Life Lessons I have Learnt From Travel
Isabella on the way to Positano with her mum copyright Carla Coulson
I am blogging today from beautiful Argentario in Tuscany! Gobbling one cappuccino after the other and inhaling the best of this country I love so dearly. I thought I would have a little flashback on a chapter of my life and all the great life lessons that travel has taught me.
Eliza and Isabella, my two nieces, are lost in their thoughts as the boat makes its way back from Laurito to Positano. It is our last day on the Amalfi Coast before we head to Rome. The sun slid behind the mountains an hour ago and everything has been painted in different shades of blue. We are coated in sea and sun. Positano is just minutes away.
Jumping off the rocks Laurito Copyright Carla Coulson
The lady sitting on the other side of the small wooden boat with her daughter is familiar: I met her during my first summer here almost ten years ago. Our eyes meet and we start to chat about the intervening years and how both of us have made the pilgrimage every year to Laurito, though in different months. As the boat pulls into the small dock, the lady turns to me and says, ‘Noi portiamo questo posto nel nostro cuore’ (we take this place with us in our hearts). Her words stop me in my tracks. I have been searching for them forever, trying to describe the sensation that loving a place brings. Trust an Italian to find the right word! I hug her, knowing we will meet again – were were long ago connected by this special place.
A man and his donkey Amorgos Copyright Carla Coulson
Travel has given me some of my fondest memories and dearest encounters. I remember sitting in Paris-Orly Airport waiting to board a 5am flight to Athens, when an elderly lady sat down next to me. She told me that her husband had died a couple of years previously and she had finally found the courage to make her first trip since his death. She was going to the Bahamas. When it was time for her to board her plane, she leaned over and said “I love the airport. Air and port. It’s incredible really – like something out of The Jetsons”. Full of hope, she grabbed her bag and headed to the Bahamas. And I headed, chuckling, to Athens.
Friends having a heart to heart Seville Copyright Carla Coulson
During my first years in Italy, every street corner was a novelty, every old man who rode by on a pint-sized bike made me smile and the beauty of every marble statue touched me. Every experience filled me with awe and love for my new home. I loved taking my shoes to be heeled at the 200-year-old cobbler’s store, over hearing the lady in the latteria discussing her son’s love affair, and walking the streets where Michelangelo once strolled.
Cowboys at the Rawlinna Rodeo Australia Copyright Carla Coulson
Travel has inspired me to learn Italian and French. It has given me the education I always dreamed of. I belive the past eleven years in Europe have been my ‘university degree’.
Ancient statues on the Greek Island of Delos Copyright Carla Coulson
I have studied the Botticellis in the Uffizzi Gallery not once but ten times, and stood before the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ sculpture in the Louvre with joy in my heart. I have roamed the ancient ruins of Delos with awe and wonder, and scaled a mountain in Anafi to seek out the remnants of a lost civilisation. I have scrutinised the fine detail and beauty of Moroccan architecture and risen at dawn to view the stunning shore temples of Mahabalipuram in India.
Fisherman Amalfi Coast Copyright Carla Coulson
I have travelled to Naples to see Sanmartino’s breathtaking ‘Il Cristo Velato’ and listened to the stories of the ‘last’ generation of Italians, knowing that when they die, they will take an ancient way of living with them.
Could there be a greater teacher than travel?
What has travel taught you? I would love to hear your thoughts and places or situations that have touched you.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from a safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover”. Mark Twain
PS: I would love you to share with fellow Travellers.