Italia!

Monica's Walk

Ciao from Italy! Please excuse my initial lack of familiarity with blog posting… This is my first attempt and I welcome all constructive criticism to my gmail inbox (Travis – help!). Hopefully I will improve with time. Onto more important things; the first leg of the world trip was a lovely and rather easy going introduction into what will hopefully prove to be an extraordinary exploration of nature, culture, spirituality (and all encompassing associations), inner fears, loves, hopes, personal confrontation, wisdom and above all a personal opening of my capacity to see, learn and experience myself and others. Guess I’ll find out what that all means as it comes!

My intentions for this blog are to share much of the above mentioned with the people I share my life with. If you know of someone who would benefit from or enjoy reading, please feel free to pass along the connection.

Venice is beautiful and rich in food, wine, age and color. We stayed on Lido, a long and skinny island just a short boat ride from the island of Venice. Exploring and getting lost in the streets for 2 days allowed for the perfect taste without abolishing the budget.

The skies poured for the first few days which made the glimpse of initial beams of sunshine after arriving to Cortina d’Ampezzo (Dolomite region) quite a treasure! …and speaking of treasures, it seems that guardian angels may appearing be ever so often – already! We were wished ‘buena fortuna’ by the woman at the hotel in Lido and soon after found sunshine in the midst of days of clouds and fog, beautiful hiking (despite a fall and my initial swollen and rather horribly painful ankles from breaking in these damn high-ankle backpacking boots on what I thought was a fairly VERTICAL climb…) and most importantly the most welcoming local Italians far beyond what I have ever imagined.

A week in Cortina has lasted long enough to make it feel like ‘home’ for a week. Bryan and I are now recognized by the local bus drivers as ‘the kids who are camping’ as they yell in english whenever our ‘camping’ bus stop is coming. Although, we did strongly consider camping in the rain because the local hotels were so expensive, we ended up walking up the road from the campground and after two separate attempts, convinced a woman in her mid 70’s who we were told, ‘rents a room out sometimes,’ let us stay. She speaks absolutely no english, so even getting her to understand our intentions was more difficult than I could have predicted. After drawing moons and numbers on post-its (long story), we managed to bargain an affordable price, though without seeing the ‘room’ first. Low and behold, she had an entire apartment with 2 bedrooms, and 2 mini bathrooms, mini kitchen and dining area. I’ll attach the stunning view from the little deck below. Jackpot! Home for a week.

The intention of Cortina was to explore the Dolomite region on Italy; giant rocks that look as if they had exploded out of the ground, but had actually formed from glacier melt off from an ice age 220 million years ago. Stunning scenery to say the least. Let the training for Nepal begin!

What I hadn’t expected, was the unbelievable hospitality that appeared half-way through the week. Internet access is scarce in this area, and also expensive. After deciding not to pay 4 euro for 15 minutes of web time at 2 separate places, I noticed a hotel that was open across the street. (There are less than a handful of hotels actually up and running in Cortina this time of year, as it’s their official one month down season between Summer hikers and winter snow sports.) We ventured into the hotel to see if we could give them half the amount of money and maybe get of a few minutes online. The man running the hotel welcomed us into their lounge and dining area, brought us coffee and said he would not take our money but to make ourselves comfortable and stay as long as we need. And he spoke english! After a little while, it was decided that we should not outstay our welcome and probably time to get going. As I packed up the computer, the owner of the hotel, Piero, came to our table and asked us to please join him for a glass of wine…

Many drinks, enormous plates of pasta, and hours of stories and laughter later, Piero invited us back for a farewell dinner on the last night in Cortina. That was last night. How fun! We hiked all day and went back to the hotel for dinner. He had all of the ‘Italian Classics’ awaiting. Some sort of ‘hot bread’ with different meats and cheeses on top. As polite as I wanted to be, I could not stomach the raw pig fat resting atop of the home made italian bread…  Our first course was followed by homemade pasta and sauce which was more delicious than any pasta that has ever grazed my tongue in the past 26 years! Finally, we actually roasted chestnuts on an open fire. How cliche…and stupidly fun and delicious, haha.

Piero had travelled to the US in his late 20’s and was treated very well by the locals. He said he absolutely loved returning the favor, and was very genuine with his actions. He plays in a band and has the hotel decorated with rock band  and Harley Davidson memorabilia (can’t spell sorry). He taught us much of the Italian lingo, customs, and drinks. This one’s for you Robin: Grappa is hard liqueur made from grapes (we tried the good stuff and the not so good/horrible stuff; ‘spritzer’ is the new ‘in’ drink which Italians invented and is a mix of white wine, soda water, and Aperol (which only really exists in Italy) with an orange slice and some ice. You see everyone with this drink at all times of day. The wine is good and cheap. You can fill your own 1 liter bottle in many shops for 2 euro or less…and it’s actually drinkable.

All and all, Italy was a success. Eating, drinking and being merry (aka – hiking my butt off in the Dolomites) – check!

Today includes travelling by bus back to Venice to a cheap hotel near the Marco Polo Airport followed by flying to Nepal tomorrow. I am purely beyond excitement for the next month and what the Universe has in store. Everything about it feels right and well.

Thank you to ALL of you who are sending love and holding space for me. You are in my heart always.

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