Today we went up on Mount Etna. It was absolutely breathtaking, both literally and figuratively. It is about 40 kilometers from Cantania. We went up with Stefano. We left in the morning, with pullovers in hand, to see what God had in store for us to see. We stopped in a little town on the way there to get some breakfast. One of the workers there wanted to know were we where from, I told him Texas and he automatically likened me to Walker, Texas Ranger. He said that he shows up and throws everyone around; I told him that I do the same thing. Then I had to tell him I was just kidding.
On the way up you can see where past lava flows have arrived, which houses survived and which houses did not. Keep in mind that the houses here are not made of wood, they are made of rock, cement and stone, therefore you can easily see the remains of houses that once were. You can also see how new the lava flows are. I think Stefano said that it takes either 300 or 500 years after a lava flow for plants to start growing again on the dried lava. That was really neat to see.
It didn’t take long to arrive at the top and we were driving literally with our heads in the clouds. It was the first time that I had experienced that outside of an airplane. It was so neat. We arrived at that highest point that you can get to with your car. There was a lift that could take you even higher, and then from the lift a jeep that could take you to the mouth. Needless to say, we did not do those things, they wanted a little too much for them. However, we did get to explore a lot of the area with Stefano.
There was a place to hike around where lava has come out of in the past. It was awesome! I got a little adventurous and went two or three craters over from Amanda and Stefano, and then the clouds moved in. There was a time when I could not see them anymore. I wasn’t worried because there was a firmly packed path back to where they were, but from what I hear, Amanda get a little anxious. I think that it was mainly due to the fact that Stefano keep saying that I would get lost and never come back etc. Well, on the way back, I did almost die. Not from being lost but from climbing those craters. One forgets how light the air is up there, how much colder it is and much that affects ones ability to climb effectively. I might also be a little out of shape too, but I don’t think that had anything to do with it.
On the way down we got some more pics of houses that have been engulfed by lava. It was pretty impressive. We also stopped and picked up some chestnuts. The mountain side is packed with chestnut trees. We pulled the car over and spent about twenty minutes scouring the ground for nuts. It was so neat, moving the leaves around on the ground revealed a solid black sand. It was amazing. I had never seen anything like it. The dirt was black, jet black, pure black. And the chestnuts were beautiful. I figure tonight or tomorrow we will have a fun time roasting them and an even better time eating them!