After Siracusa, I spent one night in Milazzo in order to shorten my travel day. Hotel Petit is a small hotel, breakfast served on the terrace, lift, good service and amenities, only €47 for one night, single. It is a short walk to the aliscafo (hydrofoil) port, where I took the ferry to Lipari the next day. Milazzo has a row of great fast/street food places, cafes, and Bancomats. It felt great not to rush to one more connection that day, just take a cab from the train station to the hotel (a bus from Siracusa to Milazzo would have been more convenient, logistically). Still working on the final draft of my paper, I found a Western Union with computers but they could not accommodate a USB connection, so I asked the receptionist at Hotel Petit for a suggestion and she unplugged her personal laptop and let me use that.
The next morning, conference paper completed, I left for Milazzo, and the ugly started to come out. I was annoyed that the captain did not announce the ports, I could not find the apartment street address (there was no sign), the Bancomat charged a service fee...I was fed up, cranky, hungry, my worst self. Then Angela, the apartment owner, came to fetch me, and things began to change. Even the long flight of steps to my room didn't faze me. I gave Angela my passport, we began to talk, she made coffee for us, the conversation got deeper and more rewarding, and I left to search for lunch.
Two days later, as I checked into my hotel in Catania, I realized I did not have my passport. I backtracked mentally and got to my handing Angela my passport. Period. The Catania B&B receptionist called Angela, she was out of town but would return that night, but my room had been cleaned and no passport. I prompted the receptionist to ask about Angela's desk, and heard, "Ahhh..." from the other end of the line. Angela promised to call as soon as she checked her desk that night, meanwhile I was thinking of how to have the passport messengered, repay Angela for the expense, and get ready for the conference. In the end I decided I would retrieve the passport the day after my presentation, forgoing a day of field trip activities to go back to Lipari. Angela graciously offered to meet me in Milazzo instead, cutting 3 hours out of my journey.
Presentation went well, the next day I left for Milazzo, expecting Angela to meet me at noon. At this point, we are on Plan C of the Plan A-through-K series. The aliscafo doesn't come. The next one, 90 minutes later, is late arriving, but here comes the aptly-named Angela, my passport in hand. We had coffee and pastry (Rusticando, all natural ingredients, new business venture for a young couple), and we rushed goodbyes. I made the last bus back to Catania Aeroporto, then took the shuttle into Catania. I was a documented person again.