Okay, I confess. As I rested over in Avezzona, recovering my aching feet, weary shoulders and tumbling spirits, I thought often about lingering escapes . . . perhaps I would get the train to Istanbul, fly to Bilbao to see a couple of friends, rest awhile in Koh Samui at the health and healing resort in which my husband is a shareholder (shares for sale, by the way) and then fly back to Istanbul to meet Ben when he gets there . . .
Then this morning I woke rejuvenated! Ready to pack, feet tuned for the road.
We spent the morning organising ourselves – phone calls, lunch, internet café. By four o’clock we hoisted up our packs and were on the road out of Avezzona – but not before taking a photo of the ugliest fountain on Earth.
There was room in my boots for my feet! I could finally take a deep breath with my pack on my back!
With wings on our feet we followed the signs to Pescara, into the headlights of a steady stream of evening traffic. We managed about 12 kms without stopping and from then we were happy to find a bed. Any bed would do. We downed packs for dinner. The restaurateurs shook their heads when we asked for hotel. Shook them again when we asked for ‘comping’. Nope. And nope. It was dark. We were still in the middle of civilisation, give or take the odd ploughed field. Tonight, it was clear, would be my first night ‘wild camping’, which is pilgrim talk for ‘make your own bed’.
We walked into the night, our torchlights flashing. The traffic had eased off. It wasn’t long before we found a side road and Ben’s pilgrim nose led us in behind a row of thin trees on a small raised bank in the far corner of a paddock overgrown with a sparse crop of weeds.
We pitched our tents on the rough muddy earth, not minding the stones, and said goodnight. Anticipating a cold night, I zipped up the sleeping bag. I wrapped my clothes in a soft jacket for a pillow and lay down to listen to the night – and pong!!!! What was that smell??? Yuk!
It seemed to be coming from the floor of the tent. I turned over. In it poured through the tent gauze. Had I camped on a pile of shit??? I put my head out the door. The waning moon was like a great wobbly ball in the sky, spreading so much light over the land it was practically daylight. I sniffed. Mmm, nothing. I lay down. There was the smell again. Had we camped on a sewerage pond??? The ground didn’t seem that muddy . . . perhaps it was fertiliser on the field . . . uh-oh, would it burn a hole in the floor of the tent? And so it went for most of the night . . . at least I was warm.