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Sicily at Last

by Tara

We took it slowly this morning, making crepes for the first time in what felt like ages. When we set out, we were hoping against hope for a flat day but of course, it was anything but! Like yesterday, the ride began with a long, slow, 500 meter climb. Litter-strewn yards and dilapidated houses (each with a barking guard dog or two, held at bay by makeshift fences, some of which were made out of rusted box springs) gave way to woods and quieter rural areas the further we ascended. The air was filled with one of my favorite smells—woodsmoke combined with the earthy scent of damp fallen leaves.

Tara Preparing Breakfast Southern Italian Village Southern Italian Village Construction

I was feeling very "autumny" as we rode past crimson leaved grape vines and the spikey hulls of fallen chestnuts. When we saw a particularly menacing cloud front moving in, Tyler ran to find cover and I put a bag over our sleeping mats before running to join him. Despite the rain, drivers sped by as fast as ever, with the notable exception of a man on a tractor, slowly trundling up the hill holding an umbrella in front of him to deter the pelting raindrops. Cars backed up in a long line behind him, their drivers sighing and honking impatiently.

Chestnut Tyler Impending Doom

After two hours of climbing, we reached the top. What lay there was unlike anything either of us has ever seen. The skies turned abruptly from normal cloud cover to thick, billowy plumes creating a white, all-consuming wall of fog (our attempts at photographing the phenomenon failed completely). We took a moment to rest and watch in awe at fast moving, impenetrable whiteness blowing by just inches from our faces. Feeling like we were entering some sort of new world like we had back in Kandersteg, we coasted down into the mist.

Non Toccate I Fili Pericolo Di Morte

The mist cleared as abruptly as it began as we slowly approached the towns below. In steep, terraced villages, children walked home from school for their lunch breaks, and tiny toothless grannies wearing black skirts and kerchiefs hung clothes to dry out their windows as we zipped effortlessly down towards the sea. Finally at the bottom, we were left with 20 kilometers of hilly coastline to traverse before reaching the town of Villa San Giovanni for our ferry to Sicily.

Approaching Sicily

As we rode, we unabashedly sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" along with several other Disney songs as loudly as we could, cracking up when we were passed by a very serious looking racing cyclist. In the town of Scilla (a very lovely town, unlike most we've ridden through lately, and the home of the mythological sea monster, Scylla) I stopped to take photos and was shamelessly hit on by a couple of high school guys on their lunch break. When they realized I couldn't understand (read: wouldn't acknowledge) their come-ons, they changed to English and started singing "I love you baby" and blowing kisses at me before speeding off on their scooter, making some… interesting… hand gestures. Charming.

Virgin Mary on Globe w/ Moon Adorazione Eucaristica Perpetua Building in Scilla, Italy Tara's Bike

Finally we made it to Villa San Giovanni and followed signs towards the ferry port. Tickets to Sicily were €1.50 per person and we were the first in line to board the ship. Quickly wheeling in when the boat arrived, we bungeed our bikes to the inside and made our way upstairs to sit outside and enjoy the views. Even though we travel to a new place every day, we were excited as the boat began to move—time to go somewhere new! No going back! No return trip!

Ferry to Sicily Our Bikes on the Ferry to Sicily Rope Back to Sicily

After a startlingly short ferry ride, we docked unceremoniously in the busy city of Messina. Like in Rome, traffic was a complete gridlock of mayhem as people parked their cars in the middle of the road and scooters wove their way through every tiny opening. All in all, it felt exactly the same as it had on mainland Italy, only busier and noisier. After a quick search for a free-camp or campsite in this bustling city, we gave up and looked for a hotel instead.

Now we're settled in at the Hotel Touring, drinking the bottle of Sicilian wine that Loredana and Massimo gave us, and planning our route around the island. We're excited about seeing the active volcano, Mt. Etna, and making our way around the coast to Palermo. From there we hop a ferry to Tunisia!

Before we found a hotel, we found this skinny, friendly stray cat and fed him:

Feeding a Hungry Stray Cat Feeding a Hungry Stray Cat
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Hi Tara and Tyler -

I have the day off work and so am catching up on weeks of your journal entries I was behind on! It looks like y'all are having so much fun, I'm jealous :)

But what I wanted to say is that your photography is just getting so incredible. Really, it's stunning. Great color, depth of field, good eye for expression and timing. I'm impressed!

Miss y'all,
Posted by Brooke on October 29th, 2009 at 3:08 PM
T & T, thank you so much for calling today. It was wonderful to hear your voices, you both sound so happy! I agree with Brooke about your photography - amazing! I'm also touched by the stray cat feedings; I do the same thing for the strays in my woods and marsh! This is the 5th autum that they come back, looking for their bowl of Friskees! Love you both, stay warm, dry, happy and safe! Love sb
Posted by Sandra Brakstad on October 29th, 2009 at 9:51 PM
Brooke - Thank you! That means a lot, especially coming from you, photographer extraordinaire! I hope work isn't too stressful lately. You should take more time off and ride your spiffy new bike ;-)

Sandra - It was lovely to talk to you too! It is hard to resist those cute little guys, isn't it?
Posted by Tara on October 30th, 2009 at 3:10 AM