I have always had a soft spot for my Christian. That spot got a whole lot bigger when he went away to Afghanistan, and then came  home a little more broken then when he left. He’s not a big talker, I don’t know all the things, but what I do know makes my heart hurt. So. If Christian asks for anything, and he asks for almost nothing, then I will make it happen.

Technically he didn’t ask to go to Italy. He didn’t ask to go help release a rescued sea turtle. But I was googling. I was googling for some fun in the sun, something to warm his face & put a smile back where it belongs. I came across sea turtle pictures. Next thing you know, I found a Tartaday! A release the rescued sea turtle day!

Even better? I managed to score 9.99 tickets on Ryanair to Bologna. I love Ryanair! From there it is an easy drive to Riviera del Conero, Marche, Italy. From there we hop on a boat. With turtles! And from there we cruise to a secret beach to release the turtles.

Christian may not have asked to go help release rescued sea turtles, but when I told him we were going a big smile crossed his face & I saw his dimples appear. That happy grin was all I needed. Helping save sea turtles to boot? Bonus!

The big day finally came. Dave dropped me, Tess & Christian off at the airport & we flew out to Bologna. It was barely a 55 minute flight, and suddenly we were in a whole new world. I herded my two sheep through the tiny airport, not the macaroni airport, but close enough that it should be macaroni, to the car rental stall at the very end and we picked up my tiny, adorable Fiat 500. Off we went!

Quick aside, driving in Italy is not for the faint of heart. Blinkers are unknown, lanes are a suggestion and chaos is normal. I have to tell you, it’s a little freeing to lose the blinker & change lanes on a whim.

We arrived at the Numana Harbor ahead of schedule, still alive, and more than a little hungry. Luckily, right across from the docks, was a wonderful little snack bar. We plopped down on cushioned crates and dug into some delicious Italian treats… proscuitto with melon, caprese salad & piadina’s (Italian quesadilla’s!). With full tummies we waddled back to the car to change into swimsuits & board our boat.

It turns out, on this Tartaday, only one turtle was ready to be returned to the ocean. Tartadays have gotten very popular, or maybe it was that this one is in July, and not one, not two but three boats of happy eco-tourists were tagging along to help release that one turtle. Not that the other boats mattered at all, the one turtle? She was on our boat!

Yep! She. Our beautiful turtle was a girl named Carla. And that was about all the Italian I understood, despite her caretaker from the Fondazione Cetacea chatting for the whole 30 minute ride from harbor to secret beaches about turtles. I do know that turtle in Italian is: tartaruga. And that Carla is a Caretta caretta. But that is about all I understood.

I will admit to being a little disappointed that there was only one turtle and a billion “helpers”. But. Then. They released Carla. That turtle scampered down the beach like the Flash! She took a brief pause at the water’s edge, a smile coming across her face, you could feel her happiness! And then, she was gone. She dove under the waves and swam away. It took just a second, but the joy in my heart stayed the rest of the afternoon. That was one happy turtle.

We stayed on the beach until the sun started to go down. The water incredibly blue and warm. Tess & I swam almost the entire time, both of us secretly hoping our new best friend Carla would come back. She never did. It doesn’t matter. It was an absolutely perfect afternoon.

Before we left to release Carla, we fueled up! Nothing like a real Italian snack.

How cute is this snack bar? Can you spot Tess?

“Our” boat. The Simba.

There were 3 boats filled with people… but our boat had Carla too!

Amazingly enough, the boats pulled up right on the beach!

Carla was handed down with great care.

And just like that… it was time! Look at her go:

Carla took a brief pause, I swear she’s smiling! Before diving in, back home again.

I yelled & waved goodbye. Look! Carla waved goodbye right back!

Somewhere in the ocean is Carla. Swimming free. Going home.

Time for us to enjoy the sun, beach & a swim!

I cannot get over the incredibly beauty right at my feet.

One last look at Due Sorelle beach before the boat takes us away.