Every year, I try to plan a rather lengthy travel period. The reason for the length is to try to stay in a place long enough to get a better sense of it (than that of a mere tourist), and how it is to live there. I also combine a light work schedule with my travels so that I am not completely cut off from my sources of income, and because I think it is interesting to lead a somewhat “normal” life while one is in a new place, mixing the routine with the new. This year, I will be going for a week to the Greek isle of Mykonos to meet my friend Arnaud and really do nothing but relax on the beach, eat, drink, and stare at the Eurogays. I have never been to Mykonos, and it has long been on my gay bucket list, so it should be fun. This part of the trip will also be the standard “vacation” part. After that, I am headed to Istanbul, Turkey for about 25 days. I have rented a full apartment in the Taksim neighborhood, and will use it as a base for exploring Istanbul and interesting places nearby in one or two day mini trips. I will work a light schedule and try to get to know some locals, as well as catch up with a couple of Turkish friends of mine who live there. At a couple of points in my sojourn friends will come to stay with me and explore a bit.
This year, much more so than in years past, I am really feeling in need of the change of pace my travel will afford. I am not joking when I tell you I have consistently had 3 times the amount of work I had last year. Between that and some recent personal disappointments, I really need a change of scenery. I leave in just a few short days, on Thursday, and I can’t wait!
Victoria, my latest guest, related horror stories emanating from Terminal 4 at JFK, where she spent the last two days waiting in vain on a flight out. Apparently there are thousands of people at JFK, all waiting waiting waiting. And the other night, even the McDonald’s ran out of food with a huge line and there was almost a riot, with people screaming and angry. She said she was lucky to find a small dirty corner of carpet to sleep on the first night, but it was still very cold on the floor. So she is staying at Pension Stephen currently until she can get a flight out, which may not be until the 1st of January. (Virgin, her airline, told her that was the soonest possible.) But I figure it is all an adventure and a chance to make new friends (and practice my Spanish of course). And I really feel bad for my guests, their holidays plans to see their friends and families got all screwed up. They must be really bummed.
For some months, I have been planning a long trip to Spain with my cousin Josh. And as you might remember, I have had this ongoing shoulder problem as well, which nothing has seemed able to ameliorate. In fact, it has really taken a turn for the worse recently, and I was worried that I would have to cancel the trip. I finally got in to see (yet another) specialist yesterday (much nicer than the last one btw), and finally accepted that I will indeed need surgery. The recovery for this type of thing is awful. It involves several weeks wearing a sling, sleeping on your back in a particular position (something I am not at all good at), lots of pain, and 6-8 months (yes, MONTHS) of physical therapy until one is back to “normal”. And oh yeah, thousands of dollars b/c my health care plan covers so little. I told the doctor of my desire to go on my trip and he said it wouldn’t hurt anything to go and then do the surgery upon my return. And since I will be basically immobile for months after this, I want to make the experience a last hurrah of sorts before entering the convent. I say “entering the convent” b/c let’s face it, it will probably be the equivalent of taking a vow of chastity for several months. (Not that the last few, with all my aches and pains, has been any great shakes, but still.) I asked the doc for a cortisone shot for my shoulder and he said it wasn’t a good idea, and that he would prescribe me some pain meds. I hope that will be enough, because it has been pretty damned uncomfortable recently. On the plus side of all of this, I am happy to be returning to Spain after so many years away. 1996 was the last time I was there, I think.
I am at the airport in Montevideo, heading to Sao Paulo. I had originally intended to take a bus to Florianopolis, but the situation in Santa Catarina state is pretty dire right now with all the rains and flooding. But hey, I am nothing if not easy going and flexible, so I will explore Sao Paulo and then head north. And a check of the weather in SP shows that it is about 30 degrees cooler than here. Yay.