2013 is a weird number to get used to, but before we know it, 2014 will be upon us, so no matter….
On 10 January I returned to work at Amnesty International after a year’s sabbatical in Mozambique. Exactly one year later (as I just realised), on 10 January 2013, I resigned. In three months from now I’ll be out.
It has taken time to extricate myself from this complex secular church of human rights activists on one side and reformist managers on the other. I had expected to be out-posted to Mexico shortly after returning from Mozambique, but because of reduced budgets, strikes at head office and other obstacles, this was not to happen until late 2014 or even later…. so I decided not to wait. Now freelance ahoy!
2012 was an eventful year for the family, particularly for Imran (24), who graduated in music from SOAS in June and married Mikaela in September.
Imran also passed his (car) driving test and set up home on a narrow boat on Regents Canal with Mikaela, which they now both navigate up and down the waterways.
Omar (26) got a good job with a start up computer design company in Shoreditch (= silicon valley, London) and moved into a terrific shared house in Brixton (south London).
So both boys moved themselves and their stuff out of the ‘ancestral home’ during the year, and both are muttering of travel to exotic climes come mid-2013. Does that mean some of the stuff will return then for temporary parking?
Another family wedding happened during the year. Imogen’s younger daughter Josephine married Luke, her partner of many years, as witnessed by their son Ollie (now 11). They lived for several years in our London flat until we came back from SE Asia in 2004.
My work travel took me to South America four times in 2012 (Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Uruguay) as well as to Portugal.
Shakeeb and I, who are on friendly terms, met up with les amis du Laos in France in July. It’s always a fabulous rendezvous for nostalgia, reminiscing, eating & drinking and seeing the few grown up children for whom it’s not so uncool to show up! Those mid to late 90s years in Laos were certainly special for us all. The Chinese are now pouring concrete all over Laos, and (relative) ‘mass’ tourism has marred the face of many small Lao towns.
I managed to take some leave while in Peru in July to make peace with the Andean town of Huancayo, where I was royally ripped off (passport, money, tickets, the lot) in 1974 or thereabouts when I was a traveller in the continent (we didn’t call ourselves ‘backpackers’ in those days). That town itself was a disappointment, but I visited the area, then went on to Huancavelica, further up in the Andes, to find I was the only gringo around for a wonderful annual fiesta to celebrate the anniversary of the town’s founding by the Spanish 441 years ago.
I met a lot of Peruvian visitors there, many of whom had hardly left Lima before but had decided to get to know their own country, in particular the poorest provinces. I shared transport with them visiting lakes and small towns at 4,500 metres altitude…. it was gaspingly difficult to breath while walking up there.
Now it’s old cold English January with much discussion of the weather at every bus stop. Even car driving is out some days, and I have to push my bike back home in the middle of the road as the snowflakes dance about, kids make snowmen on car roofs and ducks skate about on frozen water.
Missing Mozambique’s sights, sounds and smells!