in celestial traffic.

Then we got lost. 

And then we got saved! by a farmer with three, maybe four teeth, I don't remember. He led us to Ella's Rock which moved us with a striking view and a vertical drop we didn't anticipate. It was green and misty and magical, and sufficed to compensate us for the overly harsh punishment we had received over the past 24 hours. Giulio took a photo:

Then we asked the four-toothed farmer to capture one of the two of us: 

(.. the results of which were quite disappointing).

As for the fun stuff, there was a tie.

One was the day we took a boat to a small private island where we conquered our fears and snorkeled with small sharks, jellyfish, and tropical fish over a shallow reef:

The other was when we went went to Rekawa beach in the middle of the night to watch a turtle lay and bury its eggs, and then return to the ocean. It was an emotional experience for both Giulio and I, but also yielded the most unfortunate photo of the trip:

Then we did a bunch of other stuff and then we came home, where we were welcomed by our normal lives and normal bowel movements, and bearing a repository of beautiful new memories. 

Thank you summer of 2013, you've been one of the best.  

1 comment:

Guido Zichichi said...

It is so nice to read your adventures: this tale came as a gift tonight. Happy to know you had a beautiful summer, and that now you are back! Hope to see you soon!