I managed to stay on the park bench until after 10 am, falling in and out of sleep...despite how sketchy I looked to all the people who were passing by, all wrapped up in my silver sheet. I finally got up and spent a good several hours making loops around town trying to find a new tube of sunblock. At some point during this process I also went to a campground where I snagged some liquid soap from the bathroom and took a long, hot and free shower. I think it was around 3 pm when I finally headed out of the Montalto Marina towards Civitiavecchia.
Once again I had the problem of the Via Aurelia being too big to run on. I also once again had the dilemma of having two roads which would be perfect for taking me where I was going...except for the fact that they weren't connected on my map. When I got to the end of the first road, I stopped to ask a farmer how I could get to the next road. It was impossible by car he said, as there was a river in between ("a small river" he said after seeing the distressed look on my face). I just had to run down the country road for a while, turn in to the beach, take of my shoes, cross the river/stream where it connected with the ocean, put my shoes back on and keep running. That is what I did, and in the early evening I arrived in Civitiavecchia.
I stopped in a "Subway" and got dinner, mainly because they had free wifi. I ordered my usual "Italian BMT"...except for here it was just called "BMT." After going through my messages on my phone and reading many encouraging birthday wishes (thanks guys!) I set out to try to make some magic happen. I went down towards the water, where I saw a pretty serious looking guy run by (with expensive looking running gear). There was not much time to let this guy pass by and say "eh, the next one"...so despite the fact that I had already changed into my 99 cent flip flops, I started running after him. I have gotten used to going with the moment...I figured, if this guy is a serious runner, he will most likely have some pity on me and help me out. Turns out (despite the fancy gear) that he wasn't a very fast runner...and after catching him in flip flops and running and talking comfortably next to him for around 5 min. he pointed to a random fishing building and suggested that I "just sleep there." I kindly let him run on into the sunset and went back into town.
At some point I passed by some kind of beach gym where there were guys in cycling outfits, and I stopped by and told them my story. The woman who was running the shop let me take a quick cold shower before locking up the shop and giving me some fruit, croissants and permission to sleep on the sand in front of the gym.
After some more loops and some more dead ends, I went into an Irish Pub (they always feel welcoming) and ordered a beer. I worked my way through that and 5 bottles of water before finding the right moment to ask some advice on a place to stay. They gave me the usual response in this part of Italy: "try the train station or beach." There were a lot of people there though that were friends of the bartender, so after my story got out I spent the rest of the night talking and answering questions while desperately hoping that someone would make the offer that would make my night. When one a.m. rolled around, nothing had come my way, I was starting to fall asleep in my chair. One of the barmaids suggested that I go to the back of the bar and sleep (still sitting upright) on one of the more comfortable and discreet chairs. I don't know how long I slept, but it was hot and I was constantly in and out of awareness...I was pretty terribly tired. At some point I gave up on sleeping and re-entered the conversation. Around 3, the head bartender said he would let me sleep on the floor in the bar's outdoor terrace. When the bar finally closed up shop, I laid down using my backpack as a pillow. It wasn't ten minutes before a group of guys having an incredibly stupid argument decided to halt their conversation ten feet from where I was. One of the guys had a voice that sounded like Andre the Giant crossed with a teenage girl (impossible to imagine), and kept repeating "Un Euro!" loudly. After this went on for about a half an hour I calmly gathered my things and headed over to the train station to find a different place to sleep. I bought a Ritter Sport from the vending machine, and ate it as I headed out to the furthest bench on the furthest platform. I pulled out my space blanket and christened yet another bench "home."
19 August 2009