I begin my ascent of Vesuvius ... sort of ...
I got up early the morning of April 27, 1999 (well, not too early: 6:45), and prepped for the climb, dressing in shorts (wouldn’t it be hot? and I do perspire a lot, thanks to some soaking Dyer genes that I’ve shared with my father, brothers, son). I found the local train I needed—called the Circumvesuviana—had some ticket difficulties (my fault) but eventually got aboard for the ride that would take me near the trailhead.
I had not been outside long that morning before I’d begun feeling like an idiot. I did not see a single other person wearing shorts—not on the streets and sidewalks, not on the train. As I walked past groups of people sitting at coffee shops and restaurants, I noticed fingers pointing at me, heard some Italian (which I—for the first time—was supremely grateful I did not understand), followed by some sniggering laughter (which I did understand). I’d made a cultural blunder.
On the train, I found a seat and pretended I wasn’t wearing shorts, fooling no one. People continued to look and smile. Or laugh.
When I arrived at my stop … nothing. Something very like a slum. And there I stood. I found the station master and learned that the bus that would take me to the trail would not arrive for an hour—and that it did not return until 6 p.m., impossible since I had a 6:20 train to catch to Munich.
Someone helpful (or someone mercenary?) knew of a taxi driver who would take me. Said driver—Guitano, I learned, was his name—appeared but said he needed his coffee first. So away we went, I wrote later in my journal, my shorts turning heads and activating voices all along the way. The price was ridiculous—about $37 US—for a brief ride—oh, and that was each way.
So our first stop was not at the trailhead but at an ATM. We made some arrangements for his return to pick me up after the climb.
My driver drove through the miserably impoverished streets of Ercolanto & started heading up. The sky was cloudy, but the sun was making an effort to break through—maybe I’d get lucky.
Some shots of Naples I took in 1999.