A.K.A. Day 8,035. My 22nd Birthday.
I woke up in the morning in a comfortable bed and went upstairs, where Paolo and his family sang the "Happy Birthday" song. I ate breakfast and spent a few hours on the computer getting caught up on my posts. Italy isn't quite as computer friendly as the rest of the countries I have visited, and due to some Big Brother policies you have to give your passport information to access a wifi hotspot or an Internet cafe.
Paolo and I had lunch together, and after saying goodbye to his family, he dropped me off near Ansedonia at the point we had run to the evening before. From there I set out towards Montalto di Castro, on a small and straight country road that ran parallel to the Via Auralia (which is a freeway in this part of the country).
The parallel road ended in Pescia Romana, so I stopped there to figure out what I would do to continue on. The country road that I had planned on taking (from looking at Paolo's map) wasn't anywhere on my cell phone's maps...so I took the plunge and ran 5 km along the Auralia until I hit the next parallel road. It actually wasn't that bad...I spent that 5 km running on top of a wide concrete curb, taking some awkward steps over gaps and around poles and turning my shoulder in every time a big truck drove by. I got into Monalto di Castro a little before 6 pm. The place was pretty much a ghost town, and apart from some short conversations with people here and there and some calls from family members, it was getting off to be a pretty lonely day.
Someone recommended that I go to the marina town 4 or 5 km away (there would be more people there), so around 8 I set off to add a little bit more to my mileage for the day. It was dark when I got into town, and I was getting hungry.
Not wanting to eat by myself on my birthday, I went up to a pair of girls about my age and said: "Have you eaten dinner yet?" A pretty up front way of approaching someone, but I didn't have anything to lose. They looked at me like I was crazy, but after explaining that I was in town alone on my birthday and that I just wanted to eat dinner with some people, they accepted and we went to a nearby pizzeria to grab something to eat. I had a big "Birra Moretti" and we spent an hour or two talking over dinner. When we finally got to the "where do you sleep?" dilemma, I learned that neither of them were from the town, and lived almost an hour away by car. The best they could do was show me where the public beach was. They left from the beach around midnight, and I fell asleep for a half hour (the beer/marathon combo had hit me hard) before forcing myself up to talk to some more people. It was my birthday, and despite how tired I was, I was going to put my remaining energy into trying to make something happen. Paolo had sent me a text message offering to come and pick me up for the night, but it didn't really make sense to me to have him drive an hour out to find me and then an hour in the morning to drop me off again.
I went to a nearby beach bar and ordered a Coke. I don't even like Coke...but it was really the only thing that I could order that wouldn't kill me immediately. One of the guys who was working there refused to plug my (dead) phone into one of the many unused outlets behind the bar. I downed the last swallow and headed out on my way.
I went to another bar and ordered another Coke, and for the first time I got completely shut out when I tried to join a group of people:
"Can I sit here?"
"No, get out of here."
"But...but...it is my birthday."
"Get out of here."
Nice Italian dudes. I forced a smile and went to go drink my coke alone on the beach. Around 2 or 3 in the morning, I walked back past the first bar that I was in...where another (nicer) bartender was locking up shop. I explained my situation to him, and he said that I could probably sleep in one of the hammocks that were on the beach. I took him up on the offer, took off my shoes and laid down to fall asleep...sand below and stars overhead.
At 4:30 a street cleaning crew passed by and started making all sorts of racket a few feet away from me. Not really able to sleep, and knowing that some employee of the beach bar was going to wake me up in an hour or so anyways, I started stumbling around the ghost town looking for another alternative. I was pretty hungry, and found a pastry shop with a door open on the edge of town. It was not open yet, but the guy sold me something anyways. I walked along the side of the beach for a little bit and stumbled through a carnival that was closed for the night before finding a park bench in the woods. It was just about long enough to fit my body, so I pulled out my space blanket and christened it "Home" for the rest of the night.
18 August 2009