Year in review

December 19, 2019

“What you crave in reading a travel narrative is the unexpected, a taste of fear, the sudden emergence by the roadside of a wicked policeman, threatening harm.”

–Paul Theroux

Theroux prefaced this epigram by writing, “It is pleasant in Mexico to sit by the beach, inert and sunlit, sipping a mojito, but who wants to hear about that?” Well, since that’s about all you get in reading my blog, I’m pretty much staking everything on Theroux being wrong.

Happy hour in Penzance…

Carol and I spent slightly more than a quarter of this year traveling, mostly abroad. A great deal of what I wrote about, and Carol photographed, concerned dining on wood fired pizzas in several different countries, along with healthy pours of Happy Hour wine glasses. This will strike some as an exceedingly mundane and uneventful way to travel, but consider this: do you look forward to going some place to enjoy Happy Hour every day of the week when you’re at home? In this way does travel force you out of your daily routine, which is why travel is broadening.

Then there’s the getting lost part. How many of us get lost looking for where we live at home? And do it several times over the course of a month? Carol and I have lived at this address in southern California for more than a year now, and we’ve never gotten lost even once looking for it. Contrast this with getting lost looking for our hotel almost every time we got off a train abroad. Now that’s the adventure of travel without even looking for it. (Or because you are looking and looking for it.)


We also average between four and five miles a day walking when we are abroad. It’s as natural a means of conveyance when traveling as it is unnatural when we’re at home, especially here in southern California, where people get in their cars and drive to their mailboxes. ( I haven’t actually seen this since I’ve lived here, but I bet some people have thought about it,)

I returned from our most recent trip, committed to the idea of walking to places I’ve normally driven. The grocery store, barber shop and library are all within a two-mile round trip of where we live. So far, I’ve only done the library once. (And the DVD I went to pick up wasn’t available.)


The problem with walking here at home, as I see it, is that you’re completing your day’s errands. The walk has purpose and objective. Thus, the thinking is how to do it in the most efficient way. Hence, the car. Abroad, you’re not running errands, so much as taking in the sights along the way of your walk. You don’t do that at home, so you don’t walk.

The one advantage of being home is that you certainly don’t plan your typical day around a visit to a museum, Roman ruins or medieval castles. If our country had been invaded by Julius Caesar or had a medieval past, we would have most assuredly bulldozed all that rubbish to make room for condos, malls and interstate off ramps.


So you see, even if travel amounts to no more than sitting inert and sipping mojitos, it’s still, comparatively speaking, an adventure for us.

With this, I’m signing off and taking the rest of the decade to do nothing. Literally. I will sit on the couch and stare. For about two weeks. Carol has the little pocket mirror out to occasionally check for respiration.

Happy holidays to all!

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