One Year, 12 Months, 365 Days, 8,765.82 hours, 525,949.2 minutes, or 31,556,952 seconds: It is all relative. August 20, 2018, I boarded a flight bound for the mainland, leaving Hawaii behind, after it had been my home for thirteen years.
Face it, I was on the run. I was running away from financial pressures. I was running away from a career, which I had been at since I was 17-years-old. I was running away from feeling old. I was running away from the deadly sameness of a a life of retirement in Hawaii. I was running away from the possibility that I might end up being one of those old husks of humanity, who sit on low walls in front of their apartments staring out into the mind numbingly sameness of their short futures.
It is hard to put myself into the mindset I was in when I boarded that first plane. I do remember that I was very worried about being able to make my savings stretch until I turned 62 and I could get early social security. I wasn’t worried about living in a country where my command of the langrage wasn’t that good. I had lived one summer in Italy, and was sure it couldn’t be that much different.
This past year had few of the difficulties living in Italy had. All the technology we have now days really makes living anywhere very easy. I message my friends, and occasionally get together for video chats. I have detailed up to date maps on my phone. I can walk around with my phone speaking into my headset telling me when to turn, so that I am not looking like a tourist studying a map standing on a street corner. I have hundreds of books on my Kindle, and I can check many more from the Honolulu library through the Libby app. I have a world of entertainment at my finger tips though my iPad and laptop.
I thought I would finish the novel I was working on during the year. That didn’t happen, though it wasn’t held up by my living situation. I was just having trouble with the novel. I had originally roughed it out in third person presence tense. I only recently realized that the story wasn’t suited to that. I have gone back to the beginning and am rewriting it in first person past tense. It is going really well. The only problem is that with a year of stagnation, I need to get a writing routine set up again.
I have been blogging like crazy, so it isn’t like I am not writing at all. Most of my blogging has been sort of a travelogue. I had planned on blogging more on the process of travel as a senior nomad, but found that taking and sharing photos was more interesting. One good thing about being in a city which isn’t very photogenic (Medellin is only photogenic from a distance.) is that I have had time to pull out post drafts about how I travel and catch up with them. I have two more months here, so I should be caught up on finishing my draft posts before I head down to Peru to take lots of photos of the White City.
As I think back over the year, I realize that I have made a lot of lasting memories: Walking alongside the river in Cuenca. Exploring the back streets of Guanajuato. Living with good friends in the US and getting to know them better than I ever did before. Having lunch with my union brothers, regaling them with tales of my travels. Hanging out with my other friends, making good use of our time, because we didn’t know if or when we would see each other again. Getting to know one of my best friend’s sisters. Making a new friend over many lovely meals in Warsaw. Getting frequent Spanish lessons from very friendly strangers in Medellin. And so much more.
As I traveled I have found that there are certain foods which I have always been able to buy easily in the US, are not available, not the same, or cost too much. I miss American style cottage cheese. I haven’t been able to find any cottage cheese that has the same taste and consistency. I keep forgetting to get some when I am in the states, because I am eatting with friends too often.
In Cuenca, an expat, who I hope never to cross paths with again, condemned the whole country of Ecuador because of the price of peanut butter. My solution, don’t buy peanut butter. Of course if I were to live full time in Ecuador, I would bug my friends to come visit with suitcases full of peanut butter, and bemoan that they couldn’t pack cottage cheese.
In Cuenca, chicken was expensive at the supermercado, but grass fed porterhouse steaks were cheap. In Guanajuato the steaks were hard to find, but chicken was cheap. I ate steak in Ecuador, and chicken in Mexico. As I think back on this; if I had bought my meat at the butcher I might have found the prices different.
I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the butchers in the big public markets, so far. I have been make small inroads here in Medellin, by buying my chicken from the butcher counter at the supermercado. I vow, that when I get to Peru I will brave the process. It isn’t that I am afraid of the meat safety. I am afraid that my command of Spanish isn’t good enough for me to make the purchase. The chicken at the local market is easier, because the butcher is already giving me a Spanish lesson. I just have to keep practicing “Un pollo cortado por favor.”
I really miss Diamondhead Original Crackers. I don’t even try to find a local equivalent of DOCs. I do try out the local crackers to see if I like them. Now I am missing the thin crunchy crackers from Poland. That is the same as I leave each country. There is always some special food I am going to miss.
All in all my life traveling hasn’t been too different than my life back in Honolulu, only with an ever changing backdrop. I eat, sleep, write, shop, and keep up with far away friends. The biggest difference is that I now spend very little time curating stuff. I am not worried about money any more because I have learned that I can adjust my spending to fit my income.
I look forward eagerly to the next year. What memories will I take away with me? My future is shorter than my past, but I hope that it is every bit as interesting. If this past year is anything to judge by, it will be a lot of fun.
I have to give big thanks to my friends who have let me stay with them as I traveled. A special thanks to: Diana, who is always there with an encouraging word; Holly, who is always ready to help me in anyway she can; Lucas, who follows my travels, and reminds me that I always have a friend in him; Leo, whose emails reminds me that he isn’t just my favorite pod-caster, but a friend; and Gina, who taught me to love Warsaw. Another big shout out to my Ex, who takes care of my mail and phone calls, which are both forwarded to him. He acts as my representative for all my business dealings in the US. I couldn’t do it without him.