One Apple A Day #687 – a wrong map

Somewhere in Patagonia, January 8th, 2017

Here we are, standing at a crossroad. It has been a long and intense day. We already drove for about 500 km alternating tarmac and gravel. We surely enjoyed more the second one, but it requires more attention, and some tiredness is creeping in.

We’ve been standing here for a few minutes, the engine on. The complete absence of any form of human presence but us is becoming familiar. It’s only us, the signs saying that we should go left staying on the asphalt road. Our map saying that we should go right, on the gravel route. We’ve been following the Ruta40 since the very beginning of our journey. This road is the reason why we are here.

The sign says the Ruta40 is the one on the left. A long straight line of tarmac disappearing in the horizon. However, the map that we brought with us from Italy tells another story. In our map, the Ruta40 is the one going right. A white road disappearing after a few meters behind the brow. 

The shadows are getting longer and longer, and we have to make a choice if we want to get somewhere before it gets dark. The only hint we have to find our next destination, Tonchi’s farm, is to look for an old abandoned horse carriage on the side of the Ruta40. But which one is the right Ruta40?

We have no clues, but we know one thing; we love the gravel.

So, this is it. 

We decide to follow our map.

Two hours later we are almost regretting our choice. Outside is dark, cold and wind. And most of all, there is nothing and nobody anywhere to be seen. 

We are already planning the best way to spend the night in our truck when we see it. The old abandoned horse carriage.

We found it. 

***

What happened next is another story.

Only later we discovered that our map was an old one. To make the Ruta40 straighter and more comfortable to drive, the government swapped the name with another road. So the old and white Ruta40 got a new name. Our map was wrong and no more correct. Yet, it took us exactly where we wanted to go.

That day I learned that If you have clarity of intention, sometimes even a wrong map can lead you to the right place.

One Apple A Day #649 – find your rock

Ibiza, End of October 2011.

We had some gorgeous days so far. The weather is just perfect and because the summer season ended a week ago, everywhere and everything is so quiet.

But none of this is relevant right now, here.

I’m desperately clinging to the bench while I try to avoid looking at all the other people fighting and losing a similar battle against a common enemy.

Motion sickness is winning over just everyone but the sailors managing the boat. Everywhere I turn, I see pale faces and desperate eyes.

I can’t remember why we thought that sailing to Formentera was a great idea.

I’m ready to add myself to the line of people throwing up from the edge of the boat when I remember something. 

Years before, in a similar situation, a sailor told me to find a fixed point on the shore and keep my gaze on it all the time. 

Yes, the shore is still visible over there on the right.

I lock my eyes on a rock or promontory, I don’t know. It’s still, and that’s everything I need right now.

Stillness.

Slowly, I regain some control on my body and when the destination harbour becomes visible, I know I’m going to get through this.


A conversation I had yesterday brought back this memory. When we are going through a rough sea, swaying and swinging around under external forces bigger than us, it’s easy to experience something similar to motion sickness.

In those moments, it can be beneficial to have a fixed point. A rock on which we can put our gaze. Whatever we put our attention on will expand. If we put our focus on something or someone firm and steady, that stillness will grow within us, helping us sailing through the storm.

One Apple A Day #612 – sweet memories

July 1987, early Saturday morning in a little town in the North-East of Italy.

The town is almost empty. It’s too early for the kids on holidays from school and too late for the workers.
In the churchyard, a family of four and an old nun are waiting.

The boy is thirteen, even if he looks younger. With his thin legs, the square glasses and the narrow shoulders, it seems like he is trying to hide from the world. He is timid, and he would prefer to be lost reading some adventurous stories than being there waiting with his family.
A few other families join them in the square, just before the arrival of the bus.
The boy has never been anywhere before without his parents. Yes, in his dreams, he has already travelled to plenty of exotic places, but that doesn’t help in the present situation.
He is going to go away to a summer camp for a full week with his smaller sister. And he doesn’t know anyone else.
He steps into the already full bus, this is the last stop before heading to the mountains.
With his sister behind him, he walks towards the back of the bus looking for empty seats.
He feels as if all the eyes are staring at him. Sure they are. They all know each other, and they must think he is a nerd from the countryside.
The only two seats left available are at the very end of the bus.
Behind them, on the last row, a group of guys who look older than all the others. All so confident and relaxed.
Among them, there’s a boy whose voice stands out.
He is the taller and the louder of them all.
With his long hair, he looks like he came straight out of a movie.
And he has a prosthetic arm.
The boy has never seen a prosthetic arm before in his life.
The bus leaves the square, with the cheering parents, the sleepy town and everything familiar behind.
The boy is scared, but he wants to play the big brother with his sister. Even if, to be honest, she looks a lot more at ease than him.
The cool guys on the back seats are having fun.
The guy with the prosthetic arm takes out a portable cassette player.
And this song started.
A song he never heard before.
He can’t understand the lyrics, but that line of bass and that voice carve their way into his heart.


I still remember how I felt that morning.

So, when this song started while I was listening to random stuff on youtube, for a few seconds, I was that shy and innocent boy again. Obviously, a lot of other songs have been played during that bus trip. But this is the only one I remember.

I know it’s just a small event in my life. Thou, that trip is one of the defining moments in my life. It was my first time really out of my comfort zone, opening up to the world.

That summer camp spent with plenty of other guys and girls on the mountain has been such a fantastic experience that I kept doing it every summer for the following ten years or so.

And in that week, I also fell in love for the first time that week. Oh yeah, a proper love story even if she never knew about it.

Definitely, this song will always have a special place in my heart.