They hadded romance to the otherwise rough and tumble nature of backpacker 'love.' Carolyn was the Ozzie shocker always coming out with crazy stories that always kept us laughing, oftentimes involving the words '...and then we got nude.' Eef was our crazy Belgian always breaking out with phrases like 'how come you to be here?' and 'he was really a man.' She loved the boys and the attention they lavished upon her. I kept everyone sane. I partied with Eef, swapped stories with Carolyn, gossiped with Kris, and learned about cooking from Paul. I was the listener who talked a lot, the quiet party girl. And we were all, together, trying to figure things out. And then there was Devon, our resident weirdo who only stayed a week, but definitely left a lasting impression. Our very own Napoleon Dynamite, Deven was from Maine but had that wide-eyed look and slow way of talking more commonly attributed to a small town boy from Kansas. He took pictures of big slugs and was fascinated when ants attacked a piece of fish had had dropped on the floor. He rarely ever started a conversation that wouldn't end in awkward silence, but would enter into one with off the wall comments like, 'I love Anna Nicole Smith. She has it all.' One day he walked out of his tent sporting brand new cut off shorts that reached mid-thigh. From then on he wore them every day with his fruit of hte looms peaking over the top. He said they were 'cool and flexible'. Though he drove us crazy while he was there, I think we missed our Napoleon when he was gone. And of course, what group would be complete without a bad guy. And that's just what we found in Chris, the owner of our little hostel. He was one of those guys who struts thinking that all the girls are swooning and the men admiring when, in fact, they are all laughing. A miserly asshole who took advantage of poor backpackers (like Eef when everything was stolen), he was always picking at his acne and cut his hair short to cover up his premature balding
. He bragged about his lack of brains and flaunted his prejudices. He was a pig, and we were in constant battle with chauvanism. The times when he was absent were blissful.
While Eef, Carolyn, Paul, and sometimes Kris spent there days doing various underpaid jobs, I lazed around at the beach or ont he patio reading and working on my tan. Days ran into each other and while the hours slid by, time seemed to stand still. At night we would cook up all sorts of concoctions on the stove, admiring each other's work and giving tastes here and there. When we managed not to be pushed down to the perpetually dead pub that Willy only kept running on hostel guests' patronage, we sat on the patio drinkign wine and listening to music. Other travellers came and went, adding a little spice to life - any boys that arrived were especially big news. To break up days of lounging, I made little trips to neighboring towns, wandering around Amalfi, searching for new beaches, and event aking little hikes through the surrounding lemon groves. But everything wasn't perfect. We were a motely crew of strong-willed travellers, each with very unique personalities. Put us all together and there will be lots of fun...and lots of drama. There was the strangely sweet romance between Carolyn and Davide, the never-ending Luigi saga for me, and the Chris disaster for Eef. On the BBQ night, when the hostel was filled with attractive young travellers, we drank dozens of bottles of wine, and went out dancing at a so tacky it's funny club called Rocco's. By night's ened, everyone had made out with everyone else, there had been tears, drunken arguements, and Carolyn was MIA (though found before dawn). It was just one of those nights - fun in it's crazy inevitability. Over the course of two weeks we managed to pack in a whole year's worth of drama, tension, and frustration. It covered everything from competing over boys to not cleaning dishes. But all families are a little weird, a little dysfunctional, and that's what were were. All of us uncertain about our futures, but ready for anything. we will always share that bond. Whether I ever see Carolyn, Eef, Kris, or Paul again, I will always treasure the time we shared under the lemon trees.
It's funny how things work out sometimes. There's so many what if's and simple twists of fate in life that I often wonder how my life would be different if it had taken me a minute longer to finish my coffee or if I had turned left instead of right. Why didn't I book a hostel in Amalfi and what made me make the decision to try out 'Casa de Willy' (which I would later come to refer to as the lemon orchard) for just a night? Why did I chose to settle down for a bit right then? How is it that Carolyn ran out of money that week and found that job cleaning, or that Paul and Kris happened to arrive the day before me? Was it just a coincidence that Eef got her purse stolen and had to stay two more weeks? Well, for whatever reasons, we all found ourselves stuck together in that lemon orchard at the top of 250 steps on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea. We each had our roles. Kris and Paul were the resident cute couple, a nice counterbalance to the fickleness of the rest of us.