Saturday, July 16, 2016

Solo Traveling

For the most part, solo traveling makes me feel very spoiled and selfish...and I love it.  All alone I get to do exactly what I want to do 100% of the time.  But, there are definitely times that it can be the most gigantic pain in the ass.  When I arrived on La Maddalena last week, I walked straight off the ferry to a scooter shop.  The shop owner was kind enough to use his tools to remove the helmet storage box behind the seat and then carefully strap my small hard sided roller bag onto the back so I could get to my little Airbnb apartment about 6 or 8 km away on the the far east side of the island. Worked like a charm and I returned to the shop that evening to have him re-mount the storage box. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to consider how I would get my bag back to the scooter shop to catch my ferry the morning I left.  I remembered this small detail about 8 o-clock the night before leaving, after the scooter shop was closed and I had no options other than to figure it out on my own. 

I'm not exactly helpless, but I'm also not terribly mechanically inclined either - and, after all, I am a girl ;-).  The best I could come up with was to use my leather belt and a long cotton scarf to try to strap the bag on the back seat of the scooter.  It seemed a decent enough plan the night before and rather than check for sure that it would work, I drank the last half of my bottle of wine and drifted off to sleep feeling confident it would all work out - what more than a belt and a scarf could I possibly need?

I gave myself a little extra time in the morning.  Without the wine to fuzzy my good sense, it crossed my mind that this might be more difficult than I had figured.  I packed up my stuff, gave back the keys to the apartment and started the process of strapping the bag onto the back seat.  It had just one small handle on the top, but that would be fine for routing the leather belt through and then around the passenger handle on the back seat.  Ok, that held one side.  However, the other side of the bag had nothing but wheels to use as an attachment point for the scarf.  Hmmm.....yeah sure, that should work, right?  

This whole process was taking me longer than I every imagined and I was starting to worry about missing my ferry, then missing the bus to the airport, then missing my flight back to Milan where I was meeting up with Trudy to drive to Macedonia for the Euros.  But, the calming words of Mark Whatney kept me company (last summer I fell in love with Mark Whatney from the book/movie "The Martian".)  "Solve one problem at a time" he would remind me..."Then when that one is solved, start working on the next."  

These words rang in my head when I hopped on the scooter and popped it off the stand.  Just the motion of getting the scooter off the stand knocked the bag off to the side where it hung a few inches off the ground threatening to lay the scooter onto the pavement.  With the bag hanging off the side, I couldn't even begin to the get the scooter back on the stand.  Worse yet, it was the windiest day every (easily 20-25mph gusts) so I couldn't even get off the scooter to try to unbuckle the belt and allow the bag to just drop to the ground.  Eventually I managed to carefully work my way off the scooter and around to the downwind side where the wind would help balance the scooter against my legs and I could use my hands to unbuckle the belt and untie the scarf.  But seriously, this took some time. Another 10 or 15 minutes of trying to do a better job strapping on the bag before I worked up the courage to get back on the horse and try again.  

Well, this time the bag didn't instantly fall off.  But, I knew that if I started down the road and it decided to fall off at some speed, that would surely have caused me to crash the thing.  So, all I could do was throttle and brake with my right hand and try to keep the bag from moving with my left.  One handed scootering - not the best idea.  It worked though.  I managed to make it down the small hill where my apartment sat - very slowly - and onto the main road back to the port.  But, if I could have been watching myself, I'm guessing I looked a bit like Lucille Ball - she was always so clumsy and silly looking.  That's exactly how I felt when one of those 20mph gusts of wind caught my skirt and blew it up in my face, nearly blocking my view of the road.  At that point, all I could do was laugh out loud at myself.  I couldn't drive the scooter with no hands and I couldn't risk letting go of the bag and having it fall off and cause me to crash (especially with my skirt up around my chest!).  All I could do was pull off on the shoulder, stop the scooter with the bag balanced and try to compose myself.  Not too many things I can imagine more embarrassing than exposing my undies to a bunch of Italians.  

I did eventually get most of the way to the ferry port.  I say most, because the last few hundred meters were paved with large stones that were so totally uneven that riding my scooter there on previous days - without a piece of luggage barely hanging on - was tough and bouncy and generally no fun.  I had avoided that road the entire week.  So, I jumped off the scooter, unstrapped my bag, walked it the rest of the way to the shop and then came back for the scooter.  

Baggage problem solved, the only thing left to do was figure out how I would make my flight.  I had missed my scheduled ferry and although I only had to wait another 20 minutes or so for the next one, that caused me to miss my bus to the airport.  The next one didn't go until a half an hour after my flight was to leave :-(.  Luckily, there aren't that many travel pickles that can't be solved with a bit of cash.  I found a friendly taxi driver that took me the one hour drive for just 70 Euros (compared to the 6 Euro bus ride - ouch!).

I made my flight, hooked up with Trudy and we had an adventurous drive to Macedonia - thankfully together!


Sher said...

Tenacity with a capital "T". Looking forward to being "Ethel" with her "Lucille" in Edinburgh!

Jamie Shelden said...

Can't wait Sherry!!!