20. Cinque Terre, Italy
(Actual Trip Date: September 25, 2010)
But before I delve into my love of being outside the city, I’m going to nerdy up my blog a tad bit and talk about a lesson we learned from Dr. Abell near the beginning of the semester. We learned that there is one thing humans are good with and that is pattern recognition. When he told us, I thought about it and acknowledged that it was quite true. But what he said never truly clicked with me until I was walking from the La Spezia station to a square where my friends and I would wait for a couple hours or so for the bus. Hungry and finding no restaurants, a couple of us trekked back up to the station to sample our first McDonalds in Europe. After buying some Italian McDonalds that included a hamburger with different cheese and basil, we wandered back to our meeting spot in the square.
Pattern recognition never truly hit me until my friend mentioned it as we were walking. We have been in La Spezia for less than an hour and already we knew how to get from point A to point B without further instructions or repetitions. Maps and directions were all part of the pattern recognition process. The theme of pattern recognition suddenly clicked in my head at that moment. I suck with maps. When I drive or intend to go somewhere, I rely mainly on my memories of images, nearby landmarks, or something interesting to guide my way.
Pattern recognition. Woah.
But beyond this span of nerdiness, I came to another realization about myself. I love the atmosphere, the views, and the feeling of being outside the city. The only time I ever really love the city is when everything is lit up at night. But my spirit is drawn more to the crashing waves of the ocean, the soft, grainy feeling of sand between my toes and padding my feet, the gurgles and foam of the aquamarine waters rushing in, the sunrise and sunsets over dusk and tan colored villages, and the evergreen foliage of forests and parks emitting a clean smell into the air. That is where my heart lies. It’s where I’m truly happy.
Cathedrals, bridges, malls, pubs, hostels can be beautiful and wonderful for small talk, creating and enforcing friendships, but they’re not where I want to be when I travel.
Beaches, parks, and forests are the homes.
The beaches of Cinque Terre certainly without question fulfilled my nature desire the great cities of Italy have deprived me of. Finding a rocky aclove in the early morning after risking our necks crossing a treacherous bridge attached to the side of the rocky hill as morning, volatile waves crashed brutally, soaking my shoes, we settled in, sitting in pensive, calm silence in observation.
The air was chill due to the mountain shadows and lack of sun unable to compete with the mountain’s impressive height. The waters were amazingly and unbelievably blue ranging from dark to light depending where you looked. The sunlight was beyond us creating a lighter hue of blue miles away as the sea stretched on, melting with the lightening sky. Gentle crashes of waves rushed forth, creating a frothy, foamy brew breaking against the light gray to dark gray smooth, jagged rocks. And as the waves brought itself backwards, it created a whooshing, watery sound that permeated the still air in rhythms. Ripples after ripples of cerulean floated forward as the sun came up, warming our skin and the waters. There was a moment when suddenly the smell of salty water rushed up and filled our nostrils reminding us where we really were.
We sat for at least two hours, watching sunlight starting to peek shyly over the edges of the hills and the vast waters become aglow in goodness.
All around me my cousin was making a mini Stonehenge, my friends were journaling, having some peace time, listening to music, taking videos and photos, and then right before we left, I gasped seeing a little treasure behind me. Nestled upon the gray rocks and outlined by the intertwining green vines laid a perfect stone etched with forlorn words, ‘Miss you.’
I shall miss you indeed, Cinque Terre.