Amazingly, I was able to travel to Italy last week. I had several "is this really happening? Pinch me please" moments during the trip. Three months ago I would have never imagined I would physically be able to do the trip, I wouldn't have fathomed traveling thousands of miles away from the safety net of my home, my doctors, and American medicine had provided over the past four months. I'm so glad the Lord brought this opportunity into my path and then allowed me to go...and to have fun! :)
My most favorite memory from the trip was waking up early to catch a train to another town in Cinque Terre, a string of five towns on the eastern coast of Italy, on Thanksgiving morning. The town was quiet except for a few folks headed out to work. We stopped for coffee and croissants (I munched on a protein bar - so glad I brought those!), watched the locals sip coffee at the counter standing up, watching the news that was on in the corner television, laughing, greeting each other, glancing over at the four tourists seated at a small table, and then heading out for a days work. As we walked along the coast, I told my friends that it was too bad the trails that linked the towns together were closed, because I had seen an amazing picture of a man carved in stone, holding up a house, that was along the trails and I had really wanted to see that in person. As we walked down onto the beach, I yelled...because there, at the end of the beach, was the stone man holding up his house. Unexpected blessing.
So there's a story to the above picture. I almost ended up in the Mediterranean trying to take it. I was walking towards the edge of the canal to get the shot and looking in my viewfinder of my camera as I did so...I KNOW I would not have walked into the water, I was aware of where the edge was, however, I was not aware of the puddle of water, on marble, right under both of my feet and when I hit it, BOTH feet shot out from under me...I heard a bunch of gasps behind me, somehow landed on my feet with a bit of a stumble, took my shot, turned around and saw a group of old Italian men grinning and shaking their heads at me. I assured them I wasn't planning on taking a swim and rejoined my friends, who had missed the whole thing and were wondering why I was cracking up. :)
Yes, I will admit that I wish my stomach would have behaved a bit better, and I wish I would have been able to eat the food there (alas, gluten!), and I wish Italy sold Mountain Dew Code Red :), but I was blessed with friends who were patient and didn't make me feel bad when I asked to sit down to rest, or made multiple pit stops, or had them looking for a restaurant that had risotto or vegetable soup (the two meals that were definitely gluten free and that my stomach was tolerating). But all those wishes made for some good prayer time with the Lord as I had to work on my attitude. No, I didn't feel like I wanted to, but He still sustained me and allowed me to laugh and to drink delicious Italian coffee and to see amazing sights...and to add a bucketful of good memories to my life. I think I ended up appreciating the trip more than I would have if I had been feeling 100% and for that, I am thankful.