After missing the boat (literally) to see Capri’s Blue Grotto (read the post here), all I wanted to do was go back to my hotel and take a nap. I hopped on the minibus toward the main port when it arrived, then switched to the red line in Anacapri and to the dark blue line in Capri. It was totally full of tourists returning to the port, so I shouldered carefully between a few people at the door to grab a lateral bar at the ceiling. Everyone staggered as the small bus lurched forward.
We stopped just a few minutes later at a stop a little further down Viale De Tommaso and the doors opened. A little, squat woman with dark, curly hair, clunky brown shoes and a button-up, collared calico dress on – the epitome of the stereotypical Italian housewife – got on the bus and joined the crowd standing by the entrance. Right before the double doors closed, though, two more passengers decided to join us: a small-ish dark brown mutt and his buddy, who seemed to be some sort of beagle mix.
They obviously belonged to the housewife. “Oh, mamma mia… Andatevene! Andate a casa,” Get out of here! Go home, she scolded them. They were weaving in and out of the spaces in between passengers, rubbing against our ankles and startling a few people who hadn’t realized we had canine guests.
The woman stepped off the bus and called to the dogs, who heard their mistress’s voice and jumped happily from the bus. “Andate a casa,” she said, pointing. The dogs started off until they realized that Mrs. Housewife was back on the bus, the doors had closed and the bus was starting to pull away.
After a few hundred feet the bus seemed to be outrunning them and the woman waved it away, assuming they’d give up and just go back home like she had told them to.
But they didn’t. Soon the bus started the steep and curvy descent downhill to the port, zigging and zagging in tight turns ever few hundred meters. Mrs. Housewife, along with most of the people toward the front of the bus, seemed to have forgotten by now that the dogs were following us. I hadn’t. I leaned over the people sitting under the window to see them barreling down the road behind us, catching up every time the bus slowed down to take a curve – and me flinching every time it did, imagining the dogs getting pinched underneath a tire as it made the sharp turn.
I felt totally helpless. I didn’t know how to say “dog” in Italian. And I was packed into the opposite corner to where Mrs. Housewife and the driver were. I could have shouted something in English over the crowd, assuming that someone would understand me. But what if they knew the dogs were there? What if this was just a normal occurrence and they would laugh and the silly foreigner who was so worried about two little dogs that followed the bus every day? Or maybe they’d be offended, thinking I was insulting them that they weren’t concerned enough…
While all of this was buzzing through my head, more people started noticing the dogs and a murmur started drifting toward the front of the bus.
“Oh, mamma mia!” I heard Mrs. Housewife exclaim, this time much more distressed than before. There was a lot of shuffling around as she tried to reach a window. My heart was in my throat, waiting to feel that horrible “bump” I was imagining every time we turned a corner…
We were almost at the bottom of the hill, just a curve or two to go. “Signore! Signore, si firma, per favore!” Sir! Sir, please stop! she pleaded to the driver, making her way to him to explain what was going on. The bus slowed down and the doors opened, after which the two dogs promptly leapt inside, panting but oh-so-happy. I felt like clapping (but stopped myself… just).
The woman stepped off the bus, followed by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and we resumed our (now short) journey to the port.
(Photo courtesy “Mike and Jane”)