Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hiking in South Tyrol -- Day 10

The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason.
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I take one last swim before breakfast and dream of stepping on the scale when I get home late tonight, knowing that I will be noticeably two kilos lighter. In the past nine days I have sweat not buckets but industrial rubbish bins of sweat. My hiking clothes are stiff with salt. I feel athletic.

For the ten days in Merano, we booked an apartment with a kitchen, so Andreas the mountain goat breeder insisted that we bring enough food for a nuclear holocaust. The following is the inventory of food that we are lugging back home after 10 days in South Tyrol:

3 bottles of white wine
2 bottles of aperol
1 bottle of very very cheap sekt
6 cans of mushrooms
5 cans of tomatoes
4 cans of green beans
6 cans of baby green peas
(We had fresh vegetables, so I don't really understand the need for all the cans, but I wasn't the one who came up with the nuclear holocaust theme. I kept telling Andy, "I think they have food in Italy," but the message never seemed to get through.)
3 jars of vindaloo curry paste (You have to understand: one jar of curry paste is enough to make three dinners. Did Andy the Goat Guy think we were going to eat Indian every night?)
1 jar of sundried tomatoes
2 cans of mandarin oranges (Huh?)
2 cans of pineapple (I never eat canned pineapple. These cans will probably be in our pantry when I'm 90.)
A box of arborio rice

We ate all the fresh food and all the food that would have spoiled. In addition to all this food that we--and I guess when I say "we" you know I mean "I"--pack up and schlep down to the car, we also stock up on the following at a local discount store:

6 jars of sundried tomatoes
6 jars of capers
6 jars of artichokes
1 bottle of olive oil
2 bottles of something we think is a lemon liquor but turns out to be a non-alcoholic lemon syrup. It's yummy.
2 bottles of an aperol-like substance that's 5 euros cheaper than aperol. It's not yummy.

While I pack all this shit, I mean stuff, into the car, Andy decides we're going to do our last hike up the same mountain as yesterday.

"I don't like to do the same hike twice," I say.

"You need to reread Days 5 and 6," he says.

"Oh yeah."

Sadly, I never had time to lie in this hammock.
We bid farewell to the holiday apartment house. The people at Zea Curtis Aparthotel are really very nice. I don't want to sound like a commercial here, but we enjoyed being in this place. We felt appreciated as guests. There were kiwis growing near the pool. I know "kiwis growing near the pool" probably isn't on your top ten list of Great Accommodation Criteria, but it's my Number 7.

Yeah, yeah. I'm going to get to the hike. I see you making the universal sign for "wrap it up". Thing is, I don't want this to end. South Tyrol is a place where you hope "this" never ends. Someone hand me a tissue.

For the first time in ages, we take the gondola to the Mittelstation (middle station). Andy says it will take us six hours to hike to the top if we don't take the gondola. We're actually going a different way today after all. We're going to hike on the mountain next to the tsunami wave of yesterday because there's a funicular railway that goes back down the mountain, and we love the sound of funicular.

I'm glad we've taken a different way. An exceptionally good book I've read recently--Worlds Apart, an epistolary work by Dorothee Lang and Smitha Murthy--reminds travelers to do something different every day. Taking a different trail is my way of doing something different, of seeing more of the world and life. Here are a few impressions of the walk up. It's an easy walk today. It's actually a well-landscaped walk.

When we reach the top, I'm emotional. I'd really like to stay and do this tomorrow and the next day. I'd like to forget about the things that are troubling me and just walk. There's something about the rhythmic left-right-left-right of walking that defragments one's thoughts. But I have things to do, and they have nothing--and everything--to do with mountains.

I must be off,