Under the great night sky

by tkos on August 15, 2012

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If you were to sleep under the great night sky, is it safer to sleep in a crowded place or somewhere totally deserted?

This is almost a daily decision for us. Either way there is a risk. If we are somewhere away from people, there is no chance of receiving any help if the wrong person found us. If we sleep somewhere crowded, there is more chance of the wrong person being there in the first place. And do people really help anymore?

We are in the south of Italy, about 300km away from Bari on the West coast of the country. We have had the luxury of spending some time with my parents throughout Italy and have enjoyed the comfort of our own room in an apartment. But all that is behind us now and we are back to searching for safety on the road.

Vineyards and olive groves line either side of the road. That’s perfect for us. We spend a night in a small olive grove but keep one eye out for a farmer that might ask us to move. The next day we cycle another 100km and as the sun begins to fade, we pass a children’s playground and BBQ area. There are some families there.  I want to stay there but Kimmi doesn’t feel comfortable. Bugger it, I cycle over and through broken Italian and a game of charades, the families say it is ok for us to set up tent. When they leave, we have a play on the swings. Kimmi is happy again.

We finally reach the shoreline and feel pretty confident about finding somewhere on the beach. This we have done before so it is just a matter of finding the right spot. We search high and low, but nothing feels right. The beach all seems to belong to a commercial property or access is too difficult. We are fast running out of options. The sun is about to set. The small town is busy with people but not large enough to host a hotel. It will be completely dark in about twenty minutes and we have no idea where we are going to stay.

We cycle back to the edge of town and finally find access to the beach. But it is no beach to speak of. Rubbish covers the sand to resemble a tip. There are lots of people about, not families enjoying the end of a lovely beach day, but people that you don’t want on the outside of your tent while you sleep. Kimmi and I exchange glances and sigh. Neither of us feel good about this.

And then I see it. Our last hope. One more option that could provide us with a safe place for the night. It will be the busiest place that we have ever slept. We would be on display for a parade of people that will pass us all throughout the night until the early hours of the morning. Our bags, bikes, equipment and all of our worldly possessions will also be on display for the taking. In addition, there will be no place to put up the tent, so we will have to sleep out in the open. It will be the most brazen, daring and riskiest night for us, but will have to trust in the kindness of strangers.

The pier we slept on, open to the sky and the fishermen

We walk the bikes down the 500m long fishing pier. About half way down, we find a rock large and flat enough for us to lie down on. We get out our sleeping mats and bags and settle in amidst the absolute darkness. Silhouettes and shadows pass constantly, no more than a meter away. Sometimes they see us, sometimes they don’t. Yet nobody stops to bother us. Nobody stops to talk or ask us what we are doing. Frankly, nobody cares. They just want to fish.

And that’s just fine by us, as our fading lids close under the great night sky.

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