Monday, May 2, 2022

Biking in Puglia: Day 7

Out from our trulli room to a glorious Sunday. Breakfast with fresh orange juice (!) and homemade yogurt in little glass bottles. Then out to a park, Karen sketching, me writing in my journal and what looked like preparations for a festival below. Which turned out to be a fast-walking race and the tranquility of a lazy Sunday morning was bombarded by constant fast DJ-like blathering over loudspeakers. Oh well. 


Made our way out of town threading our way through the last walkers, ended up on a highway of sorts, came over a peak and lo and behold, there was a stunning view with the Adriatic Sea spread out before us. Coasted down a long hill with traffic and motorcycle groups speeding by and got off at a blessed un-trafficked path with stone walls on either side. A few hundred yards into it, we saw a lovely lunch spot in an ancient olive grove and unpacked our bread and cheese, figs and nuts for a tranquil lunch in the peaceful countryside sitting on stones and tree roots. Once on our bikes, we passed another Italian family off the road, but they had a table set with plates and silverware on a tablecloth and chairs and wine, the classic scene you’ve seen it movies— and it really happens.


On we went through the olive groves and I was struck by these thick-trunked ancient trees, some perhaps a thousand years old and now twisted and turned and growing over stone walls and split in two, but still producing olives. Some deep metaphor for us elder humans, which I’ll save for another post. 

We continued on this idyllic road a while before realizing that perhaps we took a wrong turn a few miles back and decided to ignore the directions, follow our noses and ask everyone we passed. It's good to have a map with directions, occasionally a GPS, but when we get lost and have to ask directions, we realize the deep dependence we have on each other and the pleasure of having an excuse to begin conversation. 

It eventually worked out and we entered the seaside town of Monopoli,  a hopping, touristed, youthful place similar to Trani. Our hotel wasn’t ready yet, so I watched the bikes while others got their afternoon gelati. While waiting, I noticed a couple sitting on a bench some 20 feet away talking to teach other. I couldn’t hear them, but watched they way gestures accompanied their conversation. It’s an Italian clichĂ©, but it’s true. What linguist Walter Ong called “the verbo-motor” response, alive in both young children, spirited adults and southern Mediterranean cultures (amongst others).


Our hotel rooms were separate and four of us where around the corner. We began ascending the stairs with our heavy luggage and heavy batteries to be charged and groaned a bit faced with the 35-stair winding staircase. But it’s all just more good exercise and up we went. 

An afternoon walk along the beach front, dipping our toes in the predictably cold Adriatic Sea, late-afternoon outdoor cafĂ© appetizers and then an indoor dinner discussing the origin of International Labor Day (see yesterday’s post). I also asked around the table who could imagine continuing traveling like this for another week or even two and some of us—including me—absolutely could. 


And so ended Day 7.  

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