In the morning my clothes were still wet, so I walked into town "human-clothesline" style and went to the grocery store. I bought a little box of cereal and some milk to eat before my run. After buying these things, I realized that I didn't have a bowl or a spoon, so I went to a nearby cafe and asked the woman if she had a plastic spoon I could use. She said no...but she had a metal one that I could use if I stayed and ate at the cafe. I said "deal," and sat down at a chair outside with my box of cereal and milk, looking pretty pathetic I'm sure. The woman brought out a giant knife for me, and looking at her puzzled like "what am I going to do with that?!" I realized that I had mixed up the words for knife and spoon. Explaining my mistake, she brought me a giant spoon and a little plastic cup, and I was able to eat my cereal. I don't think there are many restaurants that would allow someone to just come and eat their own stuff while using the cutlery and table of the restaurant...but luckily this woman was a very rare exception.
I walked a few kilometers until my clothes were dry before packing up my stuff and beginning the run to Amalfi. Turns out there are some mountains between Pompeii and Amalfi, so I got myself ready for another one of those "big hill" experiences. I basically climbed for a solid hour or more. The view was incredible though, and on side number one, I had an amazing distant view of the city and of Vesuvius. Once I had made the peak, I had an amazing view of the Amalfi coast, switchback after switchback. After about 33 kilometers of some seriously beautiful mountains I arrived in the town of Amalfi.
The whole region is beautiful...the mountains basically cut right into the sea, and there is one windy road that runs along the coast (at times only wide enough for one car). The architecture is built onto the sides of mountains, and the view is of a beautiful clear blue sea.
In Amalfi, I hung out for a bit and then went into the tourism office to ask for some advice on where I should go. The woman suggested that I continue on towards a nearby town called Maiori where there was a Franciscan Convent where I might find a place to stay. I did a little over 4 kilometers more along that windy coastal road to get there. In the church though, before I said three words the guy said "go to a hotel." He didn't seem very nice, and I wasn't about to argue.
I left and went over to the beach. I was pretty seriously tired, so I sat down on a park bench to think and regain some energy. A couple minutes later, an old man smoking a cigar sat down next to me and started talking. We talked for a while, and he kept doing creepy old man things like patting my knee ("bravo!") or doing that cheek grab thing. Didn't make me feel very comfortable, but I was thinking "eh, that's just what some people are like." He knew the guy who worked the nearby beach bar, so I went over there and took a shower and talked with them for a while. The old man (Gio) gave me his number and told me to call him in the evening to get some pizza. He also spoke with the people at the beach thing and they offered to let me sleep on their beach without problem.
Gio left, and as it got dark, I started asking some of the people there if they had any better ideas of where I could sleep. Someone gave me the name of a certain "Don Pasquale" in the next town over (who, from what I could understand ran the Boyscout center or something), so I walked the 1 Km back to Minori to see if I could find him. I found his house, but someone said that he was back in the other town for the evening, and that I should try back in an hour. I was starving, so I went and got some pizza for an hour and then came back and tried again. This time, there was nobody there (around 10 pm). I decided to sit and wait outside the gate until he came back. I didn't really know much about the guy who I was waiting for, but I figured it was worth a shot and called Gio to inform him that I wouldn't be coming back to Maiori. I really didn't want to sleep on the beach...because it meant not charging my phone and not recovering for the coming day. Also, it was getting cold...and the problem with being a runner is that I don't have much underneath my skin to keep me warm. Gio said "No no, I talked with the people, and they will give you a cabin to sleep in for the night. No problem. Just come back, a five minute walk."
Figuring that sleeping in a closet on the beach was better than nothing, I walked once more back to Maiori and met up with Gio at the beach thing. I told him that I had already eaten, but that I would grab a drink or something while I waited for the beach place to close. I didn't really know where we were going, but I followed him back to what ended up being his very large palace-like apartment (while he apologized for not having a place for me to sleep). There, he cut me a piece of cake, and I sat down on the couch to eat. He then sat next me and started talking some more, most of which I couldn't understand. At some point he asked if my clothes were dry yet (I had washed my shorts in the shower) and grabbed my shirt and then my shorts. Had I not jumped away at the appropriate time, he would have most certainly touched my "junk." It was at this point that I realized (as I had kind of suspected before) that he wasn't a friendly grandfather, but a creepy perverted old man.
"I need to go."
"Ok, I'll walk you to the beach." (I needed him to get out of the building anyways)
"Ok, whatever, but if you get near me I will break your f***ing neck." (Not said explicitly)
At the beach I said a very relieved final goodbye and was pleased to watch cigar holding old man with red purse walk off into the darkness. The nice young guy who ran the beach thing showed me where I would be sleeping and introduced me to the guy who would be watching the place, and I went over to finally go to sleep.
The place was not an inclosed cabin...it was a dirty bathroom with a beach bed in it...and it was too small to have a closed door and the beach bed at the same time. The ground was soggy with mud and urine, and I wasn't about to sleep on it without the bed. As mosquitoes buzzed around my ears and I felt the chill of the ocean air, midnight rolled around and I decided to get the hell out of there. I figured I would give this "Don Pasquale" a shot, and regardless I would end up at a place that creepy old man didn't know about.
I walked back to Minori and gave the doorbell a couple rings. Someone answered.
"Hi, my name is Ryan, and I am doing a type of world tour on foot...I arrived here today from--"
"You are looking for hospitality."
"Come on up."
It was amazing news, and Don Pasquale was one of the nicest, smiling guys I have met. He had a spare bed and was quick to offer me a couple cold glasses of water. Turns out that it was the parochial house, and that he was the head of the catholic church for the area. A very very nice guy, and I'm glad I didn't give up at the beach. I had a hot shower, a good conversation and a great night of sleep.
03 September 2009