I very rarely go back, to countries that is. I revisit cities I’ve vacationed in, but never a country I once lived. A part of me has a deep significant fondness for exploration that is stronger than the gratifying tranquility of remembrance. The pull of the undiscovered is a powerful ally for my sense of adventure. Also, I’m afraid. It’s one thing to pass through as a tourist; a temporary disturbance in the daily lives of the locals. But to live in a country, one makes a very conscious decision to create a connection with the land, the culture and the people. It’s a bond that has the ability to transform, and if you are so blessed, elevate. To return and be faced with the realization that cherished memories are make believe constructs of your imagination would be… extremely disappointing. Because of the great uncertainty, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever return to New Zealand. But I did. April 19, 2017 I boarded a plane bound for Auckland. My destination was not Christchurch where I’d lived in 2003, but the North Island. My rational being the North held no ripe expectations to be broken upon my personal disillusion. My first visit to New Zealand was more about discovery. This one, was all about affirmation. So, this is what I observed my second time around in New Zealand.
She is hauntingly beautiful. New Zealand is akin to the woman who grew up unaware of her effect on others. Or pays no mind to such trivial things. She is a wild and rough with a subtle dangerous streak flowing down the length of her spine. Take her nature for granted and she’ll promptly remind you, sometimes at the expense of your life. At a safe distance she transfixes even the most jaded of explorer. She is hard and unforgiving while simultaneously inviting and welcoming. The most captivating of blends. I daresay I love her, deeply, and always will, from a distance.
I’m convinced the lifeblood of the allure of New Zealand is her soul. The connection to it’s powerful history is tangible. Words have power. The original Maori names still in use breathe life into the coastline, plains and mountains. Photos will never do justice, no matter the talent of the photographer. The scenery grabs you by the heart and chants ancient Maori Haka’s so thick it fills your veins. You can’t escape. No matter how far you go, there she will be, eternally reaching out to bring you back to the fold. That is New Zealand.
Perhaps, Kiwis are so welcoming and cordial because they risk the wrath of a great island deity by showing visitors disfavor. Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, boasting a population of close to 2 million inhabitants. Even in neighborhoods where the average housing price is over $1 million NZD, people smile and say hello to strangers. Even black tourist strangers. They made me feel like I… matter. Not many major metropolises can boast such warm and authentic residents. A tourist with a flat tire is the perfect excuse to strike up a conversation. How can you not believe there is some higher power guiding their interaction?
I wonder… if living in indescribable beauty with highly considerate citizens who off handedly make you feel welcome is the reason behind the astronomical prices. For everything. Everything is expensive in New Zealand. Eggs. Clothes. Houses. Water. Water!? It’s a freaking island surrounded by water! it’s shocking. Yet, what would peace of mind fetch on the open market? What would you trade to for a calm spirit? Now, New Zealand isn’t perfect. There is real poverty and social issues the country is attempting to handle. Key word is attempting. They are trying. They are testing out possible solutions and means to empower the disadvantaged. It’s more than I can see for a certain leading Western power.
I can provide a million reasons based on my observations why one should visit New Zealand, maybe even live there. For me, it’s a land full of magic and wonder that constantly calls to me. Possibly that whisper will one day become a siren too great for me to ignore… but today is not that day.