For us, 2021 travel was all about regaining some lost ground.
Now that it’s all but certain that the Covid-19 coronavirus will be endemic, we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves to a life with Covid in some form or fashion. And as dedicated travelers, we’re figuring out what that means as we try to regain some of the freedom to roam that we lost two long years ago. Last month we put down some of our thoughts on the topic in this post:
Our 2021 travel focus was on Colombia adventures, but we also began to ease – very cautiously – back into international travel. And we had a great year!
FEBRUARY: Escaping the Big City
After almost a year of pandemic-ing in Medellín, Colombia’s third-largest city (with five months under one of the world’s strictest lockdowns), we needed a change. Exactly a year ago we made the move to El Retiro, a small town high in the Andes about a 45-minute drive outside the city. (We actually moved in late December of 2020, but didn’t get around to this post until February.) A year later, not a day goes by that we aren’t immensely grateful for the clean fresh air, slower pace, and quaint colonial charm of El Retiro!
JUNE: A Retirement, and a Return to Colombia’s Caribbean Coast
I finally hung up an almost-four-decade career as a public relations/marketing exec and writer on June 16. The writing bug is still with me, though, and I’m hoping to launch a couple of long-gestating projects in 2022. We’ll see!
After a homebound start to the year, we made a return visit to one of our favorite places in Colombia – the stretch of Caribbean coast from Santa Marta east, through the spectacular Tayrona National Park. Along the way we made some new discoveries and found our nirvana, Casa Tayrona Los Naranjos.
JULY: A Fresh Take on a Familiar Haunt
In May and July we took the plunge and made our first international trips since the pandemic began – two separate visits to Austin, Texas to see family and help our mom with her big move to a retirement community. In the process, we had some interesting new experiences in this city that we’ve both come to know so well.
AUGUST: Hitting the Road
The highlight of our 2021 travel experience – by far – was the month-long road trip we took in August to a broad area in eastern Colombia. Our goal was to visit as many Pueblos Patrimonios (officially designated heritage towns) as we could. We were able to cross 7 off our list: San Juan de Girón, Barichara, Monguí, Socorro, Villa de Leyva, Guaduas, and Honda. It was a wonderful trip that opened our eyes even more to Colombia’s incredible culture, stunning natural beauty, and wonderful people. We’ve already starting planning for the Big Colombia Road Trip of 2022!
The lovely old town of Barichara was one of our favorite stops:
OCTOBER: Sun, Sea and Diving on Aruba and Bonaire
With Covid at a pandemic-era low, October seemed like the perfect time to book a beach getaway. We’d visited Curaçao back in 2019, so now we were ready to round out our tour of the Dutch ABC Islands with a trip to Aruba and Bonaire.
DECEMBER: Colombia’s Isla San Andres
In early December, we made another relaxing beach getaway to a Caribbean island without having to leave our own country. Isla San Andres is a vacation playground for Colombians, but it’s little known to travelers outside the country. We had a great time exploring this beautiful island!
With 2021 travel behind us, what’s next?
Remember last New Year, when life-saving vaccines were beginning to be rolled out? We all hoped that 2021 would be the year that the world would get the upper hand on Covid-19. Who could have imagined that we’d still be dealing with this ghastly pandemic going into 2022? And that we’d now be in the throes of the fastest-spreading Covid-19 variant yet, with record-high case numbers around the world?
At this writing, almost 5.4 million people have lost their lives to this terrible virus – and just about all of us know someone who died, or whose family has been terribly altered by Covid. It’s an almost-incomprehensible tragedy.
But there are plenty of reasons for hope as we enter a new year.
As alarming and disrupting as the new Omicron variant is, the world is in a much better place with Covid than it was this time last year. Vaccination is finally having a real impact in many parts of the world (with big exceptions – don’t get me started on vaccine inequality). There are some encouraging signs that Omicron causes a less serious disease, at least among the fully vaccinated. And because it’s so incredibly contagious, Omicron seams to be peaking and then declining a lot faster than other variants in some countries and leaving hordes more people with natural immunity.
We’re keeping a close eye on this, of course – and the Omicron situation is changing by the minute. But at this point we’re optimistic enough that we’re going through with our long-delayed and twice-cancelled trip to Spain in February. A lot can change between now and then, so we’ll see (we have refundable plane tickets).
We are so grateful.
No matter where we roam, we never lose sight of how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful and safe country, to have vaccinations that offer good protection from serious illness, and to have the ability to travel when health and safety measures allow it.
We also want to give a special shout-out to our fabulous house/pet sitters: Jenny Lincoln, Alex Davis and Ryan Gleason, Kat McKay, Lacy Harden, and Francisco y Martha at Pets Pro. This year’s excursions would not have happened without you, and you gave us tremendous peace of mind knowing that our fur kids were safe and happy. And Rosie and Tango thank you for all the cookies!
And finally, we thank you – our readers – for sticking with us and for all the kind comments you’ve made over the past year. Here’s a little musical send-off for you: