2014 in a glance
A couple of years ago, at the end of 2010, I recall writing a brief synopsis of the things I encountered that year on a month-by-month basis. Let’s try that once again as this year winds down, shall we?
January brought me back to cool European winters as I flew out to visit a client’s project in Vigo, Spain. As one of the perks of my current employment, I get to visit places I would otherwise very unlikely have even known existed!
Vigo is a coastal city a few hours from the northern border with Portugal. It became a fort city as a result of multiple Viking raids and blends Portuguese with Spanish through its Province’s dialect (Galician ‘gallego’).
The workers we drank with were enthralled to hear my Chinese engineer loved their local beer. It was a nice reminder of simple small-city pleasures.
February brought me back to Europe once more as I revisited Amsterdam for our most prominent annual LED trade-show. Skimming through my 2010 e-mail, I realized in it I’d written precisely about my first experience attending an international show in Frankfurt. To some extent, I guess I can say I’ve lived out one of my dreams, as I’m now actually starting to reach my cross-continental flight fill!
Although I now mostly export products related to interactive media, my initial motivation for joining the LED industry was to actually help the environment by reducing energy consumption. March has a special significance for me as I made my first LED sale that would end up lighting a parking lot in a small shopping center in Guate (generating 55% in energy savings!) In the future, I hope to delve more into this industry and further promote smart technologies around Latin America.
Speaking of lights, April marked the end of a 7-year tunnel; I bought my one-way ticket back to SouthAm! Transiting in Johannesburg not the best of choices, but I’m sure the external hard drives that mysteriously disappeared out of my luggage then are now soaking in the majestic South African sun, sipping pictures of umbrella cocktails and videos of live white shark caging sessions.
Once here, I couch-surfed for a month (another habit I’d quit for over 3 years) as I found out how backward simple things like renting a house and processing documentation in Brazil can be. Not only was I required to provide the 5-year credit history two co-signers I didn’t have, but also officially declare a salary 3x that of my rent—something tough to do with paychecks coming directly out of China via fiber optic cables under the oceans and out through the ATM machines here (tax-free). I finally got out of this pickle in May by making friends with a divorced engineer living in a house too big for his newly found singleness. Through a verbal agreement over a few too many cups of strong Brazilian coffee, I found my new SOHO in the middle of a graffiti-laden neighborhood I wrote about in a previous email.
June equaled a long-awaited World Cup madness. Colombia did us DAMN PROUD after an unbelievable 16-year absence from the tournament. I can’t say the times were as rowdy as the rambunctiousness that took place during my semester abroad in Berlin in the 2006 Weltmeisterschaft—which was after all almost a decade ago, at a time when my hair was almost down to my shoulders and I hosted some 12 people on shoestring budgets all over my floor, couches, and roommates’ beds. Ricky’s visit from China made this Cup unforgettable, though, as it was also a much more politically-discussed event for us and we got to witness first-hand the grimaces, tears, and screams of thousands as Brazil made history by getting on all fours and taking it time and time again from the Germans.
In August I got to see a whole lot of family members! Uncles, cousins, cousins-in-law and nephews all helped in some way along the 4-day journey that carved itself into an engagement ring. The most special part of my visit to Colombia was spending time with both mum and dad together, as with their split up our vacations have turned more into geographical hops on strategic dates. Would you believe the last time all 5 of us were together was actually in China in 2008??? Wi-cked times shall ensue the next time we’re all together once more. In Thailand we were 4, and in Panama we’ve been 4 as well, but lo- and behold, one of us is inevitably missing (something I’m working on fixing relatively soon).
Half a year into Brazil, I made the decision to prematurely leave this country by 2015 on a sunny day in Belo Horizonte’s central park. Looking at families, refreshment vendors, police officers on horseback, while considering the million thoughts that continually gallop through my brain, I realized I’ve been away long enough. September brought with it the seed that will eventually grow into my return to Colombia, and the end of my personal brain drain (for how long is still to be determined, however). I’ve hassled so many times with migratory issues, taxes, document notarizations, customs corruption, rent, insurance, blah, and blah as well as blah, in so many OTHER countries that I thought to myself, “why not spend all of this money in my own country instead?” You see, I’m by no means a wealthy man, but I do handle quite a few business transactions that inevitably benefit the countries I’ve been working for. Why not invest in your own economy for a change? There’s no minimum buy-in, after all.
So it was as I took down notes while drinking whiskey on one of my flights back to China in October that I began to plan my exit-strategy out of Brazil. It’s a work in progress still, but one I got more and more excited about. My 30th birthday brought me a fiance, a tattoo, and my first glass floor overlooking the most beautiful evening skyline in Shanghai. It was an unbelievable month and one that brought me closer to my coworkers back in the factory, for the rule of fondness does apply to coworkers when distance keeps us apart for sometime. I did find out Lightlink hired a few more foreigners, but am happy to say that my space is not quite filled yet.
Closing into the end of the year, let’s just say November sucked. Conceptually it’s going to result in a major consequence, but content-wise it’s left me quite disappointed. You see, I realized after sessions concocting 2015 in my head, that I am going to be incredibly busy come next year; come Colombia, to be exact. Therefore, this often lonely workspace I now spend my days in, hidden in Belo Horizonte from the world, may indeed represent the single longest period of time I’ll actually spend so alone (especially if I am indeed to get married). As such, I decided very firmly to FINALLY start writing. It has by far been my most prolific month, and with the several dissatisfactions I’ve encountered thus far I do hope it will become a habit I learn to hone to near-perfection.
It is now December and my time to say goodbye to you has arrived. I had heard so much about our Christmas destination that I refused to share with my family the most recurrent impression I’d heard from foreigners as I asked them about it. Although Andy’s final perception didn’t match theirs exactly, (his was, ‘it is indescribable’) it perhaps encompassed a larger meaning than that which I heard several Brazilians repeat: ‘you will come to meet where the world ends’. And so, dear friends, I now leave you with what I personally saw as a powerful ending to a year I wouldn’t say has been one of the best for everyone. As the cataratas mesmerized us for days, I imagined them filling a river of hope for all of us, filling gradually our cups of dreams to the top. May 2015 bring us and our loved ones health, happiness, travel, and love)