Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
Trip End Apr 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Rose Flat

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Friday, July 23, 2010

I decided yesterday on the way back from Naples that I was no longer going to let myself be effected by any negativity in my general vicinity.  So with this new resolve I went to sleep thinking about how, in the morning, I was going to jump out of bed, as if on an important mission, and attack the day.  Yeah sounds good in theory, instead I woke up feeling sorry for myself and decided to read my book for a few hours before making some cinnamon toast for breakfast.  Of course in my pity party I realized that cinnamon toast tastes better in Texas, really it does.  

Before you go there, no I'm not homesick.  I miss all of you of course but I'm not clamoring at the bit to get home just yet.  I'm just getting bored!  I have an adventurous spirit but not the adventure know-how, and of course my courage is not to a level where I can literally throw on a backpack and walk out the door with no plans other than to go somewhere new.  If you know me, you know I like stability and game plans.  Of course I don't mind venturing from "the plan" every once in a while, but I like to have a general idea of what lies ahead.  

So instead of attacking the day I decided I would start to making future travel plans (yep there's that word again) for my upcoming trip to Paris, then Blackpool.  I sat on my computer for several hours trying to navigate/translate European travel sights and of course making no progress, after all it is a pity party kind of day.  It wouldn't be truly pitiful had I found amazing deals to foreign countries in the first five minutes.  The age old question of paper vs. plastic became "Plane or Train?" "AM flight or PM Flight?" "Rome or Naples?" Then of course there was the, "Why are all the sights in Italian???" Oh yeah that's right - did I mention that the World Wide Web isn't necessarily as World Wide as I thought?  For instance - good luck getting regular Google here, and it took me two days to get my email to come up!  

Anyway so around 1 o'clock I decided I wasn't going to sit in this flat one more second so I put on my walking shoes - still beautiful and white from the box - and went for a walk.  Of course being 1 in the afternoon in Gaeta it was HOT and SUNNY - but that's okay because I'm a Texan and I can handle hot and humid!  So I walked out the door and down the steps to the end of the driveway and stopped.  Hmmm...Left? Right? Straight?  Well left leads down to a scary main thoroughfare, and straight leads to, well another left so...right!  

Right, of course, leads straight up a hill...that's okay though because Italy is the new word for diet!  So I begin walking up the tiny sidewalk, past the Panificio/Pasticceria, (for those of you who can't read Italian, that means bakery and pasta shop) and smelled the wonderfullness of fresh baked bread...the Italian anti-diet.  I continued walking up the hill admiring the differences in each set of flats.  I love the different colors you see here!  There are the muted colors you expect to see here but then there are the glimpses of the bright blues, oranges, and reds.  The clothes hanging from the balconies give Gaeta an old world feel and add to the simplicity the city exudes.  

As I was hiking up the hill I saw my first Italian playground housed in a group of flats.  It made me think of when my mom used to take us to the park in Nederland to feed the ducks and play on the see-saws and rail road tie climbing towers.  I remember being happy there and not having any worries about the world around me, only curiosity and a vivid imagination for all the things that might be.  

I was amazed to see the different views of the Mediterranean from just a few hundred feet from our driveway.  I was able to get some snapshots from my little camera and a new drive to bring my Sony and get some better shots later.  My mouth watered thinking of how much I would love to get onto some of the Italian rooftops overlooking the downward slope of the mountain that melds into the sandy beaches below.  The small glimpses of the hillside were enough to wet your appetite for the vista without quenching the desire to see more.  

I hiked up to the top of our hill, then took a left to the dead end.  Parked along the roadway were some typical examples of Italian transportation - things that make the new Smart Cars look like Ford Expeditions.  I am constantly amazed at how anyone could venture forth on these streets in something that small.  Of course those who have seen me lately know of my recent bad luck with all things on four wheels so that might explain my incredulity, but then its Italy, and what do I know.

At the dead end I turned around and walked to the complete other end of the road discovering along the way that there is cactus in Italy.  Lots of cactus actually, right along side what appeared to be blackberries.  I continued walking, thinking of how strange it was to see cactus here, when a familiar and endearing smell wafted through the air.  Evergreens, the smell soothed me and somehow made me feel not so alone.  Of course they don't look like the evergreens of home, but they smelled the same and that was enough for me.  The "road" I walked down from here is little more than an alley by American standards but is quite typical for Italy.  I doubt my BMW would have fit down it much less a small American truck.  I continued walking past an assortment of Flats catching glimpses of the sea between buildings.  As I was walking I could here the Italians in their flats for Reposa, cooking lunch, watching what I'm sure were Italian Soap Opera's, and laughing with each other.  I wish I spoke the language and had the nerve to stop and say hello.  The locals in this group of flats appeared to all have green thumbs as the variety of plant life was amazing.  The most impressive though was the lemon tree full of huge lemons!  (I know what else would be growing on a lemon tree, right? Whatever...) The tree was right of someones balcony so all they had to do was reach over the rail and pick a lemon that was easily as big as my hand.  I believe my amazement over the lemons stole all of the energy from me, or maybe it was the heat and the fact I hadn't put sunscreen on when I left the flat, but I decided then that it was a good time to start heading back.   

As I turned around and began meandering back I was greeted by the constant breeze here in Gaeta, that even in the heat and humidity, cools your skin, and helps you keep moving forward.  It brings both the scent of the sea and the scent of the Gaeta, at times both good and bad, with it, and adds depth to whatever you are experiencing at the moment.  The beauty of this place amazes me everyday and I cannot imagine what it must be like to have been born here.  Do they appreciate the beauty that surrounds them or is it like our Piney Woods or Hill Country, and just something ordinary with no outstanding beauty for the locals?  Do we, having been born in our home state, close our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us because we have been trained look past it in order to make it through the day?  When is the last time you took a second, a minute, an hour to sit down and be still?  Time to let your senses take over so you can see the beauty that surrounds you, smell the flowers growing in the yard, or feel the coolness provided by the towering trees around you?  Do we spend too much time wishing to see foreign beauty while ignoring the beauty immediately around us?

As with my walk in Old Town my mind began to wander and I at once acknowledged both the blessing of my even being here and my frustration in not knowing my exact purpose in being here.  I know in my heart I am not here just to sight see or relax on the beach, but the underlying purpose of this blessing still eludes me.  I of course have never been the most patient of persons, but this trip is all about growing and learning new things so I guess I just need to sit still and work on perfecting that virtue.  


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Laura on

See, didn't that writing make you feel better. It was refreshing to read - wish it didn't end. Love you.

chiefgracie23 on

Yeah it did make me feel better - thanks for the encouragement! Its pretty neat to think people actually enjoy what I write - never experienced that before! Kind-of gives me hope of actually writing something that might get published one day...

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