Dear New Zealand.
It’s been a long time. An eternity in relation to my still so young life. 456 days, a year and a quarter of experiences imprinted on my young soul. You have left scars on me from battles and upheaval, dirt from filthy jobs, blisters from long walks and rides, tears from goodbyes. You showed me the way through darkest times is Together. You taught me to face harsh realities, because not even You are unspoilt paradise.
But most of all, you leave a smile of my face from finding bliss in You so many times. Bliss that warms my heart when I think of the months spent in the mountains, of journeys through this wondrous land, the shores and streams, the hills and peaks and trails. Epic moments of discovery and flow.
I smile because no matter how many times I cursed You, it was the craziest time of my life, travelling, living and learning. With very special people by my side, if only for short, and an irreplaceable travel mate who helped me live my dreams.
Even though I have to leave for now, I’ll still be there. A piece of me remains in my home #5 and sure as the stars above in the southern sky, I’ll be back.
456 days, that was it. Long days, hot days, hard days, epic days. The memories are whirling in my head, blown all over by the headwind of departing. How to leave a country, three islands that have become so familiar, so much like home, how to even go on after all. My majestic, moody backyard. All the trails walked, ridden, explored. So huge yet so tiny and distant in this big world. For all the times I’ve cursed this country, now to only love it more intensely for the memories.
This is the mountains I fell in love with, the desert I first explored on knobby tires, the highways discovered with the first own car and travel mate. The end of an era leaves more than a hole, a caldera.
I remember how I first arrived, awestruck to be finally exploring these hills and coastlines of my dreams and postcards on the wall at home. Then, that incredible jolt of moving earth and the solidarity and friendships it created while aftershocks persisted. Even more, the home I found in Oamaru with a community that I’d always wished for. To leave no longer alone, but with travelmate for two amazing journeys by bike – trips as good as they get – as well as the worst jobs, boring, terrible, muddy. All the way up north, to the Cape, and back down to the Southern Ocean, with serious mountain time in between. Lots of riding that bike, some surfing, little trips around and even acceptable jobs. The big December trip to the edge of the bottom of the world and finally an encore in the heartland, Central Otago.
All the things I used to know are to be erased, rewritten by the destinations to come. Australia, to acclimatize. Bali for starters to get into Asia. And finally Taiwan, the big Perhaps. Perhaps I won’t even find my train? Despair when scavenging for food? Perhaps catching the best waves of my life and be amazed by such a different culture? I cannot know till I go. Time carries, kicks me forward towards unknown shores.
Next: Crossing into newland in the Third Ocean. Bali.
PS: For the other point of view, here‘s Daniel’s summary of that year we travelled together for the most part.