My trip to Sicilia - In Zoe’s memory…
How this trip came about…
It’s amazing how one person can make such an impact in one’s life.
Back in 2014, I joined this great forum and posted my very first question.
It was then that I met Zoe, and we began corresponding back and forth.
I guess you could say that we became “pen pals”
When my mom, who had been my travel partner, could no longer travel due to health issues, I began to entertain the idea of traveling solo. I knew Zoe was an experienced solo traveler, so I turned to her with my many questions and concerns: and she always replied with insightful and encouraging comments.
Once I’d decided to take the plunge and embark on this new endeavor, Zoe was there for me.
She answered my endless questions, helped me with my itinerary, and kept encouraging me throughout the planning process.
My first solo trip was a great success and I loved all the places I’d visited.
When I returned home from that trip (October 2017), I began thinking about my next trip.
I remember Zoe telling me that I’d become addicted to solo traveling, and she was right.
“Where should I go next?” I’d asked myself.
France or Sicily? I’d traveled to France before and wanted to explore new cities and towns.
However, the idea of traveling to Sicily kept coming back to me.
I contacted Zoe in November, and she answered my questions once again.
Soon December was upon us and I’d wished Zoe a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and she in return had wished the same to me.
On January 4th I received a PM from Christine, asking me if I’d seen the post about Zoe.
When I read Laurel’s post, my heart sunk. I could not believe what I was reading…
It took me a long time to accept the idea that my friend Zoe was gone.
I began searching the forum and found many of Zoe’s trip reports. I read them over and over again. I knew that Zoe had been to Sicily several times, and she had already paved the way, and all I had to do is to follow in her footsteps.
It didn’t take me long to start planning this trip. I bought the Lonely Planet guidebook. I searched the web, and this forum. I sent PM’s to many of you, asking for suggestions, advice, and ideas.
In mid January, my brother and I went to his favorite Italian deli. He has been going to this shop for many years and has befriended the owner, Ross (Rosario), a quiet but amiable Sicilian man, whom you’ll often find behind the meat counter giving delicious savory samples to his loyal customers while making his signature Italian sandwiches.
At an impromptu moment when Ross had a minute to himself, my brother announced that I was planning a trip to Sicily. Ross’ eyes lit up and his quiet demeanor became more lively and animated as he asked, “where are you going?” He listened intently as I began reciting the places I’d plan to visit: Palermo, Trapani, Segesta, Erice, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina, Siracusa, Lipari, and Acireale. He in turn repeated each city name, after me, with the proper Sicilian pronunciation. I didn’t know that I was placing the emphasis on the wrong syllable! He then asked, “when are you going?” I replied, Mid-September to beginning of October.
I was not expecting his next comments. “No, you need to go in the spring! Spring is the best time; it’s not hot, it’s not cold, and there are wildflowers everywhere!”
“You will love the food in Sicilia!”, he said. Then he added, “The people are very friendly; if you ask an Italian how to get someplace, they will point the way, but if you ask a Sicilian, they will take you there!”
Right there and then I remembered that Zoe had mentioned the wildflowers. As a college professor she’d always planned to start her trips in May as soon as the college’s graduation ceremony was over.