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  • Writer's pictureWILLIAM HAZEL

Be Where You Are

The woman followed M into the ladies’ room. Then wept. Welled eyes held through a tissue-less time of strong.

“I wish we were doing this like you guys. I’m so exhausted.”

We were sharing an e-bike tour exploring the Catalonian Coast. This was a small group tour, a dozen, with a guide leading our way. The restroom at our lunch break. a Fifteenth Century Winery overlooking the Mediterranean. Open air. Breathtaking views. Bread made in heaven.

The woman didn’t say anything through the meal. In her thirties. Professional. Expensive haircut and lovely diamond ring. She was traveling with her husband and two other couples. Hubby talked about their schedule that evening after the e-bikes, which included getting to a busy tourist tram and completing the get to the top, grab selfies, and hightail it back to the bottom round trip in time to make their dinner reservation. The next day had more items. And then Madrid.

In the table banter we shared our small schedule. The e-bike adventure was one of three tours we had planned. For the week.

“We've discovered if we schedule less, we see more.”

I liked how it sounded. It blurted out of my mouth as I rubbed a just picked tomato across still warm bread. There was a short pause at the table and shortly thereafter M went to the ladies’ room and the exhausted woman followed. And wept.

A woman was chatting with M during a small boat tour during our recent travels to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Our little boat had stopped to offer chance to swim or simply dangle our feet in the water.

“So, what are you guys planning to do tomorrow?”

“Nothing.” M’s voice was wide with anticipation.

“Wow.” It was a genuine wow. Long held. Wide mouthed. With the "ow" voiced as nearly a second syllable. M explained our eight days, Our seven nights. The semi-private boat for the day to Capri one of three tours we had scheduled. For the week.  


“That’s a great idea!” Our new friend spoke "great" as if we had just invented the notion of having vacation days void of schedule. And then her voice became a little bit sad. Speaking the next sentence as if it were some kind of punishment.


“We’re going to Rome, tomorrow.”

Our view from the boat was of the Isle of Capri. Chiseled faces of limestone towering hundreds of feet above, with black shadowed broad caves ceilinged in stalactites refracting dazzling spectrums of greys. The water’s edges along the cliffs glowed in bright greens. As if the sun was beneath the water.  

“I wish we were doing this like you guys. I don’t want to leave here.”

A constant in our post-travel conversations is when we say where we’ve been, folks immediately ask where else we went.  

“We went to Paris”. Almost always gets: “Did you get to Versailles?”

“We were in Barcelona”. Always get a puzzled looked, and then: “Did you go to Madrid?”

And now we’ve been to Italy. The Amalfi Coast. And in a short moment, the question comes: “Did you go to Rome?”

Nope. We didn’t. We like to stay where we are. It’s our philosophy and I’ll dare offer it as a travel tip.

A favorite experience in Italy was when the servers would first speak to us in Italian. And then they would try Spanish. That type of compliment takes time. Time to have understood some small piece of the world more deeply.

It doesn’t mean I’m any less lost than before. It doesn’t mean I’m less or more whole than when I arrived. It does mean, as explorers, we spend less time inside the guidebook. On a bus. Taking selfies. Less time. And more hours in a wanderlust type of welcomed loneliness. A loneliness we seek together.

For when we travel, where we are is the best place. And so we have learned to stay. Together. Where we are.

1. Title photo by Author. Viewing the Isle of Capri from Massa Lubrense, Italy.

2. Footer photo by Author. Hiking from Massa Lubrense to Sorrento, Italy.

© Copyright William Hazel, 2024

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1 commentaire

22 juin

Love this William, and so, so true!

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