Accidents Happen – Sicily

At 5.50 am we clicked the front door shut and made our furtive way in the pre-dawn light through the deserted streets of a town in Sicily.

We didn’t talk, not only because the noise our luggage wheels made on the cobbles – amplified by the narrow laneways – drowned out any attempt at conversation.   We reached the car, stowed our luggage and fiddled with the satnav.  

We looked at each other and I said ..”it feels like we’re running away”.  Steve replied..”we are, sort of”.

A few days earlier, we checked into a nice little place in a town in Sicily, which shall forever remain a secret.   The little guesthouse was located on the first floor of the building and was bizarrely furnished with such thoughtful touches as an upright piano and moth-eaten stuffed fox wedged into the room and a clothes airer with someone else’s washing on our balcony.

As we had been on the road for some time, we had a few items requiring refrigeration, and we asked if we could utilize some space in the refrigerator.  With markers placed to ensure the return journey was possible, Steve navigated the circuitous route to the kitchen.  We suspected the kitchen was actually in another building or possibly a neighbouring town.   Such access was very welcome however, as we like to indulge in a late night cup of tea because we are hardcore, and that’s how we roll.

The guesthouse was deserted when we returned after dinner followed by the mandatory post-dinner la passeggiata which may, or may not have involved gelati.  We negotiated the locks and gates and found our way to our room, Steve taking the satnav and a Sherpa to find the kitchen and boil some water for our tea, whilst I played the piano for a bit (sorry, I made that bit up).

We had by now become blasé in regard to the strange mysteries of Airbnb bedding.   

Preparation for bed would usually include a quick fluff of the bedspread, sheet repositioning and a pillow audit.    The bedspread took exception to being disturbed and flicked upwards to just catch on the bedside light fitting, which shattered and rained down on the floor in many splintered glass snowflakes.    We looked at each other for a minute or so, one of us naked and standing in a sea of glass, looking only slightly ridiculous.      “I just shook it out, the edge just caught…blah blah….”     You know the story. 

The next morning we looked for the manager to let him know what had happened, but the only people there spoke no English and were busy with other tasks.  We thought we would catch up with him a bit later, but were a little dismayed when we returned and our room had been cleaned and the shattered light fitting debris removed.   We never saw that guy again. 

Our last night.    Another late night excursion to the kitchen for a cup of tea.  Another couple had moved into the room across the way, but as far as we knew, we were the only ones there.    We retired.    At about 1.30 am the lights came on.  Not the normal lights,  the emergency lights.  No other power.  Perhaps you, and definitely I, would  shrug, put a sleep mask on, and try to go back to sleep.   Steve has had a long career involving building maintenance and the things that go wrong, and immediately put 2 and 2 together, and came up with 28.   

“There could be a fire…”  was quickly followed by the private thought “did I leave something on in the kitchen?” 

We went back to bed, but the tight ball of tension lying next to me was not having any of it.   He flung the bedspread back (at least avoiding the remaining bedside light fitting) and decided he would go to the kitchen and check everything was ok.    Many years of being married to me has convinced him that everything is his fault.    As he stomped out of the room I realised that he had forgotten we now had neighbours and had not stopped to put any clothing on.    He was now out there, somewhere, in the darkness, nude.  In the middle of the night.  I hastily grabbed some pants for him (and me) and set out after him, disregarding the fact that I had not, in fact, ever been to the kitchen and had no idea where it was.  

It was like a surreal game of Marco Polo.

We were  both now blundering around in different areas of the guesthouse, only one of us was nude.    He made it back to the room before I did, reporting back that the kitchen looked to be in order.     I had a mental picture of the other guests, cowering in their bed wondering what madness their neighbours were up to.  Perhaps they are writing their own blog post….

Around 4 am the emergency light went off, but still no power.  Steve informed me gloomily that the emergency light battery had probably run out, or maybe the wiring was burned and we would all shortly be incinerated.   Another round of kitchen inspections were undertaken.  This time with clothing.

After another hour or so of fitful sleep (me) and teeth grinding in a horizontal pin-drop position (him) we decided we might as well get ready to leave, as it was unlikely there would be any breakfast on offer (still no power).  Steve gathered up our luggage and the fridge items while I took a shower in the dark.  I noticed as I finished up that the water pressure was a little light on, but after the night we had had, didn’t take too much notice.

Before we departed, Steve decided a morning constitutional (euphemistic description of a toilet visit for those with a weak stomach) was required.  

And that, of course, inevitably, was when the water supply ceased.  Something to do with a pump and no power. We gathered all our supplies, but no amount of our bottled water would budge those babies.     The final insult. 

We helped by leaving. 

Don’t be a stranger, I’d love you to like this, or better yet, follow me. No spam, no selling, just pretty great stories from a couple of ordinary travellers.

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

6 thoughts on “Accidents Happen – Sicily

  1. O my goodness, this was one of the best blog post I have read in a very long time, thanks for sharing and for making me laugh! Your writing skills are simply superb!

  2. What a house of horrors! 😀 This is so hilarious and I love your honesty and humour in these situations.. the world needs more hotel reviews like this.

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