I have been in Taormina for a week now. My blogs are a bit behind. It has taken me this long to write one because, to be honest, it hasn’t been a great start to this leg of the journey. Clearly it’s more of an internal thing. Nonetheless, I worried it would not be enjoyable for you readers and yet I didn’t want to describe my experience through a fraudulent lens. Then, this morning as the heaviness lifted, I changed my mind. Those following me understand that this isn’t a travel blog with the sole aim to provide information about various travel destinations. It is a reflective account of my journey in far away places both externally and internally. It was born out of a major change and adjustment in my life and gave me a template to be in the world on my own while not feeling so alone. So I would be abandoning its essence and myself by skipping over the parts that are dressed in uncomfortable feelings – loneliness, discouragement, fear. You name it, I have felt it. As we all do. Because, you see, it all belongs.

And it starts like this…

I landed, yet again, later in the day, in Catania, Sicily. I have already made a mental note of this tendency to book flights late in the day and the consequences in doing so. I had booked an apartment for the month I had in Sicily, in the picturesque seaside town of Taormina, about 40 mins from the larger hub of Catania. I chose a beautiful one-bedroom apartment (or so I thought) overlooking the ocean and a mere 1km from the town center. I had imagined making it a home, strolling along the stone roads gathering my cheese and produce in my basket (of course) from the local purveyors. I imagined Sicilian women hanging out of their windows chatting with me because I was now part of this beautiful community, that in my head, I would never want to leave. All the past burdens would be left behind in the previous chapters that have been read and reread for far too long. Well now, isn’t the greatest source of distress in life some variation of things not turning out the way we hoped they would?

I was making note of every steep upward turn towards my apartment on the drive from the airport. How was I going to manage this climb every day and every moment I needed something from town? And when I say steep, I am not exaggerating. It put every westcoast hike I had ever done back home to shame. The kind of steep that you feel you might fall backwards if you stop to catch your breath. I opened the apartment to reveal a small bachelor space, not the one bedroom apartment I had seen on the website. I had hoped for more space because I was to start working remotely while I was in Sicily. I called the owner and I guess I had booked the superior apartment, not the deluxe, and I was unable to upgrade or be refunded. I slumped into the chair. Well there was no denying the spectacular views, at least there is that. I just needed to make it a home, I thought… fill my fridge and unpack my suitcase. So realizing I had only an hour before sundown, I quickly made my way into town to buy some food. Going down was fine. The main road in the town itself was full of tourists which was already tainting my fairytale image. I grabbed a bottle of wine, a baguette, some freshly sliced cured meats, black olives, green olives, and a block of cheese with flecks of red pepper in it. I started to make my way up. Google maps was as confused as I was, constantly trying to reorient itself. I think I even heard Siri sigh in frustration. Then the sun spilled behind the horizon and I was in the dark. What I feared would happen, happened. On a mountain. In Sicily. With a full bag of heavy groceries and a bad attitude.

Eventually I just stopped and wept a little. Then, in what seemed like divine intervention, two older Sicilian men came out of a house looking like they were in an argument, but really they were just talking emphatically as Sicilians do. I pathetically lifted my hand and mustered “umm can you help me please?” They turned towards me and looked perplexed. Man did I ever look out of place. What was this woman, clearly from a faraway land, sweating profusely, doing on their mountain? They came towards me. One spoke a little English. They looked at my map. Their well-aged, plump fingers competed for the screen. They zoomed in and out, in and out again, flicking their hands here and there as though to convince each other they knew where it was and the other didn’t. “Come”. They seemed to finally agree on something. They ushered me into their car. And I went willingly. I would either die by their hands or on a mountainside being picked apart by the stray cats. Sounds dramatic because it was. I sat in the back seat and I am sure they heard the whimper I was trying so hard to contain and said, “iss okay isss okayyy… dontta worry… one day me and Lanny, we come to Canada and you the driver.” They found it. I got out and hugged each one of them harder than I have hugged anyone.

The next day I made my way back down into town. It really was beautiful.

I slipped down the corridors with fewer people and then took the cable car down to the beach. Isola Bela.

A beautiful island in a small bay below the town of Taormina. The water was majestically clear with flutes of kelp that danced along my legs and reminded me of the waters back home. As beautiful as it was, I could not shake the heaviness that came on with the actual storm that grew above me. This was all compounded by some news I received back home of a personal matter. This news may have felt more manageable to process if I were home surrounded by the comforts, supports and routines that ground me. But here on the top of a mountain, held in an inescapable grip of the storm above me, giving me no choice but to feel it so I could allow it to pass, seemed so difficult. I was fatigued, heavy, alone and disappointed. I contacted three of my circle of sisters which consist of friends, mentors, healers and spiritual guides.

If you don’t have some of your own, go find some. We need them.

And each in their own individual and unique healing ways offered me exactly what I needed. The mountain, though a steep climb, was closer to “divine protection” as one friend reframed. “Storm’s end and come with new beginnings”, another offered. “Sometimes you need to really be alone at the top of a mountain to really do the work”, another highlighted. The storm was supposed to last the rest of the week. But this morning, the sun playfully pierced through the blinds and woke me up. And I heard it say, “donntaa worry… is gonna be ok”. I rolled out my yoga mat, I meditated, I made some breakfast that included slices of the delicious cured meats I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate in the previous days. And today I am heading to school. I am going to learn Italian, I am going to eat the food that drew me here and I am going to open my heart and “leave the scraps behind to make room for the banquet that awaits me.”

A new day. New beginnings.

Wish me luck.

Ciao xx