Italy For Six

| November 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

I was so envious when my friend in North Carolina described her upcoming trip. She was about to spend two weeks in a villa in Tuscany with five other women friends. They were going to rent two cars and tour the Tuscan countryside. Think of me, I pleaded, the next time you plan a trip like that. Maybe I put the call out to the universe because three days later she called to tell me one of the women needs to bail out and would I be interested in taking her place. Fantastic! I booked my flight, got the international driving permit I needed and started the process of joining them.

Over the years I traveled often with my husband, maybe one good friend here and there and several adventures all by myself. I had never traveled in pack, and a pack of women at that. Early on I sensed the roles each woman would assume. There were two “shopper ladies,” who were on a mission to go into every single store that sold leather in all of Tuscany. Then there was the “did you know lady,” the one who found out she was a year ahead of me in high school, and although I confessed I did not remember her, spent the whole time asking me if I remember this girl or that boy, and who married who.

My friend was the “photographer” of the group. After having taken several courses in photography she was quite good, but she felt the best way to get a great shot was to take many, many, many shots of the same thing, which slows the group down all the time, and to be honest, really, really, really gets annoying. Lastly there was the “tour leader,” a retired middle school teacher who had led some student tours back in the day and never quite realized that the rest of us were no longer in 7th grade. And me….well I could just be a quiet observer of human behavior, or so I thought.

Sometimes our perception of ourselves and reality do not match up. Actually I only lost it one and a half times, the worst being when on my driving shift, my passengers, who were my so called co-pilots went off course. Even though I thought I knew where to go, they thought I was wrong and kept mixing GPS directions with map and sign directions. I followed their instructions, against my better judgment, and we soon found ourselves going uphill into a forest, in the dusk, as it was starting to rain. After a small melt down and a necessary u-turn, we then wound up in a hill town on a Sunday night as everyone was going to church. I flagged down a man who spoke no English but sensing the panic in my voice ran to get his wife who used a combination of broken English and hand gestures to show us on the map which way to go.

Yes, the way I had planned to go in the first place, the last straw leading to my subsequent bigger melt down. And that was only one of the adventures I had in my travels with the pack. There was the “one of the pack is lost in the Florence train station” incident, the “car stuck in the mud with one person thinking she could lift the car up herself” fiasco, and the always fun “we have to stop and eat right now I’m slightly diabetic and I could pass out” cry. Taking it as a whole, the trip was great, the women lovable and fun despite the names I tagged them with.
I’m not sure traveling in a pack is for me, not this lone wolf, but then again, it gave me great writing material, so maybe if I’m asked again, I’ll join the pack!

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