Your alarm goes off, you jump in the shower, get dressed, grab breakfast and leave the house. Within a few hours, the day turns pitch dark and pumice rocks start falling from the sky. The air is so thick with ash, it is literally suffocating and the poisonous gases in the air are killing you and everyone around you.
When Mt Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., they think it erupted close to 12PM on August 24th and started with a deafening sound which was the top blowing off the volcano. The explosion blew up 20 km high into the sky forming a huge cloud of matter…then the pumice rocks started falling and then the ash fell over 70 km. Within hours, the entire city of Pompeii was dead and buried.
To walk the streets of this old Roman city and look at the ruins is kind of eery but also fascinating. The streets are long and gridlocked. There is a huge amphitheater, tons of what were probably houses and stores, a bath house, pillars standing without the buildings to hold up etc. The streets seemed to go on forever…there must have been so many people…
Giff and I spent a couple of hours walking up and down the stone streets and could have spent many more. We walked through some of the old buildings, taking pictures and reading our booklet to help navigate us around. One of the areas we found most amazing was “the garden of the fugitives”. 13 plaster cast bodies including children were frozen in the positions they were in when they were taking their last breath. It’s amazing how archeologists are able to find where these bodies were, but since they decomposed…they pour plaster through a hole in the ground into the cavity where the body was, and then dig around the mold. The end result captures the body down to the facial expression.
Many Roman towns have been rebuilt at some point during history but since Pompeii was buried in ash, it was preserved and therefore the streets we were walking on and the building remains we were looking at was all exactly the way it was so long ago. They have also uncovered paintings on some of the walls as well as statues amongst other artifacts. The archeologists continue to dig to uncover more and more.
We climbed some of the steps to get a view of the town which was dominated by the volcano in the background…it was unreal to be able to walk through the streets of all those people who were suddenly killed by a volcano they thought to be just a mountain.
After our long hot walk through Pompeii, we were ready to go back to our hotel. We walked back outside of the ruins (old Pompeii) and into the new town of Pompeii which is active with people, tourists, shops, restaurants and hotels. The main large piazza with the cathedral are right outside the old area of Pompeii. Giff and I had tried one of the mom & pop type restaurants before we went into the Pompeii Ruins. The food was one of our least favorites in Italy but we ate at a table next to the owners and enjoyed watching them chat and eat their lunch…even offering us a juicy peach from their table.
We went back to our hotel, grabbing a take out pizza and salad on our way to the room. We ate and caught up on our Internet stuff before going to bed. Tomorrow we will be in Naples!
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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