The day the world changed for­ever

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SARA MORSE

MY­first in­di­ca­tion that some­thing was wrong came when I no­ticed the six lo­cals sitting be­hind the counter in the vil­lage del­i­catessen. They weren’t smok­ing or chat­ting or sip­ping cof­fee as usual. They were lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio with se­ri­ous looks on their faces.

It was 2001 and I was hol­i­day­ing in Italy and had come to the Cinque Terre alone to do the Lovers Walk. I had fallen in love with the vil­lages of Italy, par­tic­u­larly the coastal set­tle­ments. I rented a room in Corniglia from an old woman and each day I strolled the Lovers Walk to one of the other vil­lages, mar­vel­ling at the amaz­ing coast­line, the lovers walk­ing along of­fer­ing a po­lite prego, go ahead, when we passed on the oc­ca­sion­ally pre­car­i­ous path.

How­ever, this day I was puz­zled to see the lo­cals all so pre­oc­cu­pied, stop­ping in laneways and talk­ing earnestly with their arms wav­ing. In­ter­net ac­cess wasn’t widely avail­able and I didn’t have a mo­bile phone, so I couldn’t work out what was hap­pen­ing. But I knew it must be se­ri­ous.

I found the lo­cal deli owner alone in his shop and in my dread­ful Ital­ian tried: ‘‘ Ter­ri­bile?’’ He looked at me and asked, ‘‘ Amer­i­cano?’’

I told him I was Aus­tralian. He placed a tea towel on his head, put his arms out and moved them as if he were a plane fly­ing. He then placed his arms up above his head and stood still be­fore mov­ing them back down by his sides and then smash­ing his fist into the palm of his other hand.

I had no idea what had hap­pened, but I guessed it in­volved a plane and an ac­ci­dent. Next day I trekked along Lovers Walk to a larger vil­lage where I could go on­line and catch up with the news. Sud­denly the deli cha­rades made com­plete sense as I saw cov­er­age of the 9/11 World Trade Cen­tre at­tacks.

Trav­el­ling in a non-English­s­peak­ing coun­try, re­moved from my usual news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion and ra­dio news, I con­tin­ued my hol­i­day, alarmed at the news of the at­tacks but obliv­i­ous to the ram­i­fi­ca­tions for trav­ellers.

At Rome air­port, my flight was de­layed by two hours as each pas­sen­ger was phys­i­cally searched while stand­ing on a box, arms out like a cru­ci­fix, as se­cu­rity staff ran their hands over ev­ery inch of ev­ery per­son’s body be­fore al­low­ing them to board. Our trav­el­ling lives had been changed for­ever. RANT OR RAVE Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a Cor­ban & Blair Duet travel jour­nal in pink/red and Duet travel wal­let in blue/red (pic­tured; to­tal value $84). The Duet range is made from gen­uine split leather and fea­tures con­trast­ing leather de­tail with a metal but­ton en­clo­sure. More: (02) 9560 0122; cor­ban­ Send your con­tri­bu­tion to: travel@theaus­

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