Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Exploring the Island of Capri

After exploring Amalfi, we had no inclination to do much at all the next day. We walked down the rocky path to the private beach at camp, winding our way down the cliff and sending lizards running. We tested the waters but hadn’t brought our togs with us, and slowly made our way back up. We spent time at the swimming pool at camp, eating cheese and crackers, washing off watermelon juice from our noses and chins, floating in the cool water and baking in the hot sun.

In the evening, we made friends with a lovely couple next door, who were Australian, on their way home after years living in London. We shared the two bottles of 1.50 Euro wine we had bought, and they shared a bottle from their ice box. We stayed up until 1am talking about nothing in particular. Or rather, anything and everything. We slipped easily into conversation as though we had known each other for years, while simultaneously introducing ourselves.

The night was great, a lot of fun, but a headache swarmed around my brain for hours before we retired. I woke up several times during the night, trying desperately to get back to sleep knowing we had an early start the next day. We were off on a tour of Capri, the island off the tip of the Amalfi peninsula, and although we had booked it in advance, it couldn’t have been worse timing. Having had less than a bottle of wine each the previous night, we woke up extremely hungover and very very ill.

Courtney gave me dissolvable painkillers to skull back an hour or so before the alarm went off, but it was the desperate need to keep them down and the failed attempts at doing so that woke me up for good. I was in no state to board a boat but I wasn’t wasting 30 Euros (60, if Courts hadn’t gone either), so board a boat I did. I survived the temperamental rises and falls of the ocean, focusing on the water rather than the still points that didn’t move with it.

By the time we got to the entrance of the blue grotto, I was feeling well enough to agree to go into it. The blue grotto is a notorious rip off, a small cave reachable only by swimming or by paying close to 12 Euros to board a small gondola-type boat for 5 minutes. Inside, the water is bluer than you’ve ever seen, and the walls of the cave loom overhead. We only know this from stories however, because we were told the seas were too rough to take passengers on the boats. We happily agreed we didn’t want to wait for them to die down, seeing the gondoliers lay back flat in the boat and haul themselves through the tiny mouth of the grotto by a chain attached to the rock outside. The seas were so high that the edges of the boats scraped the ceiling of the mouth – we weren’t all that fussed to go in.

As I was feeling better, Courtney suddenly fell just as ill as I had been, and I took over the camera and the chit chat as the boat rounded the corner to show us the Green Grotto. Rather than being a full cave, the Green Grotto was an open topped crevice in the rocky cliffs of Capri, but with amazing coloured and clear water. The tour guides pointed out buildings and lighthouses as we swept away from it to dock at Marina Piccollo, or the small port.

At the Marina, the waters seemed just as clear and people swam around the dock, through a hole in the rocky formations that littered the beach. Saving swimming for later, we took a bus to the village at the top of the hill and explored the cobbled streets. Most of the shops were high-end designer stores, catering to the rich and famous that flock to the island. Restaurants boasted walls of photos showing the owners with superstars – Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Rod Stewart… sports stars, politicians and film stars.

Being unable to afford to even step in these stores and restaurants, we made our way to the town square, high on the hill overlooking Marina Grande or the big port. I spent 7 Euros on a small milkshake just at the thought of it easing my stomach and we ate pizza and sandwiches overlooking the port.

With waters as clear as this, I could no longer deny Courtney his snorkel. Knowing it would lead to a few supermarket meals, we bought a mask and snorkel and he set off to explore the rocks. I swam for a bit and then slept in the sun, stealing the heat of the pebbled shore through my towel. Courts saw a jellyfish before deciding to join me, and we slept in the sun until it was time to go home.

The tour guides showed us the White Lagoon and various points of interest around the island, and we marveled at caves high in the cliffs and the sheer drops that rushed away beneath them. The boat dropped us off where the tour had begun, the private beach at camp, and after a long day we slowly hauled ourselves up the cliff face. There was little energy left for anything after that, and a deeper sleep has not been had for a long time.