Small cobblestones paved a steady, inclined path leading to the renovated, medieval building I’d call home for the next few nights. As I make my way up the mountain, city soundscapes were swapped for peaceful streams of chirping birds and soft whooshing sounds only wind can muster. I traded European architecture for native trees, like Cypress, Rhododendron and Evergreen Cork Oak.
Relief flooded through my veins after leaving Milan. And it wasn’t because I left the cozy, home environment that fell into my lap the night before. Sadness swirled within my alleviation — I’d miss this wonderful family. But, my anticipation and inspiration to conquer a foreign place on my own, known to offer wonders of Tuscan Nature, reached new heights.
Katia and Alejando, the hostel owners, welcomed me with open arms, and the consumption of authentic, Italian food continued. They prepared home made dishes every evening. Myself and the other guests would gather around a family style table to soak in each other’s company and culture.
Occasionally, during our meals, I’d find myself lost in a conversation dominated by Spanish or Italian. My Spanish is intermediate, but not suitable enough to verbally connect with someone on an intimate level. I couldn’t engage, so I fell silent.
I didn’t necessarily feel uncomfortable, or out of place, but became aware of the opportunity I’d been given to realize my disappointment in America’s school system. Majority of people I’ve met in Europe know at least three languages. Too, I felt disappointed in myself — if only I’d taken my Spanish classes more seriously. But, it’s never too late to learn, right?
I have a new, profound appreciation for languages, and understand the importance of expanding beyond our mother tongue. It increases our ability to communicate with the many, beautiful humans walking our Earth. You wouldn't believe the amount of people I wish I could've connected with, but couldn't, given my circumstances.
Now more than ever, I’ve had to rely on a heightened awareness of energy and body language to interact with people. Energy and body language will always remain universal.
The remainder of my first evening consisted of resting and making connections with two girls I’d met — Liz from Columbia and Naoko from Japan, both of whom approached traveling in a way I hadn’t considered. The girls worked at the hostel a few days every week in exchange for food and accommodation. On their days off, they traveled to different areas. They had been in Italy for almost a month, and were on to France afterward.
Could this be how I’d swing my next adventure? We’ll see. All I know is, this trip has confirmed the beginning of a new lifestyle for me.
Como is a larger city situated next to Lake Como. Small villas act like a ribbon along shoreline, but on the outskirts, is thick vegetation I had every intention of wandering through.
The next morning, I greeted the sun and asked Katia for a hiking recommendation. I hadn’t carved out time to do my own research, and why bother when I’m at the hands of a local? I followed her directions down to the wire — hopped on a bus, walked a ways and took a tram up a hill. So, I became disheartened when I eventually found myself weaving through an unsettling neighborhood, far from where I started. Cars hissed by, dogs barked and I shook my head in resentment.
Did I make a mistake? Or had I not made myself clear to Katia about what I was looking for?
Frustration settled in, mixed with a little bit of fear — I felt lost in a grim environment simply searching for shades of emerald. To escape was out of my reach. I couldn’t turn back. I had already come this far and my two feet were my only transportation.
I decided to work my way down the hillside and attempted to accept my surroundings — I mean, I’m in Italy, right? I remained hopeful that a reason would soon reveal itself explaining why I was on this path. After an hour of walking and internal arguments, the pavement faded into grass. A Nature trail presented itself with an overlook of the lake. I smacked my forehead with the palm of my hand.
Typically, in these moments of confusion and uncertainty, something beautiful awaits around the corner. Butterflies guided me along the trail with their pearl wings and orange creamsicle tips, while bees gave the breath of life to springtime blossoms, and birds sang sweet melodies.
After some time here, I wandered back through the city to the safety of the initial cobblestone path. I reflected on my day as I made my way up the mountain. I admired the sinking sun as it casted colors of amethyst, rose quartz and aqua marine across the sky, and beamed a glistening, golden light through the foliage.
I questioned why I hadn’t stuck around the area surrounding the hostel. It offered plentiful natural landscapes I could’ve strolled though all day. But then I remembered a moment of verbal exchange I had with my Reiki Master Michelle.
“We think we know what we want and we think we know what we need, but sometimes we’re wrong,” she said. “The one entity that knows what’s best for us at all times is the universe.”
Without today’s trial, I wouldn’t have recognized the Truth in her lesson. I thought I wanted to leave a developed, man made area because I thought I needed to be wrapped by a forest. But, I encountered the opposite before being granted the opportunity to be still in Nature.
More often than not, we are forced to meet face-to-face with what we resist before being granted the fruits of our labor. And sometimes, what we resist is what we need most.