Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sicily by Surprise.

I had never really thought of going to Sicily but late last year I was getting swamped at work and having a hard time of it. Lee and Sam Cujes were climbing in Sicily. I was texting Lee, grizzling about my struggles, he said, "It's simple. Put some stuff in a bag and come over here". Defences down, having lost the ability to make personal decisions or mount arguments, I agreed.
So I bought a ticket and hours later I was on an Etihad to Rome.
It turned out to be a good lack of decision.

Me on  Balu Yoghi e Bubu     7b+  (26)
I think that translates to "Yogi Bear and Bubu".
It took me 5 shots, over 2 days to get through the roof.
It's a runnout jug haul to the roof,  slightly steep all the way, then predictably gets a bit punchy.

Loss of decisiveness has a debilitating effect. The upside is a liberating new lease of spontaneity.
To rest my decision glands I made a non-negotiable commitment to myself to be resolutely indecisive for the duration of the trip. I had absolutely no opinion on which crag to go to, where to eat or when to go to bed.
I had the same flavour gelato everyday.

At the departure lounge I randomly chose a book.
Reading list for the trip: Unthink - Chris Paley
It reads...
The confidence you have in your ability to reason and to consciously choose what to do is caused by a series of illusions...
If you could be bothered, here's a reading of the introduction.
I recommend this book to anyone who doubts that they understand their own consciousness. It will confirm that your doubts are real. I found this strangely comforting.

Leaving Sandra was so hard. She sent me this message via the giant SMS display at Brisbane airport.

So I get off the plane in Sicily and hop on this.
And the quality just stayed like that for the whole time.

Photo: Erik Smits

San Vito Lo Capo
was home for a few weeks.

There's a stark fort/church/art gallery in the middle of town flanked by the finest cafes with Sicilian caricature waiters. They were THE most fabulous waiters ever. Oo la la Madame!

Main st. San Vito
 Peak hour. It's a strolling town. Very little traffic, though there's a danger of being run over by the stealth electric motor bikes. Utterly friendly. Rendered limestone.
Most of the homes have jasmine climbing up to the balconies. The fragrance in the evening is beautiful.

My perfect hosts Lee and Sam took me to Erice on a rest day. An ancient town on top of a mountain. They looked after me so well, I love them for it. Thanks, you two.
This photo: it's not trick photography, it's just how it is.

The only thing I really wanted out of my first ever trip to Europe was to eat pizza and sip espresso in a stone courtyard. Nailed it.

Me at Erice.
Photo: Lee

I think this was Sam's hardest tick ever.
This rough little track along the Mediterranean coast has perfect swimming places and dozens of sectors with hundreds of perfect limestone sport routes all lined up and ready to go.

The beautiful Monte Monarco over looks San Vito, I spent a few afternoons just walking up there. There's an old marble quarry near the top, there's old cork trees, and wild herbs and horse trails. 

Never Sleeping Wall, a two minute walk through the car park of condoms and wipes.

National park coastline, a no-climbing grotto, perfect tiny beaches, the Fiat Punto, me and wild rosemary.

From my instagram. Feeling pretty happy about just being there and hanging around.

Lee kept knocking off 8a's for breakfast.

The summit of Monte Monarco, the cross and me.

I think that that is just dreamy. The gardens at Erice.

The ancients built their castles atop piles of choss, probably to repel trad climbers. Erice.

Heading back to Palermo at dawn to fly home.

Lee's edit, of my photo, of him. Pretty special.

San Vito will not disappoint any visitor who is serious about desserts, espresso and climbing. Even if you can't decide what order to have them in.