The High Highs and the Low Lows

Day 6 began 1200 meters up to learn about lentils. We parked the bus and ventured down a dirt road to see wild pea and lentil crops and learn about the ancient agriculture of the region. Back on the bus we wound our way up into the mountains to explore incredible vistas and watch nomadic sheep herders bring their flocks into the high valleys.  And eat meat…lots of meat. On sticks.  That we got to grill ourselves…sweet!  Bikers, RV’s,  travelers from around the world and families from the region all converged on this odd little place to eat meat. Meat brings people together, indeed. Arrosticini is the traditional mutton skewers eaten in this region. The place we stopped had rows of narrow grills, dishes of salt and lots of hot coals. Off to the side was a local farmer who brought in fresh peaches, figs and watermelon…grilled meat, beer and fruit… I felt like I celebrated the Fourth of July on the Sixth and it was worth the wait.

After spending a week traveling through lush landscapes, eating beautiful foods prepared by the best chefs of the region, we visited L’Aquila, the ancient capital of the Abruzzo region and the epicenter of a tragic earthquake three years ago.

To be able to witness this remarkable contrast, made our week a most profound experience.  As our tutor Elenora told us on the way, “It is important to see this face because this is Italy and these are its people who lost everything in one night”. 308 people died and over 65,000 people were displaced. I vividly remember watching the footage on BBC and the stunned faces of those who wandered their streets in disbelieve. Watching it on tv made it feel worlds away. We stepped off the bus and walked down the main street toward the old city center.

There was a smattering of small bars open, Aha was playing “Take On Me”. As we continued walking, things got quieter. Ancient buildings were literally being held up  by thousands of metal support girders. Side streets were fenced off and military tanks were stationed to keep the curious out, three years later. The devastation is extensive. Thousands of years of history and family and tradition has been lost.

Seeing it on tv did not carry the weight that I felt while walking through this city.  It is an honor to see this place in person after such an extravagant week. I am a student here and my education really is entirely round.  photos brought to you by the most talented, Charlotte Maberly…thanks love.

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