Day 9: Rain Delay in Menaggio (Menaggio to Campodolcino – start of Splugen Pass)

Another guest post from Bert. I’ve been too slow on getting mine done, so enjoy another great one from Bert!

Rain Delay in Menaggio (Menaggio to Corti – start of Splugen Pass)

I woke up several times throughout the night; cold and wet. Small puddles of rain had managed to cross the sacred tent barrier; a violation. Sounds of hard rain and violent winds encouraged me to override the urge to empty my bladder overnight.

With morning came the realization that it was still raining and that the weather would keep us landlocked. Hearts sank as we checked the weather forecast: rain throughout the day.

Cold and wet, we walked into town, passing several closed stores until we located an coffee diner open for service. We ate panninis and drank coffee/tea to warm ourselves and to wait out the rain; a reprieve. Overjoyed at the sight of an air dryer in the bathroom, I dried the clothes on my back and wet hair; warm and dry.

I left the bathroom and my eyes were drawn towards a golden hue shining through the diners open door; our water torture had come to an end. Sensing a limited and time sensitive opportunity, we rushed back to the campsite.

A magical timely wind, so forceful that a moving car would feel it’s strength, helped dry our wet tent. Holding on to the tent tightly, I lifted it into the air. The wind raised it in flight, like a kite dancing with the wind. We rushed to pack our wet clothes, said goodbye to our camp friends and began cycling for the day.

As we left camp, the wind slapped our faces, reminding us of nature’s power over us. Thankfully, this would not last; once we passed the open lake, housing structures made the wind impotent.

The sights along the way contined to delight and astound. We stumbled upon two goats on our bike path; one black and one white, simultaneously running parallel away from us and with us.

We briefly stopped at a cafe for a cupuccino/ice cream and Haribo gummy bears; strength regained. With stolen hours, many kilometers to make up and facing threatened rain, there would be no allowance for rest breaks for a while.

Many hours and kilometers later, we sat down on a cement pad housing a power line, made sandwiches and stared longingly at the mountains in the distance, grateful that the rain had not returned.

Despite the start, we managed to complete the days’ kilometer objective. The plan for the next day (Monday) was to ascend the Alpine mountains to the summit; it was to be the hardest cycling day on our adventure.

In good spirits and with energy in reserve, we decided to continue to the start of Splugen Pass, like a child reading ahead one chapter in their school readings. We cycled 18 kilometers on an incline, ascending from 200 meters to 1100.

When we arrived at our camp site, it was nearly deserted, save for a few stragglers attempting to cheat time and enjoy every last minute of their weekend escape.

The camp’s curator was nowhere to be found, but via phone call he directed us to a suitable place to camp. Sensing a long cold night, and seeing countless empty RVs, we chose to shelter ourselves between two for protection.

An Italian couple walked past us and we inquired if they knew if any open restaurants, albeit unlikely given we were in a remote Italian town on a Sunday night. They pointed us towards town, only to return five minutes later to invite us into their trailer home for a warm home cooked meal.

We entered their summer home; beautiful knotty pine wood panelling hung on the walls, each intermittent knot reflecting a unique story, just as each location and encounter we experienced created knots on the panels of our lives.

They told us about their lives: they have one daughter; he is retired and she works at the post office, a few years away from retirement; they have travelled the world. They took our travel history. Jonny made us spaghetti, fresh salad using vegetables grown in his garden, bread accompanied with Tuscan olive oil for dipping, red wine, and finally, some late night coffee. As we departed, we felt rested and fed, and most importantly, spiritually fed by the kindness and hospitality of our Italian hosts.

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