‘How was your trip to Mexico,’ Camp asked. We were both sitting once again at our usual table at our pub by the sea side, looking out at the choppy water, and the grey skies, nursing our pint.
‘We love Patzcuaro, the small Mexican town amongst the volcanoes, and I could spend a lot more time there, but Clare still has a good job in the real world. The weather was perfect, kind of like June around here. How about your trip to Portugal?’ I asked.
‘Lisbon is a city that was rebuilt in a four storied grid after the quake in 1755, most of it painted in ocher, and it’s spread amongst seven hills, one with an old castle lording over a maze of alleys and stairs of Alfama, an old Moorish neighborhood, which claims to be the birth place of Fado, the Portuguese blues. Muriel loves to walk and look into every church – and believe me there are too many of those – while I got to sit under the arches on the main square watching the constant parade of people go by. They have great beer and the Portuguese are a proud but friendly lot and they do not like the Spanish. And yes, warm days and cool evenings.’
‘You sound like a travel agent,’ I said. ‘Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?’
‘Resolutions are for people who want to change something. Can’t think of a thing I would want different, nothing that I have any kind of control over anyway.’
‘Now that we’re back in the rain forest, with all the hoopla and celebration over for another year, we can get back to basics,’ I said.
‘Meaning exactly what?’
‘Staying close to home, supporting the local economy, having simple home cooked dinners, visit with friends, take walks and try not to get depressed by the constant barrage of bad news.’
‘Well said, my friend, but we have much to look forward to this year. First, we’ll have Brexit, then probably another war in the middle east thanks to the lunatic cowboy in the white house shooting from the hip and then the big spectacle of the US election. Watch out for plenty of misinformation, conspiracies and grand standing.’
‘What’s your take on the killing of the Iranian general Suleimani?’
‘It’s like cutting one of the heads off the Hydra. Esail Ghaani, the replacement of the killed general, will be the new head of the 200’000 strong Iranian national guard and he has already sworn revenge and death to the Americans.’
‘And what can we do about it all?’ I said. ‘Maybe we’ll just have to ignore it all and try harder to smell the flowers, as a travel friend of ours suggests. Concentrate on the beauty all around us, see the good in everybody, emphasize the positive in everything. I wish Clare could hear me. She would probably think I had a few or one too many drinks.’
‘Now you sound like the monkey who doesn’t see, hear or speak,’ Camp said, emptying his pint in one long draught. ‘There is no point in denying reality and trying to see the world as it is. It is our job as responsible, educated adults to point out the truth and help those around us separate the chaff from the wheat. If not honest people like the two of us who else can discern falsehoods from reality?’
‘I suppose you’re right. We all hold our noses, knowing that shit stinks but it produces some beautiful flowers and mushrooms. I just wanted to point out that the world is still full of beauty and mystery and besides we cannot change the big picture.’
‘I heard you talk about beauty and flowers. Is something wrong?’ Vicky asked as she set down two refills.
‘My friend always turns philosophical at this time of year. It will pass. Any resolutions for the upcoming year Vicky?
‘Funny you should ask, I decided to go back to school. I signed up for a nursing program.’
‘Excellent,’ I said, ‘Does that mean we’ll lose you here?’
‘Not for a while, it won’t start until the fall.
‘I can’t even think that far ahead,’ I said. ‘I just want to get through this winter.’
‘We’ll be in for some sub-zero weather next week. Watch out for the black ice,’ Camp said and then we both toasted Vicky’s decision.