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the right way to start the new year

Watching the small island nation where we had spent the previous week grow ever smaller as the plane rose above the Indian Ocean, we experienced a familiar mix of emotions. The reservoir of relaxation we had built up during three weeks of R&R started to recede somewhat as we contemplated the long, difficult trip home: multiple flights and long layovers with two small kids in tow. We arrived back in Kigali late Sunday night, the uncertainty of our government shutdown adding an unpleasant wrinkle to the end of our vacation. And yet, we felt buoyant.

Three of the past four years we have succeeded in taking a January trip. Not being Christian, we are happy to stay in the office over the holidays so that our coworkers can enjoy Christmas with their families. It’s usually quiet work-wise, and by letting our office mates take leave at the end of the previous year, we get to start the new year doing what we love best: traveling. This year we managed to carve out two weeks for a road trip across South Africa and capped the vacation off with a week in Mauritius.

We did not fully disconnect as we typically try to on our travels. S occasionally scrolled through work messages while nursing Junebug and D, who kept his phone handy in order to supply our parents with a steady stream of pictures of their grandkids, could not resist the temptation of checking hockey scores and posting the odd photo on social media. But we did manage to largely avoid the relentlessly depressing news cycle and found ourselves to be much saner for it.

The trip was glorious, and we’re looking forward to sifting through our photos and reliving the highlights on the blog. Spending the beginning of the year on the road also carries a psychological advantage. Thus far, we have had nothing but pleasant experiences in 2018, and that’s a strong foundation for expecting more good things to come in the new year.

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