You may not have spent a lot of attention to our blog in the past ten months. I don’t really blame you. Coming back to Europe was a bit of a shock and we kind of left the blog where we had returned from: in Costa Rica. After a sabbatical year such as the one we had, one needs to get used to the old life again. At least, that is what one reads about sabbatical years. Like, okay it was fun, now back to reality again.
Here is the thing though. Sabbaticals, and at least our sabbatical, was also meant to step back a bit from the reality we left in Europe, reflect on life, and perhaps draw some conclusions. After we returned, three things in particular kept itching me.
The climate itch
One thing was the climate in Southern Sweden. I, and Cristina too, had had enough of it. In spite of climate change, it is simply too cold and grey too many months of the year. I am not built for it. It must be the few Indonesian genes that I carry around. Since we were back, there was yet another demonstration. Temperatures were just above zero when we arrived in mid April. It took until the beginning of June before it finally got to about 20 degrees. At mid day. Mornings were more like 10 to 15 degrees. Boy, was I tired of not feeling comfortable in our own apartment, of having cold fingers and toes even indoors for nine months per year. It was time to move South.
The forest calls
The second thing that kept itching me was the lack of decent nature in our direct surroundings in Lund. We had noticed that before, of course, but for me something had changed in Costa Rica. I had noticed how much I loved walking through the tropical forest and nature in general. It made me feel at ease and in the right place. It was only when we were back in Europe when I realized how much so. Just looking at the forest pictures brought me to tears. Okay, that is exaggerating a bit, but it did make me emotional and I thought it was weird. I had never had that before. Before the sabbatical I had seen plenty of pictures and documentaries of tropical forest. But no tears. When I told a colleague who knew about living in the tropics, she told me it is actually not that weird. It happens. Maybe so, but to me it was a sign that something had to change. If we would not at all have managed to move South, we would at least have moved out of Lund and into a decent forest.
Saving the planet
The third thing that kept itching me is that my job did not feel like the one thing to do with the rest of my working life anymore. The world is on fire and people and nature are suffering a lot too much. Since around 2015 (no coincidence that it was the Paris agreement year), I had been thinking about what the one single thing is that I could contribute. I had some hobby projects going on about, but none of that lead to something substantial, fitting and doable. During the first project in Costa Rica, the obvious finally became visible to me. It was a small-step-for-humanity,-big-step-for-me kind of thing. My friends and family had seen it coming, probably. Since I love developing databases and creating things that people use, that is how I want to help saving the planet: develop databases for sustainability and nature conservation.
Flip life in a different direction
After returning to Europe, it did not take long for Cristina and me to make some resolutions for the remainder of 2021. Things needed to change. From the start, it was not too obvious where we would end up moving to. Costa Rica was an outstanding option, but Southern Europe would be a good choice as well, and we also considered Southern Africa.
Also, it was not too obvious either how we would change our working life. We did not necessarily want to completely quit our jobs. Speaking for myself, I was having a good time with the SWINNO project, and I did not see why I should abandon it. Unfortunately, it turned out that after the 2020 Covid experiences, Lund University’s human resources department was on a crusade against employees working at the university but living outside Sweden. That was a serious setback. However, I work for a living and not the other way around, and because I now am on a mission, it was not going to stop me.
After making the resolutions, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. We had had a very, but very busy ten months before, a week ago, we eventually could step on a plane to Costa Rica. I guess, we may write about those ten months and our deliberations. Which brings me to the second part of this post’s title.
Flip the blog
So, what about the blog? When you read this, I mean when you read this in February 2022, you probably have noticed that we started blogging again. The blog’s title remains the same, but it will not be a blog about a sabbatical year anymore. Instead it will be about our new life, “theflipflop life”.