Summer vacation starts — and ends — in the carBy
As I’ve often remarked, one of the things I love about being here is the faithful return of certain events — moments — throughout the year. Of course there are events everywhere upon which one may confidently depend — tax deadline day comes to mind — but I’m talking about here.
One occurrence which is so predictable that I don’t even have read the paper, much less even wake up, to recognize it is the double-edged event known as THE EXODUS.
No, it has no Biblical overtones, unless one is thinking of the famous Plagues. In fact, now that I think about it, this could possibly be a worthy candidate to join the frogs and the flies that afflicted Pharaoh. But since we’re living in a democracy, this little plague afflicts everybody going on vacation. And everybody goes in August.
So the first weekend of August inevitably sees an outbound migration of massive proportions clogging the highways — The Exodus. On the last weekend of August, there is the equally appalling Return Exodus.
We could call it the Plague of Traffic. Or, if you’re sitting on the highway in a monster backup, the Plague of Everybody Else on Earth. And the only thing that changes from one year to the next is the length — from unbearable to inconceivable — of the backups at the Italian borders and Alpine tunnels. Last Saturday the backup at the border dividing Slovenia from Croatia reached about 40 km/25 miles. Ah yes, Croatia: Gorgeous! Near! Irresistible! Cheap! Also: Small! Mountainous! Not Many Roads!
This Exodus traffic is funny to people who aren’t there, like me, and to people who are funny wherever they are, like Lino Toffolo.
Lino Toffolo is an actor/standup comic from Murano who writes a column every Sunday in the Gazzettino. He’s usually right on top of the main subject of the day, which last Sunday was The Exodus.
Here is what he wrote (translated by me):
Instead of facing the usual five kilometers of tailback [in Italian, merely “tail”] to go to Jesolo, why don’t we go to Croatia or Dalmatia or along down there, where there are bound to be fewer people?
Perfect idea! Let’s go! 40 kilometers of continuous tailback! Basically, when the last person gets there he just turns around because his vacation is over.
Every year, right on schedule, other than the drama of the “checking the stomach on the beach I swear I’m never eating again” is the one — unsolvable — of “where to go” and above all, “when to leave.”
The imagination is unchained! At night, at dawn, at mealtimes like telephone calls [local people scribbling ads often say “call at mealtimes”]. Every so often somebody has the idea of the “intelligent departure,” which they reveal only to their friends who — as with all true secrets — they pass along to one friend at a time, even on Facebook.
The result: Everybody is stuck in the backup, everybody is complaining.
Grandpa Tony thinks that the laborers working on the highway are tourists who just got bored sitting still and figure this way they can at least be doing something…. Sometimes you can watch plants growing.
“But — it is obligatory for us to do this?” “No! That’s exactly why we’re doing it! If it were obligatory, we’d all stay home!”
And the Croatians? Where do they go? Italy? Gorgeous! Near! Irresistible! Expensive!