Some of you have probably learned from Facebook that I am now officially retired. I was planning to work through the end of March but when horse racing in Toronto was put on hiatus, I was off the hook 10 days earlier than expected. Aside from a three year sabbatical in 2014-2017, I have worked continuously in the horse racing industry since 1981. It paid the bills and was reasonably rewarding but I doubt that I’ll miss the deadlines, odd hours, working week-ends and holidays, etc.
As recently as four weeks ago I was planning to fly to London, England on March 31 and soon after begin a little 2000 km hike. The Via Francigena is an ancient pilgrimage that involves a short walk from Canterbury Cathedral to the port of Dover, a ferry to Calais, a somewhat meandering path through France and Switzerland, over the Great Saint Bernard Pass (which is accessible only in summer), and finally through about two-thirds of Italy before ending up in Rome. Some people do it in one go but it’s likely that I would have split it over two seasons due to visa restrictions and complications that might arise after spending a month in Tuscany. Okay, hangovers. Multiple hangovers. And carbs.
When the idea of backpacking through northern Italy became less appealing (and eventually downright impossible), I figured that I would keep the flight to London but ditch the VF and instead divert to Spain where I would do the Camino de Santiago for a second time. Surely rural Spain would be safe in April, right?
Only a few days after coming up with that beauty it became clear that Spain was headed into lockdown and my second Camino would have to wait. Suddenly a barren loft in Toronto seemed rather appealing.
Thankfully my landlord agreed to put me back on month-to-month. I don’t have much furniture left but figure if I’m going to live in squalor, it’s probably best to live in squalor where there’s grocery delivery, free healthcare, and a good hospital within two blocks. Oh, and 24-7 wine delivery!
At this point I have no idea when or even if I will set off on a second round-the-world adventure. I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll be holed up in Toronto until some warm, cheap and semi-interesting country relaxes travel restrictions AND out-of-country health insurance is once again available.
When will that be? To quote Donald J. Trump whenever he doesn’t know the answer to a question and cannot think up a lie, “We’ll see.”