2010. Until that year, I had lived all of my life in America. I had only read about or seen other places in books or on television. I had always wished to travel abroad and promised myself that when I did, I would allow the place to teach me instead of taking what I know (rather what I thought I know) about the place and soak up the experience. 2010 was the year my husband and I were able to make our common dream of living overseas a reality. Little did we know that our hearts would forever be changed by this experience. To this day, when I want to get away, I long for my adopted home, Sicilia, Italia (aka Sicily, Italy).
First view of Mount Etna as we were approaching Sicily
Perhaps because of my longing to return, I can remember the entire experience as if it was yesterday. I can remember us stepping off the plane and realizing that we had a twelve-hour delay and no hotel room. I can remember me staying up all night in the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (in Rome) watching our stuff while my husband slept (I couldn’t sleep anyway). I can remember seeing the sun rise in Rome and wondering what the next three years would be like for us. I can remember boarding the plane to Sicily and thinking that whatever happens in the next three years, may it not be anything harmful or negative for our families who we’re leaving in the States. I can remember the landing and realizing that it was the first time I’ve heard people clap during a landing. As my husband and I joined in with the clapping, we looked at each other and knew immediately that the next three years will be a wild ride.
On the left: Rome-Fiumicino Airport; on the right: Statue in Catania, Sicilia, Italia
Sicily made us grow up. Sicily made us rely on each other more, trust each other more, love each other more and work with each other more. We faced our language fears and learned that we can communicate despite barely learning some of the language before we left. We learned how to drive in an area where it takes rhythm and paying attention to successfully navigate the roundabouts. We had the best time discovering awesome foods and drinks and learning how certain foods are made. We made great friends with several Catanians and we learned a great deal from them. We swam in Fontana Bianche and enjoyed the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Good times in Catania, Sicilia, Italia
For us, this wasn’t just a billet that he had to work. This was our chance to find out what life had to offer. That’s what travelling does. It shows another side of life that most people don’t see. Travelling gives one a chance to understand the truth about a country. It allows for one to touch history, embrace culture and create memories in an area that may have only been seen in a book or on television. It allows growth, change of perspective both internally and externally and gives a whole new meaning to our lives. For us, we can’t thank Sicilia enough. It’s given us a place for our hearts to call home. It’s toughened us. It’s enriched us. It gave us peace, joy, tears and fulfillment. It gave us Speranza and Bordeaux. It gave us a way to see another piece of the world that many people only knows as the “ball at the toe of the boot”.
Until next time, challenge yourself to go beyond the travel books and websites. Challenge yourself to visit the places of interest and to immerse yourself into the adventure without allowing prior knowledge of things be the reason for you not participating (unless your allergic or it’s truly life-threatening). Life can be richer once you step outside your comfort zone and step into a new experience. I can say for certain that Sicilia has definitely enriched my life and I’ll never be the same again because of it. Mi manchi la Sicilia. Gratzie di tutto! Ti amo sempre!