Free Trips are the Best Trips


It’s good to have friends. Well-connected friends? Even better!

So, my husband and I were in Amalfi, and had arranged with Maria, one of my dearest Italian friends, to spend the day on the Isle of Capri. Our ferry tickets purchased, we patiently waited for said ferry … and there was no Maria. The boat was to leave at any moment and we’d had not a phone call, nor a text, not seen hide nor hair of her.

Until she appears – on the ferry. She is talking to the captain in her sing-song Italian and gesturing about, smiling and laughing. “We are getting off the boat,” she says. “We are getting on another boat,” she adds. “It is a private speedboat, and we are going for free.” She smiles. Her uncle’s cousin’s son has a charter company that usually charges $100 a pop for a ride to Capri; but for us, for family, it is free. And if we are Maria’s friends, then we are family.

We walk to another dock where the sleek, white and luxurious speedboat bobs in the water. The paying passengers are clustered in the back, eyeing us newcomers with goodwill and some confusion. We hustle up to the front, where towels are laid out on which we are meant to lay and sun ourselves while everyone else sits in the back. If I have never felt important before, I certainly do now.

The boat slips away from Amalfi, and quickly gains speed. The blue is so blue it is almost painful; the sky above so clear, it’s almost unreal. We laugh and talk, friends from across the ocean, as the boat skims over waves and past the gorgeous, terraced coastline. The salty water permeates my skin and blows through my hair. We stop for a swim and jump in like children, splashing and flipping about in the sapphire blue.

After having a chance to converse a little in the water with the rest of the party, we’re back on board. A married couple from Turkey, two ladies from New York, and a lone Australian are all smiles, united in a blanket of blue water and sunshine. We cruise up to the Isle of Capri, passing the grottos and circling the island, all of us taking in the sights. There are a lot of “oohs” and “ahhs,” but not from me – as I do not personally like the island very much. Too touristy, too expensive … too many stairs to climb for my already almost-broken-by-the-Roman-steps legs. I would prefer to stay aboard the speedboat, flying around on the waves, bronzing in the sun.

But, we alight on the island and climb, climb, climb to the top, sweat pouring and tempers flaring. It is hot – unbearably so. We seek out fresh lemonade made from local lemons, and a cool place to have a light lunch, if any lunch that includes a bowl of pasta can be considered light. The view from the top of Capri is lovely, though, and well worth the effort to get there. Photos taken, hunger and thirst satisfied, we make our way back to the speedboat.

On the trip back, my husband – who, again, did not pay for the ride – is allowed to drive the boat, much to the continued confusion of the other passengers. And as we get closer and closer to the twinkling white city of Amalfi, the glittering waves tumbling under our speedy boat, my husband at the wheel, I think to myself: it’s good to have such friends as we do.


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