|I am lying in the bowels of the motorboat; face down in pillows, when suddenly my father calls to me. I turn myself over, the dull sensation of nausea still present in my stomach, and, ignoring the protests from my joints, stiff from an hour still in the humid and cramped interiors of the boat, get up. The journey to Ponza is long, too long to be spent under the blistering sun of the boat’s small deck. The wait is worth it, however, for this moment.
Forcing myself up the wooden steps that lead to deck, I finally step forth into the open. The light is pulverising; my eyes, used to the penumbral inside of the boat, squint at the sheer brightness. Even squinting, however, I instantly make out the pure and stunningly beautiful ultra-marine blue of the sea, which, today as smooth as oil, glints like polished lapis lazuli under the sunlight. Above it, the sun reigns solitary in the azure sky, untouched by clouds.
As my pupils adjust themselves accordingly, I make my way to the front of the ship, my hand on the rail. The ship is painted almost entirely white, but the sun already feels hot on my back. Finally, I reach the stern, and sit down behind the railing, my feet swinging down the front of the boat, splashed by the waves crashing upon the hull. The sea, as I said, is calm, but the motorboat still bobs up and down at every small wave, the loud sound of its engine echoing into the distance. This motion, instead of adding to my queasiness, dispels it, and I am overcome by a feeling of lightness, as if I was flying. Gravity disappears; every small bob feels like a jump into space.
The omnipresent sea is mesmerising, but finally its spell is broken. In the distance ahead of me, I catch sight of a something, too far away to describe, but it grows clearer and clearer every second. Excitement ignites in me, like a spark in my stomach, for finally we are nearing our destination, Ponza, a beautiful island off the coast of Lazio, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the largest of a small archipelago of isles, and even as we near it the marine beauty of its surroundings already amazes me. We sail through natural arches, watching intrepid explorers climb up their rocky sides, and throw themselves off fearlessly from incredible heights. As we pass through them, the engine turned to its lowest as to be careful not to hit the tight edges, all sounds turn to whispers, the gentle splashes of the waves echo around us, and their light is reflected elegantly on the rocky walls.
We sail past caves and beaches, some of which are familiar to me. I remember the ‘Grotta Azzura’, which gets its names from the light blue crystals that adorn its walls. It is a magical place where times seems to be at a standstill, where its sheer beauty and age, and the fact that it is virtually untouched by mankind, remind you of the insignificance of our human achievements against those of nature and time, and how all your problems are but a triviality in the never ending cycle of the world.
Finally, we near the harbour. Now I have a perfect view of the island as it is, anything but flat. Instead its pastel coloured houses cascade down its rocky front, each a different light shade of yellow, blue or white. It is only a town, but its harbour is its most prized asset. Even now a congregation of other boats, of every type imaginable, surrounds us. There are the gigantic ferries, in monstrous contrast to the others petite proportions, which bring tourists from the big cities of the coast. There are the elegant sailboats, beautiful in their slim and agile design, which glide silently on the waters surface. There are big, expensive yachts and smaller, more modest wooden embarkations, fishing boats, rubber dinghies, and even one big cruise ship, luckily parked vertically.
We park our motorboat in the harbour and disembark, carrying our little baggage. I take my first steps back on earth, longing for its solidity, but now it is the ground that seems to be moving. My head feels heavy, my tongue is dry, and my entire body seems to be covered in a layer of salt. Nevertheless, I cannot help smiling. I have been to Ponza many times, but every time I discover something new about its magical marine environment. I know that this time will be the same.