In 1973, traveling to Europe for the first time with the Antioch Chorus, I went on a mid-trip break to the island of Formentera with three fellow chorus members. One had a friend who had a house there and said we could use it while she was gone for the summer.
So we arrived and following instructions, found the bar La Fonda Pepe and searched out young Pepe, who was supposed to have the keys. He didn’t and seemed wholly confused by the request. We persevered with some two hours of broken Spanish before a light went on and he led us to man who indeed had the key. He led us to a small stone house up the hill on a dirt path with some furniture, beds and no electricity. There was a little store down the path that provided us with some bread and cheese and such and there we stayed for four mostly magical nights and days.
Today, almost 50 years later, I woke up in Ostuni, Italy, took the train to Foggia, bought some bus tickets with anxiety about which bus it actually was before finally boarding the correct one. Off we went, Karen, Mary and I, for an hour and a half ride with some vague directions to an Air B&B, winding up a tall mountain looking down at the sea.
But the problem was that the ride was only supposed to be an hour and indeed, we had overshot it. With our broken Italian and gestures, the driver convinced us he knew the stop we missed and we stayed on the bus as he began the return trip. He dropped us by the side of the road with sporadic houses up dirt roads, as baffled as ever. With the help of some joggers, we found the road that matched the address. Now we had to find the number. No luck. A car came up the bumpy road and stopped to help us, called Massimo, the Air B&B owner and he finally came to the rescue.
In some ways, it was reminiscent of my Formentera experience but with a few notable differences. This house has a pool of sorts in the front, five spacious rooms including a fully equipped kitchen, washing machine, enormous big screen TV, Wi-fi, large bathroom. Instead of walking down the road to a charming small store and talking with the owner, our host drove us on a fast road to a mall and we hit the supermarket. Amongst the aisles of pastas and tomato sauces, there were also ricecakes and granola. Times have changed.
But in perhaps a stroke of good fortune, the Wi-fi stopped working (Massino said Russia was blocking the satellites) and so we were back in the world where the people we are in touch with are the people around us, the news we hear is what we notice when we walk out the door, our sense of place is here, our sense of time is now. Same as in 1973.
Everything changes. Everything stays the same.