But First, A Vacation

We have arrived in Maputo! We encountered no travel issues whatsoever (which is pretty amazing after five flights and three different airlines) and are slowly working on settling in. I’ll talk more about that later, but first I’d like to share a bit about our trip to Italy.

We are so fortunate to have wonderful friends and family in and near Naples who made our visit incredible. We were able to do a lot of sightseeing as well as slow down a little.

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The steps to the cathedral at the Abbey of Monte Cassino

Everywhere were fruiting lemon and mandarin trees. It was a mild, sunny winter yet there were hardly any crowds anywhere we went. We were treated to amazing views of the valley around the city of Cassino and explored the storied Abbey, and walked for miles around the Palace of Caserta and its enormous gardens. The amount of history at these places is staggering, from being bombed to smithereens during WWII to serving as a film location for Star Wars.

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Afternoon at the Trevi Fountain

We spent a day in Rome, marveling at the Colosseum and Roman Forum ruins, the ceiling of the Pantheon, the exquisitely renovated Trevi Fountain, and accidentally stumbling upon a church modified from an ancient Roman bath by Michelangelo. We walked everywhere, almost 12 miles.

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A square in ancient Pompeii, Vesuvius looming in the background

In Naples we stayed in a house owned by Josh’s former landlords when he lived there about nine years ago. We’d wake up slow, walk down the winding path on the hill with a view of Capri, and order a sandwich from the tiny little old man in the shop in Lucrino’s piazza. He’d offer us a piece of prosciutto crudo and fresh mozzarella di bufala to try as he was slicing it. We explored the surrounding mountains emitting sulfuric steam, and Lago d’Averno, which the Romans considered to be the entrance to Hades. We spent a day at Pompeii where I was amazed by both the lack of other tourists and the detail that still remains after over two thousand years.

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Franco was more than pleased to pose for a photo

Josh’s only wish for this trip was to eat. And to see if everything tasted as good as he remembered. We went twice to the trattoria in Lucrino for their authentic pizzas and “fried treats” where the owner, Franco, remembered Josh on sight and proceeded to serve us an intense amount of limoncello. In Cassino I ate the most amazing rotini with homemade vodka sauce and a crazy-good Nutella gelato that I will probably always dream about. We consumed an absurd amount of antipasti; the clams in Caserta were so fresh, the variety of cheeses offered at La Magnolia in a tiny village near Cassino were sinful, and I learned that I will most likely never like bruschetta with lard. While I never quite got the hang of Italian breakfast (which seemed to be either non-existent or a cornetti with Nutella) each cappuccino I ordered was better than the last. Sitting down for lunch and being immediately handed a delicious glass of prosecco – followed by an equally delicious orecchiette with pesto – was awesome. Josh said his wish was fulfilled. And now we’d both be happy to not eat pasta again for awhile.

While it’s been difficult not doing laundry the past few weeks, taking a vacation before our arrival in Mozambique was a great idea. There was a bit of a mad rush to complete final projects and tasks which left us exhausted. In Italy we were able to slow down a bit and breath before making the final journey to Mozambique.