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November 30, 2017


This is a beautiful post. Thank you for this.

I've traveled more in recent years and am fascinated with the surprises embedded in travel--elements (good or ill) never considered before. Strange to think that, living only a few hundred years ago, most of us might never have gone more than a few miles from home. A departure or an arrival would have been wondrous.

That's very well put! My father's father came from Siculiana, up the south coast of Sicily from Agrigento. I doubt you got down that way, but I am looking forward to whatever you plan to share about this trip!

Thank you, Rachel.

So true, Marly. I think air travel is still too fast for our bodies and minds.

Peter, actually we must have driven through Siculiana on our way from Selinunte to Agrigento, but it was dark. Still, I'll have plenty to say about the southern coast. I didn't know your grandfather was from there! That makes me even more interested.

I look forward to your posts on Sicily too! I feel fortunate that I've lived in three other countries, Canada, Ireland and Sweden. Ireland before the Celtic Tiger. And I've traveled in Europe and the US. These days I'm happy to be home in NH.
I saw a documentary on airports a while ago which stated that air travel will double in the future. I find that hard to believe. I find travel stressful but have many experiences I treasure, mostly the people I have met.

So much I relate to here, as I get ready to travel next week. We, too, prefer to stay in more modest accommodation, more integrated, if possible, into the everyday life of the place we're visiting. I do love to visit galleries and museums, but otherwise I'm less drawn to see particular iconic sights than I am just to observe the everyday. So far, for example, despite having visited Rome five times, I have not felt a need to line up and go inside the Vatican, although I do realize there are works inside I would enjoy seeing, nor have I taken a tour of the Colosseum. But I've run in the Borghese Gardens in the early morning, and I've walked kilometres and kilometres, getting lost and found and stopping for coffee and chatted in mangled Italian with the old couple enjoying Carciofi alla giudia in an unprepossessing restaurant on an obscure piazza. . . .
And trains are still my preference, but I'm so grateful for the privilege of flying (although not without some eco-guilt mixed in to the gratitude)

My niece is working as a missionary in Sicily with the refugees just outside Catania. The stories of the people she assist are overwhelming as to the harrowing journeys and their needs. Have you seen the documentary Fire and Ice? It is about the small island of Lampedusa, through whose port most of the refugees are brought into Italy. The refugees reside in a camp near a U.S. military base. They are free to come and go but that is where they receive shelter, food, etc. I stayed in Catania for a few days by myself. I picked a small, family run hotel in a working class part of the city. I walked everywhere and ate at the neighborhood bars. The back streets of Catania are full of brooding young male refugees standing in doorways, staring out at the passersby, with the same expressions that I remember from the poverty stricken in the backroads of the South. They are the secret hidden from the throngs at the temples and the Europeans threading through the winding streets of Taormina. But is that not always the way in developed countries? The people speak of the great needs of the refugees and how they must be helped - but not by Sicily of course, a country too poor to tend to its own. Sicily is a country like no other. Its hot winds and lava walls and alleyways filled with candles and families eating pasta at midnight at street side tables, it's vineyards and interior farms clinging to rock, and towns where no one even spoke Italian but a dialect so thick that we could only pantomine to communicate, all has gotten under my skin like an ancestral burr. I am ever-longing to go back.

Beth, as always you go beyond the personal (without letting go of it) and imbue your travel experiences with a fresh sense of discovery and respect for history as well as acute observations of the place where you find yourself. I'll keep on repeating what I've said so often before: write a travel book, YOUR travels, the places where you (former non-traveller) have been and how they appear in your eyes, with your words, your images.

Hi Beth,

Your insights into the effects of travel on your own perception and understanding are very gratifying. These have been the privilege of those of us born to or learning the wonder of travel.
Early in life as a seven year old in Egypt, it was my wish that we could take home all the miserable children on the streets so that they might be like me. Those children are still there, only several generations later, now on the streets of Beirut. The reasons are endemic in the human condition, for which the ultimate solution is known to us. He has come to us, and put on our clothes, and stood on our streets. And above all, paid the penalty for our sin. We are free to expend ourselves on behalf of all those He gives us to care for
beginning at home.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.