05:05 monday 14 august – mv carpaccio
i’m sitting on the top deck with the stars bright above me , the wake disappearing in the darkness , a hot breeze caressing my face and arms . the last of the scarlet moon , close to full , slips beneath the horizon . i have slept for a couple of hours . within another half hour we shall be at stromboli .
the excitement which began to rise in me as we drew into rome is still growing . we drew into napoli punctually at half past eight . i leapt into a taxi and asked to be taken quickly to the quay for stromboli. the driver laughed and pointed out that final check-in was half an hour before sailing , ie half past eight . i shrugged and joined his laughter . he drove as only the the neapolitans can drive , dodging in and out of tram lanes , disregarding any notion that certain parts of the road were for use in one direction or another . as we pulled up at the quay he sprang from the car and into staccato conversation with an official . he gestured to me : it’s okay . i was so happy i allowed him to charge me what was clearly a ridiculous sum without caring in the least .
ah ! i can see the lights of stromboli twinkling on the horizon .
i approached the official and asked him if he spoke english . he replied that he spoke very good italian . eventually we reached an understanding that i should go aboard and we’d sort out a ticket once we were underway .
i spent the first part of the voyage speaking with a young neapolitan called gabriele who is off camping on salina . i showed him some of my pictures from st agnes . the mood on the ship is terrific , full of laughter and anticipation , a sense of escape . the complement consists largely of young people , who soon had their sleeping bags and lilos arrayed on every corner of deckspace . several people pulled out guitars and started singing . i managed to speak to mum in england before the mobile reception deteriorated .
the sky is becoming light now in the east .
i turn round from my writing and gasp . rising hazy from the sea is the steep cone of stromboli , with even a menacing glow of orange peeping from its crater . i don’t know what i expected , but this … it’s beyond belief . fofo’s urgings come into perspective .
the light strenghtens quite quickly . i can see white houses clustered around the base now .
wow ! a cry goes up and i look round again to see a burst of lava burst from the top of the volcano . it is time to stop writing i think , too much to look at !