Six months have whirled past in a blur for us and now we find ourselves back at our home in Little River as though we had never even been to Raoul Island. It's an odd feeling.
Suddenly we have had to come to terms with traffic that moves at more than 30km/hr. Supermarket queues are a nightmare. The ads on TV make us cringe. But, also, there is colour everywhere - we have returned to the bloom of late spring after our eyes had become used to the uniform greenery of the island. Our dawn chorus comprises the lilting chime of bellbirds when two weeks ago we would awake to the grating squawks of adolescent pukekos completing their every-30-second reporting in duties to their parents.
And it's wonderful to be reacqainted with friends and family, a process that will continue for some time yet.
Our trip home began in the most promising fashion. Smooth seas, sunshine and a farewell guard made up of humpbacks. Alas, it could not last and soon the mighty Braveheart was plunging its bow over a three metre swell, cascading spray up over the wheelhouse. This was the same bow where, down below the waterline, Gaye had jammed herself into her bunk and prayed for the anti nausea drugs to start working. Soon.
I can report that the behind-the-ear patch worked an absolute treat and I was able to eat all the meals (plus a few snacks), watch a video tracing the early career of Bob Marley, absorb another rather breathless DVD on surfing at Tahiti's Teahupoo, read two books and pace about endlessly on the deck. That was when I wasn't checking that Gaye needed another clean bucket, of course.
So if you saw one of our earliest posts, I guess you'll recognize a cruel sort of symmetry here.
Anyway, at some stage over the busy next few weeks I'll write up a last-last post with a brief linked overview of our time on this lovely island. We have been asked a few times "Would you go back?" and people seem surprised to hear a response in the negative. This does not mean we haven't had the time of our lives; it's more an acknowledgement that it's not always a worthwhile thing to try to recapture experiences like the one we've had.
Speaking of recapturing experiences, I spent many happy hours assembling images and video footage onto a DVD, copies of which went to all our fellow residents. This proved to be something of a mixed blessing. In order to make the space on my laptop necessary to complete this task, I foolishly moved ALL of my 4500 digital photos onto an external hard drive.
It promptly crashed - yay, Western Digital! But at least the DVD survives.
If you have arrived here long after the last post was posted and you have a question you wish to ask, just write it down as a comment with your email address in it and one of us will reply. Your address will not be sold off to an entrepreneurial Nigerian businessmen, I promise, and it will not appear on the blog - all comments come first to our email address and we decide whether or not they go any further.
So the last post ends with a video clip of the trip from Raoul back to Tauranga. It's been a heap of fun writing this blog and we've kept track of our readers with great fascination - all 5,414 of you as at 10pm today.