Year in Review – 2009

28 Dec

In case you were wondering, this is what I have been up to this past year:

feels so far away and yet I can remember as if it were yesterday the sweet taste of San Francisco’s chocolate melting in my mouth. A certain Obama was being celebrated in freezing Washington, DC, but I was enjoying the sun and my friend Alison in the Bay. We did a lot of walking and exploring, but really my taste buds have better memories than my feet!

FEBRUARY was another cold and dreary month in the capital, so I escaped to wonderful Georgetown, Kentucky to visit Virginie and her twins (aka my American nephews). They are growing very fast and I actually did not need to let them win at the Wii… they beat me fair and square!

MARCH was total craziness: meeting with all of our donors, a high-profile learning event, tons of dissemination of our publications, cramming to get our annual report out (yes, our fiscal year ends in June and the AR comes out in March, so what?) – all that in the same week. Where? You ask… Oh, well, in Roma. I fell in love with the city! Five gelati in nine days (work got in the way). Yes, technically a work week is five-day long but I wouldn’t be Moi if I hadn’t extended it to both weekends! Natasha took me to Napoli (a-ma-zing pizza!) and Pompeii. Who would have thought that I would ever visit Pompeii?! It reminded me of my Latin classes… sigh never thought I would look at them with nostalgia! The funny thing is, in January I saw an exhibit about the rich Romans’ mansions in Pompeii!

APRIL had to be a quiet month to recover from the decadent Italian buffets… but I still found the energy to visit Anne in Boston and introduced her to Trader Joe’s “Swiss” chocolate. She introduced me to a lovely village on the sea. Life is nice in New England.

MAY was all about the swine flu ruining the Mexican economy… so what better (i.e. cheaper) place to visit than Playa del Carmen, Mexico with Cécile! I think I was Majan in a former life, so I visited two temples in temperatures where chocolate doesn’t survive: Chichen Itza (amazing temples) and Tulum (built when the Majan culture was collapsing but the sea landscape is out of this world).

JUNE was historical… literally: I visited Thomas Jefferson’s beautiful estate and the University he designed in Charlottesville. This is middle-of-nowhere Virginia with thick woods and wildlife, so you need a car, a driver (Waleska) and someone to entertain the driver (Cécile) so you can sleep. I also introduced Mari to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She discovered the Liberty Bell, the first US Parliament, etc. Okay, fine I was more into Philly’s rich food scene, but I still enjoyed the history, particularly after watching the TV series (more like a looooong film) about John Adams, who haunted those buildings back in the 18th century. Of course, I didn’t want George Washington to feel left out so I also visited his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia, just down the river from DC. The first three US Presidents, check check check. No, no visit to Texas planned.

JULY and AUGUST… or should I say Julio y Agosto? Wonderful four weeks in Antigua, Guatemala, a colonial city full of gringos. So when I wasn’t cosy in my escuela learning un poquito de espanol, I hiked up a mountain (man-made stairs for giants) and a volcano (I will not do that ever again!); swam in caves holding a candle (try it, not easy!) and in a turquoise lagoon (very easy); went down a waterfall with a rope (and fell) and then up that waterfall (and got more bruises); cruised on a lake that is actually a volcanic crater (check it out on Google Images– Lago de Atitlan); got lost in markets (where I felt tall); explored a Majan site, Tikal, with a guide only speaking in Spanish and monkeys jumping from trees to trees (no snake! What a relief). I also spent a couple of days in Copan, Honduras to visit yet another Majan temple. No they don’t all look alike! But for whatever reasons, all of them are in hot, humid and mosquito-infested areas. I have solved the mystery behind the end of the Majan civilization: they moved away! I won’t mention the food… because there is no word in any language to describe my unconditional love for Latin comida. Men were disappointing though… but the amazing chocolate made up for it (what else is new?!). That is what you do when you don’t have to chase down work/contracts, renew your visa or worry about some insignificant aspect of your life: you just enjoy living!

SEPTEMBER was boring! I cannot remember what I did… probably spent too much time at work and not enough with my friends. I was so so bored I joined Facebook to check out my friends’ vacation pictures!

OCTOBER was swimming in Swiss chocolate! I joined Maude (a Swiss friend from high school) and her friend who were exploring NYC. Guess what they brought me! And tons of it! Mari came with me and we stayed at Natalya’s place, so I had to share my loot, but there is still some left! Yummy Yummy. I also had my first Swiss cheese fondue of the season with a dozen of my friends. Two days later, I drove up to Toronto with Owen – nine very short hours of eating. Maja took a plane (…) and we stayed at her parents. We all went to the airport together to wish Maja and Owen happy new beginnings in Oxford, England – and the following day I flew home. Soon after Alex left for Rome! What am I doing here?!

NOVEMBER was Irish green and heavenly. This year I got to pamper my aunt who was in crutches, but I still got plenty of food, love and attention (several times a day in no particular order). I read and watched TV; walked the dog and chatted with my Irish friends. Remind me why I left? But early November I had Mien’s company in DC – back for a visit and trying out new restaurants – so not all is bad here… not all.

DECEMBER started in Ireland, continued in Oxford (Hello Maja and Owen! Where are the best chocolate stores?) and ended in snowy DC. Unexpected discovery though: the English CAN make good chocolate. I couldn’t not stop in London, so I let Derek treat me to dinner. AND I managed to survive Gatwick and Heathrow! Not a small achievement to crown the year!

So in summary: I ate my weight in chocolate (from Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Germany, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Trader Joe’s, United Kingdom, United States of Obama, and the best is…please, don’t make me say it!); traveled a bit (nothing in September – tsk tsk and my resolution was to leave DC at least one day a month – FAILED!); spent time with my friends (even when they preferred to be alone); joined a book club (but I don’t understand half of what they say, I just go for the decadent meals); watched many movies (Netflix is my new best friend!); visited four Majan sites in three countries… and could have done so much more if work hadn’t gotten in the way. I did date a couple of guys, but it’s way too boring to warrant more than the briefest of mentions.

After all, 2009 wasn’t too bad.

What’s in store for 2010? I am back to chasing contracts and a visa but should manage to make time for an adventure or two. One thing I REALLY have to get better at is writing to my friends! I am such a bad long-distance friend but I can only get better. I am pretty sure I said the same thing last year though… sigh. Just because I ignore you doesn’t mean I don’t think about you and eventually I will write!


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