Life & Travel

Ancient culture and a lot of downtime

Ancient culture and a lot of downtime

By Lonneke — July 01, 2016 03:12 pm
Life & Travel, Italy

After dropping my mother off at the airport, we took the bus into Naples. Everyone advised against going to this notorious maffia city by car, so we took public transport. My love had, once again, done his research of highlights and metrolines and took us into the Centro Storico. It was still very early and a sunday, so some markets were closed, as well as the doll hospital and the famous pizza places. But the churches were open and we visited the Duomo, the Basilica di Santa Chiara and the Church of Gesu Nuovo, each with a very different atmosphere, but all totally impressive. Mostly we just liked walking the narrow streets, with the lines of drying clothes hanging above us between the houses. They oozed a village-feel in this big city. The Toledo metro station was well worth seeing too, it is as if stepping into the future, from the slightly old school streets of Napoli, a true sight in itself. We took the subway to the central busstation, from where we took the bus to Avellino, where our car awaited us to drive back to Calitri.

Here in our home in Calitri, we reminisce about our travels every night at dinner, starting from the day we left, we work through our memories, and the boys' recollections are so richly detailed: where they had the wooden chopsticks that are so much easier to use than the plastic ones, where they had seats in the luggage racks in the trains in India, where they could drink their first soda, where they saw their first snake (and 2nd and 3rd etc. and the first dead one and first croc etc.), where we played the life out of Ten of Pearl Jam, where the nastiest stray dogs roamed the beaches and streets, where we played an endless amount of cardgames, waiting out the monsoon. For them, this journey is not made up merely out of transportation, accommodations, sights and beaches. They have been so focused that every event or interaction matters: there is no distinction for them between seeing a seaturtle laying her eggs or seeing a litter of kittens in the shed of the garden where we stayed. Being in the now, without having to worry about navigation or safety, they have truly absorbed the huge things (orang utans) as well as the little ones (lemon ants). With them as our living diaries, we will always have the complete experience at hand. It is so fun to talk about our adventures and complement each other with all our different angles and points of view.

The boys are so happy with the room to play here, I can hardly lure them out anymore. But once a week we take a trip, for example to Paestum. This major ancient Greek city, with ruins of Greek temples dating back to 600 BC, was a great reason to tell the boys about the Greek mythological figures, which can compete with the tales of Hinduist gods - what with Athena being born from Zeus's head, fully formed and armored, ready to put up a fight. Besides the temples the boys spent a long time playing in the amphitheater, letting their imagination run wild, taking turns being gladiators, emperors, wild beasts and servants. We wanted to eat some bread and chose a shade providing tree, the boys ran up there and I heard the oldest one tell his brother: "stand still, there's a snake, step away slowly." No biggie, for them. After being caught up in ancient times for long enough, we drove to the beach for some more playing and a refreshing dive. On the way back we stopped at a buffallo farm. The location was beautiful and rustic and we wandered around, past the ruminating buffalo's and tasted icecream made of their milk and bought some yoghurts and hazelnut spread. The famous Mozarella di Bufala was sold out already, but I got some in Calitri later.

Often I can persuade the youngest one to come exploring with me: we just park the car somewhere we haven't been yet and hike along. Out of the blue he'll say things like: "appearance doesn't matter at all, what's important is being kind and helping others." Or: "poachers don't want to befriend themselves, they hurt their own heart, because they're the same as the animals they kill." Needless to say this has my heart overflowing. Of course, nobody knows how things would have turned out if we would've stayed home, but I feel like I owe it to this journey that I got to live an all-consuming, firy love-affair with our youngest son. The oldest son was always a mama's boy, the middle one, living up to his balance-skills, clung onto us equally and the youngest son was really attached to his father. Up until this adventure. The first weeks in Sri Lanka he was even more distant than usual, as if subconsciously blaming me for this change of life, of him having to leave his familiar and trusted home. However, soon a change occured and he 'found' me and it's been an absolute joy ever since. Furthermore, at five years old, he is the ideal traveller: naturally completely in the moment, no dread for the unknown, no bouts of homesickness, he never misses anything. He's got everything he needs: himself, his capable body, us, and the world.

A few days back we drove to Alberobello, the world's cutest town, with beehive-shaped houses, plastered white as to ensure the sun can make this village as bright as possible. These Trulli buildings have been designated as a Unesco World Heritage, they're built of dry stone without the use of mortar. Walking around you anticipate a dwarf, gnome or hobbit stepping out their front doors. Driving away again, we noticed some of these unique houses in the countryside also, they look even more in their place here, blending nicely with their surroundings.

Next stop was Matera, its historical centre 'Sassi' is considered Unesco World Heritage site as well. Its cave dwellings are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in what is now Italy. This appealed to the imagination once again.

Resurfacing from primeval ages, we float in our rilassato ocean without time or pressure again, taking it easy, relishing the sunshine, enjoying the simple life. Where the blistering heat in Asia could be somewhat of a challenge, the mild beams of this Campania sun are something our resilience won't get tired of any time soon.

We took off in 2015 with a year of travelling the world with our 3 awesome wingmen, wasting time on the better things in life. From that day on we document our endeavours and make things happen.