A couple of years ago a colleague told me I had a torn meniscus in my knee. It hurts when I don’t take care of it, and before we left I was just too damn busy. I did nothing to strengthen my knee. Instead I was bending and kneeling and ignoring the pain. I arrived in Italy with a sore knee. As the week went on I started to limp.
On our second day in Cinque Terre, we decided to walk between Monterosso and Vernazza. The towns are connected by a path named Sentiero Azzurro, meaning blue path. The trail is dry and rocky and climbs out of the ravine from one town up over the hill then back down again to the next town. You pass old houses, vineyards, and forests. The view down to the sea is amazing, with turquoise blue water mixing with the darker blues and lighter greens. At the horizon the dark blue ocean meets the light blue sky with fluffy white clouds floating through. It is a beautiful walk.
Unfortunately, the walk is studded with stairs. Dozens, maybe hundreds of stairs made of rock with variable rises. I started walking up these stairs with my knee maybe better than the day before, knowing I was making a really stupid mistake. The pain was not so horrible going up. It was the down that was going to be impossible. The more stairs I climbed up, the more worried I became about how the hell I was going to come down again. All of a sudden as I pushed up onto a tall stair, I felt a twang in my knee. I immediately sat down scared I had ruined my knee.
I was sure the walk was over. Not only that, our trip would surely end if my knee was damaged. All over before a week had even passed. But, wait, now my knee was feeling better. In fact, the pain was gone. The path had fixed it. I walked down the steps (the dozens or maybe hundreds) to Vernazza. We were once again ready to jump off the boat dock into the water.
Unfortunately, a school of jellyfish had decided to visit Vernazza on this day as well. Hank met one. It attacked his left arm and then his right hand as he tried to pull it off. When he got back on the dock he refused to let us treat it. I guess he already knew that peeing on it won’t relieve the pain. Advil and gelato worked pretty well, though. By the end of the day back in Bagnolo in Piano, both of us were free of pain.