Earlier this afternoon,some of our class was keen to ride the cable cars to the top of a local mountain here in Wellington. Hungry, and dreading the 12+ hour trek home, I opted for the only place in New Zealand where a man can eat for less than $10. McDonalds isn't the healthiest option, but the burger was fine, and the view of the city below was not unwelcome.
Strange to think that the trip is winding down already. In fact, just this morning two members of our group left for an extension of their travel abroad, off to destinations in Australia. One other member of the class left for Laramie yesterday.
Soon, the rest of us will board a plane here in Wellington for a brief jaunt to Auckland, where we'll connect to LAX and eventually to Denver, and to home.
I suppose with every trip there's a bit of wistfulness for the memories made. Over a year ago, when my family and I left New Zealand for Oklahoma, I wasn't sure that I would ever return. And yet, just over a year later, here I am with a fresh set of experiences that were only enhanced by the students and my colleague on the trip.
It's a bit cliché, but like to think that farewell isn't good bye. If the relationships developed here are any indication, a visit to New Zealand or hosting visitors from New Zealand in the near future isn't only possible but perhaps quite likely. International travel, something that was once quite alien to my life experience, now seems to be a part of the natural order of things. Sometimes it's a lot for this kid from Cotton County, OK to absorb.
At any rate, I'm quite pleased to be leaving for home. I have a wife and son that I've missed very much, and plenty of Call of Duty left to play now that classes are over - not to mention the academic research and writing that I need to do as well.
But in the meantime, I'll keep a special place in my heart for Aotearoa - the land where my son learned to walk, and the first place our newly minted family called home.
Until next time, farewell, Friends.