The rest of “that” day.

1 Jun

imageI ended up in Pietrasanta after my sad day. Spent the night in a room with a German girl, three Italian girls and an Italian guy. Got the last bed.. Poor small climbing into top bunk :(
What a shit day. Amazing how you can be turned upside down by witnessing something like that.
Maybe I’m tired, I’m not usually super emotional but that seriously hit me like a truck.
Life is a gift. I reckon I get 110% out of every day… sometimes a little bit more. My glass is always half full (but I’d rather full)..
Anyhoo. Moving on.
Here is my friend Mario preparing my next sports drink…..
Pietrasanta is beautiful but I can’t appreciate it being in the headspace I have right now.
Oh… Forgot about the rain.. You know those videos of cars splashing people? Get this. I was hit waist high for a while… Then I got the full “IN YOUR FACE” by a bus.

image

Seriously. I was laughing so hard I wanted to stay there and get video ( except it would wreck my phone) Then 30 mins later the tears. That’s all I got. Too much going on in my head.

Sent from my iPhone

Black day, witnessing a suicide.

1 Jun

I never expected today. Never. How confronting to see an end to life. A lifeless body, 20 metres away… On the banks below a small bridge… in the real world (not at work) is something I have seen before but not in such raw context. How can it get that bad?
I am so sad for the family. I spent the next 10 Kms walking up a hill crying and feeling very alone. Nothing should be that bad that you end your life.
I wanted to start CPR.. anything to try to erase the lifelessness. To feel so helpless and wonder why it happened…
I know I wish I’d never seen my brother lifeless in a coffin. I’d rather remember him laughing and drinking… and smoking. Nothing worse than a life ended too soon… no matter how.
Go hug someone.

Extinct species in Tuscan hills

31 May

IMG_1667The day wasn’t all bad, thanks for asking :)
Still far too much mud and plenty of hills, but not as crazy looking trail as yesterday.
So many towns and I have no clue to their name within minutes of being there.
Had the crap scared out of me when I was within millimetres of stepping on a snake… spent the next 30 Kms thinking every stick was slithering. And the snake really was “this” long!
Had a moment up in the hills when I found what I thought was an extinct species. 5 women, all with aprons on and not a phone in sight…

image

Was happy to do a 54km day finishing in Sarzana after a shitty decent (pretty much ankle breaking trail) Found Parrocchia San Francesco di Assisi and staying in crappy room ( with stacked chairs, desks and mattress on the floor) with Spanish girl. Pilgrims can’t be choosers when all this place asks is €5/ night.

IMG_1669

To heaven, hell and steepness in between

30 May

IMG_1663 From Cassio to Pontremoli was only about 40 Kms…
Every uphill was cursed by mud, rocks and stupid steepness. The downhills were worse. Toes pushed into the top of my shoes… surely the end to ten toenails.
To not watch every step was asking for trouble. I had to look up every 10 metres to make sure I was on the right path and not sending myself into a mud pit or falling on rough trail. Don’t think I’ve ever seen such gnarly trail.

IMG_1659
Absolutely ZERO relief as every climb was heckled with a tortuous decent. Ugly. From up to Communications towers, down to creek crossings. Nothing gave relief. If every day was like today. I’d be a broken pilgrim.
Passed a bike rider who’d fallen and a fellow pilgrim who also fell in the last 5 kms. To come this far and break an ankle would surely piss this pilgrim off and ensure to me that there really isn’t a God.

IMG_1658
Arriving in Pontremoli and spending an hour trying to find the “Ostello” that wasn’t, almost had me in tears… Almost.
Resorting to the Convento Cappuccini .. Likewise.
The guy that opened the door has a special relationship with Australia and just wanted to talk ( in Italian) about some Priest he met in Melbourne years back….. I, on the other hand wanted a shower and some horizontal relief from surviving a day of technically frustrating trail.
Two more weeks and I will be in Rome. Just need to stay focused and stop wishing Rome wasn’t so far down the “boot”. Still 500 Kms to go but 1,700 Kms done.
Don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I imagine by the looks of the mountains surrounding this place.. I’m in for another like today.
Need to restock supplies. Carrying food and water is a must and the remoteness of the mountain tops hit me today. Must get spare batteries for my Spot Tracker. Compulsory piece of gear.

Sent from my iPhoneimage

Italy is not flat.

30 May

IMG_1646 View from my room last night… IMG_1650Β  Well not today it wasn’t. Fidenza to Cassio was the plan. 55kms if I didn’t get lost. From the climb out of Fidenza I knew it wasn’t going to be a flat day … Add at least 6 river/ creek crossings and I’ve started to think about my feet for the first time in over 1,500 kms.
My pack feels better, my muscles are great. Nothing worse than some stupid foot issue because they are wet all day. Will be vigilant in keeping them healthy.

IMG_1649
Snakes? These little things have to be harmless? I saw one warming itself up on the road before I then meandered into grass as tall as me. Always the “safety ranger” I was super careful and spotted two more.. before I stepped on them. I was talking out loud like Croc Dundee… ” that’s not a snake… You ain’t seen a snake till you’ve seen an oxyuranus” aka Inland taipan. Big and deadly in the Simpson Desert. No idea what sort of snakes they were but wasn’t going to take pics for my reptile lover friend Paul to identify.
Getting to Cassio meant another Pilgrim haunt to stay in.
I arrived to find the place not answering their door. I rang the phone number and had the lady on the other end telling me “no”…

IMG_1655
Damn it. Maybe I should just pitch my tent? I was muddy and filthy from the water crossings and really needed to wash my feet. I sat down at a park bench and thought of my options… and how I will never not appreciate a roof over my head.. Ever again.
I could make it sound really dramatic … But. A guy drove up and took me to the front door of the Ostello di Cassio and showed me in!! 2 sets of bunks and bathroom all to myself☺

IMG_1654
There’s a bed reserved for Al and Lindy and SJ and Suse. Then you won’t have to message me and we can talk all night… eat chocolate and drink wine. Typical girly room. Sal and Rose are in my bed…😘

Can’t upload photos.. Damn iPhone/ Internet

65kms of everything. Some good, some not so.

28 May

 

imageI know you guys don’t want any rainbows and puppy dog posts… and believe me, there aren’t any out here.
I checked the local weather before I ventured out today. No rain. Yippee. Opened the door and it’s pissing down.Out came my jacket and off I went. Today was going to be a 65km day. Get on it Trumper.
Fast forward 2 hours and off comes the jacket. Just in time to use it like a matador to some vicious dog that decided to attack. Bastard took a bite out of my Montane! Better off than a bite out of me. These European dogs are angry! Scared the crap out of me but pretty happy with how angry and aggressive I can sound.😳 I’m now carrying a stick.

IMG_1642
Between the dogs and some of the roads the trail puts me on this is no “safe and fun” trip. Words that best belong on a box of condoms.
There was a fair amount of mud today, there were also three river/creek crossings to wash my shoes, socks and legs.

IMG_1640

With no guide book to follow now, I’m not prepared for the water crossings which can sometimes be a good thing. I just need to stop with the expletives each time I get so pleasantly surprised.
So, I’m 49 Kms into my day and I come across a house with a pilgrim on its letterbox. Before I know it, the owner comes over and asks if I need anything. Would I like a coffee? Hell yeah!
His name is Massimo. A teacher of Italian, History and Geography to Middle school kids… and great at coffee. So warm and hospitable. The Italians really are a friendly bunch.

IMG_1644
I got back on the trail to get to Fidenza to find Frati Minori Cappuccini. What a disaster. Where the hell was Via San Francesco??? I must have looked like something out of the Amazing Race. I was stopping cars to ask directions and holding up traffic, hoping that they didn’t close their doors to Pilgrims by 5 pm. Fidenza isn’t a tiny town… I worked that one out today. I finally found it, buzzed the big fella and nothing. Nothing. After about 5 mins I look up at the sign written in 5 languages and see some English. Pilgrims will only be accepted between 6:30 and 7 pm. So much for rushing. So with backpack still embedded into my back, off I go to find some food.
Fast forward a few hours and I’m showered, fed and ready for bed.

Prickly off track and torrential rain..

27 May

imageToday was always going to be a bit tricky as the 20 km marked a ferry trip from Corte San Andrea to Soprarivo. I called ahead to let a guy called Danilo Parisi know I was coming. I’d done some major bush bashing and cut and scraped my legs being about 30/50 metres to the left of the trail.. Problem was there was a canal in between, so I cut myself up pretty badly and yelled expletives…. Not that anyone could hear as I was shorter than the prickly weeds towering over the “track”..

IMG_1621
Danilo was a character. He picked me up in his water taxi and for 10€ got me to Soprarivo. A perfect interlude. We sat and laughed at the language issues unlike those awkward moments when it’s just better to stay quiet.
Photo is where he lives.
Next stop was to a Post Office to offload over 2 kgs of warm gear and send it to Australia. Nice to lighten the load. Funny the things you are happy to see gone.
The plan was to get to Piacenza… But not in the torrential rain. I found a Maccas and treated myself to my second Scottish meal in 4 weeks :)
then ventured out in the pouring rain to find Gods establishment, Santa Maria di Campagna Convento Francescani.
I was greeted at the door after buzzing some dude. He appeared wearing a dress and with key in hand, showed me to my digs for the night.
Mmmmm shower…and washing. Getting all the prickles out of socks and shirt.
I spent the next hour or more enjoying the texting of Roger. I think it must have been 4 am in Sydney.. Getting advice and warm fuzzy crap. Thanks mate. xox
He’s told me to eat … Lots.

Bad room, bad day.

26 May

imageI’m stopped for the night in Santa Cristina. Defs the worst Pilgrim accommodation I’ve stayed in but I’m still happy to be here. Thank the good Lord Jesus that I have it all to myself. The couple and their two dogs that were booked into the same room have now decided to move on (geeze, I must really smell) I waited down at the bar/common room for confirmation that I could stay. With no conversation in English or Italian, I managed to get upstairs. No key, no bathroom or shower…. a bed. That’s good enough for a desperado….
My back was suffering big time today. I’d done some tweaking of my pack (it is the tightest/smallest it can be) as I have two pressure areas … Defs not from lying in a bed with no pressure area care.. Thanks nurses ;) sacral and thoracic spine. The lack of fat on my body isn’t helping. Reckon I’ve hit the 40 something Kgs…
Anyhooo.. I was cursing and complaining to nobody as I struggled with what seemed like an extra 20 kgs in my pack, when I realised that I should shove as much as I can into my belly to lighten the load. This included a tin of tuna and some liquid refreshment.
The liquid was something I invested in a few nights ago. For 2 Euros I got me a cheap white wine…. 1 litre job. Moral of story is if I can’t chug it down, toss it! When the hell did I become so soft… I reckon it tasted like the Club Med wine that never gives you head spins, even after a couple of litres. So after two nights with the damn thing I was still carrying it on day three. Bugger that. Tin of tuna and 200 mls wine at midday. πŸΈπŸ‡
If I can find a post office open tomorrow, I’m sending stuff home. The weight of my pack is pissing me off. My legs feel fab, never felt a muscle issue. Ankle is not great but won’t stop me walking (running is an issue..)
Feet have been perfect in Injinjis and Hokas. So, so lucky.
Am I glad I’m here? Not really. Miss my family and friends and wish I had company… But. One day soon, I’ll be happy to say glad I’ve done it.

Robbed in Robbio but saved in Tromello

25 May

imageI spent the night listening to some sauerkraut snoring his head off in his luxurious room with a door that he wouldn’t shut while I slept next to a sink…. Robbed of sleep ;)
I had reservations about him when we first met as
1. He had a car
2. He also had a bike
3. He was exceptionally nosey
4. He was obviously not a Pilgrim.
He wanted to know where I would be tomorrow, even getting his maps out to ask where I’d be the next night… Dodgy.
Then there were the church bells that went off every 15 mins. I don’t think I’ve heard any bells past about 10 pm until these bastards went off all night. Then, sirens at 4 am? The upside of that chime was it woke the kraut up and gave me 30 mins of silence.
So to make things even, I got up super early and flushed the toilet, dropped things on the floor and generally couldn’t give a shit about anyone that had obviously slept all night.
I miss Heinz :(
More rice fields to zig zag through made for a generally boring day until I got to Tromello.
I met Carlo. He had a push bike with one wheel green, one red and the rest of the bike white… and a Via Francigena sign on the frame. He rode with me into town wanting to give me a stamp (in my Pilgrim Passport) from his city. It was that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know someone wants to make your day… And he did. See photo. Cold water, Coke and a badge from Tromello. He wanted me to stay there but I told him I needed to get further.
He told me I had to stay in Gropello Cairoli… So that’s where I am, at Parrocchia San Giorgio.
It’s a little disturbing to enter a church and some guy to immediately ask if you are a Pilgrim and need rest, but the alternatives are worse.

Now, where was I?

24 May

IMG_1617Well I now know how to rattle the cage and get some attention….😜
I’m a tad disappointed that so many of you thought I’d pull out with just a flesh wound. Ye of little faith.
I arrived in Santia last night absolutely drenched. Shared a room with two Italian men (one very handsome and the other a snorer) The up and downside of Pilgrim accommodation ;)

IMG_1609
This morning all my gear was still wet so I broke out a new set and had all the wet stuff hanging off me to dry. Good look. Slipped and slid through mud on trails around rice paddies after all the rain watching frogs jumping into the trenches. Slow going but flat.
Thought I’d get further than 48 Kms today, but maybe after a crap day yesterday and the snoring Italian last night, I was happy to stop.
Found a Priest in Robbio, he opened the boot of his car… I chucked my pack in and he did a great impersonation of The Italian Job hooning around the streets of the town till we stopped in this little square where the police station is. My room for the night. and no, I’m not in a cell ;) Gates do close at 7:30 pm though…

IMG_1610

Thank you for all your messages after yesterday’s post. I will respond when possible. Really appreciate your messages.. Even the HTFU ones. 😘

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 406 other followers