A Cave of Men, and Qualms

July 26, 2014

Around eight in the evening, in a town I don’t know, I pause to shoot this wide-eyed fella and his a wispy beard.

Come on in. Don’t I want to see the club?

I hesitate. Will someone spring on me? Twist my arms and slaughter me?

Man at Club Entry, copyright Jann Huizenga

You have to stoop to get inside the old scratched door. Claw marks?

The place is dusky and cavernous.

He says the name is La Caverna.

I squint and pick my way through the pitch-darkness. Who is lurking at the back of the cave?

It’s only Mr. White Glasses, smoking. Turns out he’s the owner of the cavern.

Mr. White Glasses, copyright Jann Huizenga

Mr. White Glasses leads me toward an even blacker room in the back. Is this where they hold the hostages?

Mr. Little and Friends, copyright Jann Huizenga

But no. There is only sweet Mr. Little and his tame friends playing a game.

Mr Little's Friends, copyright Jann Huizenga

Laughing, chatting, joking. Not even drinking.

I’m charmed.

The fella leads me back out and wishes me a buona serata.

Sicily Man, copyright Jann Huizenga

I almost never feel any qualms about traveling sola in Sicily. But once in a while, if you could read the thought bubble over my head it would say, “Nitwit. Is this really a prudent thing to do?”

Do you travel alone? How cautious are you?

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30 comments to A Cave of Men, and Qualms

  • Many ‘nitwit’ moments traveling solo in my twenties, not so many now sadly. Love these photos and especially the last one. Brava for being BRAVE xx

  • mike

    I liv ed in Sicily otto anni.A nd wasn’t scared ever,,,,even ran the streets of Napoli….always felt safe. However not so sure of even Grand Rapids Mi.

  • Sweet Jann,
    you had me on every word, every corner, every photo.
    I was thrilled to travel w/ you, dear. Did you tell the dudes
    the photos were for you blog?
    xxx KISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

  • S

    Salve, Jann-
    I spent 3 weeks in Sicily last spring, traveling alone w/ the wild wildflowers and was never intimidated, even getting lost walking alone at night in Palermo and Catania; though maybe I was just lucky, or I looked crazy enough that I was left alone ;-) … one sweet hotel clerk in Licata asked if I was scared to travel alone, and I said I am from Oakland, California (where there is an unfortunately high crime rate) and to me it did not feel unsafe anywhere in Sicily.
    BTW, I saw the great photos you did for a recent USA Today story, and actually forwarded the one of cannoli to a local restaurant (Tosca Cafe) to show them how it’s done in Sicily, because I think their shells are too pale!

  • Wow! I couldn’t have resisted an invitation to walk through that door. I’m glad you’re trusting, Jann. We need trust in the world xx

    • Jann

      Narelle, I find that if you trust people, they’ll live up to your expectations–that Pygmalion Theory thing… Most people seem good. Sadly, it’s the ones who aren’t who get all the press. xxx

  • Jann, you’re my hero! I guess I have a lot of “rabbit” in me, for I’m pretty timid about doing stuff like that. It wasn’t so hard when I was a reporter doing a legitimate story; something about doing the same thing for my blog feels scarier! Looks like you stumbled upon some friendly folks, and I’m glad you didn’t have to worry about becoming a hostage!!

    • Jann

      Debbie, how lucky you are to have had reporter training! I’m sure that got you in the trenches. Had someone in NYC invited me into a “cave” I doubt I’d have gone, but something about Sicily always feels so safe to me, which is funny since Sicily has quite the opposite reputation (wrongly) among Americans… Thanks for your comment!

  • Delightful storytelling, and your writing style/storytelling ability is a joy as usual (and all too often missed by me). Trusting in your intuition, and not buying into the inundation of fear-mongering in a world where most people are decent, I say, Be fearless! Yay, Jann!

    • Jann

      Hi Aysha–it’s so good to hear from you! Thanks for your sweet words, and I hope your French Summer is filled with fun and love.

  • Love this post. I always travel alone and am cautious, but not fearful. The only place I’ve ever felt uncomfortable was Naples, and even then I wasn’t afraid, just uncomfortable. I’ve never had any scary close-calls. Don’t know if I would’ve gone in the man-cave, but I’m glad you did and that it was an interesting, safe experience for you.

    • Jann

      Rosann, I felt exactly the same way in Naples–not scared, but vaguely uncomfortable. I’d like to go back and back again until I felt comfortable. (My biggest problem there was kids on scooters driving in those narrow lanes at breakneck speeds, and then the awful taxi drivers…)

  • Liz

    I loved the peek into the unknown. Would like to know more about what may really go on in the man cave, But not enough for you to go and find out. Like John said, “fearless but crazy, don’t do it again.” Where in Sicily were you?

  • vicki carol

    Dear Dear Jann,
    Please be adventurous but choose carefully. you could have found a friend and returned another time. The guy with the white glasses looked like a wanna be Chicago gangster. Yes, scary, I wonder what was in another room they didn’t let you in????

  • Preaching to the converted Jann. In Italy you never really travel alone, do you??? ;-) But I know as I write this you know exactly what I mean. Prudence is an essential companion but people in Italy are also very protective and ultra-observant I find. They have instincts I admire and always feel safe as a consequence. What a sweet little man cave! Fanno quasi tenerezza! xx

  • Love this “scarey” post! Yes I travel alone but do use wisdom where needed!

  • I haven’t seen you around for a while Jann! These bars or clubs are so retro- a good story in your sequence.

    • Jann

      Hi Francesca–yes, I’ve sort of disappeared for a while. New job. Computer troubles. Travel overload. And so on. Thanks so much for visiting!!! xxxx

  • Larry May

    In all the years (8, twice a year)I’ve been traveling to Sicily I feel safer there than in Boston or Dublin. I’ve never even felt threatened. I never saw a drunk or people openly shooting drugs (Dublin). I’m sure there is the usual urban crime, though. Always be prudent.

    • Jann

      Isn’t it amazing & wonderful that Italians don’t get drunk? And Sicily does seem incredibly safe, though I’d say watch out in some parts of Palermo and Catania…

  • I love that you chose to check it out! Those are the experiences when traveling that you seem to remember the most, these are the times when you learn the most about place !!!

  • Sam

    It seems to me that you would probably HAVE to be travelling alone to get these kinds of invitations. It’s that old risk/reward issue that everybody has to work out for themselves.

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, Your a piece of work, that’s called fearless but crazy, well you made it out okay, don’t do that again, we enjoy you to much, so stop being so curious. As a Sicilian, I am happy they showed respect. By the way I like that comment about the Hostages.

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