This time last year I posted a blog named 2013: Annis Memorabilis, and in it I stated that 2013 was the best year ever…yet. Well as amazing as 2013 was, it’s been surpassed, because as years go 2014 was the most eventful and fantastic yet in all my 40 years. So many great things have happened, and so many wonderful new memories have been forged that, looking back, it’s difficult to believe that they all occurred in just 12 months.
As always there was a lot of traveling, with 8 countries visited. Sadly, but not really, Costa Rica was the only ‘new’ passport stamp among them. Along with the ever present travel, several significant ‘Life Events’ were experienced, and a few momentous milestones were reached, not to mention the fulfilling of several long standing ambitions.
So to summarize the last 12 months in one post will be challenging but, loving a challenge the way I do, here goes.
Being so nomadic I don’t get to spend enough time with my family. But I was fortunate enough to spend last Xmas and New Year in Darwin, Australia with my brother Ian and his wife Rosh, before Leslie and I headed off to Bali, Indonesia for the start of my 40th birthday celebrations. Bali was where it all began for me way back in 1994, and it seemed appropriate to celebrate my 20th anniversary of being a nomad, and my 40th birthday, at one of my all time favorite places. This was my 5th time visiting the island, and it had changed a lot since my first wide-eyed visit in ’94. But what hasn’t changed are the smiling, super friendly locals, the tropical warm breezes, the tantalizing sights and smells around every corner, and the still peaceful atmosphere at what is now a bustling tourist destination. It has held, and will always hold, a special place in my heart, and to have now added a lovely family and friends get together has only enhanced its standing as one of my favorite spots on the planet.
In between the whitewater rafting, beach and pool time, mountain biking and general all round love and revelry, Leslie and I also managed to spend a few days over on Jakarta, where we visited the formidable Borobudur temple complex. To ascend the stairs to the top of the inspiring Buddhist temple was an enlightening experience in itself, but to do it at sunrise as the jungles around us awoke with birdsong was truly spectacular.
Oh yeah…and Leslie and I got engaged in Bali! Getting married is not something I’d ever really considered, deeming it unnecessary. But, in Leslie I had met a truly special person who’d dragged me out of some fairly dark and uninspiring post university years and given me a new lease of life. Okay, so it wasn’t a proposal, exactly, and we’d discussed it a lot before hand. But in Bali, well, it’s a very romantic place, and we both agreed that, apart from knowing that each other was ‘the one,’ being married would make traveling the world as a multi-national couple that much easier. And as we sat my mum down beside the pool at our hotel in Ubud, and told her we had an announcement, the way her little round face screwed up and a couple of tears of happiness slowly rolled down her cheeks was the highlight of the whole trip. Priceless, and a moment we’ll all never forget.
Once the partying was over, it was time for me to step out of the limelight. As a writer, Leslie had always wanted to live in Paris and soak up the glittering atmosphere of the 1920s, where such literary giants such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Stein plied their considerable talents. It was tough to leave the tropics and fly into a late European winter, but once we’d rented our tiny apartment and started following in those legendary Parisian footsteps on the cobbled streets of Montmartre and The Latin Quarter, then we were in our element. For two wonderful months we wrote, we wandered, we drank champagne and we mused about our future plans. We even shopped for an engagement ring in the famous St. Germain district on Valentine’s Day, then the following day, Leslie’s birthday, we scaled the Eiffel Tower to show it off to the world. It’s vintage, 1920s, and Leslie likes to believe it was once owned by Zelda Fitzgerald. You never know, right?
Whilst living in Paris, some good friends, Howie and Joti, were getting married near London, so it was a rare opportunity to jump on the Eurostar and see all of my oldest friends in one place. It was a fabulous wedding, and great to catch up with some amazing people, some that have been friends for over thirty years.
Back in France, next up was our very first official ‘house sitting’ gig. After an 8 hour picturesque drive from Paris we were in Toulouse, where we ‘house sat’ for a nice English couple off on their holidays. Spring had already sprung in southern France, so we fed their dogs, picnicked daily, and reveled in the free accommodation after the stratospheric prices of Paris. A wonderful week in ancient Avignon followed, where we wandered in the narrow streets and drank champagne by the river. Avignon is a beautiful city, and highly recommended for a visit.
They were heady days in France, and we departed for the next chapter of our story more than a little sad to leave. But that sadness lasted less than 24 hours. We were visiting good friends Brien and Jamie Silver for their wedding in Austin, Texas, and it was another nice catch up with great friends we’d made in Korea. Oh yeah, we also took an awesome road trip through California, including visiting Leslie’s family and the magnificent Yosemite and Sequoia. Nature at its finest.
But the main reason France was soon just another fond memory? Leslie and I had discovered Shangri-la. Well, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, anyway. From the very first glimpse of the rainbow colored architecture and steep, cobbled streets, we knew we’d arrived somewhere very special. I’d never even heard of the place, my only previous experience of Mexico being the stunning beaches and archaeological ruins of the Riviera Maya. Oh, and trashy Tijuana. But San Miguel couldn’t be more different from that. It’s old. It’s historic. It’s unbelievably quaint. It’s inhabited by an entire colony of artists, writers and creative types, and some of the friendliest people we’d ever met. Little did we know that within a week of our planned 6 week stay, we would have bought our first house together. It was surreal. We only went there to avoid the nightmare U.S. immigration system, and yet without knowing we’d stumble upon a place that two perpetual nomads would soon call home.
The house…’Casa de Los Colibries,’ or, ‘House of The Hummingbirds!’
Whilst in San Miguel, we had fun horse riding, and got to visit mighty Teotihuacan near Mexico City, somewhere I’d wanted to go for years, and we were asked to appear on an International T.V. show, which we agreed to. The details need to remain a secret for now, but there will be a big announcement in a week or two. I can just say that it was a great experience, and we’re looking forward to the show appearing on international T.V. in the next month or so. We were actually paid to be on the show, and we used that money to go on a trip to Costa Rica. Leslie was already working on assignment in nearby Guatemala, so we flew separately and met in Papagaya, at a nice hotel on the beach. So pretty and relaxing, and it is the place where I actually finished editing my debut novel, “I Have Lived Today.”
Once we returned from that nice vacation, it was time to finally publish the novel. It had been almost two years in the making, though I hadn’t been working on it constantly. I just needed to do final proof reading, put together the cover, and get it done. And on October 12th, the project went live. It was a moment that I’ll never forget, and was as nerve-racking as it was exciting, the culmination of a dream. Soon after we had an official launch party at our favorite rooftop bar in town, where we invited all our new San Miguel friends, and did some readings. I even sold and signed a load of books. Living the dream, totally. A few weeks after that I went one step further in that dream and had a real, bonafide ‘bookstore’ event. I was officially an author, and people came to the event to meet me and get their copies of “I have Lived Today” signed. I couldn’t have been more nervous, but at the same time, I couldn’t have been more proud.
And I have to mention that it wasn’t only me that published a book. My wonderful fiancêe Leslie published not only one book, but two. As a successful freelance journalist, people are always asking her for tips and advice about to break into that difficult and competitive business, so she decided to compile her wealth of knowledge into a series of 4 eBooks under the title: The Coffee Date Guides. They are proving to be amazingly popular, and parts 3 and 4 will be hitting the Amazon E-shelves soon. I’m very proud of her, and the books are a result of many years of hard work. The success is thoroughly deserved.
Since we bought the house, of course it needs to be paid for, so with this in mind we decided to rent it out and head back to Korea to teach ESL for another year, maybe even two. It’s good to be back, although we’ve timed our arrival with the start of Korean winter. It’s freezing cold, but still sometimes sunny, as seen here in Busan a couple of weeks back.
As I type this on New Year’s Eve, it’s snowing heavily and looks like it will do so for many days to come. Which can mean only one thing…a perfect time to start writing my second novel. I won’t go into detail here, but if you’re interested in the progress and who and what it’s about, then click over to my dedicated writing blog, ingeniously named, Steven Moore, Author. I know, I know, super creative.
So as the year comes to a close and we move on into 2015, there’s no doubt that it; 2014 has been a year to remember. There have been so many great years in my life, and back in the day I didn’t believe they would continue to get better as I got older. But that notion continually gets dismissed, as each year is better than the last. If this trend continues, and with our plans and ambitions for the coming twelve months at least as exciting as the previous twelve, it bodes well for a fabulous 2015.
CARPE DIEM, EVERYONE,
A HAPPY NEW YEAR
It’s a short life we humans live, very often too short. In a couple of days, on January 2nd, it will be the twentieth anniversary of the sudden death of my dad Paddy, aged just 52. He hadn’t been sick, and was suffering from what the doctor mistakenly told him (twice) was a mere sore throat. Ultimately that ‘sore throat’ became so swollen that he choked to death and died. I’m only telling you this now to share with you one of the things that has inspired me to live my life as if everyday might be my last.
Life is for living, my friends, and in 2015 I intend to continue living mine as I always have…to the absolute fullest.
CHEERS TO MY BROTHER IAN,
AND I’LL BE RAISING A GLASS TO MY DAD ON THE 2nd
AD ASTRA PER ASPERA…
“THROUGH HARDSHIP TO THE STARS”
To see what made us smile in 2013, check out last year’s post here: 2013: Annis Memorabilis