Day 10 – Homeward Journey
Monday, 24th April
yesterday we travelled back.
Travel-wise it was great, narration-wise a total failure. It would have been helpful if we at least missed the bus. After a morning stroll out of our accommodation, we caught an earlier bus.
Maria and Ferdinand took the bus with us. We enviously listened to her report. The two had already experienced a lot on their return journey. They had left Pompeii on the first train and arrived in Naples with a considerable delay. They had just caught this bus, of whose punctuality they were by no means convinced. At the airport they had ridiculously little time to check in. They kept glancing nervously at their watches.
"Where do you have to go?" I asked. Somehow I had to get them to stop looking at their watches all the time.It made me dizzy. The two turned the bus into a boat for me at Mare mosso.
"To Vienna," explained Ferdinand, adding where the time pressure came from: " In one hour the flight leaves."
Checking the watch. I was on the wrong track.
"When did you get to Naples?" I asked.
"On Thursday," Maria replied.
"Oh, so did we," I underscored this similarity.
We searched together for more things that connected us. Fortunately, we had also visited Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius.
"We walked 20,000 steps every day," Ferdinand boasted.
It couldn't have been avoided with this program, I thought. Could I dare to deviate from our snuggly course and point out differences? After all, we are Piefkes, that is, tolerated by Austrians at best. I went all out and said that we had already landed in Naples on Saturday. The two listened with interest. I reported about Antonio, the Mare mosso and the blue grotto. I even provided the physically correct explanation for the light in the grotto. The water first filters out the red part of the sunlight. What remains can be seen in the blue grotto in Capri and also in many other grottoes if their entrance is separated from the outside world by water.
The two looked relaxed. Quite surprisingly the bus stopped, the door opened, we were at the airport.
We were the first to check in. For Maria and Ferdinand, the arc of suspense ended at this point. They reached their flight deeply relaxed. Nothing else happened worth telling.
While waiting for the flight, I listened to the loudspeaker announcements of the different airlines. A spokesman, I call him John, announced in the best Oxford English that this was the last call for flight XY to Podunk. (I didn't understand the location.) A moment later, a second speaker, who may have been called Giovanni, belied John in Italian. Because now he called for the last time for the same flight. John couldn't let it sit and repeated his announcement.
The two battled for a while. Nobody wanted to give in. Then an announcer, Barbarella, for that matter, from British Airways radioed in. She recited her lines with a pronounced Italian accent. One time in English, one time in Italian. Both sounded the same.
It was no use. John and Giovanni continued arguing about who would actually make the last call.
Vitas, a Latvian flight attendant, greeted us on the plane with a smile. He smiled throughout the flight. It wasn't until I closed the hatch as I got off the plane after hitting my head on it that he stopped smiling. It must now remain open. Grazyna, a flight attendant with a long blond braid, strode down the aisle. Her braid swung threateningly to the right and left sideways with every step. I gave up all resistance.
We got our bags, found our car and drove home. As I said: There is nothing to report from the journey home.
On the A31 I was still thinking about how I would feel about Naples. Like my aunt or like Goethe?
How did the two come to such different judgments?
My aunt had probably tried to integrate perfectly and thus adopted the judgment of the northern Italians about the backward south. Goethe had probably left some unfinished business behind in Weimar. With his death, he would have successfully and permanently avoided them.
I am for a compromise: see Naples and die - No way!