Looking for the Grotto Esmerelda!

on Monday, April 13, 2009

I would like to start out by saying that The Me and I both apologize for not giving our loyal readers much to read of late. We've been..as you all have, I'm sure...been busy. The days seem to just roll into each other sometimes. Our son is playing teeball now. We are still....hosting "those dinners" :) My wife has taken on a new business....Needless to say...our life is full. Let me also say that we are having the time of our lives even in the midst of the insanity. We are having a blast raising our kids...they are so much fun. We actually have to pinch ourselves sometimes just thinking about how lucky we are to have them in our lives. It is an awesome responsibility taking care of these little people.


With that being said...our family has been back from Italy for sometime now. We have not blogged much about it much mainly because we've been so busy with family life. Never the less....we have stories...one in particular will go down in the annals of our family travel history :)

It starts out as a drive on the beautiful Amalfi coastline (I being from California describe the Amalfi coast as Big Sir on steroids). The Amalfi coastline is beautiful!! Enough said. This story also involves 7 of us in a minivan (one cousin, one nonna, one friend, 2 little ones, my wife and me). It involved tight roads...shear cliffs...white knuckle driving by me...did I mention....it's stinkin BEAUTIFUL??!! (see above) It unfortunately involved the gas station below and an attendant named Nino (see below).

Let me set the day......

Breakfast was great. The little ones enjoyed their Italian latte's and toast. We our espressos and sweets. Lot's of laughs and an anticipation of the day.....

My wife's dear cousin from the area wanted to show us the Amalfi coastline in all it's splendor....Amalfi, Positano, Ravello. Our first stop was to be The Grotto Esmerelda. Problem was that we could not find said Grotto. Our cousin raved about it. We drove back and forth. We asked for directions...we still could not find information on it. After some time we settled on just heading toward Positano. It was after this decision that our day took a turn of great proportion....no one died...no one got hurt....let us just say that our plan of filling the memory chip of our camera did not occur.

Ten minutes down the road we came across the aforementioned gas station and Nino....who we now just refer to as Jackass...and that is probably being kind. I'm sure our Italian cousin was calling him much worse in the following six hours. As you can see from the picture above...this gas station was fairly isolated...out there! It had a great view...but it was isolated...meaning help was not close at hand.

Anywho...We pull into the gas station. Most gas stations do not let you pump your own gas in Italy so we let Nino pump it for us. "Diesel Per vore" I exclaim! He pumps the gas...I pay the bill...we are on our way right? Well...we got about 100 feet out of the drive before the car began to sputter and died. Fortunately we were on an incline and were able to coast backwards back into the drive....with alittle help from the attendants we were able to push it back into the gas station..you can only imagine our confusion!

Needless to say this event kind of sparked some interest in the other attendants at the gas station, namely the gas station manager. He asked Nino what gas he put in the tank....after the verbal dressing down he gave Nino we learned that he had put the "wrong gas" in our car!! What could they do?? We are on a picture taking adventure here!! We need to get going!! How does this happen??!!! Well...I've mentioned we were in these bozo's company for six hours! Here's alittle run down...

Hour 1

They decide that they need to syphon the gas out of the tank...this process takes close to 45 minutes to accomplish. In the meantime...crackers are handed out to the kids...we try our best to keep them entertained...ya see, we made the decision that they were not to leave the car because leaving the car would have subjected them to the danger of the speeding cars that wizzed by us every so often...all you had to do was to step 15 feet from our car and you would have become part of their windshields!

After they finished taking the "wrong gas" out of the car, we pushed the car into the lane for the "correct gas"! They filler up and test it out. Well...the test didn't go very well. It managed to sound worse than when we coasted back in to the station :). On to hour 2!!

Hour 2

Did I mention that is was stinking beautiful here?? It is in the second hour that we become concerned not so much with getting the car fixed, but with keeping the kids entertained and happy. My wife and I, being the communication junkies that we are, had our Iphones at the ready...loaded with Mickey Mouse cartoons and a couple of movies. Let just say by the end of our ordeal our kids became experts in manipulating our phones :) We did not have an infinite amount of power in them though and no way of charging them since the car was dead. We at this time did not think of that because we still thought we might be out of here soon.....HA!

As far as the pit crew at the gas station was concerned...they popped the hood and began to "work" on to the problem....well..they worked on the problem for all of hour two!....On to hour three!!

Hour 3

It is here where the owner tells us that he needs to call a mechanic in to look at the problem...it is about here that we know that we are not going anywhere soon and our day in Positano is probably not going to happen. He mentioned that he could be here in 20 minutes...we at this time had a real feeling that it was going to be more than 20 minutes....we just kept our fingers crossed.

It still is beautiful here!!....the crackers and snacks are startinig to be depleted though. How much longer will the Iphones hold out? How much longer can we keep the kids happy?? The clock is ticking on their patience!!

We did occasionally take some pictures. But how many pictures can you take of a gas station, a road and a fence ..... a beautiful flowery fence (see above), but a fence non the less that blocked our view of the ocean to a certain degree. It was near the end of this hour that my wife's cousin very boldly got us an invite to a home on the other side of that fence...she just asked and the owners were very nice and accomodating...maybe they knew Nino too and felt sorry for us :) Anywho ..this home had a beautiful view of the ocean (see below)... It had 100 steps down to the water down below...we loved it!! We also learned that they did rent it out occcasionally! It is here where we started to devised a plan for our return :).....did I mention that the mechanic still hadn't arrived?? On to hour four!

Hour 4

It is in this hour that the mechanic did arrive....not the 20 minutes that the owner said (to our shock!)...but more like an hour and half later!! He now begins his surgery on the car......

While waiting, I found one the ironies of the afternoon. While mindlessly looking through our telephoto lens I came across a sign about 50 yards up the road!

Can you even believe it??!! Four mindlessly spent hours later we find the first direction towards our intended first stop...the Grotto Esmerelda!! On a bus sign!! We'll we know it's on our way back if we ever get underway again.

Alittle later, and just into hour 5, we came across the...as voted by the stranded 7... the funniest moment of our adventure to Amalfi...as in the previous....on to hour 5!

Hour 5

Hour 5 begins with the mechanic looking alittle frustrated...alittle shorthanded...he looked like a guy that really craved getting this car back to his shop...me working for a machine shop know the advantages of having something at your shop instead of in the field. Me being the guy that didn't understand much Italian kept prompting my wife to asking him questions...he just kept shaking his head...still trying to figure it out....it was after one of these promptings that he came back with..."there is water in the gas"....you notice I didn't use exclamation points on his response...it was rather reserved. Me on the other hand was thinking "THERE'S WATER IN THE GAS??!!!" I was dumbfounded...how in the world could this happen...the mechanic...not trying to point any fingers just looked at the pump in the gas station...it was then that we knew that we needed to point the finger no further than at......you know who...Jackass!!!

Now it comes to the funny part...it was moments after this discovery that an eldery couple came driving into the gas station...the older man got out and proceeding in our direction....nosiely sticks his head under the hood and asks of the mechanic..."umm...what's the problem?" Our mechanic in his unassuming voice just mumbled..."they have water in their gas"....lol...well...this older man whips around...yells at the top of his voice "FERMATE FERMATE!!!" (For those of you that are Italian challlenged...that means as you can only imagine "STOP STOP!!!") He then strides over to his car .... yanks the gas nozzle out of his car and Jackass's hands....proclaims to all in the station that "THIS GAS HAS WATER IN IT!!". The local Cabinerri that just happened to be handie came over and tried to calm the situation....we witnessing this ... even in the midst of our dispair.... had to laugh! :)

It is after this that the mechanic has to recommend that we call our rental company. He said he could tow it back to his shop and fix it but it would take overnight. We took his advise and called Hertz! We think Hertz...they will take care of us!! Ya know...OJ running through the airports!! They have the Neverlost system !! They will help us! Well...they did...sort of. They told us to stay put.. that they would send a tow truck. When we asked when our replacement car would arrive, they said, that we would have to go to Naples to pick it up. NAPLES!!! You mean two hours away Naples?? You see where this is going. This not only was a 6 hour stay at Jackass's R US...it turned into another 6 hours till my wife and I were back at the hotel with our party. Ya see we had to...after the taxi took us back to our hotel 20 minutes away... take said taxi over the hill to Naples that was almost 2 hours away.



The picture above was one of those shots we will remember. We have to give props to our taxi driver Dominic....a nice older man that knew the area quite well. In fact on our drive he specifically stopped at the above pictured location...not the greatest of pics but you can only imagine how great a view is was....Salerno below and Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

It is here were I will wrap up quickly. It was indeed as you have read...quite a day for us. A beautiful day on the Amafi coastline. Too bad we had the same view for a good part of it :) Dominic got us to Naples and the Hertz dealer. We managed to find our way back out to Amalfi and our hotel. We got to bed around midnight and had to pack up the next morning and head out.

I don't want you to feel though that we did not get our fair share of pictures of the coastline though. The next morning we did pack up all our luggage and passengers and headed out for a day of picture taking in the city of Amalfi and Ravello....and yes....we did fill our memory chip :) Maybe someday, when we get around to it, we will just post those pictures...no words would be needed :)