“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary
Our journey began here – yesterday and ten years ago. Having spent three years studying theology and philosophy, I naturally spent a further four years training as an accountant. Qualification under my belt, I elected to leave the big smoke far behind me. I travelled Asia for a month and a half, visiting family and enjoying epic adventures with my sister, who has no equal on land or sea. I then hopped over to America and drove the West Coast, top down and volume up, freedom flying through my hair again and scratching the itch under my skin. Then, finally, I made it back to the land that first sang to my soul. Just in time for the start of the rugby world cup 2011.
No amount of mediocre performance from England could dull the joy of being back here, nor the happiness at finding the country much as I’d left it all those years ago. I felt like it had been frozen in time, untouched, just waiting for me to return. I delighted in taking my travelling companions back to old haunts, including, of course, Aoraki Mt Cook. I went twice during that world cup, in between matches, taking the different friends I was with just to witness them soak it in while we tramped about together. I marvelled all over again, treading the track to Kea Point each trip and breathing the wonder of the snowy mountain scenery. September and October saw flakes in the air and a bite in the wind. Dramatic to say the least.
Also dramatic was witnessing the All Blacks take it home at Eden Park and win the world cup – just epic. I was pretty sure this was where I wanted to be. But I’d started this madcap mission after a secondment to work in Australia fell through – so to Australia I went. I loved Sydney. I unashamedly followed the beaten path and moved to the beach. The Northern Beaches deserve a series of posts unto themselves. Two things of moment happened there in the first 2 weeks – I nearly died from anaphylaxis and I met my partner in crime, who’s been a part of my adventures ever since (watch this space for a blog post titled Life of Cai).
Much as I loved Sydney and becoming Tom Cruise in Cocktail, shimmying Boston shakers on the beach, I still itched. It wasn’t just wanderlust- somewhere else was calling me to call it home, and I knew where it was.
January of 2012, my mother chose to join my cousin on a trip to New Zealand for her sixtieth birthday and I flew from Sydney to join them. I jumped in a car as soon as I landed, driving through the night to reach Queenstown, where I now call home. We had less than a week, but I wanted to show Mum the best of New Zealand and try and communicate just why I was wandering – why I was out here. Our road trip took us to Marlborough… via Mt Cook. We walked to Kea Point. In the rain. Myself in flip flops (/jandals – and yes, after several trips there, I should have known better). Mum loved it despite the lack of view. The scenery was still as seductive as ever.
I went back to Sydney and picked up my beach life. But it seemed a little pale compared to the mountains and lakes I’d been loving the week before. I agreed to meet a friend back in New Zealand for the snow season, and I decided I’d stay. But first, there was an Ozzie road trip and, of course, Bella…
Have you ever felt a call to a particular place? Known where you belonged? Travelled far just for a particular feeling? Stand by for part three tomorrow – I seem to have a lot to say (here’s the ending) 🙂