“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday June 30, 2017
Bucharest, Romania

“Why don’t you take off your shirt?”
I shrugged my shoulders and pulled my legs tighter to my chest.
We were in Naples, Italy. Sitting on the soft sandy shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The sun was shining bright and hot. A soft breeze blew just enough to keep everyone from melting on the spot.
I had just bought a bikini. The first one I had bought in years. It was bright green with little bright pink crocheted flowers.
I had bought it the previous week in Sardinia.
I was hitchhiking around the island, sleeping in the crevices of the rocks. Falling asleep to the sea as it gently sloshed onto the sandy-colored rocks around me.  Waking up to the mot glorious display of colors in the sky all around me as the sun rose over the crystal clear waters. I took my morning swim… wading out over 10 meters… watching as the water distorted my feet beneath the surface…  so clear…
The last day on the island, I decided to challenge my biggest fear.
Exposing my body
Exposing my scar
The giant scar
Running deep across my belly.
Just above the belly button.
The only traces left of the life-or-death struggle I barely remember from my early years.
Ending in a liver transplant.
I was born with a faulty liver and my first few years consisted of doctor’s visits, hospital stays and surgeries. In 1988 my medical team had run out of options and after being on the waiting list for far too long I finally got a new liver.
But this was before they got down the technique of stitching people up to leave behind a barely there scar.
This scar I was left with created a crevice deep across my tummy.
Revealing a deep crease in every shirt I wore
Which lead to many years of crippling self-consciousness, plummeting body image and resulted in a life-long battle with coming to terms with my body and loving myself.
I tried to starve the scar away.
I thought that if I lost a bit of weight maybe it wouldn’t show so much. My skin wouldn’t bulge above and below..
I slowly cut out this and that from my diet.
I stopped hanging out with friends
I stopped laughing
I remember my dad asking me at one point, “Is there anything I can do to see you smile again?”
I had no answer
It was always there.
It never went away.
I was never flat.
I thought I looked like an alien. Deformed.
And growing up… my brother… my classmates… all instilled in me a sense of being unattractive… unlovable…
Every shirt.
Every dress
Highlighted my defect
I still cringe when I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror.
A shadow curls over my thoughts as I catch my side view and leaves me in a damp mood the rest of the day
Yet… of all the people that have seen it… taking off my shirt… changing in locker rooms…
Not one person stopped and stared.
No one questioned what that thing was
That indent in my belly
In high school, in Newfoundland, Canada, we had a hot tub in our backyard.
Occasionally I would invite my friends over to relish in the warmth and filling our noses with the oddly comforting smell of chlorine
I always wore tankinis.
One night… one of my friends noticed my scar.
The force of the bubbles rising to the surface must have been enough for him to catch a glimpse.
“What’s that? What happened?” He asked softly.
He edged closer.
I pulled the swimsuit down. An uneasy feeling came over my previous carefree joy
I looked at him… trying to assess his reaction.
But instead of disgust and revulsion, his face was earnest and genuine curiosity.
I stood up
He bent down and gently lifted up the tankini.
“wooahhhh…” His hands softly ran over my belly… the scar…
I wasn’t sure how to react.
The rest of my friends in the hot tub grew silent as they took in the scene unfolding before them.
“It’s beautiful” He whispered.
He bent down and kissed it… barely grazed it with his lips.
“You are a miracle.” He breathed…
I was overcome with wonder… with confusion…
Why was he not grossed out?…..
That was the only time anyone directly addressed it.
Even when I was deep in the throes of want.
My shirt off
His hands softly grazing my skin
Never once did they recoil when they reached the scar.
It wasn’t until I brought it up did anyone acknowledge it.
It was glaringly obvious to me
but to them…..


Sardinia! 🙂 Just look at that water!!


Sardinia.. How can you NOT swim in that water….

So when I was in Sardinia, hitchhiking, sleeping on the sand or sandwiched between rocks… after months of being on my own backpacking through Europe…
I observed the people on the beaches I’d visited.
All kinds of bodies.
Women. Men.
Old and young.
Big and little.
Pregnant and stick thin.
They LIVED while on the beach in their bikinis or otherwise skimpy suits.
They did not seem overcome with self-consciousness.
Hiding whatever flaws they thought they might have
I slowly gained the courage to try it out for myself.
I remembered all of the body image challenges from the various treatment centers I had spent time at
I decided it was time to try it again.
As luck would have it, there was a man with a rack of swimsuits right there on the beach. Selling them as the sea swept over his feet.
I hastily grabbed the neon green bikini that had caught my eye earlier and hurried over to the rocks to change in (somewhat) privacy.
And then I walked down the beach
Cautiously at first
Almost tiptoeing in the sand
My feet glued to my toes.
I took great big freeing breaths as I walked.
Inhaling the fresh sea breeze and exhaling fear.
I slowly got to the point I was able to look around.
No one recoiled in disgust.
No one stopped and stared.
No one pointed in horror.
They were going about their day. Playing with their children. Laughing with their friends. Lounging in the sun…
I walked to the water’s edge.
I let the sea lap my toes and as I walked deeper and deeper I let it cleanse my soul of inner fears.


It was pretty obvious that I hadn’t worn a bikini in awhile from the glowing white skin of my belly compared to the nice tan elsewhere…
Now here I was on a small crowded beach. The sea water in front of me was clear… so very clear….
And a beautiful shimmering turquoise
All of the bodies around me
Tight, model-like bodies. the ones with the muffin tops. the old men in speedos…
All a dark shade of caramel, toasted by the hot Italian sun
No one gave a second thought to me.
Of how I looked.
They were enjoying the moment.
the warm kiss of the sun
I wanted that
He nudged me with his elbow, “Come onnnnnnn..!!” He urged, “Take it off! Let’s go swim! I’ll take you to a sea cave!”
His hair was stringy and wet. He had already been in the water.
His green eyes glittered. His thick Italian accent gave his tone a soft, excited urgency.
I sighed and slowly stretched out my legs.
I took a breathe
Centered myself.
I am me. I am at the seaside in Naples, Italy. How could I NOT swim in the water?
The sun beat down. My hot skin begged for the sea.
I looked around.
No one was paying attention to us.
They were all in their own worlds. Drinking. Laughing. Cuddling. Talking. Swimming.
I slowly pulled my shirt over my head and tossed it to the side.
His face lit up.
Grinning from ear to ear, he leapt to his feet and reached for my hand.
“Come on! Let’s go!”
I glanced around again. No one was paying any attention.
I remembered something I had heard at the eating disorder treatment centers.
“You may think everyone is staring at you. Judging you… but you are not that special.”
You are not that special
I always thought it was a tad negative of a thought.
But at the same time…. It is kinda true…
I am always fearful that people are constantly staring. Judging. Rejecting. Criticizing. But that is not the truth.
I am NOT that special.
People are all doing their own things…
I am not what they think about.., maybe in passing…
But when I think about it..
How many people do I see on a daily basis that make so much of a blip on my radar…
I am just another stranger to them.
I allowed him to help me to my feet and followed him into the water, weaving between the bodies stretched out on the sand.
I looked behind as we reached the water’s edge.
No one’s gaze was on me.
No one was pointing in horror.
No one was recoiling with disgust.
They were all going about their day.
Living their life.
“Come on! Enjoy the moment. You glow with the most beautiful energy when you smile.”
I closed my eyes and inhaled slowly, closed my eyes and let my breathe go slowly… expelling my crippling self-consciousness.
I slowly smiled. Opened my eyes. And entered the water.


Mirrors… self-reflecting or self-destructing?
The struggle is suffocating and constant still…
Perhaps by the end of summer I will allow myself to wear a bikini again…
Even though it has been years since I have set foot in a treatment center.
Recovery is lifelong.
The thoughts never go away
I live for the days I am able to drown them out with positivity. sunlight. friends. and inner peace.


Back to Budapest

Friday, February 3, 2017
Budapest, Hungary

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

I have a feeling that there will be many posts about Budapest in the upcoming month and a half.
I have posted myself here until the 180 days are up and I can finally go back to Romania! I could have tried to get a job in the USA (that would be difficult since I would only be there for a short while). I also could have saved money and stayed with my parents (but that would have been boring).
Instead, I am helping out at a hostel here in Budapest. Living the life. Meeting new people. Attending all of the ruin bars in town to find the best ones. Getting lost in the city to find its hidden treasures. And inviting friends to come on down so I can personally show them the best day ever.
I remember on my way to Romania, I spent a short time in this enchanting city and knew I needed to come back… why not see all there is to see and more and stay here for a month and a half!:)
In fact, my first night here, I had a whirlwind night of meeting my fellow helpers and going to the coolest ruin bar in town, Szimpla. There were all kinds of neat things to find on the walls and on the floor and the ceiling. The hallways and stairs were narrow and stone so it had a labyrinth-like feel to it.. there was a toilet on the ground floor right by the dance floor (hopefully no one has actually used it).. there was a fish tank upstairs.. the outside courtyard was overrun with great green leafy trees and a big red sports car… there was writing all over the walls.. ohhh it was my dream bar!!! I never got bored just looking around at the hodgepodge of wonderful things to entertain myself with!  Unique… different.. bizarre.. beautiful… enchanting… so very fresh than a normal bar :))  and they had some pretty hiphoppening music to get down to as well! ;)) I have a feeling I will be back in the near future.
I also did a quick walk through of the city again.  Below are the pictures… I will have a bit of an update on the city and the experiences after I have been here longer… but so far it is a tad overwhelming.. I speak no Hungarian, but I recently learned my favorite phrase in Hungarian, “Why not?” I’d say it is pretty useful for an adventurous traveler to know…  Less people know English here than in Bucharest… But ohh the buildings are so beautiful.. and the bridges… and the random statues all over.. I am so glad I chose this place to chill at.. I think the time will pass quickly

What a wonderful view… It is so much prettier in real life.. or in a  better camera… But that is the view of the Fisherman’s Bastion from the Chain Bridge..

I love this little statue.. I saw this guy when I first came here and absolutely adored it,.. Just beyond,.. in the background is the famous Chain Bridge…


Another fun little statue of a girl playing catch with her puppy :)) Just down the walkway from the Chain Bridge to the White Bridge…


I love this little portly police guy :))


The Love Lock Tree :))


St Stephen’s Basilica… I’ll go inside one day… but I love the coffee shop on the right hand side… mostly because it is called “California Coffee Company” and I adore California..


The Green Bridge near sunset.. Just behind me is the huge Central Market Hall where you can find a huge assortment of fresh and local cheeses and meats and breads and fish and Hungarian specialties.. It was so overwhelming that the first time all I came out with was a pomegranate.. but I learned that most of the people know enough English for someone to purchase something since it is quite the tourist attraction too..


The Love Lock Tree :))


The start of the Chain Bridge.. with the lovely fierce lions protecting on either side.


Can you tell that I love this bridge>! :))


And again, the Green Bridge… Ohhhh how I wish I had a better camera to show you guys how beautiful it really is!!


And here is my favorite Market… soOoOoo much fresh meats and cheeses and breads and fish and vegetables and fruits…. Don’t be afraid to talk up the workers, most of them know at least some English since this place is pretty famous and a lot of tourists pop by for Hungarian specialties. :))

California Dreaming

February 2, 2017
Budapest, Hungary


So…. here I am… back in Europe… Working at another hostel.. In beautiful Budapest…
48 hours ago I was slashing around in the Pacific Ocean on the shores of Ocean Beach in California. Going from 24 degrees, sun, sand, salty ocean breeze, tacos, friends and the most gorgeous sunsets in the world to 0 degrees, flooded streets, rain, slush, cold breezes and strangers (3 of whom I went out with last night and now they are no longer strangers but dear friends).
Anyway, I wanted to share some of my photos from California. I swear someday I will move there… to San Diego… Carlsbad… Oceanside.. anywhere on the coast of SoCal.
My first stop was Los Angeles where I had the pleasure and honor of attending the NAMM show. I ran around Anaheim taking pictures of Disneyland and dreaming of heading in to ride all the rides and relive my childhood memories.
That is, until I received my name badge and saw the giant NAMM show sign and the ginormous stage set up…. my excitement to step inside flew through the roof!!
There were SOOoooo many people wandering around on a mission. They knew where they were going and what they needed to do.. meanwhile I aimlessly wandered around taking in al the signs, oohing and ahhing over all of the guitars and testing them out, ‘slappin da bass man’ (I hope you guys love that movie too…), collecting free things, and people watching… So many people that looked like rock stars!! And then.. I saw lines…
Lines? At a convention? The light went off in my head… I remembered people saying that there were signings and meetings with different rock legends at different booths.
So I added that to my list of things to do. I got in lines and waited and chatted with the people next to me. I never knew who was waiting for me at the end and I refused to ask. Honestly, I did not recognize any of them.. but when I showed friends the pictures their eyes bugged out with wow.

Anyway, it was a joyful three days.. and we even got to sleep in the beautiful and fancy Mariott where all the stars slept!!! (I’m sure of it) except we fell asleep early both nights..
We then got to visit Santa Monica and Venice beach and the Griffith Observatory on a terribly rainy day… the sun broke out a few times, but I honestly had to wear a jacket! In LA!! And I kept getting frustrated because my camera sucked and he had this superbly beautiful camera that made everything look phenomenal… and even made me look pretty ok too!!

Sadly, he left  :((( and it will be so long until I see him or anything Romanian again.. so after crying a bit in the car, I was swept away in an Uber to go to my friend in north east LA area. I worked with him back in Alabama and he offered to host me for a night.. we went to Korean food and were quickly back to our old banter and silliness… The next day I got a grand tour of Little Tokyo and China Town before my train south to Oceanside to my friend from Mammoth Mountain.
Oceanside is one of the most beautiful towns that I have ever seen in my life.. beautiful palm trees… the ocean… fresh kombucha… breweries.. blue sky.. tasty tacos.. long pier… fresh fish… surfers everywhere… stunning sunshine.. I spent the next two days with him and his family (he has a pretty groovy southern california family.. the dad surfs and his two sisters are into rock climbing and raki and doing all kinds of artsy things) We caught up on all the things and drank real DELICIOUS IPA’s and biked around town in this little blue bike that reminded me of the one from ET.. just cruising around in the Southern California sunshine with my feet wet and sandy from dancing in the ocean.
Back to my hostel.
ITH Adventure Hostel.
My life for some of the best 4.5 months of my life. It changed so much! The staff room was now another chill area… they no longer cook fresh breakfast and dinner… it changed so much… yet felt the same… all the people that worked there were not there anymore, except for 2.
In fact, Alex, one of my favorites, was the one that hosted the tour to Tijuana!! Him and his gf work at the other hostel that is managed by the owners and him and his lady would come over to visit us at the ITH Adventure Hostel often and she even dressed up as me for Halloween in 2015 with pink hair and screaming “BEST DAY EVEEEEERRRRR!!”
Tijuana… mannn… Totally the best day ever… We took the trolley… walked across the border (It didn’t look a whole lot different… maybe a bit more barbed wire… and before there were dudes in with guns on the Mexico side, but not on Saturday) and ate some of the best street tacos I have ever had in my life.
We went to get margaritas and I kept trying to psych everyone up and bring them to my level of excitement.. My favorite thing was sometimes the waiters/bartenders at the Mexican bars that we go to… they would pick 3 or 4 of us in a big group and do this big shenanigan where they blew their whistles over and over and made a huge deal and sat one of us down in a chair, tilting the head back and pouring tequila straight into the mouth.. this particular place we went to this night did that AND then gave you a short amount of time to catch your breath before pouring beer in as well and then they took you to the dance floor, flung you over their shoulder and spun you around…. THAT was what kicked off the night,.. after that we ALL got up on the dance floor and continued to go to a few different bars and danced the night away… one of them had a beautiful Cadillac in the back that we sat in and drank in… I was in awe… moreso of the swings they had to lounge on while sipping my margarita than the Cadillac.. but anyway, everyone made it across the border into to the USA…  my friend with long blond surfer hair and me (with pink hair) both got pulled to the back room at the border to be detained and asked a series of questions. They brought out the drug dogs. I was a little tipsy and of course my first reaction upon seeing a dog was to pet it… They were not amused. Needless to say they found nothing on either of us, but made us sit there 10 more minutes before we finally got released.. and just barely made the last trolley home.
I love that hostel. So much. Nothing can compare to the ITH Adventure Hostel. No other hostel that I have visited has ever been that much fun, that beautiful, offering all the activities as well as breakfast and dinner. And it will always be my 2nd home, even though times change and the vibe of the workers change, I still made friends with a couple of them and told them stories of the good old days when the dream team was working.

And now I spend the next month and a half counting down the days until I can go home to Bucharest again.. to my home.. my job.. and some of my favorite humans ever..

The writings on the wall…

“Art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self.” ~Jean-Luc Godard

January 5, 2017

One thing I adored in my travels was wandering the streets of the big foreign cities. Meandering down the uneven cobblestone streets. The family run stores. The unique range of items in each. The attempts to speak their language and being met with smiles of encouragement as I tried to charm them anyway with my attempts, yet butchering of their language. The air was so much fresher without all the skyscrapers and bland buildings. The  smells of all the foods wafting in the air. The pureness of the coffee….
And the street art.
I LOVED the street art.
I was FASCINATED with finding the scrawling in English in all of the countries. Little words and quotes amongst the sometimes beautiful, sometimes hectic murals and foreign writings on the walls…


Florence, Italy – One of my very favorite cities… such narrow streets.. such beautiful sunsets.. such hidden little treasures like these…Bubbles were blown on the streets.. I forgot my money but the man who heated up my pizza slice (one of the best pizza slices in THE WORLD) made me sit and eat my pizza before he allowed me to leave to go back to the place I was staying to get my money.. there was a certain romantic, haunting, old-timey beauty about this city…


Rome, Italy – a city overflowing with history and culture and food and wine and vines and vespas… Unfortunately, I only got to spend 2 days there.. but I will most certainly be back.. But this little sight made me smile 🙂


Venice, Italy – I have found the word “Love” in every single city that i explored. It was such a fun treasure hunt.. I loved finding it in the language of the countries I was at too.. but theres something fun about looking for “Love” in unexpected places ;))


Naples, Italy – Both of the above were on the same door covering of a closed store… The words were quite hard to see in the dim streetlights and I was rather tipsy on wine but I was waiting for my friend to buy our 2nd bottle and stared at these words for a good 5 minutes.. taking it all in… running my hand over the metal door, taking in the energy behind the words… letting it speak to my soul.. and feeling the feels of “How Can An Angel Broke My Heart”.. the incorrect English.. it just filled me with an infinite sadness for whoever wrote it.. and the other, “Am I In Love With You Or Am I In Love With The Feeling” resonated in particular about various people and places and events on this trip…


Naples, Italy – The moon is another one of my very favorite things in the world. I saw the word “Moon” hidden all throughout Naples, one of the dirtiest cities with very strange, unique people, cheap wine and walls covered in the most random and chaotic street art, scrawlings and scribbles.. So it was even more exciting to find treasures like these…


Basel, Switzerland – My friend had just taken me on a swim down the Rhine river.. We each had little “fish” that were waterproof bags in the shape of fish and acted as a flotation device as well… Our group was one fish short, so instead of desperately clinging to a fish the entire time the water took us gently down the river in its current, I was free swimming.. and it was the most beautiful feeling.. and at the end we grabbed beer in this funky little nomadic, artistic area and I was filled with warm fuzzies and happy and sunshine… As we were walking back I happened upon this beauty 🙂


Barcelona, Spain – I was wandering the city and decided to go to the beautiful Park Güell that was filled with all kinds of stone statues and covered in tiles… I quickly felll in love with Gaudi’s work and style.. the shimmery tiles.. the quirky architecture.. it was all so magical… Anyway, I found a tiny exit out of the bigger park (the free area of the park) that looked like it would provide the most gorgeous view of the city.. and it did.. but it did also have this (and many more of the same) message to tourists..


Brasov, Romania – one of my favorites EVER. It says it all. “I miss you’re stupid face”


Brasov, Romania – What’s meant to be will always find its way. Very true. Everything happens for a reason.


Brasov, Romania – this one made me smile… and made me wish I had someone to send this to and mean it with all my heart…


Bucharest, Romania – Not exactly sure what this one is about… but I was wandering a nearly empty park in late fall and found this little fountain.. it seemed as though it hadn’t had water in it for forever.. the tiles were broken on the inside.. there was a thick layer of dirt coating the broken tiles… the outside around it, where people would normally sit was nearly all taken apart… and “Madonna with coat was h” was all that was left of who knows what kind of message :)) I love it.


Bucharest, Romania – #PeopleLikeUndMe.  I found these all over in Bucharest. They intrude me… #PeopleLikeUndMe apparently do all kinds of things… Dance in the rain… Hold Hands.. Don’t need Sleep.. Run free.. Dance together.. Are meant to be… Get lucky…
Finding them hidden around the city still make me smile 🙂


Bucharest, Romania – “Stop the violence” scrawled on a building that was falling apart in thimble of a park…


Bucharest, Romania – Ohhhhh Romania :)))..


Naples, Italy – Across the street from this was “You Belong To Me”  I adored these little sweet declarations of love…


Seattle, WA – My first full day back in the states, I found a sign of hope and acceptance and love from the Universe that made my heart smile 🙂

Return to Napoli 

“Even now I miss Italy dearly, I dream about it every night.” ~Eila HiltinenTuesday September 1, 2016

Day 102

Napoli, Italia.
The dirty streets of Napoli delivered just what I needed. I came back from Sardinia after spending 5 nights sleeping on beaches and one on the top deck of a ferry boat outside. I was ready for a warm sleep and a friend. 

I had stayed with him before I went to Sardinia and he was one of my favorite people I’ve CouchsurfEd with. Very knowledgeable. Walks a lot. Affectionate. Tiny apartment with a loft bed and toilet inside the shower and the beautiful big terrace which was the roof of an old church. He knew where the cheap wine was and the good food. Cheap food. He was the adventure I needed. 

He took me to a gorgeous beach. I had to give my passport to the man in charge in order to get in. But people swam around the barrier to get in anyway. They were trying to keep it a special place. A pretty place. Not many people. The other beach where everyone else laid around was crowded. The water was clear. The cliff faces were stunning. He took me to a sea cave tucked in amongst the rocks. We shouted into it and giggled as it echoed. We attempted to walk through it until he stepped on something soft and squishy and we turned back. We ate bread and cheese and grapes and laid in the sun. It was a long walk down to the beach through a gorgeous twisting turning road. The sides of the road were walls that enclosed fancy villas with wild gardens and stunning views. 

After, we hiked back up to the top and wandered through a pretty park that ran the length of the cliff and led itself to some gorgeous panoramic views. Beautiful flowers. Water spigots that provided much needed fresh water in the midday heat. 

The evenings when we got back from our adventures we’d shower the hot sticky sweat off and laze around. On the terrace, smoking cigarettes and chatting. Up in the loft, trying to take a nap but my second wind would come and I’d get way too excited and I would ask him the most random questions i could think of or play dj with the songs on my Spotify. 

Then we would go out to get wine at his favorite place. A whole bottle for 2 euros. We would take it to the steps of a church or a bench in a park or on the edge of a fountain and talk. Tell stories. Joke around. After 2 bottles down we wandered to find his friends. He was quite famous with his friends. Napoli people are intriguing. Very different than any people I’ve ever met. I loved it. At one point we’d realize we’d barely eaten all day and go get a pizza. We’d sit on the curb and stuff it in our mouths in the light of the distant streetlights, the cheese oozing and dropping off the slices. We’d fight for the cheese bits that dripped off our slices. 

I always found the most magical things in the graffiti. Beautiful messages. In English and Italian. “I love you forever” and whatnot. 

One night I saw, “why did an angel break my heart?” A deep sadness washed over me. 

The 3rd day he took me on the train. We were going to go to a lake. Into the wilderness. But on the way, it was so hot we decided to stop by the sea. The sand was dark, crunchy like brown sugar. People were scattered about, scarce. The view in front was wow. A castle on one side and a little island on the other. Neither of us thought to wear swimsuit so we hopped in in our undies. No one looked twice. There were a lot of teenagers with boom boxes of sorts, blaring Italian pop music. Their heads thrown back in laughter. Lots of romance all around. Guys kissing their girl’s necks. People laying on each other on beach blankets. 

We went to a grocery store to grab lunch. I am always fascinated by foreign grocery stores. Everything looks and smells so amazing. We got bread and some sliced meat thing and artichoke hearts. 

As we exited, it started pouring down rain and we had to seek refuge under an ivy covered gazebo. It was a warm rain. I could see the sun still shining off to one side. A rainbow was going to appear. I was sure of it. And to my delight, as we finished the last bit of our makeshift sandwiches (more like bread ripped apart with our hands and meat thrust in and dipped in garlicky artichoke olive oil marinade) the rainbow appeared. Right over the hill we had to cross to get to the lake. And the rain let up. 

We walked down this lonely road. Bamboo lined one side and an abandoned looking vineyard was on the other. We snuck a thing of grapes and munched on them, spitting out the seeds as we walked. We found fresh, plump blackberries hidden amongst the bamboo. We are those too. Further on, we found a fig tree and grabbed some of those too. The sky was still cloudy, but we were blissful. We joked that we were like Adam and Eve. Wandering around, alone, the only humans, eating all the forbidden fruit. 

The lake was huge. Still, no sign of humans except for the music carrying over the lake from a party going on on the opposite end. We walked around. Picked more blackberries. Tried to get the dragonflies to land on our fingers. Spotted turtles. Tried to catch frogs.

And there was this ancient roman ruin up ahead. He told me it was from an ancient Roman bath. I wanted to touch it. Extract it’s stories from the crumbling walls. Unfortunately it was too wild around and I couldn’t get close. We walked a little further and I spied some benches off to the side near the ruins. I explored and found a trail that led down to the ruins. It was wow. I touched it. I wanted to climb it. I wanted to explore. I wanted to know its secrets. He called me back. We laid out a towel and laid around in the peaceful wild nature with no one around and told stories of growing up. 

Soon enough it was time to go back to the city. Our evening of showering and being lazy and wine continued. We met some of his other friends. As we walked back, we heard music. We danced and danced. Swirling and spinning and moving. 

Back at his place, as we smoked our final cigarette for the night he looked at me, “You know, my friends think we are good together. That you are good for me.”  

That was that. I left the next morning with a heavy heart. I had found a new kindred spirit. A new soul that I had touched. A new person that showed me that I could be loved. That I was fun. 

But my time in the Shengen was drawing to a close. I had started my 3 months in June 3 and it was now September 1. 

I didn’t want to leave Italy. It was the best weeks. It was beautiful. Rich with culture and food and history. The people are my favorite. The sun the warmest in every sense of the word. Wine everywhere. Vineyards. Beautiful people. Just everyday I couldn’t help but smile. 

I flew away to Croatia the next day. For a few more days of sun and sea before heading east.

Hitchhiking in Sunny Sardinia

“The best teacher is experience and not through someone’s distorted point of view”. ~Jack Kerouac
Saturday August 27, 2016

Day 98

Sardinia, Italy 
Sardinia. The Italian Caribbean. Absolutely stunning waters. Glorious shades of Aqua, teal, emerald and all the blues and greens in between. Some of the beaches had the color of a pristine swimming pool. I could imagine I was in one, until I went under and my eyes began to sting from the salty sea water. You could see your toes. You could see the fish flitting about below. Some of the beaches you could wade out nearly 75 meters and the water was still just barely at your waist. It was warm too, in the night I preferred to be in the water than out due to the setting sun taking the warmth with it. 

I will have spent 5 nights here. Every night I ended up sleeping on the beach. Not a bad way to sleep… In the dunes of the sand or in a little rocky cove tucked away… Waling with the rising sun. Spectacular sunrises here too. All across the horizon the colors changed and swirled until the sun burst over the hills beyond. But certainly not the most restful or comfortable. And it gets cold at night. 

Day 2… I wandered up and down Paetto beach. Tried to sleep since I hadn’t the night before but it was much too hot. I wandered up and down the streets of Cagliari. An interesting town. Lots of windy streets and fancy restaurants and souvineers shops. You can walk up and up and get a superb view of the town and surroundings and the sea. But I wasn’t feeling the best vibes from people, though I had heard happy people reside here. I tried to link up with a few CouchsurfErs but from the tone of their messaging they were not necessarily offering their couch, but their bed, next to them. I politely declined, saying I’d rather sleep on the beach. And so I did. I also discovered that the hostel will hold your bags for you for 3 euro a night, which was super helpful since I didn’t want to carry it anymore. 

Day 3-4 I met up with a CouchsurfEr after messaging him and asking if he could tell me a beautiful beach to sleep on. He decided to come along and show me. Perfect!! We spent the morning touring a few of the local beaches. Emerald waters. Pure white sand. Tons of dark, leathery skinned people laying under their umbrellas. 

We went to his house. He lived with his parents and his younger sister. I hear it’s a thing here.. In Sardinia I think… To continue to live with your parents into your 30s. His house was huge and gorgeous. Short four minute walk to a perfect beach. I was in awe. His mom cooked an amazing homemade pasta meal which I tried hard notto stuff my face with. I was hungry and it was delicious. His mom said she had seen it in a cooking show but could never find the recipe… But she was pro that at least she got the colors in the sauce right

After stocking up on wine, bread, cheese and pesto (all of my favorite things 😍) we got on a bus that took us to the end of the line.. 5km down the road. 

The next part was my absolute favorite. We got to hitchhike!! It only took about 20 minutes of sticking out our thumbs to get a ride. A lime green car with just the shell, no real doors or roof. It was perfect. My friend and the driver, a sweet old man in a polo shirt and khakis, chatted the whole way. I stared in awe at the coastline. Every turn resulted in a spectacular view. I wanted to stop and jump in. It just got more and more beautiful. There were cacti and Palm trees all over. It looked like the desert. The coastline reminded me vaguely of the drive from Monterey, CA to Los Angeles, CA.. But instead of waves crashing, there were all the colors of blue and green. You could see all the rocks on the bottom, even when we were way high up on the road. 

Our first stop was my favorite beach ever, Mari Pintau. Wow. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! It was like all those pictures.. those calendars.. The water was the most amazing color of blue. Like a pool. So crystal clear. I walked out and twirled around and wiggles my toes. You could see everything, even if you were up to your shoulders… And swimming where my toes could reach, you could still see the bottom. The fish below. It was transparent. It was wow. 

After getting my full of swimming there, I grew anxious to keep moving. 

We got another ride with a young couple in an RV. They were on vacation from mainland Italy and decided to take the girl’s parents RV so they didn’t have to pay for a sleeping place. Once again my friend chatted with them while we woke up and down the road, tight s curves surrounded by cacti. With rolling mountainous hills on one side and cliffs beaches with little coves and beaches on the other.

We got dropped off in Villasimius and were told we could reach the beach just 5km walking down the road. No problem. The sun was beating down. I loved it, but craved a beer or gelato or nice cold glass of white wine. The sun, as hot as it was, was beginning to set sowe quickened our pace, finally making it to one of the many beaches in the area, Spiaggia del Riso. It was a beautiful little cove with a row of sailboats separating our cove and the sea. It was getting dark so I couldn’t exactly see the clearness of the water but decided it would be a wonderful surprise for the morning. We opened our wine and dove into our dinner. The sunset was gorgeous. The stars came out. I always forget that sleeping under the stars means the sun is gone which means the warmth is gone and therefore I forget to bring warmer clothes. We ended up crashing at midnight and since the sun rose behind cliff behind us, we got to sleep in a bit longer than usual (8am). Restless, cold I kept waking up to admire the stars above. 

And I was finally able to see the sparkling waters  we slept by. The clear transparent water. How it sparkled in the Sun. I jumped in for a little wake up/polar bear swim (even tho polar bears would die of heat in this water) and we headed on to explore the rest of the beaches in the area. 

Porto Giunco. Timi Ami. Simius. Long stretches of beautiful sandy beaches, clear Aqua waters. Lots of people. Lots of large sun umbrellas. And, as with all the beaches too, the peddlers selling their wares. Walking around with 10 hats on their head to sell or a large cardboard square full of sunglassess. They liked to wander amongst the people lazying around and lean down into their spade and ask if anyone wanted anything. 

After stopping more than a few times for pictures and swims in the sea, we reached the town again. We could wait two hours until the bus came.. Or we could hitchhike. 

And we did. And caught a ride after 30 minutes in the hot sun. He was relaxing in the shadows, melting even there. I was out by the road throwing my thumb up for every car that drove by and flashing a friendly smile. He would occasionally shout ideas and advice and tips on hitchhiking. He was a pro. Tho he had never done it on his own island before, but certainly China and Japan. 

We got all kinds of looks. Some shrugged as they sped past. Some gestured that they were just about to get off just up the road. Some motioned that they were already full. Some waved. And some outright stated. Most avoided our gaze and looked the other way.

A beautiful white car pulled over. Two men got out. An older man and a younger man. The younger man had yellow pants with cherries on them and a bright yellow, orange and green patterned shirt. I remember I was impressed. The older man knew some English and was genuinely curious, asking me questions. They had thought I was alone hitchhiking since my friend was staying cool in the shadows, mostly hidden from view of the road. They gave him a bad time for having me be the one out in the sun trying to get a ride while he relaxed. They ended up taking us nearly all the way to my friends house where I got a much needed shower and scoured the Internet for inspiration on my next move. 

I wanted to go back to Napoli. My friend there was one of my favorites. I missed having a friend. I was lonely. The beaches are beautiful and lovely and all that, but it’s not as much fun when you are alone. And I was just about to leave my friend, since he lived with his parents it was too complicated to have me stay and I didn’t want to intrude on a whole family. Flights out were over 150 euros. The only ferry to Napoli was Monday night. I wanted to go the next day. I looked into ferries. They were overnight ferries. It left Cagliari at 8pm and Put me just outside if Rome at 7am. Perfect. 

Just one more night alone on the beach. I could do it. 

I went back to town for some wine and to catch a bus to Chia, supposedly there were some nice hedges there. Of course, I missed it. Daydreaming. I got a few messages from CouchsurfErs, some being too far away or out of town or doing the creepo talk.   

I went back to Paetto. Discouraged. I wandered until I found a bar that wasn’t so crowded, plugged in my phone and of course the Internet wouldn’t work. 

I was at my breaking point. 

Then I heard it. Outside on the patio there was some guitar music and a mans sweet voice lulling some Bob Marley. I took my beer outside to finish and ended up staying til 1 listening to them. I was the only one on the upper patio with these two guys singing and playing their hearts out. I was in heaven. I could actually sing along to the songs too 🙂 it was a perfect moment of the universe telling me I was where I needed to be.

Sleep came easy. I curled up in the dark and tucked my stuff between me and the wall. I was out like a light. 

Day 5… The next morning I went to check on the ferry. The boat for the night was full. That meant I had to wait one more night. Sunday night. My heart fell.  Once again I tried Couchsurfing but the Ones that responded were 4 hours by bus and the only bus was at 2:15 and I had to be Back to Cagliari the next day. Not worth it. Sadly I passed and told them it wouldn’t work.. 

And so now I’m on my way to Chia. For my last night on this beautiful, strange island. 

Then back to good ol Napoli. With my friend. Maybe this time I’ll find the catacombs. Or at least eat pizza… But drinking bottles of wine in the moonlight church steps and talking if anything and everything isn’t so bad at all. I’ll be happy with just that. Human connection is what I’m looking for. And laying around listening to music, mine then his… Sitting up on his terrace overlooking the kids playing street football…  

But for now I play in the waters and soak up some sun for how could one be sad surrounded by these waters 🙂