A bit unexpectedly, it has to be said, I find myself back in my hometown in Ireland. Initially, it was with very mixed feelings that I made the journey home, but after a lot of soul searching and mental grappling, I decided that it was what I needed to do. Now, two weeks later, I am starting to adjust to being here again, and it feels good to be back. I love Ireland and the warmth of its people, and I will soak it up for as long as I am here.
So, what happened?? Primarily, my brother Brian is soon to head off on his own travels for probably 1-2 years. Having been away for 18 months already myself, I wanted to come home and spend some time with him before he goes. That, coupled with the fact that I just had enough of Auckland and not wanting to get into too much debt to travel in Asia, swung the compass needle in the direction of home, and I made a snap decision to reroute my Asia flights. Once I had bitten the bullet, I couldnt wait to see everyone and chose to fly flat out with no stopovers to Dublin.
Needless to say, that was a BEAST of a journey. I had a 10hr layover at Sydney which was a bit bizarre due to the fact that once you are a transiting passenger, there is absolutely no way for you to get outside the airport for fresh air!! You are TRAPPED! So I wandered around the transit lounge and shops like a zombie for most of that time. My British Airways flight to Bangkok left Sydney in the late afternoon. A few hours later, as we flew over the Northern Territory towards Sumatra, I looked down over an expanse of blackness. All that could be seen were occasional bright red worm-like lines in the dark that glowed like lava. I stared at them for a long time trying to figure out what they could be, feeling sure that there were no volcanos in Australia. It eventually occurred to me that what I might have been looking at were coral reefs glowing in the dark. Whatever they were, it was an incredibly beautiful sight from high in the air.
We had to disembark at Bangkok for about an hour, at which point I had got second wind from somwhere. I changed my clothes and washed in the airport, feeling a bit less grotty. Bangkok airport is like something out of a sci-fi movie. Bird music is piped through the building, giving it an eery feeling. The heat, even in the airconditioned buildings, was suffocating having come from a wintery NZ. Lots of new bronzed young backpackers boarded our flight, obviously on their way home from seeing Asia. Looking at them, I realized that, as much as I want to travel there, right then and there I was glad to be going home for a while.
I got into my PJs (and was greeted by some odd looks) for this leg of the journey. I got as cosy as you can in economy class and just watched movies until I eventually konked out. I woke up a few hrs later with a stiff neck, which I forgot about immediately upon raising the shutter on my window. The sun was just beginning to rise and the horizon was an indescribale mix of inky blue and glowing red with flashes of yellow. My camera, unfortunately, was packed away and unreachable. Below us lay the brown endlessdeserts of Afghanistan. Home still felt a long way away.
We arrived late into London and it was a bit of a scramble to get through the long lines at security and rush to the gate for my connecting flight to Dublin. The weather in Heathrow was sunny and warm, and I was glad to be arriving home in the middle of the summer. Upon landing in Dubiln though, we were met with low grey clouds and rain splashing off the tarmac. WHAT ELSE IN NEW!!I really coulnd't have cared at that point though, and all I cared about was seeing Brian who I knew was waiting in the Arrivals Hall for me.
After the initial high of seeing him and exchanging hellos, we headed into Dublin City to O'Donoghue's pub on the Green to meet a friend for lunch. A group of musicians were playing live trad and, even though the rain was hopping off the cobblestones, I had a warm feeling all over to be back. A few toasted specials and pints of Guinness later, we were back on the road to Limerick.I hadnt told my parents I was coming back, so I was met with stunned silence by both of them. LOL. I managed to stay up as late as possible to try and get my body used to the time change. I didnt surface for almost 36 hrs though, and I was disorientated until the end of last week, waking at 4 in the morning.
It's strange being back after being gone for a year and a half. At first glances, things dont seem to have changed much, but there are telltale signs of the progress the country has made in the time I have been gone. For the first few days, I felt out of place and quite low. As the days passed, however, I am being re-assimilated into my old way of life here. It's comforting because I know now what my plans are for the foreseeable future. Asia is certainly still very much on the cards, and I'm considering a move to London for further study. Trying to coordinate and fund it all is the challenge, but one I welcome. Life is full of exciting choices right now, and where better to be for the time being than back at home with friends and family while I'm dreaming up the next chapters!