E1: Twinsies on a Roadtrip

“My phone’s dying” 8pm, we were waiting at the mechanics with a car full of food, not a single suitcase packed, hungry, tired and in desperate need of a toilette “He did say 8pm, right?” “Yeah”. After nine months in different wombs, a lifetime lived apart on either sides of the globe we should have been strangers. But after nine months in different wombs, just one day apart, she two weeks late and I two weeks early we met in January 2000 and our journey began. Like sisters, we were inseparable, with the same interests and stubborn minds it became clear very quickly, that it was going to be us against the world. “We still need to get gas. Goddamit, I need to go to the toilette. Can’t that bloody mechanic just finally call me, please! Bloody car, why can’t you work just once!” The oldest of the youngest at family gatherings, we were the ones to stand our grounds and usually dictated the games played among us cousins. When change of events separated us across the globe, us being just six years old, too young to write and technology too old to have FaceTime, our connection should have theoretically speaking weakened over time and we should have become strangers to one another, only recalling the many memories when opening a photo album of our combined past. Our lives on completely different paths and still we were basically twins from other mothers. On Friday the 12th of July 2019 at 8pm and we were sitting in front of the door at the mechanics, trying to fix a last minute problem our car had. The place being empty as it was past closing time, we waited in an empty parking lot “You know, we should leave at 2am in order not to get stuck in traffic, that means we should got to bed around 10pm, so that we have a solid few hours of sleep. 4 hours should be sufficient, right? Do you have the route for tomorrow yet?” “Looking for it right now, you know I think although whole of Germany and Switzerland is off tomorrow, we should still go through the Gotthard tunnel, can’t be that full can it? And Yeah, I think we should be able to get to bed around 10pm.” Yeah that didn’t happen. On Saturday the 13th of July 2019 at 3am with a solid 2h of sleep, the car so full, we could barley see the trailer in the back, music blasting through the speaker, google maps installed with 7h to go we were heading on our very first adventure.

Exploring past borders and dreaming beyond imagination, our family has been doing it for generations. Their blood being ours, we were off the same curious nature. We started dreaming of going on this big adventure for as long as I can remember. A car packed up with the just the bare necessities, we wanted to roam around the world until the view of beaches and mountains made us sick. When we were finally old enough, things looked a little different though. Life happened, like it always does. Work and school had gotten in the way and money was a bit of a problem too, if we’re being honest here. In the end I ended up going on my own little adventure and our combined plans were put on ice. But here we were, a year later, our budgets tighter than skinny jeans, we were cruising towards the sunny beaches of Italy with open hearts and happy souls, just the two of us against the world like it was always meant to be.

Our journey started off well, our plan still seemed solid and achievable. We would change driver every two hours and stop for a snack. Driving up the Gotthard, we got into the worst rainstorm you could think of and it wasn’t making it easier that everyone was recklessly driving past us like there was no tomorrow. It wasn’t helping either that because of our trailer we weren’t allowed to exceed 80km/h on the highway – and let me tell you we both enjoy driving the speed limit. To be honest, it was quite hurtful for both of us having people cruise past us with 120km/h while we had to stick to 80km/h. Past the Gotthard, which we crossed quite quickly thankfully, the storm was completely gone and between the alps slowly rose the sun. By 5am, things were still going great. The music was a vibe and we felt unstoppable. Sooner than expected, we were past the border and in Italy. Easy! Or so we thought. Once over the boarder, the roads became straighter and the lack of sleep was catching up with us, the seats were becoming more and more uncomfortable by the minute and time was passing by slower and slower. By 9am we had to switch driver every hour and by 11am, every 30 minutes. After what felt like the longest stretch in the end we finally made it to the beautiful Marina di Bibona, Italy.

To our luck, most people were still on the way down here and so we got a pretty good camp spot between the trees, with just enough sunshine to tan our faces in the afternoon and not enough to heat up our tents. Our arrival is quite the story on its own. Let me paint you the picture, two white girls – and yes I am following typical cliches for this part of the story, but quite frankly that’s how it was and it also makes the story funnier – arriving in an Alfa Romeo with a little tent trailer in the back both of us dressed in pj’s and slippers, we were escorted by the boss himself to our camp site, him reassuring us over and over that if we needed assistance building our tent, they would kindly provide us with a few helping hands. Us kindly declining the help because we knew all there was to do, was literally to open a few sippers and pull a few strings and voilá our home for the next two weeks stood. After we made our beds, placed our suitcases into the tent and built up our little front yard, all that was missing was the power. Here is where the story becomes embarrassing on our side. We looked everywhere for that bloody power socket, but we couldn’t find one anywhere. So, we decided to go to the front reception and ask where it was. The boss all excited to be able to help us, he escorted us again on his little golf cart back to our site. Very surprised he looked at our standing tent that clearly needed no further assistance “Whoa, already done?” his face portrait the disbelief he had had of us ever finishing building up our tent, my cousin though confident as ever replied “Yes! We might look like city girls but we know how to build a tent”. After giving us a heads up, he showed us where the power socket was. To our defence, it was hidden behind the bushes on the neighbours camp ground and not visible from where we lived. Anyway, no problem so far, but then it started. Our power plug didn’t fit into the socket provided. No problem though, the boss confirmed us he would bring an adapter and all things would be well. And not long after his young colleague came by to bring us a cable. The cable had two extra plugs, so in total three. We said thank you and the guy left again. My cousin confused at why we would need three plugs, she looked at what they had brought us and quickly decided that we didn’t need it. So the two of us walked back to the front, returned the cable and headed for our site. This is where it just becomes stupid. By the time we made it back to our site, another camper had arrived and the last socket had been occupied as well, so we were left without a socket. In this moment, my cousin had the enlightenment where she realised why we needed the weird cable with three plugs after all. So for the third time, we waddled to the reception, everyone already grinning – oh dumb they must’ve thought we were, but whatever – at us as we approached the scene having to ask again for the cable. Yes we are not proud but we had a proper stupid white girl moment here. Nevertheless we got the cable and soon after we were done with building up our tent, had power and were heading for the beach.

Did I mention we packed the night before leaving? Yeah, well we did and we forgot half the things we needed for this trip. Including a parasol. It being Italy in summer without any shade and barley any sleep we didn’t last long at the beach and headed back to our site, showered and walked to the grocery store to get all the amazing pasta and cheese you can just think of – well as much as our budget allowed anyway. We felt fancy and even treated us to a bottle of red wine with 14% alcohol because our Nonna and Baba taught us that a good wine should never have less than 13% of alcohol. For dinner we had Raviolis and not very soon after we fell into our beds and gone to dreamland we were.

5am, our first morning, the sound of drizzle on our tent gently waking me from my sleep. Drowsily I was thinking to myself, how much I loved the sound of rain and the cool air that came with it. Oh how nice this was I thought. It did take me a moment to realise that we were in a tent that was completely open and unsecured to the ground as we had not fixed it the night before, “SHIIIT, GIANNA IT’S RAINING!! THE TENT IS OPEN!”. Ripped out of her deep sleep state, she jumped out of bed and we both started pushing things beneath our front cover. In one hectic we raced around the tent closing all windows and making sure everything was properly stuck into the ground, in order for us not to fly away. A good half an hour later it not being 6am, exhausted we fell back into our beds and not soon after it started pouring down cats and dogs and the wind was howling around us tearing on our walls. We looked at each other and had to laugh, what a great start this was.

We didn’t leave our tent all day except for when we had to use the bathroom. We played games, slept and told each others stories we hadn’t heard yet. In the afternoon though, we desperately needed to move our bodies a bit, so we bundled up in our jackets and headed for the beach. Here, we were the only ones at the beach for kilometres. No one else had the urges to come. What a pity though, as the ocean was shining in the prettiest turquoise green blue beneath the grey sky. When our toes were frozen solid, we headed back, ate more pasta tried our wine – that we started to feel quite quickly – played more games and then gigglingly fell as sleep quite early.

As the week progressed and the weather was as beautiful as ever, we spend every possible minute at the beach. After the rainy first night, we unfortunately came to find that our fridge had broke because of the rain and so we had to live day by day when it came to food. Fresh fruit and vegetables became our norm, cheese and anything that had to be stored cold not so much. We would buy fresh produce from the little store in the camping village on almost a daily basis. I am not kidding when I tell you they had apricots as big and juicy as apples and the tomatoes here have so much more flavour than anywhere else! In the beginning we hadn’t quite figured out the whole lunch situation yet. We always wanted to stay at the beach as long as we could and so lunch was usually forgotten due to which one of us usually ended up having a sugar low. Over time though, we started developing a routine. At 8am we had breakfast, usually something fresh and small, then we prepared our lunch for the day, packed up our bags and strolled to the beach where we commenced playing the same game everyday of who could stay in the sun longer before getting a sunburn and who would be tanner at the end of this trip. It was a serious game. The camping ground being popular among Swiss and German tourists, we did everything we could not to resemble their pale cheese like skin. This being a family camp, they offered all sorts of activities at the beach and all day around. One morning, we happened to swim into an aqua gym class and from that day on we were standing among the elderly group of women for Aqua gym every morning. I am not even exaggerating when I say this but we were probably the most excited ones there.

When everyone was heading back from the beach for lunch we played beach ping pong/tennis among all the parasols, jumped around in the waves like little kids and enjoyed our homemade lunch at the beach. Our wine risotto will forever stay a classic – we made it with an entire bottle of wine because we had gotten adventurous and tried a different brand of wine that just didn’t taste very good. When the last little bit of shade vanished from the neighbouring parasols and people started coming back, we were the ones to leave. In the afternoons we read to each other, listened to music and danced around our campsite and prepared delicious dinners or got ourselves pizza, while enjoying the sunset. This became a daily routine! I am proud to say that we did not miss a single sunset! Unfortunately though, we did not see the green flash…

After the sun was gone the night was young and we enjoyed the different shows provided each night from dancing, comical theatres – although in Italian still funny -, foam parties to live music concerts. We even tried to find the teen party one night, but after having searched everywhere for it and couldn’t find it, we gave up and played a drinking game in our tent just between the two of us, only to find out the next morning that everyone around us was Swiss and had understood everything we discussed in our very happy state the night before. One day they showed the live final between Federer and Djokovic at the cafe in front. Of course we were sitting among the supporter and heavily cheered on our favourite player and quickly decided who we didn’t like much among the people here – pretty much everyone who was for the opposing party. As most people stayed for two weeks, faces became more familiar and over time the place became homey. It just being the two of us, we were known among the workers quite quickly and got quirky comments here and there, but weren’t bother much by it. We became relaxer day by day and literally forgot time.

Sometime in the first week we even made a little friend. I was sitting outside our tent on our sun chair when suddenly this black little fluff strolls towards me quite early out of nowhere. I got so excited, I almost fell off my chair! I wanted to adopted him in that very moment. From that moment on we had a companion every day during the afternoons, who we named Schnurli, and I spent the the rest of our stay trying to convince my cousin to buy a can of cat food for Schurnli. She sadly only caved on the last day. Besides our fury little friend we also had a basil plant, named Fred. We ended up taking him home, where he was introduced to little Bernadette and together they lived happily ever after.

Besides plants, cats, beaches and sunshine we decided one day to go explore one of the neighbour towns as well. The two of us didn’t enjoy the little town very much and headed back after just 2 hours. The beautiful sunset and pizza for dinner made up for it though 🙂 So scarred by how much we hadn’t enjoyed that little trip (On our last full we even wandered down to Florence, but that is a story for another time 😉 ), we decided to stay at the camp for most of the remaining time. We enjoyed ourselves very much, laughing at all sorts of stupid things, discovering sides of each other to our surprise we hadn’t seen yet and thus our bond growing stronger day by day. It is a weird thought, that we are not even sisters and yet our minds and gestures so a like we should’ve been twins. Both of us being so stubborn and relentless when it came to defending our ideas, it was a surprise to us that we weren’t clashing. We haven’t found a reason for that yet.

Due to a sad event our trip was unfortunately cut short, but I can’t express how much I have enjoyed these two weeks. I have never felt calmer and at more at peace in my life before. The stress and worry we were all bearing at home had completely fallen off my shoulders and I never wanted time to stand still more in my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better twin, even if biologically speaking we are not even sisters. I am forever grateful for the two weeks we spent together in Italy, just the two of us. You and me against the world like it was always meant to be. See you soon, my basically Twinsister ❤