Photo
I forgot that when I went to Yangshuo the women and children were making and selling fresh flower crowns.

I forgot that when I went to Yangshuo the women and children were making and selling fresh flower crowns.

Text

The people you meet

Usually at the end of the year, I think about my friends and family that helped me get through it. A couple years ago, when things were hard, I sent out emails to those people to thank them for their support. This year was different. I’ve spent ten months of this year overseas and three months completely on my own. I’ve had to make do with new people, unknown people, to get me through. This is a post for them.

In January I went to Italy with my parents. We spent two nights in Venice and both those nights we went to the same restaurant by the Rialto Bridge. Themaître d’ was a Jordanian man that we chatted to about that wonderful country. He gave us two rounds of limoncello for free.

In March I went to Turkey alone. The German woman staying at the ranch talked with me about Abu Dhabi. The staff at the hotel in Antalya there were all lovely: the Dutch owner walked me around the Old Town one day; the Dutch host was very friendly and we talked about dogs one afternoon; and the Turkish cook always knew I wanted more tea. The two guys who ran the corner café were always friendly when I went back every day. The Iranian women I met on the boat thought I was simply fascinating. The owner of Owl Bookshop recommended The House of the Spirits to me and in turn I recommended Game of Thrones. My Perge/Aspendos/Side tour guide, Ismet, made the experience nothing short of fantastic.

In May I went to Germany and worked at a hostel in Füssen. The owner Lahdo was always nice and generous toward me. The other volunteer Matthew went hiking with me and we talked about music. In Munich I met up with some Shakers who kindly bought me dinner.

Late May and early June I was in Poland. Adam and Katherine at the language school were always kind and giving. Caroline made sure to be my friend. The American in Toruń was so friendly I went back to his café for dinner. One of the girls who shared my room in Warsaw stayed up to talk to me, she was nervous about her job interview.

Late June I was in Scotland. Everyone at the writing course was excellent, everyone had something to share. Even the one who was a bit of a black sheep in an otherwise very leftist environment. I’ll never forget anyone there. There was Tina who believed in ghosts, Michelle who had the Briard, Grace and Sue who were writing course buddies, Mark who really liked Chuck Palahniuk, Jacq who also wished she could play guitar, Laura who was only antagonising, Mairi-Claire who conducted the vegetable orchestra, Sheila who had lived in Perth, John who took up writing to distract himself from his grief, Andrea who thought her novel’s title was twee, A.L. who made me starstruck for someone I’d never heard of and Alan for all his insurmountable charm.

In July I was in Iceland with my Mother. At breakfast the first day we had a long conversation with a young Mormon couple who were simply lovely people. We made fast friends with our host, Jón, who by the end took us out twice on excursions. As we drove around the west, we bumped into the same lots of people at every hostel. In Grundafjörður a Polish immigrant specially made Mum a necklace. At the hostel near Ísafjörður the old gentleman gave us their own homemade rhubarb jam. And Jón’s brother-in-law was certainly a character.

In the US I met a lot of interesting people, mostly in Portland. There was Andrew and Amanda who allowed me to be a squatter for three months. There was D who called me girly in an OK way and Cullen who called me girly in a not OK way. There was the guy who talked a lot about potassium in bananas and the other guy with him who picked up the guitar but couldn’t play it. There was Kyle who was always polite despite calling me Emma and his odd friend who probably never once talked to me. There was the guy in the wheelchair on the MAX and the nice girl at Starbucks who gave me a discount and the other guy who learnt my order.

There were a lot of people this year. And there was you, follower. Thanks for reading my rambles.

Text

My year in pictures

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Photo
In Dubai last Christmas Eve the fountains danced to ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson with added smoke and fire.

In Dubai last Christmas Eve the fountains danced to ‘Thriller’ by Michael Jackson with added smoke and fire.

Photo
The Westerners (and non-Western Christians) in Abu Dhabi have to celebrate Christmas on a different day. Usually they’re working unless they’re lucky enough to work for a Western-run company or it falls on a Friday or a Saturday.
At the college my mother worked at, everyone went out to the desert. A bonfire was made and tables set up. Everyone brought a dish and ate in camping chairs. Those with kids brought a present for them and someone dressed up as Santa to hand them out.
Before the sun goes down, everyone plays on the dunes, adults and kids alike. The sand stretched on for miles and everyone took the opportunity to snap some great photos. This man was the bus driver.

The Westerners (and non-Western Christians) in Abu Dhabi have to celebrate Christmas on a different day. Usually they’re working unless they’re lucky enough to work for a Western-run company or it falls on a Friday or a Saturday.

At the college my mother worked at, everyone went out to the desert. A bonfire was made and tables set up. Everyone brought a dish and ate in camping chairs. Those with kids brought a present for them and someone dressed up as Santa to hand them out.

Before the sun goes down, everyone plays on the dunes, adults and kids alike. The sand stretched on for miles and everyone took the opportunity to snap some great photos. This man was the bus driver.

Photo
In Denmark I spent a good deal of time crying. I was 16 and had never been away from home for Christmas. I knew it was coming but when I arrived and was confronted with it, I found it hard to cope.
By the time it came to Christmas Eve, which was Christmas Day in Australia, I was having so much fun in Sæby that I didn’t spend long on the phone talking to my family. We played games and had roast duck and laughed. They sang carols and danced around the Christmas tree. On Christmas Day we played 500 and took the dog for a walk.

In Denmark I spent a good deal of time crying. I was 16 and had never been away from home for Christmas. I knew it was coming but when I arrived and was confronted with it, I found it hard to cope.

By the time it came to Christmas Eve, which was Christmas Day in Australia, I was having so much fun in Sæby that I didn’t spend long on the phone talking to my family. We played games and had roast duck and laughed. They sang carols and danced around the Christmas tree. On Christmas Day we played 500 and took the dog for a walk.

Photo
Photo
In Sweden the train was five hours late. I had never been in proper snow before and thought taking a short cut would be quicker, but I found myself knee-deep in the stuff.
That first night there was a quintessential Dogsledder waiting for us in the hotel lobby wearing overalls and a woollen hat with earflaps. He drove us out to the kennels and got us dressed and ready and the dogs too. The excitement that radiates from the dogs is infectious. They love the sport with the most enthusiasm I’ve ever seen in a living thing.
The dogs took us out into the dark. The cold air on my face set my nose to dripping but I didn’t care. I hoisted up my turtleneck to cover my mouth and let myself into the experience, nothing else to think about but miles of empty wilderness, a pack of happy mutts and their adrenalin-inducing speed.

In Sweden the train was five hours late. I had never been in proper snow before and thought taking a short cut would be quicker, but I found myself knee-deep in the stuff.

That first night there was a quintessential Dogsledder waiting for us in the hotel lobby wearing overalls and a woollen hat with earflaps. He drove us out to the kennels and got us dressed and ready and the dogs too. The excitement that radiates from the dogs is infectious. They love the sport with the most enthusiasm I’ve ever seen in a living thing.

The dogs took us out into the dark. The cold air on my face set my nose to dripping but I didn’t care. I hoisted up my turtleneck to cover my mouth and let myself into the experience, nothing else to think about but miles of empty wilderness, a pack of happy mutts and their adrenalin-inducing speed.

Photo
When I finally have you again I’m never gonna let you go.

When I finally have you again I’m never gonna let you go.

Photo
I’m a dog person.

I’m a dog person.