Source: Eric Hill www.gowitheric.com
After finally getting to make the first circle around the world, I went nearly halfway around again a few days later when I went to Bulgaria. After spending a few incredible days driving through the unbelievable landscapes, meeting some cool people and getting rejected at the orphanage because of the camera; I moved on to Romania, Vatican City, San Marino and then Italy. I had been to Italy before so I tried to see all new places. Last time I visited Trieste, Venice, Rome, Pisa and Bari. This time it was Rimini, Trento, Milan and a little mountain village called Lundo near the trailhead to the cliff I BASE jumped off for a few days.
There aren’t too many cliffs over three thousand feet, but I’ve managed to find and fly off of two of them, my Dare Denim jeans jumping with me; I guess you could call them frequent flyers (see the blog about Norway if you want a taste of what the experience is like). Besides the BASE jumps themselves, my favorite part of Italy was actually hanging out in Lundo where I slept at in the home of my friend Fabio and his girlfriend who started a shuttle service for jumpers from the bottom of the cliff to the trailhead at Lundo. The house at the top of the mountain in the quaint farming village was a nice treat to add to the awesome days of jumping. With a view over green valleys and the massive mountains on the other side of the little stone house, it seemed like something out of a fairy tale.
After stuffing myself the last night on homemade Italian food and drinks, I said goodbye the next morning and made my way to the little Mediterranean island-country of Malta. You might wonder how I can keep leaving people and places I love. I only know two remedies. First, I tell myself that I will come back some day. Second, I let myself fall in love with the next place. Malta made the second part easy. I only planned to spend three days, but I ended up there for six. I found some new friends that showed me some hidden gems of the island and even got to be one of the first ever to do a pendulum swing through a natural arch over the sea! Malta reminded me just how much there is to explore in such a small place. By the time I left I only had left myself four days for the next country, Tunisia.
Since my time was very finite in Tunisia because of my plane ticket to Columbia already confirmed, from the second I landed to the second I got back to the airport, it was non-stop movement. Right away I knew I was in a very different place. People lit up cigarettes as soon as we got onto the jet bridge! I still haven’t been too many places virtually no smoking restrictions, so it was fun (for lack of a better word) seeing people smoking in all sorts of public places that other countries have laws against. I picked up a rental car (smoke-free surprisingly) and headed right to Sousse, three hours south of the airport.
I met up with my new friend, Hussein and his friends I found though Couchsurfing (my fourth time using it so far). They were total strangers, but we quickly became friends. They had looked at The Global Odyssey site before I got there and they were excited to be a part the project. They understood it well too, so they gave me very local experience while I was there. We explored a few of the places only locals would know about, hung out with some shepherds tending their flocks and headed to his parent’s place in the city he grew up called Mahdia. When we got to his house it seemed just like I had been invited to a friends house back home in the US. The food was different, but the feeling was all the same. His mom told him how much she missed him and gave him a big hug and kiss, then cooked up some homemade food. His dad came out and (a little more stern and dad-like) welcomed him back. It’s incredible how similar we all are in such distant places!
Except for the time in his families home and the time at his childhood dentist (who kindly fixed a chipped tooth I had for free), my time was a constant whirlwind of sites, local food and local places until I had to head back to Tunis for the airport. Even with the non-stop exploring it was clear that even if I kept up this pace for months, I still couldn’t see “everything” in the country. I mean, I could explore each of these countries for a year each and still have an endless amount to see and understand. For now I love treating the world as a smorgasbord; I’m getting a small taste many things. When I’m ready, I can go back for a full meal of the parts I love the most. Onward!
Source: Eric Hill www.gowitheric.com