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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

POST 1033: JANUARY 02, 2013: NAPLES, ITALY (1958)



Two weeks after our return from Norway, Joanie, Bruce Jr.,, Sylvie and I took a day-trip to the island of CAPRI.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capri

From the Naples waterfront, a passenger ferry boat travels the 15 or so miles across the blue waters to the ancient and historic island set opposite the peninsula of ALMAFI at the entrance to the the Bay of Naples.  A rather small island, Capri stands in about 300 feet of water, sheer cliffs rising 2,000 feet.  The cliffs are penetrated by many sea caves, such as the famous BLUE GROTTO.

http://www.capri.com/en/s/la-grotta-azzurra

Our ferry lands at Marina Grande (Big Marina), surrounded by a small fishing village - and of course, dozens of tourist shops, restaurants, and hotels.  We stroll around a bit, Bruce Jr, in his stroller, then take the Funicular (vertical railway) to the village of Capri...thence a walk over some low hills to Anacapri, where the view is spectacular and the expensive shops even more so. 

From the upper village is a "secret" stairway leads through a tunnel leading down to the Blue Grotto...said to be an escape route.  We return to Marina Grande, hire a boat and "boatman", who rows us around to the north side of the island, where we enter the Blue Grotto....every bit as beautiful as is claimed.  The stairway landing is being used by swimmers to sit around...yes, many swim to and into the Blue Grotto.

I am pleased that Joanie has agreed to come to Capri.  Being a real homebody...and 5 months pregnant, Joanie is reluctant to venture out...taking the bus to the PX is for her, a big outing. 

One nice thing: she does develop a taste for the local wine.  On our apartment back balcony - we have a balcony on both sides of our apartment - we have two 5-gallon wine bottles (amphorae ??), which we drive to the wine shop in Bagnoli,  filling them with local Chianti pouring from the bung hole of the huge wood casks.

Sylvia is so enamored with Capri, she asks me if we can visit again...Sure, why not...and we return to Capri more than a few times during the 4 weeks she is with us.  On our first return visit, we walk across the island to Marina Piccolo (Little Marina), situated on the South side of the island - opposite Amalfi Peninsula.  Marina Piccolo is not your normal marina.  There are no boats.  There is a rock cliff about 15 feet above the water.  At the top of the Cliff is a flat area of stone where many bring their picnic lunches and change into bathing suits for a swim in the open waters...

...somewhat perilous, as the sea floor drops off from about 300 feet to over 10,000 feet deep; the Bathyscape TRIESTE was tested in these deep waters.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathyscaphe_Trieste

I am nervous because ships entering the Bay of Naples cruise close by Capri...with their ever present escort of sharks.

Much of the island of Capri has elegant, expensive, and ancient homes clinging to the steep rocks.  Marina Piccolo, however, has no buildings at all...just empty rocks and cliffs.  It is here, that Sylvie demonstrates her method of changing into her bathing suit...a large towel fastened about her neck...street clothes falling in a pile at her feet...step into her bikini...and off comes the towel. 

I try it...works pretty good.

A family of four (Man, Woman, two teen age girls) stroll up next to us...Hello - Hello...speaking Swedish, says Sylvie...  They also change into their bathing suits...sensa (without) use of the towel...My first glimpse (a bit MORE than a glimpse) of how the Europeans do it...so much more practical !!

I know how to swim...but just barely.  Sylvie is like a fish.  She dives from our 15-foot cliff into the crystal clear water...Come on, Bruce;...she begins to stroke out away from the cliffs.  I JUMP (I dare not dive) into the water, trying to see where Sylvia has gone.  Finally, I see her waving from at least 100 yards away...heading toward two high rocks  - FARAGLIONI - jutting out of the sea.  One of the rocks has a tunnel completely through it...must be at least 1/2 mile away...



Marina Piccolo: center on top of railing...Faraglioni in the distance



FARAGLIONI

Not even wasting my breath to yell back, I thrash the water in her direction.  Speed boats whiz closely by...I know thay cannot see me as their bow waves nearly drown me.  I look...look...look, but cannot see Sylvia.  Now, a good way from the shoreline, I know I cannot make it back...so I keep heading for the big rocks standing tall off shore.  Thats where Sylvia is headed, so I keep on. 

Finally, I arrive at the tunnel...it is at least 100 yards to the other side...deep cold water as I slowly dog paddle into the tunnel.

No Sylvie.

I keep on, staying close to one edge to keep from being run over by the sleek speed boats roaring through. 

Dog paddling all the way - no way I can lift my arms out of the water -, I reach the sunlight again.  Yikes !  I am still nearly 1,000 feet from the shore.  There is a small boat dock in the distance...I head toward it. 

...and suddenly, Sylvie is by my side.  You OK, says she..oh, sure...just a bit slower than you. 

Sylvie stays beside me.  I struggle to the dock, climb a ladder, and sit, exhausted.  To my own amazement, I actually made it. 

She leads me to a vendor, where she purchases a sandwich and a coke...I certainly have no money...and I wonder where she hides hers.

I am beginning to believe that Sylvie may have been mis-diagnosed...I see no sign of brain damage...or any damage for that matter...I remember a book I once read where the character was cautioned about marrying ... his friend advising:  make sure this is the woman you want...you might be sorry when the right one comes along.

Sylvia and I become nearly inseparable...to Joanie's apparent dis-interest.  We walk for hours throughout Naples.  We are invited one afternoon to a party...only to find the host plying me with questions about NATO; questions sesarching for "classified" replies.  Leaving the party, we go directly to the OSI (Office Of Special Investigation) where I report the confrontation.  Two days later I am called in to receive a "well done".  Apparently, the contact was followed from Naples, taking the train all the way to Berlin, Germany, where he made his way to cross the Belin Wall - where he was apprehended.

Sylvie and I buy flippers, face mask, and snorkle.  We then venture out from Bagnoli, sniffing the underwater ruins of ancient towns.

The unexpected happenes.  Apparently, Joanie IS interested.  Putting 2 and 2 together, she ends up with 10,000.  Sylvie and I, scuffling on the living room floor, are interrupted by Joanie...GET OUT...Joanie yells at Sylvie...just get out of my home and go away.

* * * * * * * * * *

Yes, one might believe that Joanie had good reason to be angry...no, become unglued...with Sylvie and I.  I have not been able to enter Joanie's head, but I know she seemed to be content to sit on the sidelines, watching life go by. 

I was wrong.

I should have made a greater effort to coax Joanie into more involvement...on the otherside, perhaps not.

In any event, Sylvie and I made absolutely NO advances or inappropriate acts toward each other.  We quickly became much like simblings...one thoroughly enjoying the company of the other. 

I often have considered that I did an injustice taking Sylvie from behind her parent's Bake Shop counter and out of the dark world in which she was held prisoner.  I have come to accept that I did no such thing.  Sylvie, herself, made that move...using me as her vehicle to do so.

Sylvie, while in Naples, became close to our friends and their daughters, Fiorella and Marinella.  Booted out by Joanie, she moved in with the girls for a week...then took the train for Oslo.  I went to the train station to see Sylvie off.

I did receive one letter from Sylvia:

Dear Bruce:  I write from Africa, where I have moved to take a position as a nurse assistant in a hospital for orphaned children.  On my way to Oslo, I met two young Germen men.  With them, I had a wonderful time and a new awakening.  I was in Stabekk only long enough to gather my things.  I will never forget you...Love, Sylvia

I have never again seen nor heard from Sylvie.

* * * * * * * * * *





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