Monday, April 12, 2010

Climb Every Mountain!

On my last Saturday in Paderno del Grappa a group and I decided to climb Mount Grappa. I mean, literally climb a mountain. How we got this idea into our heads is beyond me, but we did. It seemed like a fitting metaphor for my Italian journey to literally climb a mountain. Studying abroad was an adventure just the same as the one I was about to set upon. We headed out at 10 am to conquer the beast. The terrain was rough and rocky. The incline the entire time was straight up. The "trail" was a pathetic excuse for a path. It was narrow and at times you thought one false step could take you over the cliff's edge. The whole time I was looking down at where to put my feet. I couldn't look up, that would have been a treacherous mistake. The weather was perfect, sunny, and hot. We were working up a sweat. It took us about two and a half hours to get to a plateau where we decided that it was time for a lunch break. Talk about a great butt workout. At the top if the mountain there is a restaurant and war memorial. I was looking for these landmarks the whole time. From the plateau we could finally see them. My friends Jason, Sarah, Miranda and I were the only ones out of a group of about twelve that decided to make it all the way to the top. Why in the world would you climb for two and a half hours, putting your body through a burning sensation of agony, only to reach a plateau and not the top? In my mind you wouldn't. I have the kind of personality where once I start something I have to finish it. And finish I would. The four of us continued our journey through much rockier terrain and snow that was up to my knees. It was a trek. The snow soaked my socks and shoes but I made it to the highest point of Mount Grappa. The air was a lot thinner and it was a lot colder than on the hot sun soaked trails we left behind us. We all toured the museum and war memorial at the top. We celebrated with what else? Shots of Grappa. I mean, this is Mount Grappa we're talking about here. It only seemed right. Exhausted and weary we were all in agreement that a taxi ride back down would be the best plan of action. Thankfully we met a very nice American couple who offered us a ride back to the bottom. We got back to campus at around five in the evening. I never pictured myself as someone who could say they climbed a mountain. I also never thought I would reach my elusive dream of living in my family’s homeland of Italy, but both came true. Climbing a mountain became symbolic of the trip that I embarked upon while studying abroad in Italy and consequently traveling the world. When you start climbing and start this momentous trip you do not know what to expect you know there will be times where you’re tired, times when you’re thrilled, times to laugh, times to cry, and times where you won’t believe your eyes. But overall both will be experiences that you could not have prepared for. At the end of my program I was filled with a great sense of pride for what I accomplished, an admiration for the people that I met, and a complete love of travel. Just as at the top of the mountain I could not believe what I had done and the places that my own two legs had taken me.

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