Iggy the Hymer is watching a new set of waves in a pretty idyllic spot outside Punta Prosciutto in Puglia. ( N40.2924 E17.7932) When we arrived yesterday afternoon there were some awfully big mosquitoes dancing under the olive trees in the calm, warm air. Since then though the wind has been slowly, but steadily, increasing. Good news for avoiding mosquito bites, but we’re not too sure it’s a good idea to be this close to the waves if they get any bigger. As tomorrow’s forecast is for the wind to increase some more they’re probably going to get quite a lot bigger!
This is not good news for me if it means we’ll need to move on, as I was hoping to stay put for another day. Just until I’ve caught up with this blog. My plans of updating every day haven’t worked out very well! All was fine to begin with, but somehow in the last few weeks I’ve fallen further and further behind. It’s so easy to leave it till the morning. Or the evening. Then something happens and it gets pushed back even more. It would be fine if I wasn’t bothered, but I am. It’s become a pressing issue to get this backlog cleared so I can write about each day as it happens again.
“So shut up and do it Fiona!” I say to myself.
“Oh alright then.” Myself says back!
At the end of my last post we were far away from the shores of Puglia. Iggy was still in Sicily, sitting by some rather nice windmills, and there was the rather pressing problem of a full toilet. After our stop that night outside Marsala both our toilet cassettes were now nearly full and emptying had become an immediate necessity. Hunting through our databases of motorhome stops I reluctantly selected a sosta in Castellammare del Golfo. Not that I had anything against Castellammare del Golfo. We had planned on stopping there on our way around the island. We’d just planned on visiting Trapani first. But this sosta should definitely be open. And that toilet very definitely needed emptied today.
So it was a slightly grumpy me who settled into the navigator seat in Iggy as we set off once more. I’d picked up a couple of mosquito bites the night before in my rush to catch some photos before the light went. After a great start to the New Year in Ragusa it felt like our whole lives now revolved around the toilet. And just to top it all off I was distinctly aware of feeling like an ungrateful brat for feeling grumpy. I mean poor me for having to go to Castellammare del Golfo! Some days are just like that. And today, was one of those days.
The drive to Castellammare wasn’t too long, or too difficult by any means. But today it sure felt like it was. “Bitsy” things kept happening on the way. Little, irksome, stressy things. Like awkward drivers blocking the road. People overtaking at just the wrong moment. Satnav signs and road signs not matching, and causing stress at junctions.
None of these problems were big on their own, but they all added to the frustrations of the last few days. Try as we might our nerves were fraying. Our brains had that thinly stretched feeling they get when we’re learning new skills and need a break. And so it was with an enormous sense of relief that we arrived at Castellammare to find that the sosta was, indeed, open. Hallelujah for Sosta Playtime!
We had planned on just paying to empty the toilet cassettes and then leaving again. There was a free parking spot just down the road. The location was really pretty though and at 10 Euro including electricity it was a reasonable price. All of a sudden Sosta Playtime and our chatty hostess seemed like a much needed haven from life on the road. My mouth took over from my brain and I heard myself saying “Two nights please! Si! Due notti. Grazie. Grazie.” Jay was smiling too, so that was alright then.
I’ve never seen a man so happy to empty a toilet cassette as our Jay was that day! Beaming he was. Beaming! And so was I as we got Iggy up on his levellers with a corner view out over the sea and Castellamare del Golfo below us. It wasn’t long before we were ready and set off out to explore the town.
We’d heard of the place as a tourist destination but hadn’t looked anything up about it before we got there. It turns out Castellammare is a pretty town with some interesting, quirky streets, the old fort it is named for, and a lovely fishing harbour. As tends to be the case with us we’d arrived just in time for everything to shut for siesta. We weren’t bothered though as we wandered the empty, afternoon streets. Being on a long trip most of our money is spent on diesel and in the supermarket. It’s not like a holiday with souvenir shopping and dinners and bars everyday. We’re just not that rich. So window shopping when everything’s shut is fine by us. We don’t need to say “No” to anyone.
Back in Iggy we had an early night and spent the next day just chilling out at home. The wind was blowing strong again and it was nice to just cosy up in Iggy while it shoved and moaned outside. Even in paradise we’ve found we need some downtime now and again. Two days was enough though. We didn’t feel like moving far, and the wind was still pretty strong, but we didn’t want to pay another night for the sosta. There were quite a few free beach spots around the bay so we set off for one that looked good at Balestrate.
This turned out to be a good move as the beach there was almost completely sheltered from the southerly winds. We could see it wasn’t always the case though. The long stretch of out of season beach road was sculpted with piles of windblown sand. A mini desert spelling winter shutdown despite 18 degrees of sunshine that would have the empty beach flooded with happy, t-shirted humans back home. An elderly man exercising on the beach nodded approvingly at Jay’s bare forearms. He signed that the townsfolk were foolish to hide up there, shivering in their winter jackets. “It’s not cold!” he said. Shaking his head and tutting with a laugh.
We took a walk up the hill to find a lively town with a decent local supermarket for some essentials and then wandered back to the beach for a rehearsal. It was a nice spot for playing some tunes, and the people who wandered past all seemed to enjoy listening. A couple in a car even stopped and cheered us when we’d finished! It turned out they had a pizza place in town so we said we’d go check it out later. As I said we don’t go out for dinner often so it was a good treat to be going for an evening out. Balestrate is a simple place with a warm, relaxed vibe. We were given a big welcome and pizza and beer for two for just 10 Euro. Who said Italy was expensive?
For such a simple place Balestrate has been one of my favourites. I smile as I sit by another beach in Puglia writing this and remembering that day. It is late and the rising wind rocks Iggy slightly as the waves race endlessly to the shore outside. Tomorrow we will move somewhere more sheltered and I will write about Cefalu, Fran and David and Aleister Crowley’s Abbey of Thelema.
For tonight it’s buonanotte from me.