For several years I had been doing the same thing, over and over, I worked and lived in a city, and I spent these years travelling mostly to other cities, with the random jaunt to the country, but I was never far from the hustle and bustle of the city. I suppose I grew deaf to the noise, the sirens, the dull roar of traffic, the constant hum, and not so occasional loud voices of thousands of people. I walked on concrete, tile, and paved paths to the same places, I often said that I could walk to work in my sleep. When I travelled, foreign cities soon became familiar, I would see the same shops on the streets that I would see at home, the people seemed the same, (I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world, and hearing many different languages is an everyday occurrence), their voices blending into the hum of the city or town.
In November 2015, I decided it was time again to travel somewhere I didn’t know a soul. It wasn’t as daring as you may think, it was New Zealand, a very safe country for a woman to travel alone in, and of course they speak English, so no language troubles. But I still felt I needed to spend at least a couple of weeks on my own, and the closest friends I had were a four hour flight away.
I arrived in Aukland very early in the morning, and had to wait to check into my hotel ,so I spent most of my first day roaming the city, which yes, did become a bit similar. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it there, the people there are lovely, very friendly and fun. But the hum of the city was still there.
The following day I travelled to the Tongariro National Park Village where I stayed for a few days. The remainder of that day was spent settling in, and hitting the local pub, (I think it was perhaps the only). The next day I headed out to Whakapapa for the first day of my planned hikes, and it was there that I found my happy place, well, one of them.
It wasn’t long into my walk when I suddenly came to a stop, something felt very odd. I looked around for something, anything that would explain why I was feeling this way, it wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling, just odd, and then I came to the understanding, I was out 0f my comfort zone, and I loved it!
It was the sounds, or lack of so many, as all I could hear was the wind and birdsong, and when I took a few steps, my own footfalls upon the earth. It was then I felt a weight, I wasn’t conscious of carrying, seem to be lifted from my shoulders.
The quiet seemed at first a bit disconcerting, and I felt a slight panic when I realised I was completely alone, but it was the quiet that soon brought the calm.
I still love to people watch, I enjoy the buzz of the city, but I need those moments when I’m as far away from people and the noise they make to keep my sanity, and it’s time to start plotting a break from the din.