92. Anticipation

Boy, do I have an adventure in store!

In 2018, Ben and I participated in the Messors Art Restoration and Conservation Program, working to preserve ancient cave frescoes and other decaying art in Puglia. The director and founder of Messors is Tonio Creanza, for whom preserving the culture of this region is a life’s passion. In addition to the art, one aspect of this culture is maintaining the olive oil production for which the region is famous.

Tonio himself is the fifth generation of Creanzas to cultivate the family olive grove, near his hometown of Altamura. When we were at Messors, he gave us a tutorial on olive oil, and told us how every November, he recruits a small band of Workaway volunteers from around the world to come to Puglia for a few weeks to harvest the crop.

The setup for Tonio’s olive-oil seminar.

Ping! went that little bell in my brain that rings when I’m confronted with something I want to do and I can do.

My husband Ben, the world’s greatest sport, must have heard my brain ringing too, because he said, “You want to do this, don’t you?” Yup. So he wrote to Tonio, got the okay, and here we are, 18 months later, about to fly to Rome, train to Bari, drive to Altamura, and harvest olives. I have no idea what this even means, practically speaking, but I imagine it will involve having our arms up for extended periods, so to prepare, I’ve increased my weight training at the gym. I’m assuming that we may be four decades or so older than the other volunteers, so I’m a little nervous about not pulling my weight.As soon as I know for sure that I have an upcoming trip to Italy, the fun begins. Where should I go? What should I do? What should I wear? I find the looking forward to be almost as enjoyable as the being there. This trip, however, I know exactly where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing, but somehow, the unsettled nervousness that I feel is far greater than I would for an unstructured, open-ended journey. I could express some platitudes about pushing oneself past one’s comfort zone, but first, we’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned.

Altamura’s main piazza. Not a tourist in sight (except for me!).

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