I have been in New Zealand for one week now. And boy – what a week it has been!
First, going back in time really refers to coming back home to Napier. Ever since my first stay here in 2004, this has been my second home. And I am so grateful that I can just fly into Napier, getting picked up from the airport and zoom – I am back with the family. Just like that. Of course, there was a lot to catch up on, but every time I come (and I actually do bother them with visits on a quite frequent basis) it has never been awkward or we have never needed a warm-up phase. I arrive and I am back in the family. Maybe one reason why we get along so well is due to the fact that we like similar things. So my host mum and I got up very early on Saturday morning and she took me down to the beach to watch the sunrise. (Yes, I do not only love sunsets, I also love sunrises.) Absolutely beautiful and peaceful. Who can actually see such a spectacular sunrise above the sea? And even say that you are amongst the first to see the first light of the day?
Wandering through Taradale and Napier a lot is still familiar, however, with a few changes here and there. I guess I am most amazed by how much my host sisters/brother have developed. They are all wonderful people, doing amazing things and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Who would have thought 11 years ago that we would still be in touch? And just being able to say “11 years ago” makes me realize 1) I am old and 2) we have actually made it quite far.
Second, going back in time has also to be taken literally – at least over the past weekend! It was Art Deco Weekend in Napier and it was absolutely fantastic. We had the most gorgeous weather and it was basically a big street party for young and old, families, locals and visitors (of course, I consider myself as half-local by now).
Everyone gets dressed up (and man, some Kiwis are pretty serious about it – amazing costumes), heaps of vintage cars, live music on the streets, aircraft display and show over Marine Parade and of course, as it was nice and warm we also had ice-cream and frozen yoghurt. Besides my Hokey Pokey ice-cream the teapot cocktails (yes, cocktails served in a teapot – felt so British) were pretty amazing.
Another highlight of this first week (I know – another one?) was the flight in a Tiger Moth inspired by my host dad. It is okay if you don’t know what type of plane that is – I had no idea either before I went to the airport. But I can tell you, it was an amazing flight! Clear blue sky flying over Hawkes Bay. Luckily, I love flying and I am not afraid of heights. Because flying in a Tiger Moth build about 80 years ago you can feel every little gust. I guess I was more scared about actually getting into the plane as you sort of have to climb up via the wing. But I made it and Paddy took me on a stunning flight.
A very good start and welcome to my journey. I only fear that it will be very hard to top that – but if this is my only worry I can clearly say it was a good decision to come back home.
Unfortunately (or maybe not, because I guess there is much more to explore), I will leave Napier quite soon and head up north to Auckland. This will be a change. Big city – busy, loads of people, and it is hilly! It will also be a change as I won’t be in my comfort zone staying with my host family. I know I have done this before. Yet, it doesn’t mean it gets easier. It just means that I should be used to it by now – which I am clearly not. But every now and then I need to push myself to step out of that comfort zone and actually embrace the unknown and insecurity. Because sometimes when you put yourself out there you will be amazed by what you experience and whom you meet.