Friday, April 24, 2015

Coming to Terms with Coming to an End in Queenstown

We have 15 days until we return to America. 
I'm in shock. 
Our trip, which we busted our humps towards and dreamt about for three years, is coming to an end and soon.

When I think back, I can remember the first day I started counting down for this trip. I was still working until late in the evening to save.We had bought our flights. I was obsessively reading travel blogs and stalking used kindles on Craigslist. 221 days. It seemed an impossibly long way away. I would drown Tom (or anyone with ears) in trip research or stories of places I wanted to go. I was romanticising, dreaming a fantasy future. In planning the trip I was already half way there.

So what happens when you live your dream life?

The reality of full time long term travel is definitely different than my computer screen dreams. There are plenty of moments where I've been sick, tired, cold and straight up miserable. There has been pain, stupid (expensive) mistakes, and regrets. Sleepless nights, bed bugs, culture shock, the rawness of being helpless in the face of rampant poverty and abuse. We have been cheated and yelled at. I have pushed myself to new limits both mentally and physically. There have been horrible lows which often aren't seen in this curated internet version of events.

It isn't all rainbows. Taken in Queenstown, NZ.
The another reality of full time long term travel is that it is all totally worth it. You learn to be more resilient.

It's like my first time scuba diving. The thing with scuba diving is that once you are down at a certain depth, quickly getting to the surface can literally kill you. You must stay underwater and sort out whatever problem you have there. I was terrified. When my ears wouldn't equalize and I started to panic my first instinct was to run away, get out of the water RIGHT now. My instructor saw my panic, and calmly put his hand on my shoulder- I had to face it right there. Running away wasn't an option. The panic subsidised and we safely ascended just half a foot and my ears were better. Allowing my fear to control me could have killed me.

Taken in Queenstown, NZ
We've lived a completely different lifestyle. When you travel with your whole house on your back you are forced to realise how little you need. You are forced to be flexible and choose to see the positive. You are absolutely forced to be strong and brave and recover quick when those things just aren't happening. There's no running back to your own safety net and hiding. You begin to trust yourself out of necessity. 

Taken in Queenstown, NZ
 I sit here in Queenstown, New Zealand a full 525 days later.
Here amongst the mountainous majestic beauty of New Zealand, I think of what has happened in the last 304 days of my life, and I can't imagine what it would be like without these experiences. 

 We were forced to adapt to our new way of being and my adaptations will follow me home.

They are a part of who I am now.

Treasures. Taken in Arrowtown, NZ.
Like having brown eyes, or my middle name being Maria, these experiences are in my marrow.
The friendships and hardships. Late nights and horrifically early mornings. All the way-too-long bus rides spent snoring and drooling on Tom's shoulder (sorry Tom!). The heartbreaking beauty of this world and the 101 things I thought I'd never be brave/smart/tough enough to do. Who'd have ever thought that I could I could live so simply, scuba dive, surf, or go on tough multi-day hike through the cold and rain? It certainly wasn't me.

On the Earnslaw Burn track, NZ
Every future opinion, choice, and friendship will be coloured a little by what happened on day 23, 189, 300 and all the ones in between..

Most of all, I've found such joy in others. I'm still an awkward weirdo who can be kinda shy, but I'm a much more open, vulnerable, confident weirdo because of all the lovely humans who liked me in my most simplest of forms.

Taken in Arrowtown, NZ
  So cheers to all the absolutely soul shaking-ly, kind, wonderful people who not only were so generous with us but helped us when we were lost, or forgave us when said the wrong thing, or let us invade your home, or taught us how to surf, or taught us anything, or shared what cows say in your country, or shared our wine, or made us laugh, or shared a meal, or showed us the beauty of your city, or treated us like family, or really were family, or smiled at us across the street, or gave us the darn time of day, and are about to forgive my misuse use of commas: Thank you.

Everything was 1000 times more beautiful because of you.

Love from Us