Order Tara's Bicycle Touring Cookbook Today!

Changing Seasons

by Tara

My family packed up and left today, leaving a quiet hole in their wake. It was wonderful to have them here, and now that they are gone, Tyler and I are suddenly alone for our last night in a now silent and very large-feeling apartment at Agriturismo Mezzapiaggia. Their departure serves as a turning point in our trip; we now have no concrete destinations before us except Malaysia.

The leaves outside are changing to yellow, there is more rain in the forecast than we've seen since we crossed the channel, and a new crispness fills the night air. I love the changing seasons, and autumn has always been my favorite. To me it is the coziest season. I usually relish "sweater weather" by taking walks, crunching dry leaves and acorns as I go. This year, instead of enjoying chilly strolls, we are avoiding the cold altogether by slowly cycling south.

The seasons aren't the only things changing; yesterday we spent several hours re-organizing the bikes to accommodate our new supplies. Pannier arrangements are now vastly different, there will be new routines to learn, new gear to use, and even a brand new continent to explore. After a few short weeks in Italy and Sicily we're almost certain we will be heading to Tunisia. It feels a bit like flying into Glasgow all over again and I am suddenly feeling nervous about the huge unknown that is Africa.

As I researched possible routes for hours on the computer this afternoon, I felt as if I were playing a game of chess with an opponent of far superior skill. Every time I considered a move (we could go east through Libya instead of west through Algeria!) I was met with an army of complications promising that it would be a terrible idea: Closed borders between neighboring countries. Denied visa requests. Vast stretches of desert. War.

We have a lot of terrain left to explore in Italy but one thing I've learned on this trip is that time slips away quickly. Before we know it we will be in Africa! The next phase of our journey involves all-new territory for me, and I can't help but be nervous about it. That being said, a little fear never stopped me from doing anything I felt was important, and this trip is no exception. Sometimes you just have to leap into the unknown, nervous or not! Like brilliant painter Georgia O'Keefe once said: "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

This trip, with all the work we've done and all the places we've seen, is a far greater endeavor than any measly worries could ever compete with. I am confident that we will learn as we go, and adapt to our new surroundings. I just have to muster a bit more courage and be the adventurous person everyone tells me I am.

One day at a time.