Happy New Year!

Technically, I’m seven days late. But I have a good excuse–I was on a cruise, practically without communication, for almost two weeks.

There were lots of firsts on this vacation, and I hope this continues well into 2013.

It was the first time we’ve ever been on a ship for that long. We cruise every year, but the longest we’ve sailed has been four days. Eleven was ambitious–and if I’m honest, a bit too long for me, though that could be because I got a nasty cold half-way in and my son got it two days before we came back. Perhaps if we hadn’t gotten sick we would’ve enjoyed it more. Staying inside a cabin while the weather outside is gorgeous is a bit of a buzz kill. But the other days were pretty awesome.

It was the first time we were on a ship for New Year’s Eve. And it was pretty cool. And lots of fun. Even my five-year-old had a blast!

It was also the first time we take our son on a trip for New Year’s Eve. Hubby and I spent our first NYE as husband and wife in Victoria, B.C. and it was amazing. Since then, though, we hadn’t made it to another trip around the holidays until now.

It was the first time visiting all the ports of call in the Southern Caribbean. Cartagena, Colombia. Oranjestad, Aruba. Willemstad, Curacao. Philipsburg, St. Maarten. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. I had to miss out on St. Maarten–and was ridiculously bummed about it. But the other cities/islands–wow. Hubby took some amazing pics, which I hope to share in future posts because the abundance of natural and majestic beauty was inspiring!

My absolute favorite, though, was Cartagena, and as mentioned above, it was my first time there. This is probably because A) it’s the setting for TTWC (my WIP) and B) I felt at home with the amarillo, azul y rojo and the sweet, musical Colombian accent. Beyond those two obvious points, the old city–la ciudad antigua–is breathtaking. You literally feel as if you’re stepping away from the present day and into colonial times. A multitude of bright colorful flowers contrast against the deep yellows of the buildings. Balconsitos, the typical colonial balconies which are the inspiration for countless Colombian artesanias, abound, and I could imagine my dad relishing on the intricacies of the detailed columns, the wooden beams, and the enredaderas that wrap around the structures. I hope to devote a separate post just for this beautiful city.

It was also the first time I wrote while on a ship. On sea days (with the exception of one when I was so out of it from cold meds that I couldn’t even think), I got clocked in some good writing hours, mostly done in the library with views of the ocean or in the observation deck with the same views. And while I didn’t finish like I’d hoped, I got a heck of a lot done.

We got back home yesterday, and the swaying of the ship’s still with me (as are the remnant of the darn cold). I’m ready to start a new semester and finally finish the revisions for SOUL MOUNTAIN. And when I’m done with that, I can’t wait to jump back into THROUGH THE WALLED CITY, especially after the inspiration from visiting Cartagena.

So I hope 2013 is full of many new journeys! (But first I hope to stop swaying!)

Happy new year to all of you, and may 2013 bring an abundance of inspiration!

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