Al Mare

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Sunday morning we decided to head to the beach. From Torino, we traveled 1.5 hours by car to Liguria, home of Cinque Terra, and another hour north, Monte Carlo. It’s not a bad spot. Arriving early, there were more than a few clouds in the sky, so first we explored the little beachy town of Finale Borgo. With its salt-worn buildings, tiny shops, and winding walkways, we easily moved through early morning to noon.

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Back in the car, we headed another 5 minutes to the beach- and we weren’t the only ones. Cars slowly crept along, avoiding unstable bikers and families with endless children. Not a problem for me, as I gazed at the tan, brown, orange and pink pallet of the landscape. Securing a parking spot – no small feat- we shuffled down the sandy sidewalk to the beach. The water was a calm, sparkling, brilliant turquoise. Just above, hovered a dark gray cloud – threatening us for hours. But the rain never fell, and we spent the afternoon in bliss. There is nothing more soothing then the lull of the waves, far off laughter of children, and the sun warming our skin.

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I finished a current read, FOE by Nobel Prize winning J. M. Coetzee. It retells the story of Robinson Crusoe- had a woman also been shipwrecked. Of course they become lovers, but not in a typical sense. Also present is Crusoe’s tongueless slave, Friday. Eventually, they are rescued- but only she and Friday survive the trip back to England. The protagonist,  Susan is determined to have her story told by the original author, Daniel DeFoe. The novel weaves between his story and hers, and teases on the theme of women having their histories rewritten by men. There are also plenty of South African political undercurrents, exploring the voicelessness of African people; but admittedly I was not able to grasp all of the subtleties. The early chapters on the island are  so relatable your heart aches of loneliness. You reflect on the times you’ve been metaphorically ‘cast-away’ or, instead consider that you were in fact, cast-away in a previous life.
“I spent my days walking on the cliffs or along the shore, or else sleeping. I made a cap with flaps to tie over my ears; I wore this, and sometimes closed my ears with plugs too, to shut out the sound of the wind. So I became deaf, as Friday was mute; what difference did it make on an island where no one spoke? The petticoat I had swum ashore in was in tatters. My skin was as brown as an Indian’s. I was in the flower of my life, and now this had befallen me. I did not weep; but sometimes I would find myself sitting on the bear earth with my hands over my eyes, rocking back and forth and moaning to myself, and would not know how I had got there.”
The ending was more than a bit mysterious, and I found myself sifting through the final pages to retrieve some closure. Finding none, I set the book down with an emptiness in my stomach. Good thing the day ended with a greasy pizza and a beer!
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