Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Year in Review

If you have been around the blog for very long you have probably noticed how I like to look back and review things. We've had the Week In Review for several different trips, a Month in Review once my life became less exciting and I reviewed my frighteningly marketable skills. While I am still doing a detailed review of the Camino, there was a review of it after I finished. I even briefly reviewed my 24th year.

Something about periodically looking back and reminiscing, remembering and reliving the experiences I have had helps to solidify them in my memory as well as leave me ever thankful for the good things in my life.

As the year ends I always like to look back and review the highlights. Since so much of my life has been documented on my blog this last year I thought I might share a bit of it here as well. So here we go, 2011 in review!

I started the year a fresh MDiv graduate. I had effectively tied up all the loose ends that had been dangling for weeks/months/years. I was ready to dive into a year of sabbatical. Planning my trip a couple of weeks before I was planning on leaving was a bit stressful at times, but, after a few revisions, I came up with a working itinerary, bought tickets, gave up fear as a new year's resolution and hit the road.

First was nursing myself back to life on a hidden Costa Rican beach and then engaging my inner zoologist sloth-spotting in the cloud forest and my inner daredevil climbing volcanoes and free falling in a near death zip-lining experience.

I found some movida in Panama City, watched the boats flow through the Canal and spent some time getting lost in small Panamanian towns. I learned some Nicaraguan Spanish (no hay falla!), ate rice and beans for weeks on end, explored some Spanish colonial towns and got fresh perspectives on all kinds of things from ecological farming to the not so distant conflicts there.

I swung back through the states to be a bride's maid and then made my way with a group from Logsdon to traipse around Greece. From there I headed over to Cyprus to rest up before my pilgrimage. I took in the amazing (and almost deserted) beaches, the crumbling colonial sides of cities and walked through both the Greek and Turkish sides of the world's last divided capital.

From there I left the luxury behind and strapped on my hiking boots. After a Sunday sendoff in Pamplona I walked my way westward all the way across the Iberian Peninsula meeting a plethora of interesting and kind characters, finding inspiration around every corner and absolutely destroying my feet. I turned a quarter of a century old at the Atlantic Ocean and was gifted a beautiful sunset and moonrise over the coast marking the old "End of the World."

I then made my way to the Balkans--one of my favorite corners of the world. In Croatia I lounged along the Dalmatian coast, walked through the Plitvice Lakes National Park with new friends, and got my first ever tan on the islands. I was inspired by the rebuilt spirit and old bridge in Bosnia's Mostar and ate some ridiculously good food and had great conversations in Sarajevo. I got dizzy from the mountains in Montenegro and found a chapel filled with treasures fresh out of the Little Mermaid's collection. I made my way through a dozen monasteries and orthodox churches in Serbia and fell in love with Belgrade with an ice cream cone in hand.

I made my way south into Kosovo and then got stuck for a while at Lake Ohrid in Macedonia swimming, relaxing and chatting with villagers and a fun group of new friends (stuck that is until I found out the hard way the lake was full of snakes!). I took an elaborate mix of transportation and ended up in Albania where I met handfuls of colorful and lovely locals and travelers. I took the scariest bus ride of my life and saw some of the very best sunsets. I took a ferry to Corfu and made friends with old Greek taxi drivers, ate some of the best meals of the trip and explored sea caves by tiny inflatable square.

I swung back through Western Europe to see friendly faces in Milan and Seville, and then, taking a deep breath, flew back home to the United States.

I got the chance to have endless coffees and share life with friends and then moved into a new house. I got to reunite with friends from Santander at the world's largest hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque and see the Aspens on fire (metaphorically speaking!) in Colorado.

I read a couple dozen books and even wrote, among other things, my very first novel (...which makes me smile just thinking of it!). The book I helped edit was finally published. I even ended the "Year of No Fear!" with an appropriate helicopter ride.

What a year, eh? I could go on forever (or, you know, already have), but it was definitely the best year to date.

2012 and the upcoming years have big shoes to fill.

Thanks to all of you--friends, family and random folks--who shared 2011 with me and made it great. Here's to 2012 and the adventures it holds!

A few pictures from 2011 as a sendoff:

Samara, Costa Rica

Panama Canal

Agia Napa, Cypress 

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Berat, Albania

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Mostar, Bosnia

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Thessaloniki, Greece 

Milan, Italy

Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque 

1 comment:

Seongho Bak said...

What a nice pics!!!!