Saying Goodbye

It is hard to believe that a short two months ago, I sat at the Bangkok airport with all of my bags packed, getting ready to head back to the United States for the first time in two years. As for most people around the world, it had been an interesting two years, and I was excited to get back to see the people I loved. It was going to be a little different from other trips back home because the threat of the pandemic loomed large over everything everybody did, and I was also going to go through the process of moving to a new country at the same time.

Despite all of this fear that was plaguing the world, there was still hope. A vaccine had become available and people were starting to take off their masks to get life back to normal. We were a little worried when we first started looking at coming back that we would have a hard time finding a shot, but by the time we landed in Portland, Oregon, there was enough vaccine in the United States to where we could walk into a local Target and get a vaccine without an appointment. We also were able to leave Thailand just in time. The numbers have skyrocketed in that country for the first time ever with the latest numbers showing over 17,000 new cases just the other day, and it does not look like it is going to slow down anytime soon. I feel for all of the people I left behind in that country, and I worry about them as they struggle through another school year. I hope that they can get things under control soon, and find a place where they can start easing up the restrictions that I got to enjoy while I was living out there.

As I went through my stuff in storage, my sights switched over to Jordan to see how they were handling this crisis. The numbers there a lot lower, but there has been a new creep up that I will keep an eye on. I also look at those numbers for overall vaccination, and though Jordan is not in a place where America is at, they still steadily move in the right direction. It gives me hope for the next year that it will be closer to a normal school year as opposed to the last two, and I will also be going on a new adventure in a new country at the same time.

The summer was still a great time to catch up with friends and family, and meet new characters along the way. I always find myself falling into that comfortability that it means being an American in America. The old relationships feel like we pick them up right where we left them off, and the conveniences that we have come to crave while away are once again taken for granted.

But we were able to discover some new ways that America has evolved as well. I remember being excited about the movie, Chef, right before we started our overseas adventures, but thinking that the land of food trucks that it described was a little taken out of context. There might have been a couple of places where these existed, but there seemed to be more of them during our return visit. It almost seemed that this was the preferred way of dining out, but summertime and Covid might have had something to do with it as well.

That didn’t stop me from searching out the more traditional way of eating out. Of course, I hit my fair share of Mexican restaurants while in Colorado because I needed to get as much green chili as I could. This is my favorite of all food groups, and everybody I meet who has ever eaten green chili understands my love for it, yet I am still confused as to why it can still only be found in three of the four states connected with the four corners region. It makes coming home that much better because I get to have this food again. I still do not believe that I got enough on this trip out, but I still enjoyed what I had.

I also love being able to see the beauty of America every time I am home as well. I am really lucky to be associated with what I consider to be two of the more beautiful states, Oregon and Colorado. I love seeing the mountains and forests that both of these places have to offer. Though I have seen some beautiful and amazing sights all over the world, my heart always returns to the mountains and I don’t think of any place better than these two for me to connect back with them. I was able to spend a good amount of time in them in Oregon, and I wish I would have ventured beyond the foothills during my stay in Colorado.

I was still able to make it outside quite a bit and enjoy the majesty that is Colorado. Whether it was taking long walks in many of the green spaces that can be found in many of Colorado’s neighborhood, or going out to Chatfield Reservoir, I was able to spend a lot of time outside. This is not something that is as enjoyable in a more tropical climate, and there are times of the year where Colorado is better spent indoors, but I was out here during the summertime and this is the perfect time to be outside there.

I was even lucky enough to experience some of the wildlife during my trip. During the last couple of years, I had run into what many would consider exotic animals, with Thailand filled with many types of monkeys, tropical birds, and a variety of reptiles, and snakes. But this is only a matter of perspective. From the other side of the world, a herd of deer or elk is just as exotic as a monitor lizard is to the people of America. Being deprived of this view for so long has made it exciting once again, and I enjoyed it every time I came across the usual herds of animals that I grew up with.

Not everything ended up in taking me to the great outdoors. There were a couple of stops that showed me other great things that America had to offer, and they were not always Target stores. The greatest had to be the new U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs. It was nice to get out to museums once again, and though I had to spend my time in there wearing a mask, I have been doing it so much lately that it no longer bugs me. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and a great way of celebrating the Olympics this year.

It has been great to get back to America, especially after two years away, but nobody can spend their whole life in rest and relaxation. Like an international school teacher under normal circumstances, I have to get back to the country where my work is, and I am complicating the process by changing schools and countries to Amman, Jordan. So I have packed up my bags, eaten those last meals, and given those last hugs to family and friends, and I have headed off the airport. I am confident that the world is moving in the right direction, and I will not be forced to stay away for as long this time around. So as I head off to a brand new adventure, I say goodbye to America, and guarantee I will be back soon.

What I’ll Miss About Thailand – The Beaches

Hau Hin a couple of months before the pandemic started

I know I have said in the past that I am more of a mountain man rather than an ocean man, but that does not mean that I don’t appreciate a good beach, and Thailand has a lot of them. It does have mountainous terrain to the north and I do enjoy those places, but it is mainly the beaches that I will remember from my stay of living in Thailand.

Kata Beach on Phuket island

I was pretty lucky also. Most of the time, the beaches in Thailand are crowded with people and it can be hard to stake out a place on the sandy shore. But than Covid happened, and the usual stream of tourists were no longer allowed to come into the country, giving the beaches back to the locals who should have a chance to enjoy them as well.

Rayong! I don’t need to say more

This meant that there were many times we had the beach to ourselves. It is an odd thing to see, a long stretch of sand next to the warm, tropical waters just begging for toes to be dipped in. Most of the time, this was a welcoming sight, but there was a little bit of a down side to this as well. The Thai people usually do a good job making sure these beaches are pristine and free of trash, but with the loss of the tourist dollar, they were not able to keep all of the beaches clean. That meant it was a hit or miss affair where sometimes the beach would be clean, and there were other times where I had to watch where I was walking because I didn’t always know what I would be stepping on.

A monitor lizard on Koh Lipe island

But on those beaches that were clean and the people were still not flocking to them, there was another sight that wasn’t as common in the past, wildlife had returned. Of course, I still saw the crab scuttle along the beach, or the birds flying just off the shore, looking for a quick bite, but I also saw monkeys and monitor lizards just basking in the summer sun. It meant that any time I went to a beach, a new adventure was just around the corner.

Princess Beach on Railay

The beaches were only just a place to walk and lie in the sand, but there were many opportunities for water sports as well. I went snorkeling a few times, and paddle-boarding as well, but my favorite activity had to be kayaking. The rentals of these were still available in most places, and sometimes they were even a free service with the hotel we were staying at. It was a great way to explore the coastline and see other beaches that sometimes were not easy to get to.

Nai Harn Beach on Phuket island

Even if I did not have access to any of these floatation devices, I could still run out and play in the water. During the summer months on the southern beaches, the surf was pretty big on some of the beaches. What surfers that were still in the country made their ways down to these beaches to catch these waves, but there was still plenty of space for people like me who love to jump into the oncoming waves and keep my balance. I know it is not the safest activity in the world with the danger of the undertow, but it is probably one of my favorite things to do on a beach.

A sunrise on Koh Lipe island

And with all of that available, the beaches in Thailand are the perfect place to lay back with a good book and relax. I know that there are many places out there in the world that offer the same kind of relaxation but I really fell in love with this activity in Thailand. The country does really have some beautiful landscapes and I know that they will get overcrowded again as things start opening up all around the world, but I will always look back fondly on the ways that I was able to enjoy the beaches while I was living in Thailand, and it will definitely be one of the things that I will miss from there.

What I’ll Miss About Thailand – The Food

It may not be one of the first cuisines that people think about when walking about the best food that this world has to offer, but Thai food is often high on many people’s lists. It would definitely make it on my top three, and living in Thailand, I learned about so many new dished that never make their way on to the menus of the Thai restaurants invading America.

You are guaranteed to see pad thai and pineapple fried rice on many of those menus and those are regular staples on many of the menus in Thailand, and yes, these are tasty dishes, but when I discovered all of the other ones available out there, I realized that many American had no idea the culinary delights they were missing out on.

When eating Thai meals, it is important to recognize that it is a family affair. Many dishes are ordered at a Thai restaurant ant they are brought out and placed in the middle of the table. A heap of rice is put on your plate and then you dig in, passing dishes around and trying a bit from each culinary delight. When I was at a restaurant I knew I was eating, but there were a couple times where the meals were designed for us at some of the hotels we stayed at and I was introduced to a couple new dishes in the process.

There are a lot of dishes that can found everywhere in the country such as somtam, a spicy green papaya salad, or tom yum soup, a spicy shrimp soup with a hint of coconut milk. They can be found from the southern beaches to the northern mountain with the only thing that each dish has in common is the fact that the word, spicy, is used in the description of the dish.

There are some regional dishes as well. My favorite would have to be a northern Thai dish called khao soi. It is a rich brown curry usually served with pork, but you can find options with chicken if that is what you prefer. It is topped off with fried rice noodles to give the dish the impression of a mountain filled with winding mountains which is what the name of the dish actually translates to. This is one of those menu items that I don’t think will be found in the United States at a Thai restaurant because it has not made its mark on the rest of Thailand yet. There were a couple of places in Bangkok where I could find a good imitation of this dish, but the best version remained at the small stalls, and mom and pop establishments in Chiang Mai.

The curries are delicious out in Thailand, and can be made to order with varying levels of spice. They can be served with rice or roti, a flatbread designed to scoop out the sauce, meat, and vegetables hiding just below the surface. It became a joke with my friends when we talked about how this option would be taken away when we traveled back to the United States. The Thai restaurants would only have names on the menu such as red curry or green curry, and not even allow their guests to attempt the name of the dish. I am sure I will find a version of my favorite, panaeng curry, but I will just have to hope that is what it is until it arrives in front of me, and I am sure it will never reach that level of spice that I had become accustomed to in Thailand.

There is always the street food as well. This is the main way that most people eat in Thailand. They go down to the main street in their part of Bangkok and look at what food options are available and pick the one that they are most interested in. I will admit that it is a little nerve wracking the first time you do it because you do not know how fresh the food is you are picking up, but there is a trick to finding the best food. Watch the crowd for a bit. See where most of the people go, and then you know that they are moving through their supply fast enough that the food will be fresh by the time you order, and it must be good if so many people are eating there.

Thailand is not just a great spot for its own cuisine, but it also specializes in all the other styles of food as well. They do a great job as well. If I got bored with Thai food all of the time and as long as I was in the bigger cities, I could find Italian, Mexican, Bar-b-q, Korean, Japanese, and Swiss. They put a little twist on it to make it their own, but the food was just as good as if you were getting it in the country where it originated.

I would have to say that they did breakfast the best. There is nothing better than going to a good breakfast place and having them make a fantastic meal for you, and in downtown Bangkok, there is an endless supply of them. I would always want to go back to the one that I just enjoyed, but would rarely do it because I would find another one that would be just as good or maybe even a little better.

The point being is that Thailand is a foodie’s paradise. They know how to cook out there, and combined with the pandemic, it made it a struggle to stay in some form of shape without having to buy a whole bunch of new pants. I will find the food like this again in other places, but nobody will be able to do Thai food like they do in Thailand, and for that reason, it will be one of the things that I will miss the most about that country.

Run Indoors – Escaping the Heatwave

I knew that it wasn’t going to be cold when I came back to America. I knew that I was going to have to face the heat of summer. I knew that when I finally made it back to Colorado during the month of July, I would probably face a string of 90 degree days that would cause me to return to the air-conditioned environment created by the great indoors.

What I didn’t know was that I would have to face these kinds of conditions while I was in Oregon.

That is not to say that Oregon never gets hot. I have experienced some hot days during all of my time out visiting the state. There have been strings of hot days that have made me want to stay inside until the sun dipped over the horizon, but most of those days have come in late July or early August. Oregon is usually trying to work its way out of the cool spring during the month of June, and when I first got out here, that was the weather I was experiencing. But the news in Oregon has been focusing on the heat wave that is about to hit the not only the state, but all of the West. It is not just a small bump in temperatures either. What they are predicting could break records for the longest streak of 100 degree days in a row, and in the middle of it all, the hottest day ever on record in Portland. Needless to say, there is a little bit of panic going on in the state right now.

Now, it is not the kind of panic that has people running to the grocery store stocking up on toilet paper. Only a world wide pandemic can cause that kind of panic. No, this is more of a reserved apprehension about how each individual will be able to handle this extreme heat. There is talk of running down to the coast where the temperatures are always cooler and will only reach the 70s, and they are setting up shelters to pump out cool air-conditioned air during the hottest parts of the day.

It appears that many people in Oregon have already decided that it has gotten too hot out there because a lot of the places are missing the people I would normally see there. I do not think that it is that hot outside yet, but I know when it starts to hit those triple digit numbers that I will be running inside with the rest of them. It is all a sense of relativity though. Most Oregonians have spent the last couple of months shaking off the colder parts of the year, and to be thrown directly into this heat wave is a shock to the system; whereas, I have been spending the last couple of years living in one of the hottest and most humid cities in the world. It will have to be those extreme temperature that they are forecasting this weekend that will get me to start to feel the heat, and like a lot of those people who are inside right now, I am not looking forward to it either.

That brutal heat of Thailand seems to have found me. It took it awhile, because I flew half way across the world to get away from it. Flying is way over the Pacific Ocean, it kept a watchful eye for me, and I should have spent more time indoors because it spotted me and is now bringing its fury down upon the innocent people of Oregon like they have never seen before.

I am sorry for that, but it was just a joy to have a change of season and be able to walk around outside without instantly sweating. The sad thing is that it seems to know what I will be doing next. I am moving on to my home state soon which is just east of Oregon, and this heat bubble is hanging over the Pacific Northwest just long enough to make the move over the Rocky Mountains. It looks like I will have to apologize to the fine people of Colorado in advance for the heat I know will be coming their way. But hey, it is summer, and you knew this heat was coming. It will only last for a short period of time before the crisp days of autumn come your way. Until then, look for those good people you want to spend time with, and run for that cool comfort you can get from an air-conditioned inside.

The Things I’ll Miss about Thailand – The Sunsets

Koh Yao Yai

Thailand has a lot to offer with its natural beauty, and I was lucky enough to have lived there during the Covid pandemic. It kept out the usual throng of tourists and made the prices for some of the more expensive hotels more affordable. I was spoiled a little bit because of this. Normally, I spend my time traveling in mid range hotels, Air b&b’s, or private rooms in hostels. The reason for this is not only financial, but because I like to spend more of my time away from the hotel, and see what the locations I am visiting have to offer. If I wanted to see the sunset over the ocean, I would have to find a good location, and stake out my spot. I was not aware that many of these luxury hotels were designed to give its visitors the premiere spots to watch the sunsets without having to leave their patios.

Koh Yao Yai

Because of this, I spent a lot of my time in Thailand chasing the sunsets. I never knew that they could be so dramatic and different depending on where I was and how the clouds hung in the sky over the horizon.

Khao Yai

It always meant that I had to rush to the perfect spot around six o’clock every evening during my travels to get the best shot I could. I always found that the best pictures came when I had a body of water to bounce the colors off of.

Hua Hin

But sometimes that would not be an option, and I would have to use what was available. Thailand offers enough landscapes though to make almost every sunset a perfect expression of color in the sky. Most people think of the ocean in Thailand, but there are enough mountainous locations that created beautiful sunsets that would rival the ones I used to see over the foothills on the western edge of Denver.

Phuket

I do believe that I got better at capturing the sunset as my time in Thailand grew. At first I was just trying to capture the sky, but I soon realized that the sunset was actually an event that brought the people of Thailand out to capture their own spectacular pictures.

Railay

There were stories to be told in those sunsets, and the color in the sky just became a backdrop for those tales.

Railay

It took my pictures to another level, and help me to remember those moments I had in Thailand that helped shape me into the person I am today.

Koh Yao Yai

So as my time sets in Thailand, I will always have these pictures to look back at think on the beauty that is this country. It will easily be one of the things I will miss the most about Thailand, and I know I will see other sunsets in my life, but I do not think I will ever witness ones that are as spectacular as they were there again.

Heat versus Warmth

Thailand is hot. I think that this fact is not contested very often, but what people don’t seem to understand is that Thailand is hot. I mean always. Yes, there is a little bit of a reprieve in the dry months around December and January, but it is still hot. 80 degrees Fahrenheit feels pretty cool when you have been suffering through the 90s, but that is just a relative figure. There are many place around the world who have suffered through an extremely cold winter around that same time and would beg to experience an 80 degree day.

But before we left, the heat became oppressive. It wasn’t measured in actual heat, but instead was measured in real feel. I would get up at the same time as the roosters in the morning to go out on my daily run before it got too hot out there. I would check my weather app on my iPad I left to see how hot it was out there. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do because it drained my energy as soon as saw how hot it actually was out there. Though the real temperature would dip down to 80 degrees at this time in the morning, the real feel would never get below 90 degrees. And this was constant for a couple of months. We never got to experience temperatures below 90 degrees, and it made for a lot of indoor living. The only time that it got bearable outside was when the sun went down.

The strange thing was that the heat was one of the main factors we considered when planning our vacations, especially our longer summer excursions. Because we were working on the other side of the world from our families, we knew that we needed to spend time with them over the summer, and the fact that they lived in two different parts of the United States meant that we had to split our time between two locations, Colorado and Oregon. They are both amazing places during the summer with plenty of outdoor activities offered, but Colorado gets warmer in June where Oregon is trapped in a drizzly cool warmup still. For this reason, we elected to go to Oregon first this time around. The cool weather would be a welcoming change from the heat we were experiencing in Bangkok.

And let me tell you that it has been heavenly. I know that many Oregonians are waiting for this cool weather to break so they can enjoy the warmth of summer, but having a change of season if only for a couple of weeks has been exactly what we have been looking for. Our trip to Central Oregon had the temperatures drop even more. We arrived at my wife’s parent’s house in Black Butte Ranch and it was really cold outside. Once again, we had to scurry inside to feel comfortable, just like in Bangkok. We huddle next to the fireplace and turned the heat up in order to get warm again. But it is a different kind of feeling escaping the cold as opposed to running away from the heat, and I miss that feeling. When I got inside in Bangkok after being in the heat, I would strip off my shirt stand, grab a glass of cold water, and slump in a chair hoping to get cool off, and sometimes achieving that goal. Whereas, coming in from the cold, meant stomping our feet, building a fire, and huddling next to it with a mug of hot coffee as it warmed our hands. It required more activity to get warm and there was a camaraderie that went with it. I know that after awhile it gets old, and I will want warmer weather, but for the time being, it is a welcoming change.

I have looked at the weather for the next couple of days in the place I am at, and it will warm up again, but it won’t be as hot as Bangkok. It means that walks, kayaking and bike rides will be in order. I look forward to getting out there in the fresh air, and enjoy what Central Oregon has to offer. It is the perfect weather to enjoy summer, and I look forward to bringing that experience to you as well. Thanks for joining me, but I am going to go back to that fire to warm up a little more before the sun can do it for me. Until next time.

Closing the Chapter

I don’t think that anybody is going to disagree with me when I say that the last couple of years have been strange ones. A lot of people had to reimagine what their lives were, and many routines that we lived by had to be thrown away as we tried to figure out a new way to make it work. Teaching was probably one of the biggest fields that really had to rethink the way it did things, and it wasn’t always easy. It definitely tainted the way that people in this career viewed their profession. It was hard to recognize how effective they were being.

Elementary school teachers told tales of students easily distracted and who were more interested in showing off their pets to the rest of class than engaging in the lesson. Middle school teachers also struggled delivering concepts that were verging on being a little more abstract and students being able to follow simple instructions. My experience as a high school teacher showed me a new perspective. I can tell you what the foreheads of all of my students look like, but beyond that I haven’t a clue. I was amazed at the amount of students that could not figure out how to tilt the cameras on their computers so I could see their whole face. Of course, this was a great way to hide what they were really doing, texting their friends, or playing video games. I completely understand why they loved this style of learning because it meant that they didn’t have to do much and then later pretend that the stress of being online all of the time was the reason for their low production.

Of course, I was not much better. There would be many times that I would stare out my window wondering what the outside world had to offer when I should have been doing some work instead. It was really hard to stay motivated in the place I had reserved for relaxation. The lines between work and home blurred, and I am still struggling to separate the two even though last night was my last night of the school year and the last time I would work at this school. I still woke up this morning thinking that I needed to check my email, grade some papers and prepare some lessons, but this was not the case. It will take a few days before I will be able to shed this feeling and see life in a different light.

I did say my final farewell to the school last night after watching the awards ceremony for the high school. It was a little bit of relief, but I will not be able to celebrate until tonight. Because I was working in Oregon at the time, 14 hours ahead of the time of the school in Thailand, it was really late at night and I just wanted to get to bed instead of unwind from the school year. Blowing off a little steam will help me make this adjustment as I say goodbye to the school.

It is something that I have wished to do for about a year now, and my negative attitude towards the school is not necessarily fair. Yes, the school has some problems that will take an uncomfortable couple of years to overcome, and I do not necessarily agree with a lot of its philosophies, I have dumped an undue amount of negativity at the school. Most of this is because I have associated the school with the problems of Covid and teaching online. I don’t think I could be at any school and spend time teaching online and look at the school favorably. It is not an easy thing to do, and I am happy that it is all over. I hope that I will never have to spend time teaching online again.

On the other hand, I do not think I can look past the pain of online teaching when I look at the school. It will always be looked at through that lens. Even during the times I got to spend teaching my students face to face, it was stressful. It gets really tiring to tell students to put on their masks correctly to stop the spread of this deadly disease while other teachers on campus make comments about how the disease is a hoax and masks are useless. It is a noble fight against a losing cause.

Overall, it is a chapter in the book that is my life. I could close that chapter and hope to never revisit again, or I could look at the pain and frustration from this time in my life and learn from the experience. It will always be what it was, but I may look back at my time with this school in Thailand with some fondness. There were always the students, some of my all time favorites in my long career, who worked hard and were so eager to learn. It was the best English department I ever worked for. And most of the time that I lived out there, I did not have to worry about this world wide pandemic in the same way that many other people elsewhere had to. I just need to close that chapter for right now, and prepare for the next one coming up at the end of the summer. It may be an opportunity to put this Covid kind of lifestyle behind us, and look to a future that resembles that happy life we all once lived.

Vaccination Tourism

It does not take much observation to notice that the world is still frozen in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Walking into any business, you will see people socially distancing, and wearing masks to protect themselves from getting this deadly disease. There has been some hope lately with the release of the vaccines this year, and some countries are starting to see things opening up again because a good amount of their populations have been getting the vaccine. There are a lot of countries though where people are fighting to get the vaccines any way that they can.

Thailand is a great example of this. The first waves of this deadly disease did not affect the country much, and though there had to be some adjustments made to life, most people continued to live their lives the way they normally did except they would wearing that protective piece of cloth over their face when out in public. The government knew that relief would eventually come around, and they were playing a game to be able to make the most out of the opportunity that they could when it came around. They waited a little too long though and while other countries were vaccinating their citizens, they were still sitting on their hands.

This is when the second wave came around and really hit Thailand hard. Something that many of the people there took for granted became a really big problem that they were not prepared to handle. As the second lockdown started to stretch on and people watched as other countries started to open up, the desire to get vaccinated grew in this country, and people would do anything if they could get a shot.

Some people started turning to one of the places that had been ignored over the last couple of years, the airports. If their country could not do for them what needed to happen, they would turn their vision to other countries. They would take a plane ride to the United States to get vaccinated there.

It is not as easy as it sounds though. The airports are deserted right now for a reason. I just recently flew out of Bangkok and I got to see this first hand. The main reason for this can be seen at the departure board. A quick glance of what is going out of the country indicates that there are only ten international flights a day. With the numbers surging in Bangkok, and other countries struggling to vaccinate their populations, Thailand has become a red spot that makes it hard to prove that you are safe to fly to another country. In order for us to fly out, we had to obtain doctor’s notes saying that we were Covid free for the last 72 hours. We had to then go through the usual Thai bureaucracy before we could get to the gate. It took us almost three hours to do this in a place where there were no crowds.

The options of where to go were minimal as well. We ended up having to fly through Doha, Qatar and taking 26 hours in the air to finally arrive in Portland, Oregon. It was a very long day, and a very long time to wear that mask without it getting too annoying. But we made it, and there were a lot of the same conversations that were overheard along the way. The United States has become a new tourist destination for a reason that not many would suspect. They have an overabundance of vaccines and not enough people are snatching up the opportunity to get one. If somebody wants to get vaccinated, the United States is where to do it.

I don’t know if a country wants to build its tourism reputation on this kind of focus, but it is interesting to see how the focus of America has shifted so quickly. During the height of this pandemic, America was the last place that anybody wanted to go to, and now because of its excess of medicine, it is the place where everybody wants to come to. There is some danger to this. If these people keep showing up, even with the strict restrictions applied to international flying, there is still a possibility that some people who have been inflected with slip through and start the pandemic up again in the United States. But at the same time, a lot of money from around the world could give a booster shot that the economy needs right now, getting the U.S. back to the place it was four years earlier. But if we let the pandemic rampage again then we will just go right back to closing down the economy again to keep people safe. It is one of those conundrums that would take a month to take apart.

The bottom line comes to the fact that the more people that gets vaccinated around this world, the faster we gain control over this virus. So if people all across the world believe that they should continue to come to America to get vaccinated, I guess I am for it. It will allow me to get back to one of the things that I love to do the most, travel the world, and experience various cultures. So I say if nobody in this country wants to get vaccinated, and you have the opportunity to get out here to get the shot because they country you live in has not gotten its act together yet, then come on out. We will be happy to see you, and get the world back to normal.

Waiting for Transit

The other day, one of my students asked me what I did while they were writing their journal in class. They could see me walking around the room that has been my virtual classroom over the past couple of months, and I didn’t think that they were paying attention to me when they should have been doing their work. But it was true. I was not in my seat, and I was walking over to the window in my room to stare at the world as it continued to move. I was in a holding pattern, waiting for my chance to join the world again.

There wasn’t a lot that I could do besides wait. My school had announced a month ago that we would be staying online for the remainder of the year, and this meant that we could head back to our respective countries as long as we still tuned into our Zoom classrooms at the same time no matter where we were. My colleagues started to disappear. Everyday there would be another mention of a new one that had caught their plane out of the country, and we were left with less and less people. My wife and I had a date scheduled, but there was a lot of little things to do to get ready to get on that plane. We had to sell of our stuff, have our checkout on campus, clean up our house, and take care of so much paperwork.

The one that hung over our heads the most was the Covid test. International airlines will not let people board their planes if they do not have proof from the last 72 hours that they are Covid free. I get it. Nobody wants to be responsible for keeping this pandemic going, but it is nerve wracking knowing that this will come, and having to stay away from everybody in the meantime so we are not accidentally exposed to this disease. It caused the usual stress of moving from a country to another to amp up even more and made the eventual date of departure seem so surreal dream that we would never reach.

So we broke up the monotony of our mundane existence with walks around the neighborhood, and the occasional meal being delivered to our home. The rest of the time was in waiting as we slowly chipped away at our to do list, and it felt like the day would never come.

Finally, all of our bags were packed and we went off to the hospital to get our Covid test done. All we had left to do was wait for the results, get a cab to the airport and be off. Thoughts ran through my mind about what would happen if I received a positive result on my test, and could not fathom how all of this work would be put on hold for a couple more weeks while overcame the disease. But then the results came in, and it gave me the go ahead to finally be on our way.

It had been the most welcoming news to have had the last couple of days, and now all I need to do is load up my bags and head off to the airport. I am finally going to get to come home after these couple of years being stuck in Thailand because of Covid. I am excited to be out of here soon, and I can’t wait to see my family and friends again, and most importantly, get the vaccine that seems only available in the United States right now.

So get ready America, I’m coming back home, and I’ll be there soon.

The Last Hurrah!

Now that the end is almost upon us,
We will travel on the road one last time,
And though our work may put up quite the fuss,
I think they will survive losing the dime.
Though there is nothing left for us to see,
We will still go out to see an old sight
Because what is in this moment for me
Is to reminisce for a single night
About my life living in this city,
And how my return may never happen.
I don’t want to remember with pity,
And that’s why I am going out again.
I’ll have to say goodbye to all of ya,
And that’s why I’m taking this last hurrah!