Hoofprints of the Stag

Hoofprints of the Stag

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 20: Difficulty, Failure, and Respite

The past few days have contained many ups and downs on our journey to Rome. Our Sunday began very well with a wonderful Mass at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Quinto. 

Afterward, I managed to find the priest and tell him we were on a pilgrimage, and I asked him if he could give us a blessing. He gave us the blessing in Italian but we spoke in French. We talked and he told us that he was the parochial vicar at a parish in the south of Switzerland in the town of Morbio Inferiore. He told us that if we came that way, we could stay at the rectory and we could have some food. Later on I consulted the map and discovered that Morbio was pretty much on our way to Italy so we made plans to go through there. 

That day was the day of Federer's tragic loss in the Wimbledon final. That night, we experienced much difficulty, which felt like it was a continuation of the disappointment of the loss. We got to a road that looked dangerous because of its lack of a decent shoulder. There were no alternatives, and we were too upset to go so far back, so after much deliberation, we decided to take the bus just past the dangerous part. It was a difficult concession to make, but it was for the sake of safety. That night, we experienced many mishaps which caused us to get very little sleep. Ed posted a Facebook status alluding to this, and that for now, is all we can say on the matter (we want to save it for the book). 

The next day I learned the importance of a good night's sleep for a decent day of hiking. I had very little energy and I could not keep up with Ed very well. We had a clear and safe path. It was frustrating because when we had had energy to hike a long time the night before, we had horrible luck finding a safe path and we got stuck, but when we finally had a clear and safe path, we had no energy. The other problem we had was that it rained relentlessly all day and had been for several days. That night in Bellinzona, we decided to get a hotel. I had a great night's sleep that night. We decided to go to Morbio Inferiore the next day to find Don Marco and take him up in his offer of hospitality. 

Unfortunately, I discovered from my maps and from two additional accounts of authors who have also recreated Belloc's journey (Peter Francis Browne (1990) and Bob Johnson (2008 ebook)), that the road Lugano might not work out the way we wanted. We tried one way and were met with the same kind of dangerous road as before, while also enduring unceasing pouring rain for several hours. And so, like Peter Francis Browne before us, we took the train to Lugano and then to Morbio Inferiore. This gave us time to actually enjoy our time in Lugano and actually visit several churches. In the course of our train taking, we met some American students from Virginia Tech and University of Virginia who were on a study abroad program. We talked about our respective journeys. It was nice to speak in English for a change. 

And now here we are at the rectory in Morbio Inferiore, enjoying the hospitality of Italian priests. We are washing our clothes for real for the first time on this journey It will be nice to wear something that doesn't smell absolutely horrible. It's been depressing to take a shower and then put on the same disgusting clothes. 

And tomorrow, Italy!


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  2. Just caught up to here. Keep going guys! It's been really cool to read about the intensity of your journey. I'll be praying for you to receive encouragement when needed.

  3. Wow! Goosebumps, I had to get a train by there, because of that road, it really is unsafe!

  4. Good Journey!
    God bless you and all those who are on way!
    don Marco, Morbio Inferiore's parochial vicar

    and if anyone understands the Italian: "http://donmarconotari.blogspot.com/2014/07/romei-usa.html

  5. Very nice to see this! I'm happy for you and the adventures you're having!
    Though I'm a little sad that you won't be home this summer like me :)
    I'll be in P-town through August 5th, just in case there's the slightest chance for a meetup!

  6. Peter, I will be in Portland also till the 5th. Send me an email at lukestager@gmail.com and let's plan something.