Reflections of a year well lived

6 months after returning from South America in September last year, I am surprised that I am now writing from Cambridge in England …  just when I thought I had it all worked out, everything changed!

I kept meaning to sum up my South American trip … it really was a trip of a life time (although for me, I hope not once in a life time).  I certainly got around …   

  •  21 flights
  • 20 intercity buses
  • 5 days on a boat (and 14 other shorter boat journeys)!

But I guess that is the modern world live in where transportation from one place to another, even the most remote of places is possible.

I did 12 incredible dives in the Galapagos islands surrounded by Hammerhead Sharks and turtles. I snorkelled with Galapagos penguins, sealions and dolphins.  I tubed down a river in the Amazon jungle watching monkeys swinging in the branches above, I played paintball in one of Pablo Escobar’s mansions.  I trekked high in the Andes and explored otherworldly salt flats … honestly just too many incredible moments to express them all here.

I challenged myself physical with a 5-day hike in the Colombian jungle to Ciudad Perdida and a 4-day hike in the Andes on the spectacular Inca Trial to Machu Picchu.   

I challenged myself mentally by spending 4 weeks doing intensive Spanish lessons and I can safely say, I am the closest I have ever been to speaking a second language (though to be honest that is not saying much!)

I overcame fears by sailing from Colombia to Panama and hiking the Inca Trail (its hard to put in to words just how scared I was of doing this hike and how much I actually loved the entire experience.)

And … then it was all over and I was back home.  For those of us ‘tainted’ with the passion for travel or wanderlust, coming home is always bittersweet.  It is wonderful to see family and catch up with friends, but the familiar almost seems unfamiliar. 

It wasn’t long until part of me was itching to be back on the road again.  Just a few days back and it was straight back to work – the same job at the same desk …I was incredibly lucky to get this opportunity again, but it did make the feeling that I had never been away that much stronger 😬

I am driven by the need to always be on the search for somewhere new to go and new things to see but oddly I don’t often take full advantage of the wonderful country I call home.  Weekends when I am working the 9-5 seem to be all about relaxing, not having the pressure of having to travel, or to be anywhere at any particular time.  Though I guess that is often true, you put off doing things close at hand as you think you can always do that another time – why is that??

Just when I thought I had 2019 mapped out, a curve ball was thrown and I was offered a job in the UK, just north of Cambridge and after much deliberation I decided to accept … so the countdown was on again.

To make the most of my remaining time in New Zealand I planned a couple of road trips to enjoy time with family and the beautiful New Zealand summer, revisiting places I have not been since I was a child.

The first stop was New Year’s camping on the West Coast.  The long warm summer nights, the smell of beach fires and toasting Marshmallows, the sounds of crashing waves and bird song … this to me is perfect.  

It brought back happy childhood memories of campground life, weka roaming around the campground (weka are endemic flightless birds and a member of the ratite family – they have a tendency to prowl around and a penchant for stealing anything you leave lying around outside), native tuis and bellbirds singing in the trees in the campground.

We spent the days hiking in the beautiful fern filled bush, exploring caves filled with 1000’s of glow worms and tubing down rivers and the evening watching the sunset and the stars come out …. oh so many stars. 

A few weeks later and we drove 6 hours south to Wanaka, in the winter a hub for skiers and lovers of winter sports and in the summer a haven for boaties.  Here we spent a lovely couple of days with my brother and his family … out on the boat, exploring the small beaches around the lake, just a typical New Zealand summer.

Both these trips were real reminders of what a spectacular place I am lucky enough to call home.

But soon enough it was time to pack my bags and head of again …

Europe here I come.

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