Not meant to be!

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August 20th 2009
Published: September 30th 2017
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Austin Powers - we both lost our mojo but luckily for me, I only have to travel to Spain to find mine, whereas he had to travel back in time, battle with Dr. Evil, and save the world in the process. Other than lost mojo, we really have no similarities - he's an international man of mystery while I'm neither mysterious nor international, since I predictably always travel to Spain; he has a bad British accent, I have a bad Spanish one; he has bad teeth, I have slightly better ones.
Geo: 51.0451, -114.063

This past year has been a strange one, with things seemingly changing on a whim, with no rhyme or reason. Since returning from South America in January, I've had moments where I thought I figured out what was happening in my life, only to come to the realization that no, I had no clue what was happening. Definitely NOT a great feeling, as it was almost as if I'd lost control of it, to a certain degree.

Sometimes you shoot for the stars, never knowing if you'll ever get there, but content that you tried. But sometimes you miss so badly that you end up in the sewers, and have no idea how you got there! It's like having a rug pulled out from under you, leaving you dazed and disoriented, thinking "What just happened?

Of course, this extended over to my travel plans. The original idea for this summer was for four of us to fly to London and head over to Paris, then down along the eastern side of France, through the French Riviera, then to Barcelona, followed by Pamplona for the running of the bulls in July. From there we would split up, with some leaving,

Anybody that has seen "Team America: World Police" must acknowledge the fact that it was an instant classic, and represents the pinnacle of film-making. A few of us have adopted the discreet "signal" that was supposed to be given by Gary if he was in trouble - if you've seen the movie, you know that the signal is wildly flailing your arms above your head, in a spastic and disjointed motion. Definitely not very discreet! We've come to recognize that gesture as "Help, get me outta here! I can't take it anymore!!!" Let's just say that recently, I've felt like a Team America marionette dummy, and my arms are exhausted from all that flailing!
and some continuing to the Basque country, and back up the western side of France to finish up in Paris.

We later realized that we could squeeze in a Formula One race with this itinerary - the French Grand Prix in Magny-Cours. But as luck would have it, the race was canceled. Not meant to be!

But then ... we figured that we could instead see the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - we were all psyched!

But then ... the economy skidded to a halt and one-by-one, the rest of the other travelers backed out. Plan B was hatched, a solo trip through northern Spain and the remainder of France that I had not covered on previous trips. This was to take place late August, and some initial planning was done, but several months ago everything was put on the back burner since it wasn't likely to happen, for numerous reasons. It looked like the tradition of summers in Europe was going to end 😞 Not meant to be!

But then ... just a few days ago, I decided that I needed to get away, once again. I really shouldn't be going, but I also really don't want to be here

Putting this trip together wasn't easy, given that the coffers are close to empty because of reduced work hours over the past 6 months. Luckily, the governments of the world inspired me to put together a Four-Point Economic Stimulus Package to come up with the necessary funds.
right now, so why the heck not? It won't be as large-scale a trip as originally planned, but hopefully it'll still be long enough to regain my mojo!

This trip really wasn't supposed to happen – plans kept falling through, and it just didn't seem like it was meant to be. The summer was slowly slipping away, and I had resigned myself to skipping the usual summer trip, but hopefully still making the annual Xmas one. Usually, these trips are planned months in advance, because the anticipation is one of the best parts of travel, and what better way is there to prolong that feeling, than to plan everything months before you really need to?

Add on top of that all the recent things going on – preparations for John and Nugget's wedding, having to buy and sell a place and packing up and moving all within a span of just a few weeks, the economic uncertainty, and a few other sources of stress – and this was definitely the WORST time to plan anything. But in a way it's the best time, because honestly, I really need this, and since I'm already stressed out of my mind, why not

1) Singing and dancing on Stephen Avenue Mall - given my lack of artistic or creative ability, this only raised $10.
throw another iron in the fire?

The bottom line is that in many ways I still have not learned from previous experiences, and once again have fallen into a rut. I have the terrible habit of always sitting around and waiting for things that never happen, and recently got a much-needed kick in the butt that has inspired me to do as Nike once famously commanded, and “Just do it!” and buy my ticket. Sometimes a kick in the butt hurts, but that pain is forgotten if you turn it into something positive.

Recently, I've forgotten how to smile and laugh, and generally, just haven't been feeling like myself for the past four months. It's not something you always realize has happened, but luckily for me, some friends were concerned and pointed it out. The first step is to acknowledge the problem, right? The next step is doing something about it, and getting back to the good times - I'm sure that sipping sangria and munching on tapas, while basking in all things beautiful and Spanish will help me remember how to do that again. And by “all things beautiful”, I'm of course referring to Spanish senoritas 😊

Spain is ...

2) Collecting pop cans from garbage bins around the city - though potentially lucrative, given the danger of battling with winos armed with shivs, I was only able to do this long enough to bring the total to $20.
I can't even explain it very well ... it's ... my place. It's the place where, no matter what I'm feeling, no matter how down I am, it all disappears because I'm in a constant state of happiness and bliss. This discussion has occurred with friends in the past - it's not the only place where I'm capable of feeling that, it's just the place where I always feel that way. At times I feel that way here, and even felt that way for a while a few months back, but I never seem to be able to make that feeling last. Many friends have suggested simply moving to Spain, but I harbour a fear that living there permanently will dissipate that feeling, and render ineffective the magic that Spain offers. If I lived there and lost that, where would I escape to when I needed a break from the mundane?

A while back a few of us in the office joked about my Spanish alter-ego, and we came up with the name Hector Andreas Rafael Dominguez. We agreed Rafael was a cool name because it had the uber-cool shortened version of Rafa, and Dominguez came from the last name

3) Amateur night at the local strip joint - given my hairy legs and general lack of rhythm and flow, this only raised the total to $22.43.
of Vicky, the Colombian lady who tutored me a number of years ago. Hector and Andreas were added not only because they sounded cool, but also because they completed a neat acronym 😊 Rafa went away and has been MIA for months, but he will surely come back in Spain after a healthy dose of mojo.

These annual summer trips are kind of a mental re-set, a way of purging any recent bad experiences from my memory, in effect wiping the slate clean and starting over when I return, with a clear mind and a renewed perspective on life. An eloquent analogy would be a Phoenix rising from the ashes, but since I'm not trying to be profound nor eloquent, I'll compare it to a mushroom poking its head up through a pile of manure. Nobody has ever accused me of being politically-correct or well-spoken after all, so what better way is there for me to express this sentiment? I'm now leaving for the airport, and in about 12 hours, my head should be just poking up above the manure 😊

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4) Craigslist - luckily for me, a rich foreign businessman was in need of a new kidney. A quick trip down to an abandoned building in Chinatown, and I had the necessary funds for the trip!

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