I am not sure if my 150th installment of the WP is a milestone post, but within it, is a milestone moment forthcoming. I write this last post of the year 2023 from Siem Reap, Cambodia, which is officially my 83rd visited country in the world and that is exciting as you know that this trip, coming to its end, was to happen several years ago and Covid, among other events that stopped it from happening. My time here in SE Asia with my departure tomorrow from Cambodia back to Vietnam, and then the return to the US has been an eye-opening experience for me. The cultures are so different in many ways, but in the end, I found that people simply want to live their lives in peace and enjoy what they have. They don’t make lots of money, but both the Vietnamese and Cambodians are genuinely happy people, and I was happy when I was able to go to the 94th Hard Rock Café, here in Angkor Wat last night. It crossed my mind to check, when I knew, I was coming to Siem Reap and I was not disappointed, but happiness is defined in many different ways as you will see.
I tried different foods, some to excess like Pho and much rice and noodles in many different configurations, experienced many different cultural experiences like a water puppet show, to how to tie a fishing net. Sailed on the sea from Ha Long Bay, and on the Saigon River and along the Mekong Delta. I visited several museums including the culture of the countries, the temples of Angkor Wat, and the history of the Vietnamese people. I visited war memorials and gained a better understanding of the era that was the Vietnam War, which the Vietnamese called the American War and it was substantially more complex that the simplicity of one side being bad and one side being good. I was able to talk to some people who were directly affected, and saw some of the results, good and bad, and the war ended some 50 years ago. No war is good, and many people die and are wounded, soldier and civilian alike. Perhaps there are good causes, but there must be better solutions to the problems of the world, as everyone is impacted, even now.
I was just an early teen when the Vietnam War was raging and I saw it on black and white TV with the likes of Walter Cronkite and I have heard from some, when sharing my experience last week, from those who were more impacted than others and are still to this day. History is never erased, even if monuments are knocked down, names changed or some other way of altering what has happened. History should teach us not to repeat it, but human beings don’t really heed that advice, because people want to forget events in history that have happened, but much is always out there in front of us, and we can’t run from it. I think Vietnam is succeeding in its re-birth as I saw much in terms of people owning businesses and a sense of freedom, even though it is a socialist country and even though my time here in Cambodia, also a socialist country, simply a blink of an eye, people, with little are making the most of it, so more power to these people living their lives every day to the best of their ability and overall, my guides were excellent in their willingness to answer difficult questions about what happened.
But, but, but this was not to be a blog totally about my experiences and thoughts of the past two weeks, here in Vietnam and Cambodia, but of an event, perhaps, some knew, or thought they knew or with my hints in my previous posts of something very special happening, an event that in my crazy life, never thought would ever happen, but so excited that even at this point in my life is happening, better late than never. So, I hope you read further as this has been a constant theme throughout my posts of the past almost 4 years and was not even looking when I was this really fat guy going from travel event to travel event and this time it happened to be in Rome, called Viva Italia.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, clients, colleagues, friends, acquaintances around the world, and even family, Rosa and I are getting married in the year 2024. As you know, we were engaged last February 19, 2023, (I am sure I mentioned it in a post) in Rome, as she had not been ready when I first proposed on February 19, 2022, in San Francisco, the first time she came to America. She asked if we could have an open engagement, her words, not mine, but she did not say no, so I tried again a year later and in essence, said that I would not take no for an answer, as we had been together for 3 years at that point, although a very crazy 3 years when I proposed again. Also, as you may remember that I met her in Rome, as she was my tour guide on February 19, 2020, at the Borghese Gallery, just before the world shut down due to the pandemic, and I had to escape across the pond back to America, so other than seeing her one more time, before I had to leave and we stayed connected via WhatsApp throughout that 16 months of hell, and when the world was open again, I returned to Europe.
Of course, the fact is that I fell in love with her the minute I met her and even wrote a 4-page poem, expressing our very short time together, in Rome, before I had to leave, which I wrote the day I returned, about the several hours of two days we spent together. If you remember, it was made into a YouTube music video called Rosa di Roma and is still on my YouTube channel Wandering Puffin. I told friends that I was going to marry her someday. I had never believed in love at first sight, but it was for me, love at first sight and even though we were only staying in touch via WhatsApp, it allowed us to get to know each other and yes, we had our little arguments, mostly about food. Never argue with an Italian about food, but I learned, and she learned and my love for her has grown everyday where I never want to be without her. She is always on my mind and never far away even when we are thousands of kilometers away and there is no where else that I want to be accept with her, so in keeping with a tradition of sorts, we are getting married on, you guessed it, February 19, 2024, 4 years to the day, we met. And, not where you may think, although some know. She wanted to be Marilyn Monroe for a day, but she had her heart set on being given away by Elvis, so you can figure it out!!!
Of course, I could write more, but as I have written this blog and the other 149 previous blogs, Rosa has been for the most part, in my writings over the past almost 4 years, everyone knows how I feel. I can’t and never wanted to keep it a secret, even when she did not want me to share. I love her with all my heart and soul. She has made me a better person and truly happy for the first time in my life. She helped me; no, we helped each other weather the storm that was the pandemic, but she was the catalyst for many changes in my lifestyle. Her life and livelihood were totally impacted by the pandemic, as well, but we are both here, stronger than ever and ready to move forward together. I don’t know where I would be if I had not met her and really don’t want to think about that at all, as it is conjecture and not my reality which is moving forward in life with her, keeping things simple and being happy and making her happy. Of course, life will get more complicated, but there is no one I would want to be with except her to weather the storm together.
All I can say is thank you for your support of our crazy little world and our businesses. In some ways, we are merging our fortunes together, but I am a much richer person for her to me in my life. Thank you, Simon and Garfunkel. In others, we are going to be forging new trails and tales and with the processes and powers that exist, we will make it, even with all the paperwork involved as she and I move forward. Of course, your comments are always appreciated.
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Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin