The three of us were going to travel in Sam’s brand new 23-horse-power 1955 Volkswagen bug.
It was raining hard as we tried to figure out how we could get four adults, six suitcases, four pairs of skis and all of my camera gear into the small German car. We finally figured that if two people got into the back seat first, then we could put four suitcases on their laps, the skis and tripod on the back bumper and my camera gear on my lap in the front seat, Sam could drive. The three of them were hungover from a going-away party for some friends the night before. The road from Zurich to Innsbruck over the Arlberg pass was a winding two-lane road that didn’t offer solace for those buried by luggage in the cramped back seat. About an hour into the drive I got hungry and in the glove compartment I had stashed a bar of Palmolive soap made of Marzipan candy. It was even wrapped in green and black paper with a Palmolive label on it so it looked exactly like the real thing.
I held it up and said, “Wow, my favorite morning snack, Palmolive soap,” unwrapped it and took a big bite. As I was chewing away, our driver immediately started getting sick, pulled off the road, jumped out and ran for the woods. He was immediately followed by two sick passengers from the back seat. Half an hour later their stomachs were almost back to normal, mine was full and we resumed our slow cramped journey.
We ground up over the Arlberg Pass, down through St. Anton to Innsbruck where we turned right to go over the Brenner Pass into Italy. The border guards gave us a bad time about too much luggage in too small a car but we were now on the final leg to the Twin Silo’s of Cortina; two twelve-story round hotels with inside, spiral balconies to the top floor. If you had a room on the top floor you could ride a bicycle down the balcony to the first floor.
By the time we headed out for a ski run, I had convinced my friends that I would take them to lunch and order some fresh spaghetti right off the vines. Somehow I had convinced them that it only grew fresh in Italy. We stopped later at a mountain restaurant and ordered up a big pot of fresh spaghetti. When it showed up it was green. Now I was confused because the waiter went along with my fresh off the vine story. Halfway through the lunch we discovered that it was simply spaghetti made out of spinach.
The rest of the afternoon I got enough ski footage for this Italian sequence, so we packed up and headed back for Innsbruck. I knew we would have to go through customs again so I had everyone give Sam their passport. Later when the border guard came out to see our faces up close and personal and try to match them up with the passports, there was one big problem. The woman in the back seat under two suitcases had been given the wrong passport when we checked out of the hotel in Cortina. No sleeping for us in Innsbruck that night. We left the two back-seat drivers at the customs house and Sam and I drove back to Cortina with her wrong passport. At about midnight we woke up the night clerk in the hotel we had stayed in. The night clerk spoke no English and we finally figured out that Sam had stopped at the wrong hotel. At the other hotel we finally made the switch for the right passport and we were back on our way.
By the time we got back to the customs office, the 40-watt light bulb was the only visible sign in the blackness of the predawn darkness. I was exhausted. The lady with the wrong passport was asleep on a bench alongside of an empty and open suitcase with most of her clothes disheveled. The wrong passport had cost us four hours of extra driving, the fresh spaghetti right off the vine was buried in the folds of our brains where we learned to never trust an Italian spaghetti farmer who moonlighted as a hotel clerk.
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