The Year That Didn’t Suck
Around this time last year I wrote an article where I got personal and shared why I was looking forward, quite eagerly, to 2011. In that post I proclaimed 2011 to be the Year of Adventure. Did it live up to its name? Well, if you’ve been reading my posts before today you might have your own answer already formed. As a new year approaches, though, I tend to reflect over the current one. The last few years I’ve been more than happy to wave goodbye to, but 2011 has proven to be a VERY different one.
It’s had its own challenges for sure. Can’t really get through life without having some challenges after all, and it helps keep life interesting. Compared to the last few years of rollercoasters, however, 2011 has been a standout for sheer awesomeness and some great lessons learned and reaffirmed. Some highlights:
- We began our new lifestyle in Cozumel, Mexico. And despite my initial misgivings of beginning our journey in Mexico (I had already spent a lot of time in Mexico and really wanted something totally new), it proved to be the PERFECT place to begin our new life. It might sound ironic for a Zen Buddhist to state he has a hard time doing nothing, but I’ll admit it. Sure I enjoy my moments of silence and do-nothingness for a time not 24/7. I’ve never been a person who enjoyed just sitting on the beach for hours while reading a book. Cozumel was a great place to force myself to be more comfortable with . . . well, myself. I was able to rediscover that it is possible to spend the day relaxing on the beach, playing in the waves, frolicking with my son and still getting to call it productive. Cozumel remains our #1 choice for places we would live more long-term.
- We got to visit a place few Americans have been to, and I’d go back to Cuba in a second. I only hope as tourism increases from the US that the country is able to retain its charm and energy. Minus the Old Havana touts.
- A year ago Tigger was so riddled with anxiety from the public school environment that he ended up hospitalized. He is now off all medications and is doing phenomenally! We’ve had some short visits from preadolescent ‘tudes, but most of the time he lives up to his namesake and is my happy, joyful, ball of constant sunshine. The beginning of our journey found us sharing a room. Attempts to have him sleep in his own room were futile. However, for the last few months he’s had his own room and loves it. When we have Couchsurfers we share a room, and he looks forward to when he can return to his own room. Such progress!
- We have met some truly amazing people, some of whom have left a bigger imprint on our hearts than we would’ve anticipated. Two standouts are Erica & Shaun, the incredible OverYonderlust.com duo, and Ellery, a young man we met on our way back to the island from Guatemala. They all have spent at least a month on Utila and have become family to us.
- I finished my divemaster and instructor certifications in Honduras, a place that tried the hell out of me in the beginning. Tigger joined the diving family as well by getting his junior open water certification after his 10th birthday (which he says was his highlight of the year). After 5 months I can honestly say I would have no problem calling this place home for a longer period of time. It’s a VERY small island, but what it lacks in amenities it makes up in heart and character. We’ve been to other places in Honduras, and Copan is the only other place I’d consider staying put for a while. Whenever we leave Utila, it doesn’t take long before we’re looking forward to returning to our island.
- One of my constant joys is seeing the world through Tigger’s eyes. I love to hear him reminisce. The other day he was watching something on TV, and they said they were in Havana. He looked at me like something was wrong and said “That isn’t Havana.” I love that he knows that. I am filled with joy every time I hear him say “In Mexico [or Belize, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras]. . . ” It’s an absolute riot to hear him teaching people about marine ecology and sea life. He’s taught me about some sea creatures I had never heard of. As one vacationing teacher said facetiously: “Yep, there’s no learning going on here.” I also get a big kick when he uses meters instead of feet. I don’t know why, but it just makes me happy.