Reflecting on 2013

14 Jan

What an amazing year 2013 has been.  I still wake up every morning with a big wide grin. I have had some low points and some scary moments but overall I am having the most marvelous adventure.

I made this happen.  I quit my job, I sold the majority of my possessions and I am currently living besides the Pacific.  I know that I am very lucky and I never forget that much of it is down to my fantastic friends who believed in me and who gave me the confidence to spread my wings. Click here to remind yourself of just how far I have come

I have slept in bunk beds and spent nights in mixed dorms in hostels.  I have slept in hotels, tents and even on a veranda under the stars in Cuba.

I have eaten alpaca, llama and guinea pig (cuy).  I have tasted pigs ears and pigs intestines in Spain, and I love raw fish (cebiche) and trout from Lake Titicaca

I have drunk pisco and mojitos and gallons of tinto de verano (summer wine), danced in the moonlight and taken trains, planes and automobiles in seven different countries.  Here is a very brief round-up of the previous twelve months.


I welcomed in 2013 in Spain, drinking cava and eating my twelve grapes as is per the custom when the church bells strike midnight.

My New Year’s resolution was to not let another year pass by without making concrete plans for my future and booking my flight to Peru.  Little did I know at that stage what adventures were in store for me.


Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral

I went off to Milan with BF.   The weather was bitterly cold but we warmed up with Apero Spritzers and climbed the stairs up to the roof of the Cathedral.  We came home via the Ice Bar in London and to blizzards in Brighton where  I fell in love with its bohemian atmosphere and the maze of Lanes and the Independent Quarter.


Old American cars are everywhere

Old American cars are everywhere

…and I was off on my long-promised holiday to Cuba. What a fascinating county with some fascinating people.  I went on an Explore tour which was full-on but so much fun.  We trekked in the footsteps of Che Guevara and the Castro brothers, visited a tobacco farm and danced salsa until the early hours.  Me and my Scottish room-mate chased, and were chased by giant cockroaches, downed countless mojitos, and we rode through deserted streets on a bici-taxi whilst laughing hysterically most of the time.


April was a strange month as I went round and round in circles trying to decide what to do for the best.  To resign or not to resign?  Well we now know the result of that one but I spent the month in limbo.  I knew what I wanted to do, but how should I achieve it. There was the constant worry that I may actually not enjoy travelling once I left although that was never really going to happen was it!


This month it was up to London to see the Killers in concert at Wembley and we stayed in a quirky home in West London courtesy of AirBnB.  Decision made, I decided to quit my job and my home and pack up my life as I knew it.


If you are going to go to a music festival, then it makes sense to choose one in the sun.  The Optimus Alive festival in Lisbon had a great line up – the highlights for me were Of Monsters and Men, Kings of Leon and Green Day.  We travelled overland on sleeper trains – good training for the plethora of night buses that would be experienced later in the year and rattled around the narrow streets and alleys of Lisbon on the ancient trams.

Lisbon tram

Lisbon tram


Me and BF spent two weeks working on a farm in the Algarve, planting sweet potato and lettuce and swimming in the eco-pond, although neither of us quite plucked up enough courage to ‘shwim with ze nature’.  There was a quick dash back up to Lisbon and then I set off by myself again and went house sitting in the mountains – click to read what happened in Portugal


Another flight on the smallest little plane returned me back to Lisbon where I met up with family.  This turned into a bit of a gastronomic fest, visiting little back-street restaurants each evening and where I discovered a preference for strong, black coffee.  I  had a brief spell back in the UK and then I headed up to Kent for phase two of my summer adventure


Beautiful Toledo

Beautiful Toledo

Back over the Channel – this time to Northern France to take care of my seven golfers in their gite click here to read the blog entry.   I should finally confess that I didn’t do too much cooking and cleaning but I did learn how to play ‘Chase the Ace’.  I then travelled on south to Madrid where I lived with an amazing family for three weeks and met up with several friends who happened to be in the area.  I loved the old towns of Toledo and Sergovia and I was very soon darting around on the Madrid Metro like a local.


The Alhambra at dusk

The Alhambra at dusk

As the weather started to cool I dropped even further south to Estepona where I was thrilled to have been invited to attend the wedding of some friends in Gibraltar.   That was followed by a mini road trip around Granada which found me and my mate Coops yomping through the streets in the dark at stupid o’clock so that we could visit the Alhambra


After planning for what seemed like forever, I said my final goodbyes to my best friends and family and I got the main part of my adventure underway.  It didn’t begin too well as I spent the first night throwing up in my hotel at Heathrow but a twenty four hour journey eventually found me in South America.  After a few days in Lima relaxing and acclimatising I travelled up to the northern city of Trujillo where I would be working with an NGO for the next three months


After three weeks teaching English in the poorest district of El Porvenir, we had three weeks holiday when the schools broke up.  I crammed loads in during this time – I visited Arequipo, Cusco, and Puno in Peru and then I crossed the border to La Paz in Bolivia.  The highlight for me was walking into Machu Picchu at six thirty in the morning and exploring the ancient ruins just a couple of days before Christmas.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu


This New Year’s Eve was spent dodging fireworks on the beach at Copacabana in Bolivia, greeting 2014 with BF, a Chilean stand-up comedienne and a copyright lawyer and wondering what the hell the next twelve months will bring.

If the last twelve months are anything to go by, it is going to be an absolute blast.


3 Responses to “Reflecting on 2013”

  1. Terri Nixon January 14, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    WhooHOOOO!!!! Wow, what a year! I’m so glad you’re able to share it all with us, what a privilege it is to ‘travel with you’ – long may it, and your adventure, continue! xx

  2. Lorraine C-Smith January 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    Jane – well done – you are living life – something others only dream of. Thrilled to hear from you. Coincidentally I was thinking of you when deciding whether to make gaspacho! Great minds think alike. Look forward to your next update. Warm regards – Lorraine (from Toledo)

    • Scarlet Jones January 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      I often think of you Lorraine and I mention our meeting to many of my friends when I am talking about my travelling. Hope that you are enjoying reading about my travels. I am currently trying to decide where on earth to go to next

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