I grew up in the Pacific Northwest spending an inordinate amount of time wandering around in the outdoors hiking, fishing, playing sports, and riding my bike. My Dad instilled a great joy of nature and what it has to offer. I have never lost that appreciation.
Susanne grew up in Caracas, Venezuela with an American dad and mom from Spain. She learned Spanish and English at the same time. She came to the US in 1980 to attend college. When you ask her where she is from, she will tell you that she is a citizen of the world.
We have been together since 1985 where we met in college at UC Santa Barbara; Susanne was studying molecular biology and I was studying geology. We got married in 1989 and have never looked back. We have been partners in life for over 30 years.
In the intervening decades, we have lived a wonderful life together, traveling the world and enjoying the beauty and uniqueness of so many different places. That is not to say that it hasn’t been challenging and a times mundane; however, that is life.
We appreciate the simple things like solitude and a beautiful sunset, but also love the uniqueness of cultures from around the world. We love to travel because it has a way of opening up your mind, forcing you to rethink your priorities, and instilling gratitude for the wonderful things life can bring you.
Our Quest to be Kiwis
I first traveled to New Zealand in 1981 on a year-long trip around the South Pacific. I spent 4 months hitchhiking all over both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It was love at first sight.
I loved the people, the landscape, the culture, and the remoteness of the place. Back then, hardly any Americans traveled there and a lot didn’t even know where it was. I knew someday I would want to spend more time there.
In 1986, I had a chance to do my Master’s field work there as well. I spent 4 months doing some really tough work in very remote and often pretty dangerous places. I was lucky enough to get to fly around the mountains of the South Island in a helicopter which would transport me to places that were incredibly difficult to get to. Landing on knife ridges and then watching the helicopter fly off with the only thought in my head being “I sure hope they come back in a week”.
Over the years, Susanne got hear my stories about New Zealand and my love for the place. How intense the geography is, how beautiful the lakes are, and how wonderful the people are. It made it onto her bucket list of places to go.
In 2011, we rented a little camper van (The Bat Mobile!) and spent 2 and 1/2 weeks rambling around the South Island. The very first thing we did was to take a flight seeing trip out Lake Tekapo that toured around the Southern Alps. It was a perfect day for flying and the view was amazing. Susanne was hooked. Overall, it was a short trip for such an amazing place and Susanne really wanted to come back and see more.
We managed to come back again in 2020 with our friends Jason and Cynthia and neither us lost our enthusiasm for the country. It was just when COVID was breaking out globally and we just barely made it back to states before New Zealand shut down. As the pandemic got worse and we spent time cooped up in our house, the thought of moving to New Zealand became more and more present in our conversations. Susanne’s mom had passed away in April of 2020 leaving us with no real family challenges anymore. One night, sitting out on the deck in Flagstaff, we decided that, yes, we were going to try to immigrate to New Zealand.
We hired a immigration advisor and started gathering a mountain of paperwork for the application. We got the EOI submitted in October of 2020 and the application on December 20th, 2020. We had to hoped to be there by now, but we still wait. It has been about 8 months so far and I expect it to be another 6 months at least.
Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will become Kiwis in 2022. But in the mean time we have decided to sell our house, simplify our life, travel around the US in our trailer and start the Grand Adventure now. It is a bit intimidating and scary, but both of us are excited by what may lay ahead.
“Not all those who wander are lost”J.R.R Tolkien