If you live to be 70, consider yourself a lucky bastard. I'm almost a lucky bastard; I've finished 69 years. But almost is not good enough, so here we go.
My 70th years happens to coincide with my wife's 60th and our 35th wedding anniversary. And more traveling around the world, and the completion of another novel and the realization that the next one is burning in my head and coming out my fingers, through the keyboard and into my laptops infinite memory. I'm off and running.
Since I entered my 70th year, we have driven down the East Coast, seen family in Atlanta, come down with shingles two days after Christmas, and then, heavily medicated thanks to a doc-in-a-box, drifted on down to the Florida Keys to once again babysit the dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center.
Then we were off to the Philippines to sail, stopping off first in San Francisco--to rest, we told ourselves, before the long flight to Manila. We enjoy San Francisco: City Lights Book Store, that serious place of worship before the alter of free thought, with all the serious, non-smiling, heavily-burdened-with-existence customers perusing the shelves while, yes indeed, the light from the city filters in through the windows that look out on Columbus Avenue. And I'm one of them, I suppose, or I wouldn't crave hanging out there. And right there, within a couple of stone throws, we found two funky little Italian restaurants and a hole-in-the-wall cafe that served coffee or wine or beer and simple food and in the afternoons, thrown-together jazz musicians of uneven but magical quality play together into the evening.
Then the miserable thirteen-hour flight to Manila eased somewhat by some small friends of mine called Atavan. Calms the nerves, eases the hours. Then Manila itself, through the wretched city in a cab that cleverly over charged us and still the cost was a sad joke. Two days of jet lag recovery and then we're back at the airport and flying south to Cebu City. The airport here is on Mactan Island, the very place where Magellan, that savage, meddling, control freak, was killed by the local folks after he stuck his nose in their business. Mactan is now one big industrial zone--a place of poverty and pollution by my standards, but a decent-enough home for thousands of Filipinos.
Sailing, then, for eleven days, from Mactan down around Bohol Island, up to Leyte, across the to Comotes, and back to Port Carmen. Adventures by the dozen. Mostly no wind or wind on the nose so we motor sailed into it, from place to place. Anchoring was the challenge, water that went from 1000 ft. deep to 3 feet in fifty yards and we were figuring out tides before dropping the hook on a lee shore and trying to avoid anchoring in coral. And the main fuel filter would plug up with shit stirred up from the fuel tank and the engine would die on the lee shore and then we would sail on a close reach and get off the shore and change the filter and get the engine going and try anchoring again. And you really can't swim in the lovely water when anchored in a bay off a town because the raw sewage from the town drains freely and copiously into the bay. But exploring unknown places is very fine and we did it with very fine friends.
Back home, then, exhausted, with another, longer stop in San Francisco and back to the hole-in-the-wall jazz cafe and eating off our jet lag in the the Italian restaurants. Jet lag eventually does yield to red wine. We have found this to be true.
Home to Virginia and a fast-approaching spring. So we have managed to avoid the worst of the winter once again. Now it's April and a cool, damp season is here and is wonderful with bird songs, blooming flowering trees and bushes and greening grass. And a new kitchen being constructed, which is Terry's dream coming true.
My traveling is not finished, though. It's back to Guam on May 8th to be a literary delegate representing Guam in a Pacific-wide festival of the arts and culture of the islands. My novel, Brothers of the Fire Star will be featured and I will do the featuring. More on that later.