Amalfi coast go home!
There are sights and scenes on this trip (I suppose on each cycling trip) that appear all of a sudden and take your breath away.
We are riding a ferry for the fifth time on this the Trans-Oceania tour. I was sitting comfortably in a VIP cabin – a large area with about 50 seats – passing the time reading (The rest of the ferry can be best described by referring the readers to the ship we usually take in Egypt across the Aswan Dam to Sudan.). We had been on the ship for four hours (two of them sailing!) and had a few more hours to go. I decided to take a walk on the upper deck and look at what is there to see. As soon as I stepped up into the sunshine, I noticed a large, rugged, completely arid island that looked totally out of place. Not a single tree or any green was visible.
The geology and the dryness looked like this piece of real estate had somehow been lifted by unknown forces from the Sinai Peninsula and placed in the middle of the sea, becoming one of the more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia. With total disbelief, I observed the island as the ship moved slowly by, finally noticing a small green inlet with some vegetation on it. The surprise, the unexpected desert appearance, delighted me.
I had a similar emotional reaction a couple of days ago on one of our toughest days – a 191km ride on the island of Sumbawa. The ride was going well. I was enjoying the scenery, particularly as three days ago we had crossed the Wallace Line and was concentrating on trying to cycle as fast as I could in order to attempt to finish the day. Later in the day there was still a hill to be conquered (It seems that when it comes to telling us about the upcoming day’s ride the normally gregarious Cristiano turns very laconic.). The wind was playing havoc. It was strong, mostly sideways but periodically it turned or rather the terrain made it turn and the wind was suddenly blowing in our faces. It was tough going. After lunch, turning a corner, I was immediately transplanted to the most azure of the azure – like I was in the prettiest part of the Mediterranean. The immediate pleasure of the unexpected sight quickly evolved into a feeling of exhilaration that lasted for the next fifty kilometers or so. I was cycling, literally, on the shore of the ocean, with no traffic to interfere with the joy.
Catching up to one of our alumni, Annegrete, at a coke stop she indicated that I was not the only one overwhelmed with delight. “I have cycled the Amalfi Coast and it is beautiful, but Amalfi go home.” Well, I am not ready to sent Amalfi anywhere, because beauty or whatever else that produces such wonderful feelings of elation, is an excellent thing. Those of us, who are lucky enough to experience such emotions, have it forever implanted in our brains – ready to draw on it when we want or need to in order to feel the joy over and over again.