In March I packed up my life in NZ, sold my car, as well as anything else that looked like it had some value (except my MTB & one set of kite gear as a girl has to keep some toys!). With no income on the horizon I needed something to keep me going! As well as the fact I had no idea when I would be back…
I haven’t really been properly based in NZ for the last 4 years, I was never home for more than 6-8 weeks. But, I did always had a place to call home – be it a flat, or most recently the basement level of Peter & Natalie Fox’s house (Pete was my coach in the radial back in 2008, and they are just the coolest family). I did always have somewhere to keep my stuff, to unpack, to do the washing and to feel like I was home.
So March was a big step, being based in Europe was the only way to chase the VOR as well as other sailing opportunities. I needed to be on the ground and available, no one was ever going to come and find me in NZ – I had to be close and chasing it. Where it seems some Olympic guys simply announce their intention and they get brought into the fold, it certainly hasn’t been like that for me.
Us ladies seem to be a bit of an unknown in the big boat world, the amount of incredibly silly (but actually slightly sad) reactions you hear – such as ‘but what do we do with the girls?’ Or seeing a crew list with 1-7 guys names and roles, then ‘woman 1’ and ‘woman 2’. Yep, that sort of team exists (not the one I was with for a month though!). To hear from other girls about the way they are treated compared to a guy with similar experience… One day this will change. But not yet.
The other reason of course was to spend some actual time with PJ (my brilliant man), we had both been competing on the Olympic sailing circuit, so I was looking forward to spending more than a week in between events together. He happens to be Dutch so hence the move to Holland.
I haven’t spent more than a month at a time actually in Holland since I came here, and it has been a bit of a challenge. My coming here coincided with PJ leaving his old place and us not really having a base anywhere. We have stayed with family, friends as well as various Airbnb’s etc. All of his time and resources are tied up in his dream of making the new Sailing Team NL project really get off the ground.
Then on my side, I don’t know what the next week brings… In location, work or anything! Makes it hard to think about finding somewhere to settle.
The biggest challenge that I have found is that I just don’t know anything, the language, the simple things, ie. In NZ, if I need anything, I know where to go, who to ask, I have that support system. I just call up my Doctor, my Physio, my Mum! I miss seeing my family, my friends – But I thank the internet and technology for inventing whatsApp and the ability to keep in touch, to see each other even if it is through a screen.
What this experience has taught me, that there are little things that make me feel at home, funnily enough the first step seems to revolve around food 🙂 To find a good local supermarket, a good gym, some nice running routes. Some days are just harder than others, when the local supermarket decides that it doesn’t accept Visa even though they always have before, when I just need to get some antiseptic cream for the wound on my leg and it becomes a two hour mission to see a doctor and costs 300 euro. Painful.
There is a big part of me that is just looking forward to being able to stop, to chill, to have a base and to just make life simple for a while. To have a routine that doesn’t change every few days, to really get to know the area I am in, to actually have a home. But first, I need to figure out what direction I want to go in next, be it something over here (still looking at sailing options) or heading back to NZ to something more settled. I guess the part of me that wants to keep exploring options and dreaming big is still the bigger part!
One saving grace has been the fact that there seems to be a steady stream of kiwi’s & other people I know passing through Holland, so it’s rare to go more than a few weeks with seeing someone from home 🙂
So what is home?… It can be day by day where ever you decide it to be…