Wait, what? Didn’t I just write one of these damn dumpster burning letters entitled HNY 2021? Sheesh, the year that crawled by at sloth speed and yet blew by like a freebasing Richard Pryor on fire. Remember him? Yeah, I’ll bet half my friends have no clue. But even in the days before the internet and social media, we managed to spread “news” around the world – like Rod Stewart and the famous stomach pump story…or Richard Gere and the gerbil. C’mon, did that really happen? Google it. If you read it on that there interweb it must be real!
I don’t know about you, but I am pretty ecstatic to see “2020 WON” in the rear-view mirror. I am not even sure how to write an annual recap or why I should even bother.
Let’s see. 2021 was the year I contracted COVID, pre-vaccine. I was careful to the point of merciless ridicule. Hazmat suits on the beach, alcohol gel sanitizer showers, sleeping in a mask. And this wasn’t even our highly contagious buddy, Omicron. So, screw it, everyone is going to get it if they are living life. Good news: I didn’t die. Bad news: Long COVID sucks. I am beginning to believe it bestowed brain damage upon me <no, this is not the place to insert a laughing emoji>.
What other kind of exciting news can I share? Our trip to Malta/EU was cancelled again (2020 déjà vu). The marvelously careful Maltese government was not quite ready to welcome the COVID-rampant decreasingly power-ranked US passport holders when we booked in late spring. 2022 will mark the 40-year anniversary of my very first attempt to spend an extended time in Malta. True story…
My roommate, Joanne, and I, during our studies in Cambridge, decided to spend our Lententide recess in Malta. But before the final booking, our summer-loving friends shared that there was nothing to do in Malta in February. The weather would be cold and with the lack of tourists, many restaurants and bars closed (like the Greek Islands in winter). Bars? Closed? Noooo. So, we made an about-face and hitchhiked through Ireland with a couple of occasionally entertaining, often annoying classmates. Ireland turned out to be miserably cold and wet but enticing due to the countless hours logged in local pubs. However, in hindsight, we should have visited Malta rather than nearly being caught in the crossfire of an IRA soldier in Belfast with an AK-47. What the hell were we thinking traveling to the middle of the conflict in Northern Ireland in the ’80s?
That is a story for another day. Back to the 2021 recap. If you waited all year monitoring my social media for exotic travel photos you are, most likely, still waiting. We did finally return to the States after nearly 2 years. It was a bumpy re-entry but we managed to accomplish just about everything we needed to do and saw some dear family and friends (sorry for those I missed). And caught a few University of Texas Longhorn football games. It was the worst season they have had since 1956 <insert the laughing emoji here>. We did manage to escape on a cruise to Mexico. I was paid to write a couple of stories about reactivating cruising. Bonus: we did not encounter an outbreak onboard or afterward. So, it was deemed a stupendous success.
I have opted not to renew my correspondent contract with International Living. But will continue as a Costa Rica freelance contributor as well as other travel/expat writing opportunities. This will allow more time to finalize the edited version of my book, Candi-Man, and focus on finding an agent and ultimately publication. It has gathered so much dust it is crumbling like a proverbial roman empire tablet exposed to the elements since 476 AD. Big goals for 2022. Fingers crossed.
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Festive season is in full swing here in Costa Rica and things feel as ‘normal’ as they can. Whatever the new normal is.
One recent December morning I was listening to Christmas music and suddenly wept. It was one of those sentimental moments when you mourn the loss of those you love and the loss of life pre-pandemic – one which no longer exists (for now?). Longing for a kinder world without all the vicious divisiveness. Seems we have all mourned something the last couple of years. But hopefully, like me, you experienced some magical moments too.
All sarcasm aside, the flipping of the calendar gives me hope for a better tomorrow. May your worst day of 2022 be better than your best day of 2021. Happy New Year. Feliz año nuevo.