Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Monday, August 06, 2007

Turtle at the Bates Motel

Lately, I’ve been processing photos I took in the tiny Republic of San Marino, where DB and I spent most of a day in May. It's been too long since I wrote about my trip, so here's another installment. (As usual, click to enlarge photos - back arrow to return.)

We’d driven south along the eastern Italian coast, leaving the seaside towns of Chioggia and Sotomarina, where we’d twice retreated from the unseasonable heat of the Po Valley. The day before we’d spent doing laundry, resting and catching up on e-mails in an internet cafe.

It was still too hot, but we continued south, aiming for Apulia in the boot of Italy.

San Marino was up a winding road, climbing for what seemed many miles. When we got there we dutifully turned into tourists for the day, with the ulterior motive of capturing the place in pixels. (But we paid no admission fees anywhere so, technically, I didn’t actually experience it. See blog entry re “going somewhere wonderful without really experiencing it.”)

Cyclists met us on a steep street, too steep and too populated for them to ride, but walking downhill in their cleated shoes was clearly even more difficult. They were riding very high-end Swiss bikes, which DB immediately coveted.

We had a leisurely lunch (pizza and a beer - their pizza is no better, no worse, than our pizza, no surprise) and wandered up and down the steep streets and walkways, admiring the sights, taking lots of photos. I took one of a guard adjusting his cap, which I rather like, but I was too lazy to stand and so I have a rope barrier ruining most of my shots; DB’s are much better.

We had no plan, as usual, about where we’d end up for the night; we got gas before leaving San Marino (his diesel tank lasts and lasts, but takes $75 to fill) and got back on the autostrada, heading south.

I’m not sure how we ended up leaving the autostrada when we did, but we drove west into the country, climbing to Fermo, becoming more and more concerned because there wasn’t a single hotel all through the town. We kept going up and up, with DB getting into his hollering at the old man upstairs to shape up, we want a hotel NOW, mode, and just then we came to the top of the mountain with nowhere else to go, and I said, “There’s a hotel, right there,” proving the power of prayer. (Ask me about this.)

DB went to get us a room and came back out, all smiles. We took our luggage to our upstairs room, passing by artworks all along the stairwell that I at first assumed were done by the same local hand trying out different styles, all very bad. There was something grand and awful about the place, like a once palatial hotel fallen on hard times with worn carpets and plastic flowers and a jumble of confusing artifacts on every surface. Not quite gothic, not quite anything. I called it the Bates Motel, but in a joking way; it did not feel sinister or threatening, just odd.

Next to our mountaintop hotel was a church and public park, complete with a large WW1 memorial, and we went back out to take advantage of the early evening light. From there we could see back to the Adriatic Sea, alongside which we'd been traveling.

We spent a long time enjoying and photographing it before going back for a late dinner in an immense, deserted dining room, where all the walls were covered with artworks, not all bad. I finally decided that the owners must frequent local art fairs, buying what they like, and had accumulated this large collection over many years.

Over my shoulder, while eating his dinner, DB had to look at a small painting of a very green lady with enormous green breasts. We laughed a lot.

The next morning I went out on our balcony overlooking the valley. The balcony next to ours was clearly used by someone living there, with many plants and flowers, and - I almost yelped - a live pet turtle!

A real live turtle in Fermo, Italy, at the Bates Motel.

A lady came out in her bathrobe just then and took the tub with the turtle back indoors (she didn’t see me) and a short time later she brought it back out, water all nice and clean. I caught her attention and signaled with my camera to be sure she wouldn’t mind my taking a photograph. We smiled at each other and nodded. I'm still grinning.

A turtle at the Bates Motel. Imagine.

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