Can you hear that? The sound of silence? Your breath barely even audible and not one noise from the outside world makes its way into your senses. Your chest constricts just a little as the walls and ceiling are mere inches from you and the quiet has left you with yourself. The world has been shut out and you must acknowledge this being you inhabit without any distractions of normal life.
There’s something about being up when the rest of the world is still asleep that makes me feel at home even in a far away land. It’s a safe, comforting time when society is silent and the sounds of nature take over. The light of the early morning sun is at its most gentle and even the hottest of summer mornings are tolerable. Morning dew and mist work their way over fields and birds start to sing. At 5:45 I rise to hike the Anello della Rupe (Ring of the Rock) in the hilltop town of Orvieto, Italy.
What’s in my bag? This is all I brought with me around the world. Carry-on only of course!
In a land of 200 volcanoes I walked on lava, black sharp bits crunching into the soles of my shoes. The red dusting on its ridges had a magnetic pull on my heart and the sea sung songs of islands being born. I hiked in the scorching heat dreaming of shade and watched lizards run to drops of water. I walked windswept beaches with cliffs rising 670 meters above to a lookout I stood on the night before at dusk. I watched a mythical wild goat rarely seen, rise from below the cliff edge and run off into the fading light. I sat in lava tubes listening to silence and shouted at caves that absorbed my voice, erasing echoes.
Sometimes it’s hard to pick favorites, especially on this journey. I was fortunate to have my parents join me in Spain for two weeks and this time one place we visited was the clear winner. We left the hustle and bustle of the bigger Spanish cities for the small town of Ronda in Andalusia. Its white washed buildings and narrow winding streets were easy on our eyes and our feet. The historic area is small and fun to walk end to end, weaving in and out of colorful shops and cafes. If you wander far enough you will discover plazas and gardens hidden around corners. Water trickles musically from many fountains and colorful churches decorate streets of worn brick. Manicured orange trees line sidewalks and fresh air from the rolling countryside fills your lungs.
The ease of my daily travel has been largely due to the magical device I carry around. My cellphone has been extremely valuable to me on this journey. Apart from the obvious service as a way to communicate, combined with Google Maps its navigation functionality gets me to where I need to go every day. In large cities, it tells me what bus or subway to take and how many stops I will be on for. I have also become an app collector on the road and have found a few that help put the world at my fingertips and make planning a breeze.
I have been traveling four months now and while it still feels new, soon it will be over in a blink. Just like life. That certainty is the reason I am on this journey.