by Melinda Gallo

Our way back home

We set the alarm to get up fairly early and had our last breakfast on the terrace looking out onto the Mediterranean. Anita, Marie's mom, planned our lunch earlier in the day to accommodate our afternoon departure. We packed our bags, did a little bit of work, and helped with lunch. I was a little sad as I washed the lettuce and watched Dave set the table. Our stay in Corsica was now at an end.

It was odd clearing out the room and leaving it behind as empty as we left it: our two desks empty and the windows shut. It's curious how after a few days of being in Corsica it felt like home to us. We felt so welcomed and comfortable there.

Todd and Marie drove us down the coast back to Bastia to get on our ferry to Livorno. We got to the port at 3PM and our departure was supposed to be at 3:30. There were lines of cars outside waiting to embark and we dragged our bags behind us as we walked between them to get on the ferry. The man looked at our tickets and tore it a little bit to show that someone looked at it. We got to the next man who told us that he wanted to see it again. I was mixing up all my languages by starting out in French and finishing in Italian. I couldn't tell which language to use, so I just spoke and hoped they'd understand either or both languages.

When we got up to the information desk, I showed the man my ticket and he handed me a room key. He rattled off directions to me on how to get there, but did so half-heartedly as if he didn't care if I understood him or not. I did understand him, but he was the same rude man I had to deal with last time.

This time we decided to get a cabin with a view so we could work and rest during the trip. I didn't know we could get a cabin until I booked our trip online. It was only an extra 20 Euros and it was well worth it. There were four beds, a couple of chairs, a bathroom with shower, and one electrical outlet.

Dave and I got in our cabin and settled in. He worked on his bed and I slept on mine. The boat left a little late and I wondered if we'd make it for our train from Livorno to Florence. I looked up the times online (as per Anita's suggestion) and there was one at 21.10 and the last one at 22.00. I got to thinking that we might be late getting in and that we might not be able to get the last train.

I forgot that we also need to get a cab. I went to the information desk to ask if there would be a taxi and the woman told me that I'd have to call one. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but Dave and I had no more credit left on our cell phones.

We left everything in the cabin and went to the self-service restaurant for a quick dinner. I was feeling a little queasy or maybe I was just a little nervous that we might have to spend the night in Livorno.

We got back to the room and I saw a man who seemed to be working. I asked him what time we're supposed to vacate the rooms and he responded, "Un mezz'ora fa" (A half an hour ago). I read the sign inside the cabin that said that we had to leave the key on the door an hour before we arrived, but I had no idea when we'd be arriving. It was already 7:30PM and I thought we'd be back around 9PM. He told me that we should be arriving at 8:15PM. I asked him if we could wait in the room and he said that'd be OK as long as when he comes to knock on the door, we leave immediately. I agreed and thanked him. As I walked away, he reiterated his request, "Quando busso, dovreste lasciare la cabina" (When I knock, you have to vacate the cabin). "S, s." I responded.

When I got back in the cabin, I told Dave we had to straighten up, pack up everything and just sit there to wait for his knock. After a few minutes of sitting there looking at each other, we started to play a puzzle that was in my magazine. I could hear the man outside banging around and because I was more stressed than relaxed, we decided to slip out before he knocked.

We went back to the information desk with all of our things and getting pushed and shoved by other people trying to either ask information or just get by. This time I got up the courage to ask the same rude man when we can get off because we're on foot. He responded that we can go to where the campers are in front and get off.

I thought for sure I was going to have to plea with him to let me off sooner so we could find the bus to the station. The last time I asked, the same man told me to wait until everyone gets off. He even told me that there'd be a special announcement.

As soon as they opened the door, Dave and I struggled to get down the steps with our suitcase and two bags. There were many adults holding children in their arms to get down the narrow stairwell. We were pushed and shoved enough that I let a few people go by. We finally got to the bottom and stood near the huge metal planks that were opening. We got in front of a few campers whose drivers couldn't wait to get off the ferry.

This time there were a few other people getting off with us as well. Only half of the metal plank had come down and so we all decided to just get off before the cars could. The man there yelled at us all, but we didn't care. We just whizzed past him. An Italian girl next to me said that the man could risk being a bit more polite. But, I recognized him as well. When we got on a few weeks ago, he yelled at everyone.

I saw a taxi about 50 feet away and I dashed to get it. I left Dave behind because I was afraid the other people would want it. I ran up to the man and asked if he was "libero" (free). As we got into the taxi (completely relieved), I asked the man if there are normally taxis waiting and he said that he was in the area and he decided to wait a little bit.

I don't think he was a great night driver. I could tell he was squinting and moving forward a lot to get a better view. At each intersection I cringed hoping that he at least could see the other cars and scooters.

We arrived at the train station and as I stood in line to get us tickets, another couple arrived behind me. The man at the desk told them that they were the last ones. The couple was shocked and the man looked at me and said, "Chiude?" I told him that I just read the sign and it said the office closes at 8:45PM. "E cosa avremmo fatto per comprare dei biglietti?" (What would we have done to buy tickets) he asked me. I told him, "C' la biglietteria automatica l dietro."There's a ticket machine behind us."

I was just lucky to get to the station on time for the second to the last train for Florence!

We thought about how we would've liked to get some milk, but no store is open in Florence at 10:30PM. I asked the taxi driver if he knew of any bar that would sell milk. He said that some place probably does, but he doesn't know the area. We drove down a little bit and he saw an open bar, "Vuoi chiedere se ce l'ha?" (Do you want to ask them if they have any) I jumped out to ask at two bars, but no one had any milk.

We drove past many shops and then past the Duomo, which is always so beautiful lit up at night. The air wasn't as hot and humid as it was when we left a few weeks ago.

We got into our apartment, poured ourselves some cold water, plugged in our computers, worked a bit more, and then went to sleep.

We'd travelled from France to Italy and were exhausted. Dave and I talked about all that we loved in Corsica, how amazing the view was, and how comfortable and at peace we felt there. It was a great vacation for us: a time to experience another culture (Dave even picked up some French!) and enjoy the company of other people.

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