Half the fun of meeting new people, especially when you travel around the globe, is hearing their stories of adventure, the risks taken, and the sights seen. Then there’s the local food and wine recommendations, the cultural traditions they share with you, and cautionary tales they insist on telling.
When you’re table is on the 3rd bottle of wine, get the cheap stuff – at that point, no one notices what they are drinking! Use lots of sunblock – the sun is intense , and the heat rash is bad enough! Pack light, and watch where the spiders end up, when you’re doing laundry outdoors! Always rent the yert – the pricy one, with the roof that won’t leak! Do NOT eat the fish – you don’t want to hear the backstory.
The other half of the fun, of being in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers going about their day, is the stories you make up! It’s speculating about what these locals might be up to, where they are headed, and what drives them. What are they passionate about? Who are their families? What do they think of the American tourist who won’t put her camera down?
It’s all about the characters you meet along the way . . . so let your imagination run wild!
Image 2934: A young mother and her 3-year-old daughter sit side-by-side at the lake. They are enjoying the splashing of the water, against rocks littering the shoreline. There are mountains in the distance, and sailboats anchored just off shore.
Their attention, however, is on the treasure in the little girl’s hand. The small stone, wet in her palm, has captured this moment. It’s a moment of connection between a mother and daughter. It’s also a moment of adventure and exploration; that stone, little more than a pebble, will carry the spirit of being on holiday together. This small rock will bring the adventure home, and will be given a special place on the mantle, beside a photo of this shared moment.
Mom is the only one who knows that her little girl’s entire world is about to change; even Dad, who ran across the cobblestone street, to buy cups of rainbow-colored gelato, doesn’t know that a little brother is on the way!
Images 2945 and 2954: The water is refreshing, countering the intense heat of the day. There’s a slight breeze, the kind that might entice you to hang a hammock between neighboring trees, pretending you are going to spend the afternoon finishing that spy novel, but knowing you are more likely to spend it napping. For the canine population, this is a chance to frolic in the gently lapping waves!
A young Jack Russell Terrier is little more than condensed energy, and that energy needs to be dispersed somewhere, or the little fur ball might explode! This little gal has a new “best friend,” who takes her on all sorts of adventures, hiking, kayaking, and even single track mountain biking.
Occasionally she wears her brightly colored vest, with a handle at the center of her back, in case she falls into deep water, or needs to be snatched up quickly from the edge of the trail. She pulls her own weight, carrying her own kibble, and a collapsible water dish. This afternoon they are going to try out a new GoPro camera mount, to capture her adventures, and maybe launch a YouTube channel. But first. . . lunch with friends!
Images 2946 and 2947: Hand-in-hand, a little girl and boy stroll along the water. They will be getting married one day, according to their parents, who are lifelong friends themselves. My best guess is that they are around 4 or 5 years old.
Glancing around, I can’t quite tell which of the nearby adults are keeping an eye on them, but their interaction is very sweet. They are fashionably dressed, and well behaved. Walking casually past the shops full of colorful trinkets, I suspect they are locals, and not over-stimulated tourists.
Image 2948: An Attitude of Confidence: Unabashed and confident, this spirited young lady is sure of herself. Gazing out at the lake, just taking it all in, she is dreaming of the adventures she could take. . . the adventures she will go on, and the challenges she will face. She’s ready, and welcomes every last minutes of it.
She exudes the confidence of childhood, a childhood wonder. She’s scheming. She has the wild dreams that we all have, as children. Some of us don’t outgrow them. I can see her bravery and her spirit, from my seat at the café overlooking the marina. Perhaps she has ideas, of setting out on one of the boats, moored nearby.
Or perhaps she just wants to feed the local wildlife.
Image 2958: There’s evidence of the town’s inhabitants, and the lives they lead, in seeing the week’s laundry, hung out to dry. If you don’t get to see the people themselves, what you see hanging from clothespins can give a glimpse into the resident’s “dirty laundry.” There’s a slight breeze ruffling things up, and I wonder what’s being aired out this morning. There may not seem to be much going on with a couple of tablecloths or bed sheets and a sampling of tops, but. . . .
Who was being entertained last night – in the kitchen or in the bedroom? Perhaps a young bride, proud of her pretty pink home, with its pretty pink and white awnings and quaint little balcony, took on the task of entertaining her in-laws for the first time. Nervous, she burned the quiche, dropped a pan of hot vegetables, just out of the oven, and spilled a full glass of red wine, across her new tablecloth, and into her mother-in-law’s lap. What started as a chance to impress turned into an evening of lessons on how to remove stains, from just about any fabric.
But her new husband was more than impressed with her efforts, and charmed by her butterflies, in front of the warm, gentle parents who raised him, and think the world of their daughter-in-law. He rolled up his sleeves, and learned his mother’s laundering secrets, by his bride’s side, stealing kisses and exchanging a few gropes and caresses, when his mother wasn’t looking. They would have a little fun that night, in their newlywed bed, when they had the apartment to themselves!
Image 2977: Mountains create a quiet backdrop, and there’s an empty blanket, on the pebble-dusted shore. There’s a leather backpack, on the edge of the turquoise blanket, dancing with exotic elephants, who march around the blanket’s edge.
Families are playing in the water, splashing and shouting. Someone giggles with abandon. Couples are wading side-by-side, not quite waist-deep. She doesn’t want to get her hair wet, but he splashes her from behind, without warning. She gasps, then shrugs he shoulders and dives into deeper water. Even outdoors, you can smell the sunscreen. There’s a whiff of warm, rosemary-roasted chicken, coming from a picnic basket nearby.
It’s a sunny day, but humid, and you wish you had brought a suit. . . or that this was a nude beach, but then you’d have to keep your camera in its bag. These locals, on a small patch of the shore, have been enjoying the lake for hours. They are happy to share with visitors. You settle in for a while, to wonder about their background stories, and dream about their futures.
Image 2991: Don’t forget that on your travels you become one of the people of Lake Como, even if just for a little while. There could be a camera pointed in your direction, with a curious observer behind it, wondering what brought you there, what keeps you there, and what has the potential to drive you away.
Raise a glass, enjoy the view, breathe in the fresh air, and make some memories. Bring your friend along, your lover, your unborn child, or your mother-in-law; there will be stories to tell, and new adventures to imagine! Cheers!
Join me on my next adventure,
Lake Como Travel (Lonely Planet): https://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/lombardy-and-the-lakes/lago-di-como
Best of Lake Como, Italy (Trip Advisor): https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g187833-Lake_Como_Lombardy-Vacations.html