There is but one road leading to the isolated town, our summer village. A place little touched by time, by technology’s progress, or by the frenetic pace of getting ahead. Thirteen years had passed since our last visit. And though fewer, we found the inhabitants much the same. The wrinkled faces of the old had changed; many we knew before passed on. Yet they were the same. The same lines of suffering and hardship.
The same bleak look of hopelessness. Hopelessness one doesn’t expect to find in 21st century Europe.
Time still passes slowly there. They while the day away in simple tasks. A bowl of pasta. A little weeding in the garden. A chat with neighbors. But mostly they just sit and wait. For what, even they don’t know.
And there, at the top of the hill, sits Mario’s ancestral home.
Our first trip back a few years ago, seemed at first nothing but an annoyance. Still one more thing to tend to. And a house we don’t need, but can’t sell, because he co-owns it with his siblings. And property there, in what is becoming a ghost town, doesn’t sell anyway!
But we went out of love for his family, glad to do them the small favor of tending to needed repairs. But we keep going out of love for this abandoned people, in that abandoned area.
- Only one road goes in because the other has never been repaired after the landslide over a decade ago.
- There is almost no work — NO WORK in giant letters.
- And agriculture, their traditional livelihood, has been greatly hindered because of insane natural park laws.
- They have only one doctor for the 500-600 people.
- The nearest hospital is 45 minutes away, down the steep and winding mountain road.
- Few shops, and only the tiniest of grocery stores.
We go because they feel forgotten. Abandoned. And hopeless.
We go to show that they are neither forgotten nor abandoned.
And that there are others who think of them, and pray for them! We go hoping to offer a bit of encouragement, friendship, and hope. And most of all, to introduce them to the One who will never abandon them. To the one who can give them hope and peace which nothing and no one can ever take away!
And we go because the almost haunting beauty of the place has captured our hearts. But the people have totally claimed them!