Sicily, Egypt, and an Unexpected Return

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was alone in Syracuse at night and had just missed my train to Ispica to meet my new host! Oops. So what does one do? Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m pretty sure that a quick stroll to the nearest bar for a glass of Sicilian red would be most people’s reaction to this situation.

The bartender pointed me in the direction of the nearest hotel, and off I went. The next day my new host Andrea explained that it was an all too common mistake at that train station. We rescheduled, and I did somehow end up making it to Ispica, where he picked me up.

I spent the month of November with Andrea, his mother Daria, and a rotating door of other volunteers from around the world. Andrea ran a B&B and a farm. I met Claudia from Germany, Julie from France, Irina from Russia, Marco from Italy, Diane from Australia,  Daan from the Netherlands, Guitano from Sicily, and Luca from somewhere, and others I don’t quite recall. If staying with Dino was like becoming a member of the family, then staying with Andrea was becoming a member of a small but strong and diverse community!

Andrea and his mother Daria (Photo taken during Andrea’s birthday party)

Around the table clockwise, beginning with the head: Andrea, Daria, Irina, (can’t recall name), Claudia, Julie, (can’t recall name SO SORRY!), Gaetano, Marco, Diane, and me!

The courtyard.

Together, we pruned carob trees, harvested olive trees, dug, weeded, and planted next years veggies. We cleaned stuff and moved stuff. We made bread and pasta from scratch. We had parties, and quiet nights. Andrea was a professional chef in London for 5 years, so we ate like kings and drank like barbarians. We shared stories and sang songs. Different volunteers came and went as time wandered by. It was sad to see some go, but exciting to meet the newcomers and welcome them to the throng.

Diane, Irina, and Claudia showing off their stylish work boots!

Moving dirt and planting seeds!

Picking some olives!

Preparing the oven!

Baking the bread!


During my month there, I didn’t really get out much. I didn’t need to since everything was provided for us, and kind of didn’t want to anyway. It was so peaceful at the farm. Andrea took us all out to the sea once, and also dropped me off in Modica for a day to explore.

Sicily and the sea.

Andrea and Marco

Julie at dusk.

Marco and the Sea

Sicilian sunset.

Modica from below.

Modica at dusk.

Last stop, wine with a view.


We even celebrated my birthday! Andrea, Daria, their family, and the volunteers all wined and dined me something special!

My 31st birthday with wonderful people, great food, and amazing wine!

Dino, If you’re reading this, THIS is the best wine in all Italy!

The best Italian Red!

My amazing girlfriend Aubre worked together with my friends and family to make me this tear-jerker for my birthday:

My time there was precious, but inevitably came to an end. Having spent 90 days in the Schengen Area, I needed to leave for 90 days. Considering it was nearing winter, I decided to head to Egypt for 2 months! Andrea drove me to the bus station, which took me to Catania where I caught a flight to Cairo!

On the road again!

Goodbye Sicily!

Hello Egypt!

Having been unable to find an opportunity to volunteer in Egypt, I decided to use AirBNB. I rented a room in a top floor (12th floor) apartment with access to the roof. From the roof, I could see the Great Pyramids of Giza 5 miles west.


Here are some highlights of my month in Egypt:

Rooftop access to Giza view.

The incredible skyscapes!

Making friends through chess and coffee!



Drinking this bottle of wine.

Making new friends through chess and coffee!

Egyptian McDonald’s. I also ate BK, no pics, sorry..


Playing ‘Frogger’ across busy Egyptian roads.

Sunsets over the Pyramids of Giza!

Making friends through chess and coffee!

Drinking this horrible, horrible bottle of whiskey.

Making new friends through chess and coffee!

Eating Buffalo Burger! (Yes, those are moz sticks on my burger.)

Making new friends!

Sunsets over the Pyramids of Giza

Making new friends!

Pyramids of Giza!

Making new friends!

Sunsets over the Pyramids.



Then, long story short, my host sexually assaulted me, beat me, took my phone and locked me in the room I was renting. I broke out, grabbed most of my things (including phone), hopped an uber to the airport, and a flew home. The end.

I have been home for 8 months, screwing my head back on right, and preparing to head back out into the world again. Now, whether I’m ready or not, I’m flying out of the country again tomorrow, and this time I’m not going alone! Stay tuned for the big send off announcement!


3 Comments on “Sicily, Egypt, and an Unexpected Return

  1. How scary your ordeal must have been. Glad you made it home safe and sound. It could have happened anywhere but being so far from home leaves you with that hollow feeling of where do I go…. home of course. Hope those type of experiences are done with. Safe travels .

  2. Oh my god, Alex. I’m glad you got out and hopefully the trauma you went through didn’t leave a mark. Glad you decided not to go back alone. Have another pleasant and memorable adventure.

  3. Beautiful pictures and great writing! That was terrible what happened to you, but you are resilient and I’m glad it is not stopping you from pursuing the beautiful and wonderful things out there.
    Bon voyage my dear friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *