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Published: March 26th 2018
Monday March 26, 2018 - The view of Mt. Etna from my balcony this morning was beautiful, a snow capped volcano with steam plume set against a blue sky. I had a nice breakfast in the B&B, made of course by my Sicilian grandmother, who I feel obligated to mention is not old enough to be my mother, but still…
Go-Etna picked me up around 9:30 and then we drove to the place where all the groups came together to sort out who would good with which guide based on language. I ended up in a truck with a traveling retired Australian couple and a young German couple. It was a nice group. We spent the day driving up Etna, walking around, putting on helmets and flashlights for the lava cave portion and then hiking for an hour or so at around 2000m through all the snow that fell yesterday. And that was all before the 2pm lunch. Eating late is very Sicily.
The Germans were only doing a half day tour, and so was our guide Francesco, so the three of us remaining switched to Vincenza. She drove us to lunch, which was an appetizer, pasta and tiramisu.
Here I met a Spanish family and another young German couple. Afterwards we drove to the nearby river and saw where the river carved the lava and formed basalt crystals. So cool.
Highlights of the day included learning a lot about the volcano (slow non-scary lava that gives you enough time to finish your cappuccino, regular activity that keeps it from exploding and killing us all, that it never explodes in the same place twice and we were walking over old safe craters that take about 500 years to have new trees), walking on a lava field from 1979 that was already covered in moss and lichens (primary succession!) while picking up small lava pieces that hardened and rained down after the year 2000, and all the good conversations. I really enjoyed listening to Francesco teach us about the volcano and also just keep talking about anything and everything - the church, politics, the mafia. I loved the Germans. I think I just really like Germans anyway. And I really liked talking to the woman who owns and runs the B&B. She chatted with me at breakfast, walked me around her garden to show me the fruit trees, and
gave me a warmer jacket for the mountain just in case. When I got home, she showed me the rest of the garden and told me about all the plants, gave me a piece of cake and tea, and sat with me for two hours in the kitchen while we chatted. She also has opinions about anything and everything, and she’s really generous and nice. Even my other tour guide that I didn’t know that well, Vincenza, talked to me about life on the way back to the B&B. All the stereotypes about Sicilians are true, in a good way. Talking with their hands, their love of good food and family. It’s all here. And it’s lovely.
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