The last trip of the year ended today. I crossed the crucial threshold somewhere between the Brazilian rainforest and the Atlantic, blissfully unaware of it as I slept in my airplane seat wrapped in one of those duvets that are designed for people más friolero than me. But, honouring a tradition dating back a whopping one year, these are my proudest moments of 2018.
Uzbekistan’s Premier League.
It wasn’t the most refined game of football I’d ever witnessed. It wasn’t the most awe-inspiring stadium I’d ever set foot into. But to gate-crash Buxoro FC’s home ground ahead of their clash with Pakhtakor Tashkent, to sit with Bukhara’s finest ultras and to celebrate their victory was something I’ll struggle to repeat in 2019.
There was a computer game – for the life of me I cannot remember its name – where you could play some sort of organism, evolving from critter to, well, whatever you wanted. I suppose it mustn’t have been very popular in Alabama or some other place where creationism isn’t treated as the fairy-tale it is, but I digress; I actually wanted to use that game as a reference for my photographic abilities. I think it’s safe to say I started 2018 at the level of an amoeba and, now, I’ve worked my way upwards to that kind of organisms, such as krill, that nature has provided with legs in a place where there’s just water. Still, it’s an improvement and much of it is due to my experiments during a jet-lagged night in Incheon, South Korea.
The only Games that mattered.
This summer everyone looked at Russia where the football World Cup was being hosted. England worked itself into a collective state of priapism thanks to victories on sporting behemoths such as Tunisia, Panama and Colombia; eventually the French took the title home. But little did it matter to me, for the real Games – the World Nomad Games – were the event of this summer. And if you think football is more entertaining than Kok Boru, think again.
There’d be more to say, including the location of my favourite kebab shop – no need to be secretive, it’s Barbar in Beirut – but that’s it for now. It’s been a great year for travelling, but not so much under many other aspects. Crucially, there has been way too much stupidity. At work, in life and in the world in general. If I have to make a wish for 2019, then it’d be for it to be a year where logic prevails and where I’ll be consistently the dumbest person in the room/conversation.
And here is just a tiny sample of what’s about to come shortly.