My schedule was primarily driven by the bus schedule between Amalfi and Positano. As there weren’t any evening buses running, I would be working from 9AM until 4PM each day and would work 9 straight days before I would have my first Monday off. I would only be getting one day off per week, (which is normal in Italy). The other students were able to walk to their respective restaurants and would be working a split shift (9 to 3 and then 6-11) and would have Sunday evenings and Mondays off.
As I climbed up the steps from our apartment in Posiitano, I headed for the bar to order a cup of cappuccino before I caught the 7:05 AM bus. Nuts! It didn’t open until 7:30 AM. The tabacchi shop next door was a tiny alcove that sold bus tickets, maps, postcards and various sundries and it was also closed. I had purchased my ticket to Amalfi the evening before, but what was I going to do without a return bus ticket? Monthly bus ticket holders only have to get their ticket punched the first time they board the bus. I was hoping that the driver thought I was a monthly patron.
“Buon Giorno,” I said to the bus driver as I boarded the big green and white SITA bus. He smiled, nodded to me and didn’t seem to notice that I had not inserted a ticket into the machine to be validated.
Because the villages along the Amalfi Coast are cut into the steep hillsides, the road connecting them is a series of hairpin turns along the cliffs. Most of the automobiles in Italy are small, probably due to the efficient use of high-priced fuel.
The buses, however, are full-sized and sometimes have difficulty navigating those tight turns. It’s especially hairy when faced with another oncoming bus. Who gets to go first? It appeared to be the first one to honk his horn repeatedly. The approaching bus would stop, back up and try to pull off the road so the other bus could pass. All the cars behind him would have to back up as well. Usually at that point a couple of motor scooters would speed around the stopped buses in a hurry to reach their destinations. Then the bus tango would continue.
Once the bus I was on passed a bus filled with Japanese tourists. They were all out of their seats, nervously watching the progress of the buses as they attempted to fit by each other. One moved forward; the other moved backwards. One moved backwards; the other moved forward. When our bus finally passed theirs, with only an inch to spare, the Japanese tourists all stood up and applauded!
The bus ride back to Positano took about 40 minutes. When I returned to the apartment, I turned on the television to discover that the Italian soccer team was playing a championship game on TV. Our next door neighbor Paulo’s double doors were open so he could enjoy the colorful garden of flowers and vegetables in his tiny yard. He often has friends over to play the Italian card game, Scopa, and this evening there were 3 other men seated at his dining room table watching the soccer game on TV with him. They were very animated—shouting, jumping up and down and waving their hands around—helping the Italian soccer team, Gli Azzuri (which literally means “the light blues”) with each play. When the Italian team won later that evening, the town celebrated and fireworks lit up the sky. I walked up to the piazza in the center of town that night to call Craig from the pay phone with my international calling card. I was anxious to tell him about my first couple of days at work. It was good to hear his voice, but there was so much noise from the town celebrating that he thought I was at a party! I tried to reassure him that I was working hard and not having any fun without him.