A New Normal

COVID-19 has been one long season that I’ve sort of fever-dreamed my way through, waking up periodically to find the world still gripped by it and then sinking back into sleep. I haven’t even written a blog post since 2019. How is it possible that it’s been so long? Is it just the mysterious, dreamlike way in which time has passed since the pandemic began?

I’m a traveler, and time used to be measured by the trips I took. The process of travel, and planning travel, broke up the long weeks of work and college classes and gave me something to look forward to and write about. Without the thrill of some foreign adventure, I do feel like I just slept away the last couple of years. It all just blends together.

Despite this, I was one of those people who thrived during the pandemic. Because I couldn’t travel due to COVID-19 related restrictions, I focused on things closer to home. I earned a bachelor’s degree in July. Bought a house in September. Started learning Spanish. Cultivated new friendships. Got the hysterectomy I needed to finally start living a normal, pain-free life. I didn’t, however, feel like writing…or taking pictures. Photography and writing took a measure of creativity that disappeared when the pandemic hit, and I haven’t fully recovered it. I’m not complaining, though. Everyone’s lives have been disrupted in some way, either big or small, and many of us are struggling to find a new normal.

I did book a ticket to Chile for the end of March, and I hope that helps spark my creativity again. Having had to cancel a couple of trips at this point, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to go and have some new experiences. Or, maybe another wave of COVID will hit. It feels more important to be responsible and stay home, if I need to, than to satiate my wanderlust. I’ll adjust and find other adventures–maybe another USA road trip or simply hiking around Mt. Baker.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the last two trips I never wrote about. In 2019 I went to Spain (and returned to Ireland), and in 2020 I visited Portugal. I have thoughts about each place I’d like to explore in more detail, but here are a few photographic highlights. I’m hoping for more to share this year!

Spain: We traveled to Malaga, Granada, Sevilla, Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona. I’d love to share more about the beautiful tilework I found around the country and what I did with the images.

A view from the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain

Ireland: I finally visited Inis Meáin, the middle Aran Island, in June 2019!

Portugal: Just before COVID shut down the planet, I visited Lisbon, the Douro Valley, Óbidos, and Sintra. I’d like to write about my experience sleeping in a wine barrel at Quinta da Pacheca!

Palace of Pena in Sintra
Like Spain, Portugal had plenty of beautiful tile work to discover.
Quinta da Pacheca