A tinge of sadness sweeps through my heart as I glimpse back one more time towards Sicily’s lights which are fading in the darkness. Our time there has passed ways too quickly. As much as I love discovering new places, I dislike leaving beloved ones behind. Same counts for cultures and people. This only seems to be getting worse with the years.
Acitrezza – old friends left, new ones joined. Picking up where we left many years ago. Embracing each other’s differences. Enjoying each other’s company. On we went, passed rainy river bays, ancient castles, olive groves and through stunning Siracusa bustling with culture and history: From Greeks, over Romans, to Arabs and Spaniards – everyone left their mark. Off the beaten track again, the winds blew us into Marzamemi, just passed a stunning nature reserve. Pink Flamingos flying past us. Dolphins swimming with us. The only proper marina we’ve visited since leaving Greece. The first time we pay, yet 30 Euros off season price seems bearable, given the convenience regarding the 6h30 am bus ride commitment which took our friends back to Catania airport.
The next morning, Salvatore, the super friendly marina manager, asks us to stay another three days – as his guests, non-paying, that is. On Saturday they are organizing the big end off season concert in the harbour and over 200 people are expected to enjoy the Italian band and local delicacies in the beautiful settings. He thinks we shouldn’t miss the festa. Was it not for the yoga workshops I was to teach in Valetta a few days later, no doubt we would have stayed.
Some say that Sicily is too expensive for coastal cruising. It’s surely not easy to find reasonably protected and deep enough spots to moor or anchor for less than 55 Euros (that’s low season) and a shock to the system after Greece’s sailing ease. Yet we’ve been lucky so far. Stazzo is one of the dreamy fishing villages we sneaked in. Our favourite. While we were still tying up the stern lines to the dock, Yann, the friend who was staying with us, plunged down the wall we were tied to, to grab the octopus Pablo had sighted. Less than an hour after our arrival we were famous in town. At night, all the elders gathered around us in the (only!) local bar by the plaza overlooking the harbour and sea. We chatted for hours on end, while one Arancini (delicious Sicilian specialty) after the other disappeared from the table together with enchanting local wine.
Once back in bed the eyes fell closed. Mine to be woken again shortly after by a heart-racing engine noise (not our’s) less than a meter from Happy Dancer. Head peaked out of the aft-cabin hatch, followed by a quick jump on deck. Two fishing boats had come in. The guys were shouting and jumping around the deck in the typical joyful Italian manner. Sleepily I added a few fenders and an extra spring line in case the wind was to push us more towards them. Just as I was about to descent the hatch back into the warm and cosy bed, one of the fishermen came over with a fresh tuna. Present for having woken us up. Not enough, the next morning, as we shared Italian coffee and Nutella, they insisted on giving us a few more tuna steaks for the kids. Blessed be the Italian friendliness. Happy Dancer will be remembered for a while in Stazzo’s Blue Bar – and vice versa in our little dancing world.
Shortly after our landfall in picturesque, yet extremely over-prized and touristy Taormina, our Parisian friends joined us on board. Had we flown the flags of all countries whose nationality was somehow represented within the four adults and two littlies on board, our stays would have looked like a United Nations parade gate. What is there to say – between fresh sashimi, chilled out sailing, dinghy rides through caves, swaying in hammocks, snorkelling, hikes, cafés and vino – when you get together with old friends and just pick up from where you left before? Time passed too quickly, that says it all. Naoko and Yann – come back soon!