Reflections of 2013
I love this time of year. I have always written a ‘Year in Review’ letter to family and friends highlighting the crazy things I have been up too and stuffed that letter inside a Christmas card. With the advent of so many social media channels I find that I really don’t have to recap my year because everyone has come along for the ride.
However, this is my first year with a blog and sometimes I want to tell my story in more than 140 characters or have more connection than just filling an album with pictures. There are stories behind the pictures that just need to be told, and memories that I want to expound on beyond a tweet.
This was quite a year. As 2012 ended we had thought we would be in Panama for at least two years but things changed quickly and we realized that our time in Panama was at an end. It was while we were leaving that I came up with an inkling of an idea and we turned our lives into The 6 Monthers; a concept where we would stay 6 months in every country we wanted to live in. Six months allows us to really get to know the locals and to explore more of the country on a completely different basis than just being on a two-week vacation. So our adventure began. I started out looking for countries where we could live for 6 months on our regular visas and while there are some, not all the countries we want to live in allow it. Those that don’t we will deal with them on a case by case basis. I also began in 2013 to work on obtaining dual citizenship for Italy which we hope will help with our request to stay someplace longer than 3 months.
Leaving Panama we looked north and decided on giving Mexico a try. Other than stopping in various Mexican cities during cruises I had never spent any real time in Mexico. Arranging our time in Mexico was easier than I expected and we found the ideal location to begin 2013 in Cuernavaca. Mexico was a nice surprise and nothing like what the news media would have us believe. We never heard a gun shot and we never felt unsafe. We met nice people and we ate wonderful food. We visited amazing places and loved every second of our time there. Yes Mexico has its challenges but there is nothing about Mexico that should stop someone from exploring this beautiful country.
We returned to the US for a short period to exchange clothing and to clean out the last few boxes of items we had left in my parents’ garage. We then packed for our move to Scotland. Hindsight they say is sometimes best and sadly living in Scotland was not the dream that I was hoping it was going to be.
Being ever alert to prospects for new adventures, and wanting to build our 6 Monthers brand, earlier in 2013 I had connected via LinkedIn with the manager of Dhar Media in Zagreb, Croatia. They were looking for journalists interested in exploring Croatia and filming a web series called Discover Croatia. Filming was scheduled for the month of September. September couldn’t come fast enough and while our 24 day filming schedule was grueling our time in Croatia was fun and filled with great contacts and new friends.
But we returned to Scotland because we had prepaid our six months rent. We were however increasingly unhappy in Scotland and wanted to leave. The people were not friendly or in some instances unkind. I received more than one look from strangers where I just felt that if anything happened to me on the street no one would help me. The weather was turning colder and the costs to heat our small apartment that had no TV, no internet and no elevator was getting to be ridiculous. We talked with our landlady who would not return our money since she said the banks didn’t allow money to flow in reverse but that if we found someone who would take good care of the place we could sublet to them. And the hunt was on. I told Mike I was determined to find someone to get us out of Scotland. He wanted to know where we wanted to go. I told him Sibenik, Croatia. He was surprised since I have family in Sicily and they could have arranged a place for us to stay, even on short notice.
Luck was on our side, or fate intervened, and we left Scotland without looking back on October 26th and landed once again in Croatia. Since we had already spent 24 days in the country we were only allowed to stay in the country on our regular visas until early January 2014 but we didn’t mind. We found a great apartment to rent in Sibenik for 2.2 months and we grabbed it. We connected with several locals who toured us around and we learned more about this region and this country. To thank everyone we had met and who treated us so warmly we threw a Holiday / 6th Wedding Anniversary party. It was a happy event and we are glad that we did it.
Holidays in other countries are always interesting because so many customs and traditions are different from our own country. Here in Croatia they celebrate St. Nicholas day (December 15th) and the Epiphany (January 6th) which hold just as much significance as the main event; Christmas. New Year’s Eve is yet to come but we already know there will be parties to attend and more stories to file away.
So while 2012 ended on a sour note we turned 2013 into a time of new beginnings, new friendships and new memories. After all, isn’t that what the ball drop on New Year’s Eve represents? Isn’t this why everyone cheers and sings and toasts the coming year? New Year’s Eve is a time to say goodbye to the past and to look forward to the future. New Year’s Eve is a time to make a toast to the coming year’s possibilities and a time to sing to let the world know that you are coming.
Here we come 2014, let’s see what you’ve got…