It was a good year of quality exploring. The move from Caracas to Riga contributed the most total miles since we stayed close to home. 29,810 km or 18,523 miles didn't feel like much.
It's not about the miles anyway. Panama City and Bogota were great escapes from Caracas. The indigenous village and boat tour (monkeys!) around the waters of the Panama canal were amazing experiences. The city of Bogota and their museums were also great experiences. However, my favorite experience while living in Venezuela was inside the country to Salto Ángel, Angel Falls, or Kerepakupai Meru in the native Pemon language. It might be my favorite trip in my life so far.
You can check out my blog posts about Angel Falls but it doesn't fully convey what it felt like to live that adventure. Venezuela is now a rare destination for the typical tourist, which unfortunately means that glorious environment is that much harder to see. I'm grateful we had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience it while we could. I can't imagine it would have happened if we hadn't lived there. It's tragic how they've isolated the country from the global economy and normal standards of safety and security. Hopefully it can be enjoyed again as it should be.
Home leave was a bit more stressful than usual with buying a house for our eventual retirement. I decided we should go ahead and get a place while I can hopefully pay it off before I'm 90. We'll see how well that works out. It's at least a good vacation home for future home leave and R&R trips.
We did manage a good road trip through Santa Fe and Colorado Springs during home leave. Santa Fe was awesome. It has the mind-blowing Meow Wolf art experience and the cool southwest art scene. I'd been to Colorado Springs before but it's been a long time. Standing on top of Pikes Peak is still an amazing feeling and attending a powwow at the Garden of the Gods was a new kind of cool. You don't have to travel the world to see cool things. There's probably something interesting near you wherever you are right now.
Finally, we moved to Riga. This will be a good 3 years. The vibe of the place is great. It feels like home already. We're already building up winter traditions for the coming years with new favorites like Staro Riga, Christmas Markets, and burning Yule Logs.
I've made a list of direct flight destinations that we haven't visited. We flew to Frankfurt on the way to Riga when we moved here since it's a major hub. That was the first one we popped over and knocked off the list over the Thanksgiving weekend. It was partly to see Marillion, which is one of our favorite bands, and partly to check out the museums and just be somewhere new for a weekend.
Looking back is a good way to look forward at what should be continued and what shouldn't be done so much. Travel is still an enjoyable and worthwhile thing to do. There's so much more beauty in nature, architecture, and art that remains to be seen. I think it's worth getting out there and taking a look around.
Here's a few snippets of the very last comic put out from one of my favorite comic series. I don't want to infringe on copyright so it's just a few bits of the big Sunday panel.
It's a magical world. Let's go exploring!