I met someone this evening who reminded me that adventures and adventuring don't have to be anything we actively go after. I've been a little maud over beautiful images of one friend's recent travels in particular because they are of places I love and have been myself. But I was shaken from that pitty party when reminded that there are moments in our lives that if we look at them just a little differently or maybe after a time, will reveal themselves as adventures and that don't make us any less the adventurer that says....
'Oh this weekend I am going skydiving, and next weekend I am spelunking and the weekend after that I am going whitewater rafting on a Class 5 river after hiking through a forest for fifteen hours.' (I have done several of these things btw but they weren't all things I actively pursued or planned...some honestly just happily happened. And I don't begrudge anyone who does actively pursue such activities or any other kind. In the words of my grandfather Anguiano, have-ass it;)
(And a shout out to those who will say they will be unavailable during their adventuring when in fact we all know we will see moment by moment posts of it all via Instagram, Twitter or FB...insert audio of John Mayer's 3X5 above, right here.)
Pretty needless to say, the blog bug hit instantaneously when I was almost slapped in the face with this thought of what constitutes an adventure and I could not wait to get to a computer to think out loud;)
I have lived on three continents if you count North America, where I was born. And I have lived numerous fantastic places in this country. And while I assume and can relate really incredible moments that I have had in those places, those where not adventures I actively sought. They were opportunities that I decided to take that I believed would (and that have) led me down the Wonderland rabbit hole of creativity.
I want to relate an experience that I now categorize as an adventure but at the time, was just me and another of my friends living life and quite frankly, just trying to survive a little. As I continue creating this blog, I am sure I will be inspired to share more of my experiences that perhaps I can now call adventures. This adventure, as I now think of it, fits into a movie somehow that I will make one day!
It was our five-day break on the University of Dallas Rome Campus and all my closer theatre friends wanted to back track to more familiar places. I wanted to go to Sicily but I was warned it was not safe for a girl to travel there alone. But I wanted very much to see Palermo, Agrigento and if I played my cards right, the tiny town where scenes from The Godfather I, II and III had been filmed.
I happened upon two friends who I will only call Dave and Todd, as they had nicknames back then that I cherish but that maybe they would not appreciate so much nowadays. Todd and Dave agreed this would make for a nice five day so we threw our gear into our packs, boarded a train at Termini with bottles of wine, bread, hard Italian sausage and blood oranges and away we went. We rode that train all the way to Villa San Giovanni and caught the ferry over to Messina where we intended to sleep for the night before starting the trek (via goat-back riding!) to Godfather country before winding our way up to Palermo and then down and around the other side of Sicily to Agrigento.
Mind you, we didn't really think of riding goats into the dry hills of Sicily to get to this little Godfather-esque town an adventure. It was just a means to an end. We camped for the night in a tiny little slip of a hotel and actually spent the night with a big group of Italian guys, eating pizza, drinking Birra Moretti and cheering Italy and one of my daddy's favorite Italian soccer players in World Cup quarter-finals.
We rose the next day and went straight to a carpark to catch a bus to the town on the coast where we would hike to the goats that would take us to the Godfather town (the irregular cadence in that sentence cannot be created with hashtags btw!;) Only the bus ride to that town could more accurately be described as a jostling, Hail Mary prayer not optional , 50s Italian pop blaring descent into Dante's 9th Circle of Hell! The driver was drunk or just...drunk. He swerved erratically along a cliff edge driving a dilapidated bus that was also from the 50s and we simply hung on for life while the other passengers sang along.
Arriving in this tiny no name town later in the afternoon, we were informed that the goat rides were closed for the day. I don't know, the goats were on siesta, who knows. Worse, we were stuck in this town cause there was no bus or train back to Messina until the next day. So what did we do for the night where there was no place for us to sleep or eat or do anything but get slowly soaked through by a constant pissy rain? Dave took off for the local night club that was blaring something unintelligible from the outside and Todd and I decided it would be fun to dry out in a street tunnel of some kind and see how many Italian movie posters we could collect from giant billboards that had 10-sheets plastered lazily one on top of the other, burying posters of American and British classics and crap from years past. I managed to score a poster of Michael, of The English Patient and Star Wars (alas that last poster is gone...I cannot talk about it.)
After a time the rain stopped and Todd and I made our way to the Mediterranean sea edge, copped a squat and smoked Todd's last two Romeo and Giulietta's before the rain returned to ruin them while waiting for the posters to dry out in that random tunnel we found. Passing out in the sand, as the sun came up and Dave rejoined us, we collected our posters and made our way back to the local carpark where we caught THE SAME BUS back to Messina. Several Novenas later and we were back on the train, sans my dorm room keys, to Agrigento.
Only we were not going to Agrigento (Palermo being abandoned at this point.) Falling asleep in our car from shear exhaustion, Todd and I woke to find ourselves on a train that split. Dave was headed to Agrigento and we were headed to Palermo.
And we did not want to see Palermo at this point. We just wanted to go back to Rome. So we boarded another train, made sure we were on the section that split our way and pulled into Rome at about 9pm and a massive transit strike that was going to leave us stranded in Rome overnight. Having little money and being too tired to think clearly, Todd and I bought crappy Italian McDonald's (something we had all sworn we would never do), and got a taxi from Termini to Anagnina which was the closest station to the campus in Due Santi.
Of course being as tired as we were, we didn't conceive that the buses would also be on strike. But what's the difference really between the floor of an outdoor Metro station and a Mediterranean shore? GYPSIES! Beautiful, roving gypsies who would expertly slash the wallet right out of your back pocket were you dumb enough to be that American;) Todd and I slept with our backs pressed against one another, sitting up, with our packs slung across our chests and our arms resting on the tops of them, as pillows for our drooping heads. Finally at around 6:45am we boarded a bus that took us to the street leading to our campus and then to closed and firmly locked gates. After several attempts, the head of the Rome Program, Wayne Ambler (Ramblin' Ambler) came and let us in, asking our reason for being back early. When we related our story he agreed we would be allowed back onto campus for the remaining day of our five day and reminded us to get to the grocer down the road before it closed because there was no food on campus.
Five or six hours later, after a shower and a quiet nap in my empty dorm suite, a gentle knock on the door revealed Mrs. Ambler, inviting me to an al fresco dinner by the pool with she, Dr. Ambler and their two daughters. I gratefully accepted and ended up spending one of the most memorable nights of my young life in the company of kind, intelligent, generous people, enjoying homemade pizza cooked on the outdoor forno, bottles and bottles of wine and several spirited games of Bocci and Scopa. (Todd decided to make his way back into Rome, the transit strike having ended and therefore missed the incredible dinner and company.) I woke late the next day, Sunday, to my roommates, all with incredible stories and pics; my sweet, beautiful, quiet little experience being overshadowed by larger than life adventures of the rowdy college kind.
So you see, an adventure does not have to be on purpose...as long as you recognize what you have experienced is purposeful, it can be a complete set of accidents that form a fantastically funny and sweet story. The purpose I found in my 'adventure' is that I learned how to truly be unafraid of the #wanderlust after that. And being able to relate an adventure like that, the only really necessary question left to ask is...