Monday, December 31, 2007

End of the year account: travels

I decided to write an end of the year summary for myself about 2007. This is a personal account, so if you come across this, don't bother boring yourself with it.

It will include important things like my travels, studies and worklife. I'll do it so that I can look back and say, what the hell of a year it was. I bet there will be years that are not that gentle with me, so it'll be fun to dig this year up and read how things were once upon a time.

Start with travels, most important ;)

2007 was a good travel year. Like any wanna-be globetrotter, I managed to put my foot on a new continent this year. I also got to discover new pretty rare places and visited the usual ones, so it's a good count for 2007.

To start off, 2007 was going to be my EPIC ski year. I had a season pass to Winter Park in Colorado and I planned to spent some two months in Wyoming. After all, this was my last year on scholarship, so I had to make a good use of that freedom ;)

It turned out not to be an epic ski season. Not for the shake of snow this time, but for the fact that Matt broke his leg, pretty seriously, during our second weekend of skiing in Utah. Well then, I got some seven days in, though, and busted my dear snowboard after many faithful years of use. So, the best part of Q1 was spent in Wyoming and I also got to visit Utah, especially the LDS Memorial Hospital in Salt Lake City (Matt had his surgery there).

Beginning of June was the start of the great big sailing adventure (pics and blog). Oh my, that's gotta rank as one of the best trips ever. Matt and I took a flight to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, where we met with Dan and Danielle, who had sailed there from San Francisco via Mexico, French Polynesia and such.

We boarded on Confetti, a beautiful 44-footer, a hand-grafted wooden boat (Farr), to sail for about 1200 sea miles. We spent some 3 weeks on and off board exploring Rarotonga, Beverage reef (wow, even Wikipedia does not have an entry for it!!), Nuie and American Samoa, all small tiny places in the vast South Pacific.

We put in a total of seven-eight days of off-shore sailing (in 3 legs), which is by far the longest time I've ever been out on the open. And I really mean out on the open, hell, those "trade wind" areas, there is no one out there! During the first leg from Raro to Beveragereef and Niue, which took about 10 days, we saw no one, no boats, no planes, nothing. Just us in Confetti with our Ham-radio connection to weather forecasts and some necessary emails. That was some experience that I'll keep cherishing for a long time.

Another curiosity of this trip was the type of "civilization" that we encountered when we stayed on those islands. First, I gotta admit that they are something to dream about; beautiful white beaches, palm trees, thick green vegetation and so on. Just what you would expect. Sadly, though, the life that people lead on these "paradise" islands is far from my notion of paradise. It seems that "civilization" from missionaries, and early and nowadays merchandisers and explorers has dramatically altered the way of life, and globalization with the help of satellite TV and subsidized food from New Zealand has taken over any tiny bit that was left of the original way of living.

It's hard to put words on what we saw without sounding like a "conservationist". I don't want to say that people should still live like they did when Captain Cook and other discoverers first met them. What I want to say is that it hurts seeing such level of obesity, unemployment and apathy against your own nature and environment on some of the most beautiful spots on earth that I've ever seen.

Apart from the South Pacific, this year's new discoveries include Cyprus. I finally got to see Barcelona, it's as great as people say it is!

I also got two trips on my miles, which is good.

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