But much of the lag comes from just trying to process everything that we did and to reconcile it with our lives here. I hesitate to say the trip was life changing--because it is so clear now that we can't change so many things--but maybe more life CONFIRMING---confirming that you can live a wonderful, low impact, non materialistic life and be totally happy. If you're living in NZ that is.
Part of the reason the trip as a whole was so much fun was because of the people. We met so many interesting people, genuine people, people who are highly accepting of quirkiness. This was our raft--on the left is Matt, our guide, then two Americans who live in Australia and play lacrosse sort of semi professionally, then me and Tim, then a couple Brian and Miriam from The Netherlands. Miriam and I bonded in the changing room when I said "I"m kind of scared" and she said "me too." Brian pulled me back in the raft (he was the only one who stayed in..Tim almost did).
Everywhere we went we had experiences that were so different than here and met amazing new people. The thermal areas in Rotorua were where some of "LOTR" was filmed, and looked prehistoric, even though many of them were formed in the late 19th century. Visiting the Maori village could have been touristy-cheesy, but as we learned more of the history of the Maoris and how the blending of Maori-Anglo culture happened with minimal bloodshed and great cooperation I was inspired and impressed. Auckland is a major city that is clean as a whistle. The Bay of Islands looked a bit like the Oregon coast, with secrets around every corner.
The people. Wow. There's a Maori saying:
He aha te mea nui?
What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.
So many great people--the people at AUT who hosted the conference (yes, I was there for 'work), the lovely cabdriver from the airport in Auckland who thought we overpaid and called the hotel to discuss that with us, our Maori bus driver, Dennis, who drove around a roundabout three times while leading the bus in the singing of 'She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain", the two lovely ladies knitting in the Anglican Church in Rotorua who told us some great stories about the church, the friendly people at the coffee shop where we had breakfast every day, our new friends Inge and Edi who run the B&B we stayed at in the Bay of Islands, and the new friends from the B&B--Angela who does knitting specs for a design firm in Auckland and her partner Kim, Alex and Betty from Wellington, the Canadians and Aussies who shared the breakfast table with us...such nice and interesting people.
Kiwis (New Zealanders) seemed appreciative that we chose to visit their home and interested in where we were traveling. We were often greeted with "Kia Ora", maori for 'welcome' (and goodbye, and thanks, and whatever). Every shop person and server was just welcoming and friendly.
I developed a love of Ginger Beer, Tim developed an affection for the All Blacks (the NZ national rugby team..I like them too), we learned to appreciate/understand roundabouts, and Tim drove on the left hand side of the road like a champ. We tried a lot of new things and enjoyed every minute of the action packed trip. We learned so much and came away with a great appreciation for NZ. We want to go back. I didn't want to come home, which is the first time I've felt that way in a long, long time.