You What?

There’s no such thing as forgetting.
~ Saygın Ersin

Let me begin this story by saying I didn’t sleep well last night. For the first time in a few weeks, I had a difficult time falling and staying asleep. I have no idea why, but I woke up at 3:30 or so and dozed off-and-on until 6:30 when my alarm went off.

“I could stay in bed three more hours,” I announced to no one since Mike was already awake and in the shower. I won’t repeat what I thought as I dragged myself out of bed. By 7;30, we were both ready and left the apartment for the bus terminal (which is near the train station which is 15 minutes from our starting point). We were going to again try to head to Agrigento, but this time we had to see if the buses were running.

Good parking job on Via Roma

“Do you want to stop for coffee first?” Mike wanted to know as we headed toward the stations. I admitted I did but that we shouldn’t so that we could make sure to be at the bus terminal in time to buy tickets.  “If we get there early, we can always buy cappuccino while we’re waiting.”  We both knew, of course, that we would be there early for two reasons: 1—It only takes 15 minutes to get to the train station; and 2—We were speed walking.

Long story short, we got to the station, bought cappuccini and a roll, and headed to the bus terminal.  Cuffaro, the line we were taking, was supposed to be in stall #2 or #12, but SAIS was in one, and the other was empty.

“Where are we supposed to go now?” Mike wanted to know.  I have to admit that that question sometimes drives me nuts because if I knew where we were supposed to go, we would have gone there already. Calmly, though, I just shrugged, looked around, and pointed to two guards who were standing by the bus entrance across the lot from us. “Let’s ask them,” I told Mike.

I started to walk across the lot and noticed that one of the big Pullmans had backed up and was heading our way just as Mike walked in front of him. The two guards were waving their hands and screaming, I was screaming, and Mike was oblivious for about 5 seconds until he realized the “STOP” was for him. He stopped, the bus pulled out, and I said nothing. I went over to the two guards who, at that point, were mad at me.

“SIGNORA!” one shouted at me, “YOU MUST BE CAREFUL.”

“I know. I know,” I admitted. “I’m sorry. I’m looking for Cuffaro.”

“You know. You know,” he snapped at me and pointed to another entire section of the terminal located about 250 yards ahead. “Try not to get killed,” he said. I just glared at him.

Asleep in 5 imnutes on the way to Agrigento

Since I’m writing this, you obviously know that we made it to the bus alive, and we took the two-plus hour ride to Agrigento. The day was beautiful, and no sooner were we on the bus, than someone fell asleep. I, on the other hand, spent most of the time looking out of the windows at the rolling hills and plowed farmland that draped over them. I could see where the flooding had occurred last weekend as there were still some big pockets of water in various places.

You use what land you can when you farm.

Our bus pulled into the terminal in Agrigento, and five minutes later, the city bus that would take us to Valley of the Temples arrived. We were behind a Mexican woman who was also going to the Valley, and she asked the bus driver if we were on the correct bus.  He said that we were, so we all got on and sat down up front. The bus pulled out after a few minutes, and we made one quick stop to pick up a passenger. (Side note: I should add here that the bell that you ring to let the driver know you want off was broken, according to the sign in the bus.)

The buildings of Agrigento flow over the hills in the area, and as we rounded one of the hills and started to go down the street, I saw the first temple on my left.  “We’re here already,” I told Mike. “Oh, look! There’s another over there.”  I pointed to some other columns on the right. The bus approached what looked like an entrance to the Valley, and drove right past it. I didn’t give it much thought as the place is huge, so I figured we were heading to the main entrance. We weren’t.

Marta, the Mexican woman, was sitting right behind the driver, and after a few minutes, she started talking to him. She turned, looked at me, and shook her head. “Uh, oh,” I said to Mike.

The sign indicates that the bell doesn’t work, and Marta is standing to make sure the driver doesn’t forget to stop on the way back.

“What did he say? Is there another stop?” I asked Marta half in Italian and half in Spanish.

“He said he forgot to stop,” she replied in Spanish. In Italian, she added, “He said 30-45 minutes to go around the route.”  The driver forgot. FORGOT to stop at a regular stop.

“He forgot,” Mike grumbled. “God forbid he should turn around and take us back first.” He had a point as we were only two kilometers down the road. The driver, however, just drove his merry way on his route.

The infamous bus after we got off.

We finally made it back to the stop only to find out that the stop is nowhere near the entrance to the park. We had to walk 500 meters back down the road we had just ridden up on the bus to get to the park entrance.

The road back down to the park entrance has no sidewalk.

If you look at the photo above, you can see that the road is two lanes wide and that there is no sidewalk. We walked single-file in the narrow “ditch” as traffic flew by us. Marta huffed and puffed down the street while we grumbled behind her. When we finally got to the ticket office, a number of guides tried to get us to take a taxi back up the hill to start at a different entrance to the Valley.  Marta went with them. Mike and I started on the lower level.

I’ll tell you about Agrigento tomorrow, but suffice to say that we were happy once we made it into the Valley and hiked through the ruins. We were tired when we climbed back on the bus.

Asleep in 5 minutes on the way back to Palermo

And guess who fell asleep almost immediately…


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