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Debut on the Sorrento Webcam

Van King

I think the realization came just as the hydrofoil pulled into the harbor at Capri, and I, jostled among the anxious travelers, understood that my mind was really back there, back there on the Sorrento Webcam.

It is a very strange thing indeed to discover that you would rather make your debut on the Sorrento Webcam than sip a mojito after taking the funicular railway up to the lovely streets of Capri. What is it about travel that gives us serendipitous moments that seem as profound as they are silly?

I think it is merely a way to catalogue the heightened emotions, to put experiences in their place, to ground the majestic with the mundane. This explains how we can walk a mile for a fresh olive, but would walk right past a church door inside which there are priceless Da Vincis. Where I live in North Carolina, there are no Da Vincis. But then there are no fresh olives, either.

SlowTrav.com hooked me one night last year so fast that I never saw it coming. Who are these people, I wondered, as I eyed the literate reports with mild appreciation. In what is for me the ultimate gesture of credibility, I bookmarked the site and thought to visit on some other distant night.

The next morning I spent two hours in Italy there, and I never had to leave my study except for coffee. Pretty cost efficient. By the end of the week, I had paid my money and signed up as a member, but I could not get my wife to join me yet.

No matter. She reads books of an evening, but I wandered through countless apartments, scoured Tuscan villages, marveled at the food my fellow Slow Travelers described. I began taking notes, and forming key thoughts for our October 2005 trip to Italy in person.

And then I discovered the Sorrento Webcam.

The site said something about the vicarious nature of the device, noting that many Slow Travelers become addicted to it. At any time, somewhere in the world, the notes said, someone is watching the Sorrento Webcam, and if you watch carefully enough, inevitably you might see a Slow Traveler walk by the Webcam and wave, or hold up a sign.

Bah, humbug, I thought, and moved on. A cute idea, but I am a busy man, and I have a trip to Italy to plan, among other important activities.

The next night, I only spent four minutes watching that Webcam.

Nothing much ever seemed to be going on there in the coming weeks. There was a vending machine outside a tobacco shop, or so they said, and occasionally you would see two people looking up, but you could not be sure that they were aware of the Webcam.

I rationed myself only one visit a day. I had this under control.

But I do remember that during this period when my wife and I were discussing the key cities to visit on our trip, I nodded wisely and agreed with her stated desire to go to Sorrento because she had heard so much about it.

The months moved on, and I became busy with reservations and arrangements. On the Italy message board, I found increasingly helpful information and more than a few marvelous people who seemed dedicated to helping me make my family trip to Italy the best it could be. That is the genius, and the joy, of SlowTrav.Com. The company of soulmates linked across the Internet thrives on information and is fed by the alluring draw of what might be.

If you think deeply about this, as I have, you could also say that about the Sorrento Webcam. But let me not dwell in banalities.

So we five family members had a lovely flight across the Atlantic, and when we set foot in Florence on a golden afternoon, all the miles washed away and now we could do what we had come to do - eat.

I never could decide which was best - the pear pasta with asparagus at Quattro Leoni, or the fact that our two sons and daughter-in-law so much appreciated the trip. I just sort of smiled my way through the days, taking digital pictures with my new camera and keeping ever alert for the bank machines my fellow Slow Travelers had advised me to use. What great advice. It was so helpful how those little machines just popped out Euros whenever you asked.

I will admit that the Webcam visit haunted me for those first days over there. I fretted silently about whether I should make a sign to hold up, but that is not my character. But if I did not hold up a sign, how would any of my fellow Slow Travelers know it was me, as I am quite sure not a one of them knows me except by name and electronic post, and even in that genre I am peacefully anonymous.

You think about it, wherever you are right now. What would you do?

If you knew that you were going to make a debut on live Internet Webcam, with addicted Slow Travelers surely watching, as well as untold numbers of others, how would you go about it? What would you wear? How would you signal them? How might you behave?

Yah, yah, I know, you won't ever go and do it.

You only like to watch.

Get over it. You're going to do it. How can you not?

For my family, it was innocuous, a mere bow to Dad's perverse infatuations. They walked with me dutifully down the narrow streets that night, filled with wine and pasta, (we were, not the streets), and we found the vending machine and the cement planters.

But I did not see the Webcam. I went to a nearby shop and found a young woman who happily took us to the planters and pointed it out to us, stationed on the balcony up the way.

It was at that moment that I realized that I was being seen by all of you. I waved, as you know. I slapped Troy on the back, and put my arm around him. It was a great moment, a life's wish fulfilled.

Then I had him take some pictures of me standing there, the night of October 12, preening on the Sorrento Webcam.

Did any of you perhaps see me?

Van and his son Troy at the Sorrento webcam

Van and his son Troy at the Sorrento webcam

Resources

http://www.sorrentoinfo.com/facebook_sorrentoinfo_en/: Link to the Sorrento Webcam. You now must access the Webcam through Facebook.

The Sorrento Webcam - Life in the Center of Sorrento: Pauline's article about the Sorrento Webcam.

www.sorrentoinfo.com: Sorrento Tourist Information, Via Tasso 19, complete tourist information for Sorrento, accommodations, restaurants, maps, events.

www.slowphotos.com/photo/showgallery.php?cat=556: We collect snaps from the webcam in our Slow Travel photo gallery.

www.slowphotos.com/photo/showgallery.php?cat=3251: June's photos taken from ground level in front of the webcam.

www.slowtrav.com/photos/showgallery.php?cat=558: Antonello sent us these photos of the Tabacchi store that the webcam looks at.

© Van King, 2005

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