The Power of Road Trips
In today's mainstream society, it is so easy for me to get lost in a world of fear, worry, distractions, control, and expectations. It was on the road, with no destination and no plan where I first learned how to surrender to the ways of the universe. Road trips are so centering for me because they condition my mind to remember that I need not worry, that the present moment is the most important moment, that I can let go of fear and control because it all works out as it does, and that I can trust myself and my heart and the universe and God to guide me.
I am filled with gratitude that Italy and I have continued to dance together. My most recent adventure was a solo road trip to the West and North of Italy. Here's how it unfolded.
As always, I ask that you please enjoy these photos slowly, perhaps one breath per photo, letting your eyes indulge and your soul be enchanted by the magic of the land.
I arrived to the west coast late on Thursday and spent the night in the cliffs under the stars overlooking the ocean. I woke up early, around 5:00am to hike to the town of Riomaggiore, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre. It was a dreamy walk through the sleeping town. I was following the call of the sea.
I traveled through the cliffs to the town of Cornigila, where I hiked the cliffside trail to Vernazza. Here, I hid my belongings under a rock, swam around the cliff, and found some quiet tide pools to meditate. I leaned into the stillness, sitting next to my imaginary eel friend that was probably a plant, watching as the fish swam up to my knees and smiling as a cleaner shrimp tidied up the scab on the arch of my foot.
I drove to the beachside town of Arenzano for dinner, where I unexpectedly and so happily received an entire table of free appetizers -fresh olives, bread, cured meat, fried dough, chips, and curry risotto! It's such a blessing to travel to towns with few tourists, getting to enjoy things like watching kids play soccer in the town square.
I then followed the call of the mountains and drove north to the Cottian Alps at the French- Italian border. I woke up in the mountains to a beautifully foggy autumn morning.
I am so grateful for my Spanish, which has carried me through many conversations here in Italy. I met Vanessa from Argentina during my breakfast in the mountains. She told me of il Bosco Incantato, the Enchanted Forest, right on the side of the mountain.
I spent the day wondering through this forest, filled with Zen gardens, healing waters, a labyrinth. I slowed down enough to read and nap in the hammock under the trees in the cool air. This was such an affirming day for me. What are the odds I would fall upon a place like this? I could have chosen any mountain, any town, and road. I chose this one, without thinking, without worrying, and it was perfect, perfect for me.
I drove down the valley feeling much more grounded and connected. I was contemplating the power of slowing down and enjoying what's in front of me, of honoring and accepting this moment, of cultivating gratitude for all.
The Northwestern Italian mountains feel so cozy and safe. There's this sort of nestled, homey and comforting personality to the land. I passed numerous mountain towns made entirely of stones that were completely abandoned or for sale, but they weren't run-down. It was like the mountains watched over all of its inhabitants, the trees, the breeze, the stone homes.
I found three wise sister apple trees. I can't describe the feeling, but I am quite certain that they are sisters and are quite wise. Their fruit sure was a blessing. I also stopped at a little roadside produce stand and had grapes as sweet as sparkling wine.
I followed another calling to return to the ocean, now that I was feeling so much more refreshed and grounded. On the way I came across this gorgeous marriage between vines, trees, and house. I was engulfed by the beauty and reminded again of the wonders of road trips.
At random I chose the beach town of Bonassola to visit. When I got there, I was welcomed by a local festival celebration. I enjoyed local street food, dancing, fireworks, and not a word of English!
I spent the night in the cliffs and woke up to a view of the little nestled towns scattered throughout the hills. I then drove to a lake, Lago di Massaciuccoli, where I learned it was National Bird Watching Day! I hung around the Oasi Lipu wetlands where I met Luna, whose dad is from Pamplona, Spain. We spoke in Spanish and bonded over nature, education, and life.
Luna invited me up to the wildlife center for lunch with the other workers and volunteers of the center. We had fresh mushroom risotto. I contributed some fruit from the mountains and my leftover street food from the festival. Francesco went outside and picked us some mouth watering persimmons. Daniella cleaned my avocado seed and suspended it in water, saying she'll plant it on her friend's land.
Luna invited me to return and help out at the center and stay for free. I am so grateful for the kindness of this place. I think I might take her up on the offer!
As always, it was the little moments that sunk deep into my bones and sang to my soul.
It was the man mushroom hunting on the hillside,
the kids playing soccer in the square,
the woman buying fish from the little truck on the cliff,
the couple cross country skating up the hills,
the shared lunch in the wetlands.
It was the sleeping towns,
the stars and the moon,
the tide pools,
the water mills,
the white birds in the canals,
the fog in the mountains,
the stone roofs,
the white mountain dogs,
the mystical cow bells,
the nestled towns,
the sister trees,
and of course the quiet call of the heart,
the call that seems to get louder each time I allow it my trust.
Peace and love always,