p a n t e l l e r i a

[ 00:19 sunday 16 september – pietro novelli, from trapani to pantelleria ]

the afterdeck of a sturdy little ship. a windy night. an agitated sea. twenty minutes since we cast off from trapani at sicily’s western tip. the voyage to pantelleria usually five and a half hours. tonight perhaps a little longer.

the maestrale wind arrives, shifting gradually through the afternoon from north to north-west, strengthening a little. there was surf at capaci. gabriele and i were almost the only people in the water, plunging ourselves into the toiling spume.

for tonight’s passage i’ve taken a berth in one of the ship’s 18 tiny cabins. i adore sleeping in a vessel under way, preferably in a slightly lumpy sea.

sebastian and karen will have arrived on the island by air this afternoon. i’m looking forward to seeing them both again. sebastian is, of course, ecstatic at the prospect of meeting me at the port at quarter to six in the morning.

[ 18:50 tuesday 18 september – scauri, isola di pantelleria ]

impressions from two days. bouncing a fiat panda along miles of steep dirt track. neat terraces of vines, olives, capers, palm-nuts, squashes and figs cramming every conceivable inch of mountain, plain and cliff alike. swimming in perfectly clear water around lava outcrops. hitching a lift across the island with two non-english-speaking lads from trapini. sinking into three feet of soft mud in a wide turquoise crater-lake surrounded by sulphurous hot springs. landscapes peopled by squat tufa-built dwellings with inward-sloping walls and gently domed roofs. the chatter of the maestrale winds in the grass, delivering fresher air from france, switzerland, the alps. a house in the middle of a farm by the sea. extraordinary tranquility. being once again on an island with karen and sebastian.

[ 10:37 thursday 20 september ]

overnight the wind backs round to the south and drops to a whisper. this is the scirocco, bathing the island in hot, dry air from north africa.

: cH

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