I went on my first voluntary (the other time was compulsory and in high school and I tried to take the hair straightener with me) hike that requires a pack recently and discovered I am a lot slower than I thought but maybe also a little bit more capable than I thought.
On the boat from Te Anau to Glade Wharf
It was an incredible four days spent exploring the renowned Milford track with a wonderfully lively, lovely, encouraging, funny group of guys and gals.
The third day was undoubtedly the hardest and certainly felt like the longest as we got some unexpected snow. My perpetually inefficient body couldn’t decide whether it was hot or cold so took it in turns to overheat and shiver. The group was really patient with my steadily decreasing pace which I was eternally grateful for, and although I had my camera on me for a lot of the day my hands were beyond the ability to even open the jacket zip, let alone grab the camera from the dry bag. So unfortunately, I have no photos of the the third day after we left the hut. But just the memory of making the climb up to Mackinnon Pass with the snow still falling brings back the same shivery but excited smile I wore for a large part of that day (while also huffing and puffing and struggling my way to the top).
The never ending supply of paths formed by rocks and roots, sunlight filtering through the canopy, and ferns fed a selective yet cavernous appetite for forest dwelling fantasies that started from a young age. Surprisingly, there were too many waterfalls and streams even for my waterfall and stream obsessed brain to fully comprehend.
The final day was filled with many picture perfect little waterfalls like this one, young me and current me were united in gleeful celebration. All of this to say, a) the Milford track is incredible- go do it if you have the opportunity b) do the things you are scared of trying , or want to try but have put off for whatever reason because it can be an incredibly rewarding experience- even if you find out in the shower after 4 days of wet wipes and layering on deodorant that you are covered in irritating sandfly bites that are somehow slowly activating in hot water.
I never get tired of this; the in between seasons.
Already starting to feel a tinge of something funny as the blossoms start to fade, while the green of new life starts to peek through. Already waiting for the golden leaves to fall, next set of blossoms to bloom- always looking ahead and behind and sometimes in rare moments of clarity- looking right at where I am now.
Everything looks different when the sun is up, and my first time visiting Monavale gardens during daylight hours reminded me just how significant that difference can be.
I’m not always the best at sorting through my emotions, so I’ve put off this post for as long as possible. The last few weeks of my OE in Denmark were bittersweet to say the least. It’s a classic contradiction- torn between your newly acquired love affair with this place and a yearning for home.
There is a feeling of happiness that you get to relieve the intense homesickness you’ve been experiencing but there is also a deep dullness that starts to form in your heart as time ticks by a little faster with each passing day. The classmates who you’ve come to love start breaking down at farewell gatherings; now every moment I would have taken for granted over the last few months becomes significant as I slowly start to realize that we can never get back these moments again.
I left Denmark for a week to go travelling before I actually headed home, and this feeling hit once again when I got on the bus that would take me away from the city that had in many ways become my home. Some of my friends came to say goodbye, and they waited at the bus stop till I was on my way. I waved through the tinted glass knowing they couldn’t see me, and they waved from outside not knowing whether I could see them. I teared up and it was one of the very few times that I did. I couldn’t escape any longer from the inevitable goodbyes, because it was happening right then and I had to face it.
I always joked about coming back ‘super cultured’ from my OE, but the truth is I do feel different. Maybe it’s not in the same ways I joked about, but in the ways I view myself and friendships, and the world around me. I was overwhelmingly happy to finally get back home that I felt like I immediately reverted back to my old self in some inexplicable way. But the truth is I am not that girl anymore, but I am. I feel different and I can barely understand it from inside the bus, so how can I help anyone else understand it looking through tinted glass.