The best part about our life is the freedom of the unknown, that we rarely know our destinations a few months in advance. Our decision to live by a mantra of “no plans” (or, to just be terribly indecisive, depending on how you look at it), has enabled us to benefit from so many fantastic opportunities.
I love that at this time last year, while we were relaxing in southern Spain, we had no idea that our future selves would be in Wisconsin right now. And where will we be at this time next year? We (blissfully) don’t know that either!
All we know is that if 2013 turns out to be even a fraction as stellar as 2012, then we are in for another thrilling ride. For in the past dozen months we’ve been in a dozen different countries, and have banked dozens upon dozens of great memories along the way.
To adequately sum up an entire year is very difficult, so we did it not by ranking one grand experience over another (they are so hard to compare!), but by simply listing stand-out moments. Some you may be reading about for a second time, and others are brand new…
Sunrise in the Sahara
What a great way to kick off a new year by exploring a new country, a new continent even, when we left Spain for Morocco early in January. And very few travel experiences can beat being surrounded by the bright orange sand of the Sahara, letting the soft granules run through our fingers while watching the first beams of dawn’s early light reach across the horizon. It was pure magic.
New York with friends
In all honesty, I STILL find it hard to watch TV shows or movies set in New York, as it always brings up severe longing to return. Our six weeks housesitting there were full of great memories and surprises, especially because of all the special visitors we had.
Some of our favourite days:
Attending Sunday service in Harlem.
Getting pierced and inked.
An afternoon with Turkish teens
You can bet that with three months spent housesitting in rural Turkey, we have oodles of unforgettable stories. Most of them come courtesy of the the incredible hospitality of the people, and how much they taught us about generosity and patriotism. They were so proud to share their country with us, and no day encapsulated this better than our afternoon with a Grade 11 English class. That day, and many others, made saying goodbye to Turkey one of the hardest things we’ve had to do.
Speechless in Petra
There are few words to describe what it’s like to gaze upon the Treasury for the first time. (And Pete wasn’t any better when I asked him to write about it too.) We encourage you right now to drop everything you are doing and make plans to visit Jordan, if even just to see visit Petra for a day. So worth it.
Exploring the Slovenian countryside
A whole month in Slovenia flew by – for such a tiny country, it sure kept us busy. Two favourite days spring to mind though, one where our friend Gregor spontaneously whisked us off to the countryside to explore his favourite spots. Another, again thanks to Gregor, saw him take Pete up a mountain in Triglavski National Park on a day hike. Both were off-the-beaten-path, and in great company. What could be better than that?
After Slovenia and brief stays in Munich and Austria, we had only a couple of nights to spare in Amsterdam before leaving Europe for Canada after many months. Although we were dogged tired of the European tourist-scene, visiting Amsterdam again gave us a quick boost, thanks to good friends and a lovely day at the beach. We completely turned off our blogging brains (there is no post on this stop!) and just enjoyed every moment.
“The time I started the bed on fire”
Our two months back in Canada were filled with excellent times reconnecting with our family and friends as well as exploring our own backyard. There is one day in particular, however, that stood out.
For years I have been encouraging my grandmother to begin writing down the details of her life – facts, memories, favourite recipes, etc. – such that I can put them all together in a book. I believe family history to be a dying art and she is an incredible matriarch of her community and our very large family, I am eager to make sure that her stories and legacy are not lost.
I had previously sent her a worksheet of questions and ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ to get her started. She has picked away at it, but while visiting, we decided to sit down and start filling it out together. And then unexpectedly, not only was she recounting details of her life, but so were we all. Some of the stories that came out were quite hilarious.
I learned great tales about my Mom and her twin brother – how they used to be tied to a clothes line so that they couldn’t venture farther than the back yard. Of course, we also talked about “Lumpy Dick“. And then when we began sharing our first memories, my uncle’s story really took the cake.
“Well, I guess that would be when I started the bed on fire,” he said, recounting the time he was playing with a lighter under the covers. When the blanket became lit, he went and crawled into bed with his older sister, not telling her what happened. Finally, the fire was discovered and he was sent to the neighbours while it was attended to by the local fire department. His first actual memory wasn’t of causing the fire, but instead of watching all the commotion he caused from across the street!
Spending time in some of the most incredible places across the planet just can’t beat laughing and sharing with our own dear family.
Behaving as young children do
After a hecktic year, settling into our current house-sit in Wisconsin has been a blessing. We’ve been happily unwinding and using the downtime to prepare for what comes next.
It also helps that we are surrounded by gorgeous lakes and pristine wilderness. And before the lake outside our door was completely frozen, we had several occasions to do one of our favourite activities – kayaking.
It wasn’t all quiet waters and gently gliding either, as thin layers of ice began to creep in from the edges, we had the most fun SMASHING and SMASHING the ice with our kayaks and paddles. It was riotous, then peaceful, then riotous again. (Pretty much a perfectly energizing experience.)
As we say goodbye to 2012, we are thankful and grateful for all of these marvelous experiences, and for the opportunity to have shared them all with you. If we haven’t said it enough, thanks for being here, and sharing your experiences with us in return.
All the best to you during this holiday season! And, as we fully expect you to be enjoying time with your families and away from the computer, we’re taking a break from blogging as well. See you in the new year!