Dick's Pics

By RichardDonkin

Down and out and living in Elba

The day started to go down hill when the people at EasyJet said there was a technical problem with a noon flight to Pisa from Gatwick. Plan A was to fix it. Plan B was to find another plane. Plan A was abandoned and Plan B was also scrapped when the replacement plane was found to have a damaged windscreen. Nearly five hours later we took off.

It was 7.45 pm when I left the airport terminal and the last train to make the ferry port connection for Elba left Pisa Central at 7.56. There was a queue but I paid with cash and made the train with seconds to spare.

There was a connection to make somewhere and beyond that, hopefully, a ferry from Piombino. The conductor came in to the compartment and introduced himself. He knew my name. That seemed odd. Then he passed me a mobile phone and the lady at the other end said she was sitting in the ticket office at Pisa Central station with my wallet. I'd left it on the counter.

The phone line was bad but it was clear that she wasn't prepared to look after it. I had 24-hours to go back for it or she'd hand it to the police. "But how can I get back? I have no money."

"Not my problem," she said.

I called home then called my bank who, after an age - by now I was on a bus to Piombino ferry terminal - set up a transfer of funds to Western Union. But in Elba there is no Western Union agency.

I had just enough change in my pocket for the ferry so made an executive decision to carry on. It was that or a park bench. We can try to sort things out tomorrow by phone.

I made it by taxi to Porto Azzurro and there was my boat-owning friend Victor Mallet on the quayside waiting to pay the cab driver before it got ugly. Victor and Philippe (also sailing with us) had been eating at the Tamata restaurant owned by Barbara and Fabio (pictured above) who saved my life with a very large glass of rum. What a day. And what lovely welcoming smiles.

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