Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Surreal return to Prague

Just came back from town. A short stroll through Prague filled me with really unusual sensations. Have you ever felt like a tourist in your own home?

Two days ago, the daily reality I was used to was buying groceries in New World or Countdown, cycling through vineyard country and discussing topics such as North Island versus South Island, the earthquake, how the All Blacks beat them Ozzies or how bad the State Highway 1 is (that's actually a very popular topic even in the Czech Republic, even though it's D1 instead of SH1). Less than 48 hours later, with nothing but a long sleepless flight in between, I'm in Prague, surrounded by people who have never heard about the All Blacks, who are oblivious of Motueka, Blenheim, Queenstown or Christchurch, and who live in a completely different daily reality.

A bit like Alice in Wonderland, or like a freshwater fish that swims happily in a mountain stream, then blinks and finds itself in the middle of a tropical ocean (and yes, it's a fish with eyelids). It's really strange, especially considering that I'm in the city where I spent most of my life.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A few quick words from Sydney Airport

on the plane, as we finally took off from chch, it dawned on me for the umpteenth time that i'm really leaving, that my nz holiday really is over and there's no coming back. shit that was sad. it's funny how the same place can give so different impressions. when i flew to new zealand, every stop - dubai, bangcock and sydney were all new, interesing, and sydney was a nostalgic return to a city i really like. now, on the short stop flying from nz, sydney couldn't feel more different. unsmiling grumpy security people and shop people, everyone string and looking for anything suspicous... just not nice. absolutely nothing like the casual chat with the christchurch security guy who scanned me and at the same time was keen on small talk and happy to hear i liked nz and want to return.

Things I'm gonna miss about New Zealand

For the last 12 months NZ has been my reality, my everyday world, my home. Despite some tough moments, I never thought about leaving, about being fed up with the place, about not liking it. London is where these feelings were always present.

Of course there are new, equally interesting adventures ahead, but leaving a country where I really felt at home, happy and relaxed as I never did before, is still sad. I never had any regrets leaving other countries, including my own, until now. NZ's given me an unforgettable experience, really.

Unforgettable and highly eventful. There are so many new things I did and tried, even though it'd never even cross my mind if it were somewhere else. Some of them are rather trivial, but some others... Here's a few that come to mind...

Farewell New Zealand

My time in New Zealand is up, time to leave. It's been a great year, an amazing adventure and an unforgettable experience, but like all good things, it eventually came to an end. I do have new things and plans to look forward to, but leaving this country still makes me sad.

For the past two months my mind was torn between two equally attractive options, I changed my decision hundreds of times, weighed pros and cons of both options time and again, and every time I thought I had made a final decision, the other possibility popped up in my head again, with new arguments to consider.

Although the reasoning part of me was for leaving, the emotional one tried really hard to make me stay, and over time it was starting to win. The strongest argument for leaving, except for the approaching winter, e.g. short days and freezing mornings, was that my mum would probably kill me if I told her, with only a few weeks' notice, that I changed my mind and wouldn't be coming home. She'd probably fly to NZ and drag me home by the ear. In the end, though, even these two barriers didn't stop me from making a final, definitive decision.

During a bike ride through a beautifully sunlit autumn valley, I realized that I don't care about reasoning and arguments, I just want to stay and that's it. However, by the time this last-minute decision to change plans clicked in, it was too late. Applying for a visa extension means parting with one's passport for a couple of weeks (it must be sent to the immigration bureau), and that would mean that I'd miss the holiday in Tonga with my best friend (which was a huge push for my decision) and in the unlikely event that the visa extension would be declined, I'd have missed my return trip to Europe, too, so I'd be triple fucked - no holiday, no visa, and no ticket home. Too risky for my taste.

So here I am, in Christchurch, writing my last post before heading to the airport. Thank you New Zealand for this amazing year and I look forward to seeing you again!