Now that I’m finally back and settled in Shanghai, with the second semester in full swing, it’s time to acknowledge that it is now 2015. It always takes me awhile to make the switch; in fact, my students corrected me today when I wrote the date on the board.
2014 was a busy year for me. I finished up my contract in Bogota, Colombia, attended my sister’s wedding in the States, started a new teaching contract in Shanghai, and added a new continent to my travel list. It was a good one. Here are the highlights:
On January 1st, I rang in the New Year on Copacabana Beach in Rio. It was a crazy celebration, full of live music, fireworks, dancing, wave hopping (a good-luck tradition), and kissing. Yes, Mom, I said kissing. Sorry, but those Brazilians are a friendly bunch (and cute!).
I spent the next few weeks traveling through Brazil:
Exploring more of Rio de Janiero
Neighboring island, Ilha Grande
And Salvador de Bahia. Brazil is definitely a place I want to return to.
In April, my friend Danielle and I visited La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It was my the last South American country I needed to explore before leaving Colombia, and it exceeded my expectations. Granted, it wasn’t an easy trip (high altitude, long bus rides, etc.); but in the end, it just added to the authentic experience of traveling in an underdeveloped country–a country whose landscape I can only describe as other-worldly.
The desert near the Salar
Flamencos in one of the lagoons in the desert, also near the Salar.
After my Bolivia trip, I spent the last few months in Colombia soaking it all in. I took one last weekend trip to Villa de Leyva, attended a wedding in Cartagena, watched the World Cup games in local hole-in-the-wall bars in Bogota, and traveled to nearby fincas with some very dear Colombian friends.
Villa de Leyva
The wedding reception at the Sofitel in Cartagena, courtesy of my date and photographer extraordinaire, Zak Mann
Photo taken from the Huffington Post, as I didn’t want to take my camera out during games and celebrations. However, this is exactly what it was like in the streets, outside bars–pretty much everywhere in Colombia during the World Cup games.
My friend Kristi’s finca, right outside Bogota
As you can see, it was hard for me to leave Colombia, but it’s always nice to leave on a high note. I spent the next month at home in Florida, visiting friends and getting to know my new niece and brother-in-law. I also took a trip to DC and to New York to see some old friends. Then it was off to Shanghai.
The next couple of months was spent exploring my new home and nearby tourist attractions with new friends.
A river cruise on The Bund
A traditional water town near Shanghai
The ancient town where they filmed “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.”
Then, my coworker I quickly began referring to as my “wifey” and I headed to Hong Kong for our first school vacation.
I returned for a couple of days, then it was off to Yangshuo, China with my 10th graders.
When we came back, I was pretty tired from traveling. But not too tired to begin planning my winter vacation in Australia. It was a continent for me, full of new experiences (like scuba diving), and a great opportunity to ring in the new year with an old friend. And as you can see from my most recent posts, it was everything I hoped for.
As I said before, 2014 was a busy year. But looking back at all the pictures, I couldn’t have asked for a better one. But we’ll see what 2015 has in store.
What’s your favorite memory from 2014?