Approximately ten minutes into the trip, a Bus Inspector
boarded the bus. The Bus Inspector was dressed in a
grey uniform and appeared very official-looking. This
well-dressed stern man looked liked an army officer. He
requested our tickets which we showed him. Then
because we hadn't registered our tickets, he indicated,
in Italian, that we were trying to get a free
demonstrated by body language that the ticket machine was
not working, but he showed no interest in that.
next request he made was for us to give him our passports.
Travellers in Europe became used to such a request
being made, so the group obliged.
thought that this would show the Bus Inspector that we
were foreigners, and then he would overlook the tickets
not being registered. To our shock he requested US$50
for an on-the-spot fine for not registering the tickets.
This, of course,
we all frankly refused to pay. In retaliation, the
Bus Inspector indicated that
he did not intend to give back our passports.
of the Italian passengers realised what was happening,
and it soon appeared that this passenger was gallantly defending my
group by explaining to the Bus Inspector about the
broken ticket machine. The Bus Inspector did not accept
this explanation, and an argument started between them.
Bus Inspector rushed off the bus with our passports, so
we followed quickly, all dragging our backpacks with
us. The Bus Inspector then boarded the bus again, so
we all boarded back on as well. He got off again and we did
was like a cat and mouse episode. It was quite obvious
that he was trying to get away from us whilst retaining
our passports, but we were determined not to let the
passports out of our sight.
group and the Bus Inspector ended up near a caravan
park, where shouting and arguing continued. In an
instant we had an audience from the nearby caravan
park. A man from the caravan park could
speak English so
we explained the situation to him. This man
surprisingly agreed with the Bus Inspector and implied
we were all trying to avoid paying the bus fare. Again,
we explained our situation about the broken ticket
man who could speak English reinforced the Bus
Inspector's argument that we would have to pay US$50 to get our passports back. Again we all
refused and we kept arguing with this man and with the Bus
Inspector as well.
Eventually the Police arrived but they could speak no
English either. By this time, the man who could speak English
had our passports in his possession. Eventually he
was persuaded to return the passports, whilst at the
same time making sarcastic remarks
to each of us about our passport photos.
We were again
told by this man that we should give the Bus Inspector US$50.
Otherwise, he said, we may find that we will have a difficulty
boarding the ferry that night, because of a report that
made about the ticket incident. Once
we all had our passports in our possession again, we
left. We had decided that we would concern
ourselves about when, or if, it ever happened.
We were also aware that there was
a black market for passports and that we were
all probably victims of a scam.
Happily we made it back safely to the port and the time eventually
came for us to board the ferry. By now our group
was a little
anxious, for we just did not seem to know what to expect
would we do if we were not allowed on the ferry? Were
we going to be expected to pay the US$50 that the Bus
Inspector so vigorously tried to get us to pay?
arrived at the ferry with high adrenalin rushing through
each of us. We had no idea what difficulties we may
experience with boarding the ferry but we were
determined to stand up for our rights. To our delight,
and relief, we
made it onto the ferry with not the slightest sign to make us
think that the events we had left behind would cause
us any more problems. It really was a scam
and we almost were the victims
of it. Therefore, instead of trouble waiting us for when we
boarded the ferry, we ended up with an
exciting adventure story to tell about our short stay in the
seedy town of Brindisi, Italy.
from the group happily holding their passports that they
photos by Chrissy Layton, AusNotebook Music & Creative