Vespas Down the Amalfi Coast
“Have you had any experience driving a motorized scooter?” The cute, Italian girl at the Vespa rental office asks John. Her dark, mahogany hair is falling out of her loose ponytail in long, silk strands that hang down over her bare shoulders. Her tight, black tube top is oddly paired with a baggy, green, floral pair of pants clearly made out of a hang glider and I can’t stop searching for the cord that’s got to be pumping air into them from somewhere.
John feigns a sympathetic laugh, “yeah, not a problem. I own a motorcycle,” he smiles at her.
“Oh! Wonderful; we’ll skip all the boring stuff then,” she hands each of us a helmet and John the keys.
John does not own a motorcycle, nor has he ever driven one, but naturally she believes him. My younger brother is almost a foot taller than me, strong, with the same light eyes, dirty blonde hair, and reckless streak of adventure. However, he possesses a practicality and drive to succeed that far surpasses the impulsiveness of my free spirit. With that, he has this unfaltering confidence in himself against anything the world might throw at him that is grounded purely in his ability to literally destroy anything that may come at him. This confidence emanates from him and people just believe him because he believes himself.
Of course, John won’t let me near the driver’s seat, but I’m more content and at peace than ever sitting behind him. It feels like I just finally let out a breath that I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding for the past two months. Traveling alone, being alert and guarded and aware constantly. These are things I haven’t always been used to doing and with John at the wheel, I can do what I do best and recklessly throw caution to the wind, just enjoying the ride, because the person I trust most on this earth with my life is in control. I exhale and stretch my hands out on either side of me, arching my back with my face up to the sky as we fly around every narrow and winding, dangerous bend along the Amalfi coast, feeling like nothing in this entire world could touch or hurt me.
Cars honk around every bend and avoid head on collisions at every turn while John weaves in and out of the chaos. My hands find his waist out of instinct, squeezing and laughing as we cheat death. One wrong move and we are road kill on the left or tumbling miles down towards the hungry sea on the right, breaking bones on every rock we hit on the way down the cliff. John follows the road as it dances with the coastal mountains, both engaged as one in nature’s version of Russian roulette. Nothing here is built the way it is back home, where we demolish and destroy land to build upon. The roads, the buildings, the vehicles, they all ride the land in this strange and perfect dance, fitting in where they can, springing right up from and with everything else. The towns crawl up the rock cliffs, built right out of them, houses one on top the other in every radiant hue; yellows, salmons, creams, pinks, oranges, blues, greens … each building a part of the next.
I duck as we fly under an overpass of bright, magenta flowers wrapped around the bamboo shafts that bridge over the road. It’s exhilarating and heart wrenchingly beautiful and utterly peaceful all at once and I could ride up and down this coast for the rest of my life on the back of this Vespa, never needing to get off or go anywhere else.
“Bar?” John asks as he cranes his head to the side so I can hear him in the wind. I look to the corner ahead where a flat, white stone building lies with the words “BAR” written on a sign above it. “Yup,” I answer and John pulls the Vespa off to the side of the cliff.
The only ones there, we are escorted downstairs out to a terrace jutting out over the Mediterranean Sea and I have to stop to catch my breath. John laughs, leaving his jaw gaped as his eyes touch each crevice of this unknown world slowly and methodically, memorizing each curve and flow. Below the railing, dozens of terraces jut out from the cliffs in every direction with families and couples lounging privately outside of their hotel rooms. One on top the other from contradictory angles, built right out of the rock.
“Bubbles?” I ask John, glancing over the menu. Nothing else feels appropriate aside from Champagne, so we indulge as we lounge on the couch, somewhere in between land and sea, dangling in the air.
“How much do you think it is a night to stay here?” John asks, grinning, “If it’s not much more than our place, I’ll do it.”
My face catches fire with mischief, “I’ll be right back,” I say.
I strut inside to the front desk with as much confidence as a Parisian bank heiress, not minding my wind blown hair and make-up less face, and inform the clerk that I would like to see the prices per night for their hotel.
“Of course, ma’am,” a Titanic butler, in his best blues, spreads the pricing list out on the gold plated, oak desk in front of me, “which room would you like?”
Creasing my brow in feigned contemplation, I linger a few moments on the list of 630 euro – 2500 euro a night rooms, wave my hand in the air with the false posh snobbery of a Kardashian and tell him I’ll be with him shortly.
“Let’s get out of here,” I say to John as I venture back up to the terrace. We laugh over the audacity of such a place as we down our bubbly, get on our ride and speed off.
Weaving amidst the coastline during daylight is one thing, but the view from the sea as dusk falls is another thing entirely. Lying on our backs out in the water, staring up at the town of Positano, the bright blue sky lends itself towards darkness as each house turns on their lights, reflecting their own unique colors against their neighbors’. And I think I could maybe fall asleep here like this, floating in the Mediterranean Sea, underneath this vibrant stone village, watching it’s every movement and hue change in the varying light.
“Why would anyone live anywhere else?” John asks as he floats on his back next to me, not taking his eyes from the view.
“I have absolutely no idea,” I sigh.