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A Year in Review: The Past,The Present,The Future

As the memories of 2017 start to slowly fade away and the anticipation of a new year begins to build, I wanted to take time and reflect on some of the travel experiences we had last year. It’s no secret that Brenda and I love to travel and that it is an integral part of our lives. There is just so much to see and experience and learn in this world of ours and even a quick inventory of where we went leaves us longing for more.

Besides getting to spend time in Miami Beach, we were fortunate enough to take three unique trips. We explored places we’ve never been to before and returned to some old favorites. We experienced the heat of Havana nights, the disastrous rains of tropical storm Nate and the gray, gloomy weather of Germany in December. As always, travel for us is experiential and this year definitely was sui generis. 

We started the year off with a trip to Havana, which had been on my list for a few decades. Cuba, more than any other place, is a destination I still can’t seem to get my arms around. I’ve had so many mixed emotions about this trip that I’ve only been able to post one review. The more time that passes, the more I appreciate how fortunate we were to visit Havana.

Unfortunately for us in the States, (and more importantly, the Cuban people), the new administration has made travel to Cuba a bit more difficult. I wrote about the dilemma travel to Cuba creates and still can’t seem to quite square the circle. I think we need to visit again but only spend a few days in Havana. I’d like to travel throughout the country side and see some of the smaller towns.

A view from our apartment in Old Havana

The one thing I will say about Cuba is that everyone should go. The people are remarkable and the the history is incredible. Of all the places we’ve been I would have to say the hospitality of the Cuban people is second to none. Everywhere we went they would ask us to please tell our friends to come to Cuba. They are so hungry for interaction with the United States. If you go there, stay at an Airbnb. Eat at the paladars. Do everything you can to assist the people of Cuba while not giving a damn dime to the regime! These are small gestures but they mean so much to them.

Housing in Habana Vieja

Our second trip of the year found us back in Costa Rica. This one had been planned for quite some time and had more of a purpose than the others. We went to scout locations to plant at least temporary roots in the future. Most of our time was spent in the central valley since our thoughts leaned toward moving to one of the many towns in the area. We did head to Costa Ballena for a few days just to get in a little beach time and see what Dominical and Uvita had to offer. You can read about our trials and tribulations on this trip here.

Arenal Volcano

I’ve had a few months to process the trip and though almost any of the towns we visited in the valley would do, I’m really leaning toward Dominical. Brenda and I are a bit obsessed with the small beach communities and I think this would be a great place to start. Most of beach towns have a communal vibe to them, which is something we are looking for. Dominical and the surrounding area have a good mix of young and old, expat and Tico. There is just something about the Costa Ballena that intrigues me. The thought is, if it’s not the right fit we can just move on after a few months.

Joglo Treehouse in Hatillo, Costa Rica

Dominical. Nothing but the canopy and the Pacific.

Our final trip was actually a spur of the moment decision. Our daughter works for a company headquartered in Berlin and travels there a couple of times a year for meetings. She was scheduled to be there in December and asked us meet her. The last time we were in Berlin was in 2006 so it didn’t take much convincing on her part. The only dilemma was that airfares were ridiculous. Berlin isn’t the cheapest place to fly in and out of.  Fares out of Chicago were around $1,200 so you can imagine what they were like out of Green Bay. I bet I checked prices multiple times a day just to see if there was any movement. A couple of weeks before Emma was to head out, I found a round trip flight out of Green Bay for under $500!

Kira, Brenda, and Emma

I forgot how much I miss going to Germany, especially during the Christmas season. For a handful of years we were fortunate that work brought us to Frankfurt every December. This became the start to our holiday season. We’d get to spend time with the friends we’ve made throughout the years but don’t get to see often enough. In the evening, we’d all gather at one of the Christmas Markets and catch up on each others lives. Before too long it was as if we hadn’t been apart for an entire year.

But the greatest joy of this trip was getting to see Kira, our “German daughter.” Kira lived with us for a year as an exchange student while she and Emma were high school students. It’s been almost nine years since our family first met her and I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to hold on to a relationship that spans over 4,000 miles.

A Christmas Market in Berlin

There is a well known quote by one of my favorite authors, Anaïs Nin. “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.I think this best describes what travel is about for Brenda and me. I’m not quite sure what 2018 will bring but I hope we continue to seek other places, other lives, and other souls. I hope we make ourselves available to others and that we strengthen current relationships and create new ones. Time to start planning the next adventure.

Thanks for checking us out!

Scott and Brenda

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