I’m sitting on the balcony off my giant suite of a bedroom, looking down upon exotic manicured gardens and a private swimming pool. Below me, 12 of my extended family relax with books, play pétanque, get massages, and soak up the sun. Beyond our walls are the arid plains of Morocco’s Souss Valley, encircled by the rocky Atlas Mountains.
For almost a week, parts of my family and Bruno’s have been united here at the glorious and luxurious Villa Mandarin in Taroudant for a family reunion to remember. Last night, we all rang in the New Year in the most special of ways.
But more on that in a future blog. Because for now, as I sit here soaking up the late afternoon sun on the first day of 2016, I can’t help myself but reflect upon the year that has just ended.
2015 has, above all, been a year of mass travel for Bruno and me. We left Africa for the first time in our together-travels and embarked into the Middle East and on to Europe. I also had the chance to return to Canada for an extended summer, meaning that I stepped foot on four continents for the second year running. Not a bad trend, I’d’say (though I’m not quite sure it’s one I’ll likely repeat in 2016!).
With our recent arrival to Morocco, we’ve returned to the continent in which we began our year, and it somehow feels prophetic to ring in another New Year in Africa, especially after so much cross-continental travel! Morocco also represents my 50th country, which somehow feels like an even bigger travel achievement. I certainly never thought I’d see this much of the world, and so young! In 2015, I visited 13 new countries (and revisited a few others), meaning that I experienced, on average, more than one new country for every month of the year! (This was probably due to our major springtime road trip from Turkey to France, and is also a trend not likely to be repeated in 2016.)
2015 was indeed a year of transit travel. We kicked the year off with a big 3-day transit through Saudi Arabia, transited through Iran a few months later, hightailed our way through the Balkans, and most recently fled south for the winter from northern Spain. Perhaps that explains all the new countries and cross-continental travel of 2015…
Besides travel, 2015 was, for me, the year of yoga. I got to take yoga classes in Singapore, Dubai, Istanbul, France, and Canada, and these classes have inspired and motivated me to take yoga with me on the road in our camper van.
I didn’t do as much guest-post writing as in 2014 (you can check out my 2015 stories here and here), but 2015 seems to have been the year of interviews. I gave two podcast interviews (here and here) which were both a lot of fun, and Bruno gave an amazing interview with Chris Guillebeau that generated a whole lot of interest in Wandering Footsteps! We’ve now expanded our travel coverage to include a Facebook page and an Instagram page!
Last – and perhaps most importantly – 2015 was the year of reunions. I got to share several overland meet-ups with new friends and old (here, here, and here!), visit my best friend in Singapore and later host her in France, visit a work friend in the U.A.E., stay with another friend in Istanbul, spend more time than usual in my Canadian hometown with my family, and end 2015 with a wonderful family reunion in Morocco. More than my travel stats, these reunions are the things I will remember most about 2015. Thank you to those of you who took the time and effort to connect with us this year – you helped make 2015 memorable and special!
Speaking of reunions, I’d like to get back to mine. Allow me, before I sign off, to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a fantastic 2016, full of health, happiness, connection, culture, with a wee bit of excitement and travel thrown in the mix! Happy New Year!
Wandering Footsteps’ 2015 Monumental Moments:
- Walking the Camino de Santiago
- Meeting fellow overlanders Phil and Angie
- Almost being arrested in Oman, and then being pardoned
- Celebrating Wandering Footsteps’ 10-year Blogiversary
- Experiencing Sarajevo
- Discovering Turkish cuisine
- Exploring the deserts of Arabia
2015 Biggest Lesson Learned: That the Middle East is so much more than what you see on the news.
What about you? What were some of YOUR 2015 monumental moments, lessons learned, and challenges? Thanks for sharing!