Italy, June 2003, Day 6

We did a little more exploration on this day. First, we went to the Emerald Grotto.

We took an elevator from street level deep into the ground where it was nice and cool. About a dozen of us got into a little row boat with our Chilean guide. He took us around and showed us the stalagmites and stalactites. It was a lot like Luray Caverns in VA in that the rock formations are said to look like things — like the one that resembled Ronald Reagan.

As our guide moved to the edge of the grotto, where the light was coming in underneath the water, the reason the grotto was named the Emerald Grotto became quite clear. The more the water was rippled and the light was refracted, the greener the water appeared. Quite stunning actually. Photos didn’t really come out because it was so dark.

Then, he took us over to a shallow place on the side: “¬°Milagro! ¬°Milagro!”, he said “look there is a natural forming nativity scene!” (photo is above) We got quite a kick out of that. But the best was the woman from Pittsburgh who was sitting next to me and said something like, “That doesn’t look natural, it’s painted.” But she totally thought the rocks were real, just that they had faces painted on them. And it was her second time through!

Then after we visited the gift shop, we went to the beach. Like I said earlier, the walk to the beach was torturous. But we made sure to take a lot of water with us. We’d gotten smart and had started to keep half bottles of water in the freezer, so it stayed plenty cold. The water was so amazing. It was warm and clear. You could see way down to the rocks on the bottom. Since we could see them, it seemed like we should be able to stand on them. Not the case. All the locals were so incredibly brown. Now, I normally feel like a pale white girl, but here it was very apparent. Everyone seemed to be staring at us.

Later on in the night, we went to the nightclub L’Africana:

The Night-club “L’Africana”, which can be approached by a path excavated in the rock dropping to the sea, was the seat of a cultural meeting-place in the Fifties and in the Sixties. The memory of the merry nights of dancers and singers, of the short-lived and passionate loves of actresses and Latin lovers is still alive…1

Everything I had read about this place seemed really cool. A club set deep in a cave, with an entrance for boats. Glass floors with fish swimming underneath. So we decide to go, and when we get there, everyone but Brendan gets out of the car as an older gentleman tells him where to park. Brendan ends up sort of hitting the guy as the car is a manual and it lurches forward (I think, some say backwards). We quickly hurry into the entrance where we pay a whole lot of money to get in, but we get a free drink. No one has any small change to give the poor parking attendant.

Then we are escorted down an elevator to the club — where it’s painfully obvious we’re going to be just about the only ones there for the night. Another guy takes us on a little tour of the place. In it’s heyday it must have been really cool. The seats are really low along the wall, and the view of the water out the back of the club is very nice. So we decide that we are out early (10pm) for Europeans, so we’ll give it a couple of hours. Even the DJ gives up and just leaves on a Lionel Richie (!) album. Then, it’s midnight and we decide to leave. The bill for our drinks is pretty large so Geoff and Keith go to complain about it… and then they meet the owner. He’s such an old gangster. Really. People come by and he has his own little table and he leans over and talks in their ears, they kiss his hand and walk away. He lowers our bill, and gives us free admission the next night.

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Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

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