The sun came out to turn our car into an oven and spoil the small bottle of milk that we had brought for our tea. We rolled down the windows to let the cool air and camper-van fumes in, sweating while we eagerly waited for the long line of traffic to edge forward as each vehicle verified with passport control that passengers were who they said they were and ‘illegal immigrants’ weren’t crammed in as tight as commuters on the tube at rush hour, sweltering as their shirt collars and neck ties strangle them, and their collective body heat and deprivation of ventilation inebriates them.
One look at our one litre, two-door car and a brief glance at our passports was enough to satisfy the uniformed lady with the hard stare; one Caucasian female and one Caucasian male, driving a car so small that a litre bottle of sour milk is considered ‘luggage’. We probably seem like the least threatening of this bunch of ferry-goers, who are mostly pairs of pensioners, eager to whittle away a couple of weeks on foreign soil, in a slightly warmer climate, in the comfort of their air-conditioned vans and a safe distance away from their adult children, who incessantly demand babysitting duties.
We move and we stop and we start and we sweat and we wait for our turn to drive our four-wheeled snack into the gaping mouth of the ferry-beast, within whom we will spend the next sixteen hours; either stretched out across a couple of bar-stools, desperately trying to evade insomnia as the rumble of the giant engines vibrate the pits of our stomachs and the gentle swaying of the sea dizzies us into a state of silent, numb and apparently eternal boredom, while the darkness of the post-closing-time hours ticks past us; or stretched out upon the deck, letting the sun turn our skin a gentle shade of blister, staring into the ocean with the hope of spotting dolphins or sharks or sea monsters, eventually seeing nothing but a seagull, nipping at the surface of the water and signifying our journey’s end.