I remember hiking with flip-flops and losing one of them into the waterfalls. I remember the day of silence before we said goodbye. I remember looking through every house I walked past on my way home. I remember imagining one happy family in every house. I remember wishing I joined them while my folks were thousand miles away. I remember sleeping on a bench next to a drunk and his two dogs. I remember using a chair to block the door in the cheapest hotel in town. I remember talking about sociology in a hostel when the bar next door kept us awake at 4am. I remember we gathered during blackout that was the only chance we got to talk. I remember climbing through the hills and fences for a free ticket to the theme park. I remember saying see you and I never see you again.
It’s after sunset, we stroll down from the plaza which is the junction of the all streets of Cortoro. We talk and dine and drink while the sun goes down. No one feels in a mood to return to our hostel beds. Further away from the plaza, open doors offer a glimpse into homes along the alleys. The sound of local football matches from teles, people chatting at the doorways in a local language.
Jill and I have an urge to write our diaries. We have been trying to do so since the first day we started this journey, she never managed to put a single word in her diary except “broccoli, wipes, batteries (torch), lighter…” and the calculation of the miles we have achieved.
She is the best travel buddy I have, not one of the best, the best. She never whinges about cold water at the shower, or the only baguette we had for the entire day, or walking 20 kilometres everyday. The best of the best part is that she is full of spontaneity. I don’t do much planning, it wears me out and I rarely get the plan going, so why bother? Things with us always work out. We never book a hostel or anything like that but once ended up staying over at someone we met while we were curling in our sleeping bags by the canal. Nice people draw towards nice people, basic nature law.
She does wear me out sometimes, just sometimes, times when she becomes Miss Curiosity and get me to explain everything possible. And it’s even more energy-sucking when I do it in her language. She does speak English, it’s just that I have a sense of distance if we are both speaking a non-mother-tongue.
We walk past an entrance, of something, two white columns at both sides in front of a light blue wooden gate. There are matching big white screws like stars on the wooden gate forming a pattern. Behind the wooden gate is a mini foyer with a dim hanging lamp held by chains. I sat on a wooden bench on the right. The smell of mahogany. Two dark lengthy metal candles stand sticking from the bottom of the stone wall. There are two engraved frames of some sort of emblems decorated with shapes of spears and warrior helmets. I feel like saying something but nothing comes out.
Jill is staring at a portrait of a man in white religious ritual clothing with a red crucifix at the background. She puts down the bag of jam and bread we just bought for breakfast and sits at the other end of the bench. “Which day are you in?” she needs some reminder. “em…today?! What did we do this morning?” I am bad at remembering happenings in order. “Do you mark down every single thing? Like what we have for breakfast, how many clouds are there today… what time the sun goes down…"
The doors open, the doors at the top of the stairs in the middle of the mini foyer between the portrait and our bench, the dark wooden doors with dozens square windows on but we see nothing through, the doors we should have noticed the moment we walked in, the doors introducing a middle-aged lady in a burgundy velvet top. “Hello,” walking down the stairs with a cigarette between her fingers.
Jill and I exchange a look. “Hi,” I walk up to her, “is this some sort of museum?” I guess I was playing dumb. “It is beyond opening hours. We are closing.” the puff from her smoking doesn’t blur a bit of her charcoal imprinted eyeliner. “Oh, I’m sorry, but what museum is this?” her curiosity awakes. The lady replies in a really strong incomprehensible accent. “This is my great grandfather. He used to live in this house.” I ask about the time of that period and what did he do.
She does not seem annoyed but her face remains expressionless. I peek through the doors and see a chandelier hanging in the unbelievably bright living room as she goes back into the house.
The two trespassers pick up their food and leave the blue gate.
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