Written by Lois
There are 3 small islands just west of Trapani, called the Egadi Islands. They were settled by the Phoenicians and over the centuries, have been taken over by a variety of other cultures. As we found out, there were settlers there thousands of years ago. While we are hiking around this area, our second guide is named Eduardo. We kid him that he really doesn't look Sicilian; he's about 6'2" and has a lot of curly red hair. His English is not as good as Irene's, so if he has to hunt for a word, she is there to help out. They compliment each other well, and we feel that we are being taken care of really well as a group. Eduardo knows a lot about both the history and natural features of this end of the world, and he is eager to share that knowledge. The small group makes it easy to get us together if necessary, and it's really nice that everyone is satisfied with the pace of our hikes. Nobody zooms ahead or falls behind, even though we have had some substantial climbing.
On Sunday Nov. 5 and Monday Nov. 6, we took a hydrofoil boat to one of the islands to explore a bit. The dock is a ten minute walk from the hotel, and the boat ride took between 20 and 50 minutes; the boats hold between 100 and 200 passengers, with indoor seating on comfortable padded chairs. Sunday we headed to Levanzo, population 208, but Eduardo said that now it is more like 12! Two Jeeps appeared to transport us to a trailhead, at which point we walked downhill (and later back up) to see the Grotta del Genovese, a privately owned cave where there are rock paintings between 12,000 and 7,000 years old. We donned head nets and then hard hats to enter the cave (photographs are not allowed to protect the images), and we had a private tour with explanations for about 45 minutes. I have never been to the Lascaux caves in France, but these are similar. It was fascinating, since the caves were discovered only 60 years ago, and archeologists are still studying the paintings. Afterwards we hiked back up the trail, and then returned on foot (a stone path) to the harbor area where we had lunch at a local restaurant. It was after 2 PM, and after 7 miles of hilly terrain, we were famished. But there was a lot of food, so nobody left hungry. Before getting back on the ferry, we took a short walk along the shoreline path to see a sea stack on the opposite coast.
John was so tired that evening that he skipped dinner and was asleep when I returned to the room at 9:30. We had excellent pizza, so he couldn't eat that anyway. We had a bit of rain that night.
John is writing now
Monday was our tour of the island of Favignana (pop. 3400).
When we landed on Favignana our guides pointed to the castle on top of a large hill and announced that was our destination. It was a beautiful day, and although it was in the low 70's it was warm climbing that hill. The castle was built by the Moors, but was improved upon by each new invading force, including during World War II! As we were admiring the view at the top we could see the rain moving in. We walked down in the rain and then went to a restaurant for a four course lunch. Since the restaurant was closing, and it was still raining, we retired to a gelato place to wait for the ferry boat.
Meanwhile, during lunch, Lois had some enamel on a tooth fall out. Our guide got on the phone, and through the hotel, arranged a visit to a dentist at 5:30 P.M. that afternoon! One of the participants, Jim, had his luggage go astray on the trip to Italy. Our guide spent a lot of time on the phone trying to get Jim's luggage delivered. The airline found the luggage, and gave it to a delivery service, but they refused to deliver the luggage unless Jim gave them a bribe! Being a retired F.B.I. agent, he was having none of that! He has been without his luggage for four days!
After we got back to Trapani, Lois met the dentist who scheduled her for the repair at 8:15 A.M. the next morning. In fact, Lois is at the dentist as I am writing this. Because the rain has continued, our guides have moved the schedule around so we have less time outdoors today. Our guides have really been great. Since the dentist doesn't speak English, Irene accompanies Lois to the dentist on each visit. Quick note from Lois - I am back and good to go. The repair cost 150 Euro, but will last for many years! Sorry we don't have any photos from the dentist visit. The office is very large and modern, and only a 5 minute walk from the hotel.