The moment I ended up alone in Auckland, I plonked myself down the way I had plonked my heavy backpack the night before. I had reached my final destination on this trip and the best part was that the only time I would have to haul my bag onto my back again would be to go to the airport.
I have made the most of my last few days to catch up on sleep and attempt to make myself a little more presentable. I have watched a lot of crappy TV and dunked chocolate in tea. I have had acupuncture. I have been into town, done some shopping, been to the cinema, and climbed wild and beautiful Rangitoto for amazing vistas of the city. Turns out I do rather like climbing up mountains and volcanos – something to pursue, perhaps. I have met up with an old friend for a lovely catch-up lunch – thanks, Melissa!
I have done the most touristy thing in New Zealand and paid a small fortune for a day trip to Hobbiton. Despite the cost, hordes of horrendous plonker tourists who didn’t even know who bloody wrote The Lord of the Rings, an uncomfortable and long bus journey, and what felt like interminable queuing around the set just to get a shot of each hobbit hole, it was an enjoyable day. The set itself is incredible, with so much attention to detail, and my inner nerd had a great time – particularly when it came to enjoying a steak and ale pie and locally brewed ginger beer at the Green Dragon Inn.
But I have also had a lot of time to think and reflect on the past few months. As James and a few others will be able to confirm, I’ve been a tad emotional of late and, really, I guess it’s no surprise. I’ve reached the end of a big adventure I had planned for a long time and visited places I’d wanted to see for even longer.
I’ve been a bit of a grump, struck by a lot of travellers’ rudeness, self-importance, greed, sense of superiority and entitlement, and lack of respect, empathy or basic manners. On the other hand, I have met some wonderful travellers, gentle, curious, intrepid and interested. I have made friends. I have been welcomed with open arms by locals and, as usual, I have been stunned by people’s kindness, openness and generosity.
I have seen awe-inspiring sites and places, and witnessed moments that will always have a special place in my heart.
I have been humbled by others’ way of life, quality of life and material means.
I have been inspired by how much one can achieve with so little and by an eagerness to learn. I have been embarrassed by our Western greed and disregard for the environment, as well as by our colonial past.
I have learnt valuable lessons, sometimes the hard way, and grown as an individual. I have been brave and conquered fears but I have also had moments where all I wanted was to go home to my personal comforts. I have felt cowardly. I have gone from high to low in record time. But I did it, and that is something no one can ever take away from me.
And so, through the highs and the lows, it is with a heart full of gratitude and a head full of memories that I am making my way back home for some much needed time with my loved ones. Farewell for now!
Love and peace,