The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.



Adventures in Travel: ITALY

By Miriam Rutzen

[Editor's Note: Using the opportunity between jobs to pursue her dreams of travel over the course of one year, Miriam Rutzen of Sciota is sharing this series of her thoughts on her travels and stops along the way over six months, sixteen countries, three continents, and "a great deal of jet lag", she says.

"I made a bet with my dad that I would make it to all seven continents by age 27."

Miriam already had ventured to Australia in 2009 and Europe in 2013 leaving her with only the most difficult-Antarctica. Her first columns were Peru, and Toyko Japan, Hong Kong China, Thailand/Singapore, Germany, England/Scotland, Portugal, Spain, France, and this week is...

ITALY

While this article is quite short in comparison to my others to date, my day visit to the Island of Capri changed me for the better. Imagine each time you make eye contact, smile, or have a small conversation with someone as a thread connecting two people.

Those threads weave together to create a picture of who we are.

During my travels I had a personal rule that whenever I was around people, I was not allowed to have headphones in unless I was on a plane or train for a very long duration.

Needless to say the thread connections made, no matter how short or long, have been countless all around the globe.

At the heart of my goal to step foot on all seven continents is not just the fun of "winning a bet". (And I should add, for the record, my dad says it is not a bet, it's a challenge.)

All of this traveling this year stems from a much more meaningful root of learning about and loving on people whether outside my front door or on the other side of the world; I just went a little over the top with destinations.

As I have processed through my travels in writing these articles, I am incredibly thankful for the numerous adventures I have had and places I have seen, but far above and beyond that, it is the people that make Life an Adventure.

Not to get too preachy, I will simply say my adventures around the world have broadened my horizons in ways I could have never imagined regarding life, food, architecture, transit, language, music, literature, history, religion, politics, sports, art, and culture in general.

But, in all honesty, so does a day substitute teaching at West Central (especially pre-k!) or visiting with friends over a meal while enjoying a sunset painting the Illinois sky gorgeous hues of purple, pink, and orange.

Everyone has a story; the joy comes in creating it and weaving it into the tapestry of community through listening to and learning about those around us, regardless of how near or far they may be from "home".

My hope is that, while these stories have highlighted the thrills of traveling, the meta-level theme of relational living has shown through as the ultimate adventure in each one. But now to Capri:

"Words haven't come very easily for this blog post and that's been the case for nearly a week. I guess I should rewind.

One minute I was contemplating my travel route through Italy, the next I had decided to stay put in Nice for another day or two instead of making my way by train through my long time favorite country, only to find out on my travel date that an earthquake had sent shivers through the landscape potentially making my late decision one of those "good looking out God" moments.

With a 5am wake up call to the airport from the family home in Nice on August 24, I took a short flight to Naples where I had the day to explore.

Based on travel tips and advice from friends, I spent the entirety of my time on the Island of Capri.

WOWOWOWOW. Great advice to follow.

Backpack and tote bag in hand, I hill climbed across the island in order to see some of the most spectacular views I have ever beheld in my life.

Words can't describe it, but if you ever get the chance, the ferry ride and ticket cost are beyond worth it. And yes, I had the pizza--it was delicious just like they say.

One moment from Capri that I will always remember, but not captured on film, was during my trek through the alley-like walkways of the city. A few wrong turns here and there but I was finally on the right track to get to my destination.

As the end neared, I bobbed and weaved through a particularly tight and busy part of the city, this part wonderfully downhill.

Two boys kicking a soccer ball up the very narrow tile-covered pathway captured my attention. They looked to be about 10-12 years old and thoroughly entertained by their activity.

When the ball rolled in front of me, I did what any kid would do...I played keep away.

Kick left, kick right, stop the ball, roll it backwards--my glory moment lasted for all of five seconds, when all the sudden this future ftbol star realized this was HIS moment. He faked left then right, did a spin on the ball, shaded one way; and with one deft movement the ball was smoothly sailing past me to his teammate.

For the first time, I made eye contact, shrugged, smiled, and said, "Goal".

The moment froze for a beat. Then he blinked, looked straight up to the heavens, and threw his fist in the air with a rib shaking victory cry and head toss. DAY MADE.

For both of us, as he spun around tossing grins to onlookers and went on his way. That's what the beautiful things in life are made of as I have paved pathways on this crazy lap around the world--the very smallest of human connections beyond words."

Photos of my travels can be found on Facebook or Instagram: mrutzen25 and more in depth stories are chronicled at www.miriamrutzen.blogspot.com.