Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the bus ride to Italy (m)

Three hours of superhighway and super views.  We cross Germany and parts of Austria en route to this little slice of Heaven in the mountains of Italy.  We are headed to the Dolomites.  I've always wanted to go to this part of the world.

There are 18 of us in the group.  I sit alone in my own "row" in the bus.  I am happy until the  California coach in front of me leans her chair back to sleep.  My tray table is now in my stomach.  I fold it up. 

Then the sun comes out.  Very strong.  I'm sweating.  Is anyone else hot?  Or is this an extended hot flash?  I ask our team leader to ask the bus driver to turn down the heat and/or turn on the Air Conditioning.  Or, are there any windows that open?

The answer: No. 

I take off my jacket.  Now I'm hungry, sweaty and a little nauseous.  How long has it been since I've last eaten?  Maybe 9 hours.

I take a bite of the pretzel.  Hard as a rock.  Tasteless.  I put it back in the bag.

I switch to the orange chocolate bar.  It's melted.  The good news is that I know I'm not the only one who is overheated unless the Lindt bar is going through menopause, too.  The bad news is that the one little piece I surreptiously peeled off melted all over my hand leaving tell-tale signs.  I try to wipe it off before Harrison's coach (the ultrafit Swede) catches me.

I settle for a banana and 32 oz of Evian water.

Great.  Now I have to pee.

I ask the Team Leader if we are going to make a pit stop.  She asks the bus driver.  He looks at me as if to say "you high-maintenance American."

This wish, however, he grants.

Thirty minutes later, we stop in Austria in some cute little chalet-style rest stop.

One hour and thirty minutes to go.  I feel rejuvenated by the banana and water.  I breathe in the crisp mountain air.  I feel like I'm in The Sound of Music.

I re-board the bus, excited.

And then we enter the mountain range.

Sixty minutes of spine-tingling tight turns with deep drop-offs and insufficient guard rails.  We wind and wind and wind our way up the mountains.  I stop looking and grab the handles on the seat in front of me.  I check on Harrison.  He is white as a sheet.

One hour later, we all are sick.  Some of the people have thrown up on the bus.

Welcome to Italy.

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