Saturday, 6 August 2011

If you build, they will come...

I've been compiling a list.  A list of things from observations that our summer house guests have maybe expected but not found, or not expected but indeed discovered.  

Have they been happy discoveries?  I'm absolutely convinced of it.  We have had immense fun showing our friends around, sharing their surprises, and learning from their adventures.  Our challenge for the future is to learn from these things and find all those fellow adventurers, and they are out there, who will also revel in exploring, discovering and learning.  It is different here, its not your usual holiday destination.  Italy may be part of a smart, sophisticated and developed Europe, but Italy isn't all Rome, Florence and Tuscany.  

There is so so much more.  Many many places where time has stood still and tourism has barely entered.  Cultural boundaries will need to be crossed, and joy will be found in escaping, even if just for one week or two, the treadmill of a life that no longer allows for the time to stop, feel the moment, absorb, saviour and capture.

The pleasures to be gained from exploring a wilderness, hiking it, running it, climbing it, cycling it are immense and last a lifetime; the building blocks of memories.  We are surrounded by, and look out on every single day, the most amazing landscape, with the knowledge that it is peppered with ancient tracks, trails, streams and waterfalls.  There are shepherd huts to be found, long forgotten settlements and evidences of the old ways of working and living off the land.  There are ancient hermitages, chapels built into and out of the rock, abbeys and monasteries. 

You can startle, or be startled by, a cinghiale enjoying an afternoon snooze, you can watch deer softly grazing in the woods or birds of prey circling on the thermals way way above. There are fox cubs playing with childish abandon in the warm sun, and you can marvel at bear footprints in the snow in the winter, or their scratch marks on the trees in the summer.  

There are the spring flowers, butterflies and fireflies, the autumn colours and crisp mornings and the winter snows.  There are even wolves.  This is what we have.  Every single day.

And then there's the food, the people, the community, the pace and the priorities, sometimes not ours, but important to them nonetheless.  Families are still together.  They live together, work together, all generations together. Cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, second cousins, aunts twice removed.  All still in the same village, sometimes even in the same house.  

Friends growing up together, working together, friends whose fathers grew up together, and their fathers before them.  All still in the same village.  All still in the same house.

But how do you sell this?  How do you explain to a population grown up on instant pleasures instantly purchased that if you scratch the surface that this is what you will find?  But there is a price to pay, you have to let go of your "normal" life and step to the side of your comfort zone.  Just for a moment.  If you don't, you may not find it. 

Don't expect to find English speakers, newspapers, foods, drinks or menus.  Our little corner of Italy is neither Spain nor a Greek island.  Abruzzo is not Tuscany.  Kokopelli is not "glamping".  But that is good.  

Embrace and enjoy.  Be brave.  

Be excited by getting lost, metaphorically as well as actually, and then revel in finding your way. Learn new words, try new foods, meet new people.  Sleep in a tent, take off your make up, live out of a rucksack. Walk, run or cycle till your legs and your lungs burn.  Share your stories, bask in the warm glow of a challenge faced and overcome. 

But how do you sell this?  How do you prepare people for this, help them to let go, explore, saviour and enjoy?  Now therein lies our very exciting challenge, our own personal "out of the comfort zone" challenge. 

If you build, they will come...

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