As regular readers of NightHawk will know, Vee and I are enthusiastic travellers around the world. However, in recent years especially, we have had a habit of visiting places which, just before or just after our time there, exhibit troublesome events of either a meteorological or political nature. What do I mean?
- In June 2001, we went to Bolivia [my account here]. In Sucre, we ‘lost’ our flight to La Paz because the airport was closed by fog, so the group rented an old coach, only to find that we could not get out of the city for hours because farmers were mounting a political protest and had blocked the roads with boulders. By the time we were able to depart Sucre, most of our journey to La Paz had to be in the middle of the night when the temperatures at that very elevated altitude were truly bitter in the coldest June on record.
- In March 2008, we went to Cuba [my account here]. A few weeks before our visit, Fidel Castro had to step down from the leadership of the country due to ill health. All the time we were there, people were expecting his successor, his slightly younger brother, Raúl Castro, to announce sweeping economic and political reforms. In fact, reforms came later than anticipated and have been less dramatic than hoped.
- In November 2009, we went to Iran [my account here]. A few months before our visit, the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked off massive street demonstrations classed as the ‘Green Movement’. Some demonstrations – and the repression of them – were still happening when we were there months later and we managed to make contact with a Green activist, whom I had met online, and we had dialogue and dinner at his home.
- In March 2011, we went to Syria [my account here]. In between booking the holiday and making the trip, the ‘Arab spring’ revolutions took pace in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt – nobody had warned us of this eventuality. While we were actually in Syria, things were eerily quiet. A mere week or so after we left, the demonstrations and killings started, leading inexorably to a full-scale civil war with enormous death, destruction and displacement.
- In May & June 2012, we went to Washington DC and New York City [my account here]. Four months later, Hurricane Sandy savaged the north-east of the United States with major power outages and significant flooding.
So, you might ask, where are the Darlingtons going next and what on earth could happen there? I’m glad you asked. We are off to Australia in a couple of months. As you may have noticed, the whole country is currently experiencing record temperatures of up to 40C and above and uncontrollable bush fires in lots and lots of locations.
Ah well, travelling outside Europe is often a challenge.