It seems it is more difficult to write about the end of something than the beginning of something. It's been months since I returned from Australia and New Zealand, but somehow, I never managed to sum up my experience, or even the end of my traveling.
Where I last left off, I still had two and a half weeks remaining with students, where we explored Auckland and points north, including the Bay of Islands. What was most wonderful about this time was all the walking we did out of doors in beautiful forests. Even when the air was crisp, the walks were energizing.
I pulled invasive weeds from sandy New Zealand soil with the sound of the ocean in the distance. I spent my 26th birthday on a family-run farm at our Marae homestay with a Maori family, a place where we were all welcomed and made instantly to feel at home. I planted trees on reclaimed land, pushing seedlings into the ground just as I did in Australia. I collected more birds on my New Zealand list as the days went by. I wrote more about this time with students here.
After a long weekend in Auckland, including a visit to Tiri Tiri Matangi, a reforested island and bird sanctuary I visited in 2009, we all got on a plane to return to the Tablelands. My last weeks there were busy and hectic as I tried to fit in everything I wanted to see for the last time as well as squeeze a semester's worth of adventure into two weeks for the students. It's a blur now, maybe because it's so difficult to think about saying goodbye to the place that had become home to me. There was a final trip to Daintree and a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, but much of the rest escapes me now. When I booked my flight to go home, I thought I would be ready and eager to return to the States. Of course, I wasn't ready. I didn't want to leave. And for the past six months, I've wanted to return. I hope to, one day. The transition to life at home has been long and challenging, and even though new adventures and joys have come my way, I still daydream about my rainforest home. I hope that more writing comes out of these memories and dreams.
In addition to my writing on this blog (which is lacking, I know), I was also writing about my experiences in Australia and New Zealand on The Ecotone Exchange. My entries are linked below:
Planting Trees is a TREAT - September 2014
Every Path Leads Homeward - July 2014
Boundary Stream Scenic Reserve - July 2014
Australia's Spiny Anteater - May 2014
Cruising down the Daintree River - April 2014
Food for Frogs - February 2014
Bool Lagoon, South Australia - January 2014
Yidinji Country - November 2013