it takes a year to make a travel writer

being the guide in shanghai, april 2009

2009 has been a busy year of traveling, traveling and more traveling. some of it was travel for pleasure, other trips were induced more from need to get away. in fact, in many ways, 2009 was a banister year for me.

‘this is china, a guidebook for teachers, backpackers and other lunatics’ was finally released in july, after a long, unfortunately drawn out contract finally came to a painful demise when my publisher, duffie books, went bust. i got my first real foray into the world of travel writing at sites like the circumference, your 24 and unearthing asia.  this time last year, bill and i were surviving a cold, wet irish winter in our tiny basement flat in rathmines. now we are spending our days writing and computing from a cozy albuquerque apartment. i guess it takes a year to make a travel writer. [tweetmeme]

january/february – for two more or less uneventful months we job hunted, lost a job in china, got another job in china, sold all of our belongings and waited for our chinese visas to come through.

Dinner in Switzerland, March 2009

march – bound for shanghai, we hopped on a swiss air flight and spent a lovely two night layover exploring the very cold streets of zurich. bill had a nasty throat infection and we were completely broke. but we were fortunate enough to enjoy this amazing dinner of cheese, bread, meat and wine in our hotel room.

april – after a month of settling into our new chinese life in lishui, and teaching, we headed out for a fun and funky weekend away in shanghai. this was bill’s first trip to shanghai, so we did all the compulsory stuff, such as a trip to the top of the jinmao tower, dumplings in the old city and walking along the bund.

may/june/july – were filled with a lot of teaching and then a lot of waiting. we were originally told we’d have a summer camp to teach at during july, then our contract stipulated (as foreign teachers’ contracts do) that we’d have august off. so, these three months were filled with lots of street food and beer. and it was during july that we discovered lishui’s newest bar: the yes bar, which was to become our favorite haunt.

Reunion with dad, August 2009

august – perhaps the most eventful of all the months, we took off for a 3.5 week holiday to the U.S. my sister was getting married in colorado, my high school reunion was scheduled in texas, and there was much road-tripping to be done. august gave us the chance to attend the santa fe opera, soak in the pagosa hot springs and generally enjoy the southwest for a few weeks.

Our Lishui balcony – happier times

september – this is when the bomb was dropped. we arrived back to china, virtually penniless, my wallet was left in a taxi and then our boss drops the bomb. “you’re not getting paid for july. and we don’t know when we’ll be able to pay you for august.” it was complicated and ended in us spending a scary week roaming the streets of beijing, fearing for our visas. once we were sitting in a mcdonalds when we got the news that we’d not be able to stay in china. after a quick trip to an internet cafe to explore our options, we got engaged standing on a streetcorner in dongzhimen. this had to be the most exciting, happy and horrifying moment of my life, combined.

Our wedding reception, with champagne, October 2009

october – the month of the wedding. we didn’t expect to get married. we just got on a plane to the U.S. to see where it would take us. it took us to the bernalillo county district courthouse in downtown albuquerque, exchanging vows on a whim. my aunt and uncle threw us a lovely family dinner, complete with champagne and guinness toasts! in october, we also carved jack-o-lanterns and spent the month recovering from the hellish nightmare of our last few weeks in china.

november – november passed along more or less without incident. that is, until i got the news: i was being commissioned by globe pequot press to write a first edition guide on el paso for the insider’s guide series. sa-weet!!

A new home in Albuquerque, December 2009

december – on the 15th, we moved into our lovely new abode. held a housewarming that somehow spilled over into christmas and here i find myself, ever so suddenly on the day before the last day of the year, writing a blog entry on the madness of 2009, while my amazing husband sits beside me, sipping flying star coffee.

roll on 2010.

a gallery of 2009 images:

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