After starting my course with enthusiasm and passing the face to face module, progress on the 100 hour online module all but stopped for a few months as I had a busy time at work putting together a one-day conference. The conference day (in May 2016) coincided with a trip to Italy that had been planned since Christmas, and I was especially looking forward to it as I would be visiting my friend Micaela I hadn’t seen in a few years. Thoughts of my Grand Adventure had been at the back of my mind for a while but, as I sat there on the plane as we rushed along the runway and took flight, the excitement of travelling came back to me and I began to think seriously about it again.
Micaela lives in Brescia however we were going to go on a little road trip with her sister-in-law to visit the Cinque Terre, a group of five picturesque villages perched on the side of the cliffs on the Italian Riviera in the Liguria region. Transportation between the villages was by train or you could do a number of walks either on the coastal road or further inland, climbing the rolling hills above the cliffs. After a steady downpour on our 300km car journey from Brescia the day before, the day dawned sunny and warm and we were in good spirits. While sitting at lunch looking out over the iconic village of Manarola, the brilliant blue sky contrasting with the myriad of colours on the buildings set against the rugged coastline, the atmosphere put me in an idyllic frame of mind.
My thoughts took me back to the Peruvian heights of the Andes. It had been one of my life’s ambitions to walk the Inca Trail ever since I was a teenager. My friend Sarah and I used to go to the Library and plan out the trips we were going to do, all of them slightly unobtainable at the tender age of 15 but something to aim for in the future. We did manage one trip when we turned 18 to the Costa Brava … the less said about that the better! One by one I saw my friends conquer the trail so in 2014 I packed my bags and set off for Peru.
I’m not really one for rain, and as my friend Rachel and I crossed the checkpoint to enter the National Park I was feeling a bit miserable. Here I was, about to fulfil a dream and I was wearing full waterproof clothing topped by a very fetching red plastic poncho as it was raining and visibility almost non-existent. Thank goodness the weather cleared the following day and we got to appreciate the views of stunning valleys and snow-capped mountains, reaching the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu just as dawn was breaking on the final day.
I decided that part of the trip needed to be outdoors and I wanted to be surrounded by vast landscapes away from civilisation.