Not leaving New Zealand on a plane there never was

Christchurch, New Zealand and the sky: another chapter in my book of unfortunate happenings

It’s my last day in Christchurch, in New Zealand. Who knows if I’ll ever be back this side of the world? Who knows when I will be able to travel with just a backpack on my back again? I’m nervous and excited about going home, seeing the people I love, sleeping in a bed I can call my own, eating rye bread. Rather than being in the present and enjoy my last day, I’m thinking about all these things.

We walk around town aimlessly for a few hours, stopping by the 185 empty chairs which serves as a memorial for the lives lost in the 2011 earthquake.

We go to reSTART and I eat a shit ton of disappointing foods as an early lunch and could totally go for a nap immediately after.

We take a slightly different route home, and end up outside the Canterbury Museum. We learn that it’s free and decide to waste a few enjoyable hours in there. We have time for one last drink at Speight’s before my 4 o’clock airport shuttle, so we sit down and sip on our drinks, kind of not wanting this to end, this being the drink, the travelling, the hanging out. As the clock strikes 3, I decide to check my flight status on the airport’s website, and that is when my situation changes drastically.

The $1000 flight I booked back in January turns out to no longer exist. It just doesn’t show up anywhere. I sit there, in disbelief, not sure what to do. I double, triple check the date on the e-Ticket. I look for any emails from the company I booked through to see if I missed any cancellation notices. I check on the airline’s website. The flight simply doesn’t exist. I start crying, still at the bar, trying to call my family, who’s asleep at 5 in the morning their time while looking up flights on Skyscanner for the next few days. All flights are extremely expensive, given that it’s last minute, but if you’re a longtime reader, you know I have had a lot of experience with this. You can refresh your memory by reading about when I missed my flight to Cambodia on Friday the 13th and when they cancelled my flight out of Bali at the last minute. Craig keeps his cool and throws me, all my things and himself in an Uber and gets me to the airport while I book the cheapest flight (which of course departs an hour and a half earlier and is $1500) and get a call back from my parents. I am sobbing in the Uber and the driver passes me some napkins and I can barely get a word out while talking to my dad, and my hands are shaking as I rushingly enter my payment details on the airline’s website. We get to the airport, then the check-in counter and then I can finally breathe again. We go to an airport bar, which is a first for me, but I owe Craig a drink for his help, and I need one because I am livid, sad, stressed, anxious, hopeless and broke. It takes everything in me to be less of a bummer while Craig and I have our last drink and our last talk, but I really appreciate that he didn’t let me do this all alone. It’s not the happy goodbye I had hoped for, but it’s better than nothing, right?

We give each other a hug and then do the moonlanding that made us friends in the first place and then we’re both gone. 

Before I get on a plane and leave this place, I want to take the time to reflect on how amazing this experience has been. It’s been one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen, and I have walked loads and seen loads and started to heal a little bit again. It’s funny, I always seem to be a bit (heart)broken, don’t I? I think sadness motivates me, keeps me going, so I’m okay with it. I wouldn’t have seen so much of the world if boys weren’t stupid.

I mostly blog for myself, because I love writing and keeping it for when I feel nostalgic. I doubt a lot of people are actually reading this, because it is just me rambling on and posting pictures of wine, so the most people have commented on is a video I posted on Facebook. It’s a lot easier catching up with me through a 4-minute video than to read several blog posts, I guess. So if there is someone out there reading this right now, you probably want to see this video too. I present to you:

 

As you can see, I’ve had a good time.

Now, back to my shitty trip home.

I get on a busy Emirates plane to Sydney, where I’m sat between two Chinese guys who are willing to give me the window seat so they can sit together. Score. As soon as the plane closes its doors, I get super bloated and constipated, as is my travel tradition by now. I watch a movie and take a nap to pass the time, and then we fly over the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and I start crying at the sight. This is my home, but isn’t anymore. I think of Sharon and Tanya, my apartment, all the people I’ve met and loved and lost and I hold on to this feeling of sadness because it’s kind of beautiful, unlike the feeling I have about my trip. We have to get off the plane and board it again within the hour, so I go through security, where they make me throw out my water bottle, which makes me cry, and then I go to the gate and strike up a conversation with an old couple. I can barely understand the husband, so I make him repeat himself a lot, but they are super nice and sympathetic about my situation, which I appreciate. We get on the plane once again, and this time the window seat goes to a big Irish girl and in the aisle seat there’s an older Lebanese woman who doesn’t know how to put on a movie, so she keeps asking me. Irish girl and I have a non-verbal fight over the arm rest, in that when she uses the arm rest, her elbow pokes into my side, and I have to sit in an awkward pose to make myself small enough to not get elbowed. I’m not gonna do that for 14 hours, so I stubbornly move my side as close to the arm rest as possible, forcing her to draw back a bit. It works for a while, and then she tries again and this keeps happening several times. I get a lot of sleep, watch movies and listen to music and finish my books and less than 8 hours have passed. I hate flying. 

When I finally get to Dubai, the airport’s chaos. Everyone has rather short layovers and quickly need to figure out what gate they need to go to and then actually get there. It’s a big airport, so everyone’s stressed. On top of that, staff is trying to get us to ignore the signs pointing us to the gates, and instead they make us line up for a very long time to get through security before we can find our gates. I’m lucky that my layover is a bit longer and my gate is close by, but the line still takes ages. When I board my last plane, I finally catch a break: the plane’s rather empty and I have all three seats to myself! Of course, by then I don’t really feel like lying down, but I put my feet up, prop the three pillows against my back and start reading. I also decide to start drinking wine, because I need to get a buzz on and get excited about things. Almost 40 hours after I got on the first plane, I look down and see a patchwork of yellow, green and brown fields. I’m home. I start to cry again. I think I’m happy, but I could just be relieved.

My 84-year old granddad (along with the rest of my family) has been sitting in front of his computer, tracking my flight from Dubai, so the plane has barely touched the ground when my sister calls me. I just decide to put in my old SIM-card and deactivate flight mode and she immediately calls. I wait until we are at a stop to call her back. I line up to show my passport and then go to baggage claim. My backpack isn’t there. I have a train to catch and I’m getting worried and I feel like crying again (like seriously, I just can’t handle all these things being thrown at me lately), but I can see that I’m not the only one. We wait for up to 40 minutes before our stuff shows up on the belt. I rush to the ticket counter and jump on a train, even though I have no idea whether or not it’s the right one. At Copenhagens train station I have to wait 45 minutes, so I get to my platform and find an empty bench. Of course, all my backpacks are taking up a lot of space, even if they are on the ground, not the bench, and a couple try to sit down next to me, but there’s not enough room. I apologize to the husband, who has to stand up, and we start talking for a while. They are incredibly sweet and interested in my past, my present and my future and I of course love talking about myself. A woman interrupts us, asking if I can watch her suitcase for her while she runs up to get a coffee upstairs. I agree, and almost immediately regret it. She is gone for a long time, and I have to catch this train. I consider leaving her suitcase there on the platform. Four minutes before it’s about to leave, she comes back, giving me a cake and a big thank you, and I’m really touched by it. Then I put on my heavy backpacks and run towards the very end of the platform to get to my cart. 

I’m out of breath from running a few hundred meters with heavy gear, and my backpacks probably poke at people as I walk through the narrow hall of the train. When I reach my reserved seat at the end of the cart, because of course, someone is already sitting there. I manage to exhale some words about that being my seat, but he’s not really moving, just saying that he’s reserved the seat next to him. I respond, way too nicely may I add, that if he doesn’t want to move, I guess I can sit there. I don’t want to be difficult, I just think you could at least offer to sit in your own damn seat. A couple next to me has used the luggage storage, so I have to walk back to find somewhere else to put my giant backpack. Still out of breath, I awkwardly get it off my back, despite the lack of space in the hall, and I struggle a great deal to fit it between the seats. Meanwile, people are just staring at me. I don’t know, I’ve just talked to a few really nice people and I thought I had forgotten how nice people can be here. Then I encounter people that couldn’t care less about someone who clearly could use a little help. I’m angry again.

After three hours on the train, talking to friends on the phone and chatting to an old couple who just got back from visiting their son in Sydney, I get to put my backpacks back on. Turns out it’s damn near impossible with the lack of space, and once again I’m struggling while being stared down by people, and then I awkwardly walk back to my seat, where there’s enough room for me to turn around. I finally arrive at Horsens train station, and my parents, my sister and Albulena and her brother are here to greet me. Since I was only expecting one person to pick me up and take me home, this is a nice surprise. I hug them all and then I get to go home. You know, to an actual house with a bed.

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