Day 37: Our Angel Angelo August 6
Cremona to Mantua (via Angelo's boat) 56 miles
Okay... So today was a little boring... Really hot! Very steamy. Flat. Lots of churches... Nothing too special to write home about as we left Cremona... Until... About 15km from Mantua we come up to the bridge we are supposed to cross at Torre D'Oglio.... And let's say, the engineer who built this floating pontoon bridge wasn't expecting the dam up River to let out so little water. So the access to the bridge was about 20 feet above where the bridge was floating. Damn! There was no way to get across this river! The only way back to our route would have been a 30 mile detour back tracking a great deal of our progress today... Not good. Bruce was suggesting lowering the bikes from the end of the bridge. I was considering commandeering the little rickety boat with an off board motor way down on the river's edge... And by the way, it was still almost 100 degrees F at this point and we had already pedaled 45 miles. Then ( about 10 min after we got there) a guy in a little SUV drives up. We ask him what happened to the bridge? He said (in broken Italian/English) that the bridge was caput and bad planning. He tried to tell us that we should go back and take the detour... That wasn't happening ... So it turns out that this guy owns the rickety boat Andrea was considering commandeering. So he offered to take us across the river by boat! So we unpacked the bikes, carried them and all the bags down the river bank on makeshift dirt stairs. We filled the little boat while he said all the words he knew in English (Obama, Mississippi, Kennedy, Bruce Springsteen, one, two... You get the picture.) This was a conversation of hand gestures and terms in our respective languages. We loaded both bikes in at serious angles and then Bruce stepped in and I slowly sat on the end with the bags. All the while the lip of this little boat was getting closer and closer to the water line. Then we cast off, moving with the current the little outboard motor puffed to life after a few tries. With a little back and forth, swaying and teetering we made it to the little rickety dock on the other side. The tires used for bumpers were scorching when we reached out to hold on while we got out and unloaded his little boat. Pulling the bikes out was scary but we managed to get all of our stuff on the dock safely and dry. We tried to give the very nice man some money for all of his troubles but he staunchly refused our offer, standing in his little boat swaying with the current in the heat. So we gave him one of our cards before he set off to go fishing or whatever he was planning on doing down river. Before he left he told us his name was Angelo. Angelo, the Angel! Thank you bicycle gods for sending him just at the right time! Wow!!! Two days in a row we have been helped by selfless, kind, knowledgable people here in Italy! We thanked Angelo as he left and then we had the task of getting all of our gear off the dock and back up the 50 foot river bank. There were 2 flights of old warped metal stairs up from the dock and then up to the road above. Bruce powered Tonka all the way up both flights before remembering that it was about 100 degrees and there was no shade! So while he recouped from his feat of strength, I brought the bags up, 1 or 2 at a time up the first flight. Then he powered Tractor up and we both brought the bags up to road level. Holy moly it was hot!!! So we finally got the bags in the bikes and headed towards the village of Cesole which was only 2km down the road in hopes there would be a shop open with cold water. We were in luck, a little cafe was open and the owner got us a bottle of cold water (frizzante-bubbly) and two glasses with lemon. We drank the whole 1.5 L bottle in the shade, sitting at the little plastic tables and chairs that are so common here. Both of us needed that time to settle back into ourselves after the craziness at the bridge. As we were sitting we looked up accommodation in Mantua, so we would have a hotel to get o that we knew had AC. We found a really good deal and booked it right there. How much technology has changed our lives! We cooled down enough to push on to Mantua, which was another 15km down the road. We cranked it out keeping an average above 10mph for the whole day.
Bruce navigated us through town and we found our hotel without issue. The bikes are safely tucked away downstairs. We had pizza at Pizzeria Gigi after walking around downtown. There is a St. Andrea's Cathedral in this town... Not too shabby...
Now we are back at the hotel, chilling in the AC, writing blogs and route planning, knowing that this is an amazing world with really good people in it.
By the way we wanted to say thank you to everyone who is reading and commenting on the blog and on Facebook (Barbara, Mary, Emily, Friedrich, Joany, John, and all of you who know who you are!) and to our silent readers who we hope are enjoying our adventures as much as we are (We love you Gree Gree!). Keep reading, commenting, correcting and adding! We love you all!
The World is Ours!