A walk around
We both left on the bikes the owners of the house we rented lent us. We went to a church of the XII or XIII century that was at an accessible distance for two out-of-shape thirty-somethings. We are in the south of Italy. The landscape is flat, with a few hills that complicate the ride but embellishes the view. Around, olive trees and vines. Lands of great grandparents who said: “this land is mine” and nailed a pair of sticks to delimit it. Of grandparents who would plow and sow. From parents who saw grow and harvested and from grandchildren who today sell to live in the north. There are also acres of large plantations, with more investment, better technology and more interest in the vile metal than on the land.
The vehicles pass within two centimeters of our bikes. They go very fast. Some of them notice us and kindly slow down or move away a little to avoid any accidents. Others also move, but first they honk, so that we realize, if we had not already done so, that we are on the road. The worst, they pass really close and also honk. To those we kindly thank the detail of not stepped on us.
From time to time we see or hear a lizard that realizes that two crazy people come along the edge of the route and escape as quick as possible. Manu rings the bell with the bicycle. There are the vehicles and us; us and the lizards… It’s amazing how fast those bugs are and how alert they are all the time. The lizards here are particularly striking: small and dyed green grass that camouflages perfectly among the weeds.
Manu comes first. He is pedaling slowly. So slowly that at times I have to brake not to crash him. He is self-absorbed. Sometimes he reaches out his hand and touches the spikes that protrude at the edge of the path. It looks like a movie scene. The sun, the ranges, the olive trees, the bicycle. The cars honk, but we do not feel them anymore.
Instances of happiness arise from the simplest situations.
We climb a complicated hill with the bikes that by the way, have no gear change. We ran out of legs as we went up. We went zigzagging but luckily no cars passed by our side. When reached the top, Manu looks at the map and we had to go back because we passed the entrance to the path that leads to the Church.
We arrived, read the posters and took photos. Stayed about five minutes. We could not enter because it is closed to the public. Next to the church, somebody installed a very luxurious hotel and a restaurant that at that precise moment was being used for a wedding. They were all dressed up and we were sweat, with dirt and rusty clothes, the ones “to ride a bike” (which is the same as “going for a walk to the town” and the same “to join dinner with friends” and the same ” to take the plane, bus or train “).
We decided to go back laughing at the absurdity of the situation. We pedaled a good time to get to an ancient church of which we only have a couple of photos from the outside. It had already happened to us before, by organizing our own tours we ended up in unusual places. They were always worth it.
We unchained the bikes and started our way back, but before reached the route, we decided to stop and stay for a while, hugging to the side, talking about what we felt at that precise moment. About what we lived, what we are living and what we are going to live from here on.
And we concluded that our horizon looks beautiful. That gives us fear, insecurity; we do not have the crystal ball to know what we are going to face; but we continue to dream and we make it so strong that we feel with the heart that we can achieve it.
We returned the rest of the way in silence, each of us absorbed in our own thoughts. We pedaled slowly, as we went out, touching the spikes with our hands, absorbing the sun that lay at our side, listening to the lizards shaking among the weeds, almost without feeling the passage of cars within two centimeters of us, at full speed.
Today we choose to travel slow
We have been traveling for a year and a half and the way to do it has changed with time, as we also changed. Today we choose to travel slowly to be able to enjoy situations that otherwise pass by. Situations like this. Like going out on a bicycle without a course too clear, not knowing if what awaits us at the end of the journey is really worth the effort; but absorbing everything around us taking the time to assimilate, leaving us with a little more than photographs. Because at this moment we value the ride more than the final goal.
When traveling slowly, the range of possibilities that opens in front of us is immense. When traveling slowly we have the possibility to take the time to enjoy every moment, to think, to feel everything in a different way. We are not running against the clock, looking for ways to take advantage of every second to do a different activity. We do little but we enjoy it a lot.
Slow travel allows us to learn from the customs of the place, from the virtues and flaws of society. It gives us the possibility to make friends, to share, to exchange. It gives us time to buy in the village market, to cook ourselves or to participate in a meal with family borrowed. It gives us time to protest alongside the lady waiting at the bus stop for the delay or how the price of public transport rose; allows us to participate in talks, attend workshops or sports activities and in that way we are also generating a valuable link.
Because we also chose Living Slow
But we choose to travel slow, because we also choose to live slow. Enjoy and respect; learn and teach; share and exchange… In this time we have traveled, we learned a lot about the world around us, about our couple and much more about ourselves. To have time also allowed to know us more in depth. It gave us time to think, to discover what we like and what not; exploit our strengths and try to work on our weaknesses and led us to discover what we want and what not from now on in our lives. It made us more creative because we faced situations that led us to take different alternatives. And it made us more tolerant also of the differences, less prejudiced, more open to accept what we live but still participate in the choice of how we want to do it.
We have many projects ahead that excite us and that make the end of this first stage of the trip, just that: the end of the first stage. Yes, we already have a return ticket to Argentina. We decided to return to meet our family and friends, whom we miss a lot, and also need to recharge batteries and wallet to start with another new stage of travel. Because the trip does not end up coming back home… The journey is life itself.
As always, we encourage you to go out, if you are also pursued by the “traveling bug”, and try at least once to start a slow journey. Traveling does not inevitably lead to happiness. But to try and put the heart in whatever the project, can become magical. If the desire is there and the intentions are good, there is no reason why it should not be realized.
There are to many more adventures expecting us; other stages are approaching. Thank you very much for joining us. We value that so much =) Now we stay with the “mate”, because it is your turn to tell us your experiences. What stories do you have to share with us?
Torre Santa Susanna, Italia – 12.05.17