Sea story: A commuter’s choice: gas or cobblestones? (1987)

The cold, light drizzle, like a heavy mist, envelops the van as it pulls from the curb outside the Banco di Roma below our apartment building. In the rear window, we can see the seven blond heads bobbing in their seats as the scuolabus carries them off for another day at the American school, 33 km north of town. I turn to Carol, and give her a hug and a kiss. Continue reading

Sea story: Who, him? He’s NATO. (1986)

Springtime. In North America, the trees sprout that lighter green that Carol calls her favourite colour in nature. In Italy, it has stopped raining for weeks on end, and the sun kisses the terracotta and tufa gently, not hinting of the burning heat that lies ahead in the summer. In England, the grass is greener than ever, and the days are cool and sunny. Continue reading

Sea story: Getting to know Maria Grazia (1985)

“Thank you, Glenda,” I said, squeezing her hand. “I’ll see you next week.” Glenda smiled, too tired to talk anymore. Her eyes closed in sleep by the time I reached the door. The perspiration in my undershirt from riding 10 km to the nursing home had long since dried. I was ready to go out in the summer sun and ride home.  Continue reading

Sea story: Judges and schoolteachers in Mogadiscio (1982)

In 1982, the capital of Somalia was still spelled in Italian. Today it is spelled Mogadishu, but it sounds the same. USS Coronado, a large amphibious ship painted white, dominated the harbor as she moored to the pier downtown. USS Coronado as CMEFThe flagship of the Commander, US Middle East Force was making her semi-annual Swing around the Indian Ocean, showing the flag and maintaining relations with the local governments. We did not know that it would be our last Swing: before long, the Iran-Iraq war would grind to a halt, but not before the US Middle East Force would be absorbed by the new US Central Command. By the end of the decade, the US Fifth Fleet would dominate the waters between Suez and Singapore, and the Middle East Force would join the Sand Pebbles and the Mediterranean Squadron in the pages of naval history. But not yet. Continue reading