Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From the center of New Zealand, to Golden Bay, and back again.

Nelson. The geographical center of New Zealand.

  The morning after getting back to Nelson, after Rock's Hut, I tried to play it cool that Manu was soon to get on a bus and ride his way out of my life, (until I visit all my new friends in Europe at a later time, this being a threat as well as a promise).  He was packing his things and I readied my backpack for the day, making it appear as if I had something to do so that when I walked him to the bus stop it didn't seem as if I was going out of my way. But I absolutely was. I wasn't ready to be in the city any more than I was ready to be rid of the company of the people who had grown to be so integral to my heart's beating rhythm. He finally caught on to what I was doing and said, "Where are you going?"
  "I'm going to walk you to the bus stop." The jig was up, I might as well admit it.
  "Oh, you are not going to walk me. If you do, you will cry."
  "I will NOT cry! Geeze!"I mean who did he think I was? Like my world was going to fall apart without him or something. Come on!
  So we walked to the stop and I hung out for a few minutes until it was time for him to board.  One big hug and the realization that today was exactly the three month anniversary of the day we all had met on Twilight Beach.  It felt bigger than I had let on, and I was starting to feel it well up, but I was hanging tough…until he said "I'm going to miss you Sara. You are awesome."  And that was it.  There were so many things I wanted to say, but that built up ball in my voice box wouldn't let out a sound.  My thoughts being held hostage by a wave of emotion. Strangled and overtaken with thanks.  When the embrace loosened and our hug retracted I looked at him through a blurred haze. Flooding from the bottom eyelid up, I said nothing. I turned around and walked away.
  I spent the day reflecting.  After my long goodbye to the trail and pretending I was prepared to meander my ways through New Zealand as free as a bird for the next bit of time before I had plans to meet a friend in Christchurch, I found myself wide open to possibilities.  So wide in fact I had no clue where to go.  Picture a much more severe version of the person you see in the 24 hour grocery store, stuck in the toilet paper isle, caught between one-ply and two, quilted or non, performing mathematical calculations of how many feet per roll per cent, and actually debating amid the stifling plethora of options if it's absolutely necessary to buy TP on this specific visit to the store, because the decision is just too much to handle.   After endless hours of thought I landed on the roll of TP right in front of me, because it was easier, and because sometimes it's nice to pretend that if something is right in front of you, that maybe it was placed there for a reason.  I was going to go to Motueka, at  the suggestion of a friend from the States, and visit an organic cafe/gallery which was run by old family friends of hers.  It was in the Golden Bay and on the way to the Abel Tasman National Park, one of NZ's other Great Walks.
  The following morning I bussed to Motueka and walked several kilometers from the bus stop to the cafe where I found this sign to greet me.

  Just my luck.  Waitangi Day is the equivalent of our 4th of July.  One half of the town was closed in celebration of the holiday, while the other half was crowded, standing room only, with tourists.  I weighed my options as I walked back toward the bus stop and decided I would head farther north-west to Takaka rather than fight the crowds in Abel Tasman.
  It took me walking to three hostels before I found one with room.  Better yet, for $18 I could pitch my tent in the back yard and maintain a bit of privacy, rather than paying $28 for a bed in a dorm room.  Also included was free coffee and tea, muesli for breakfast, use of the internet, and they had 6 bikes to tour the area with. This was the best deal I found at a hostel in the whole country.  Not only that but the couple who ran it were some fantastic hosts. Shout out to the Barefoot Backpackers in Takaka…in case you ever go there.
  I had big plans for the following day, but the weather turned sour so I had to put them off.  In the meantime I went on a tour of the tiny town to see what it had to offer.  If the art per capita were measured, this place would be off the charts.


 Holy snails, kiwis, pukekos, and lizards Batman!!!

100 Years of Global Warming
Shifting In a Frame: A community project where local artists replace the picture panel with a new work every now and then.
That morning I had overheard the hostess of the hostel telling someone Friday is potluck night. Dinner at 8.  So I made plans to cook something wonderful with my new hostel friend.  Let me introduce you to a living alliteration. Alex, an awesome Austrian-Armenian arborist.

Our creme fresh sauced garlic potato pizza with caramelized red onions was a huge hit at dinner! And the beer we were drinking was called Bounced Czech…which was funny, and difficult to explain why it was so funny to someone whose first language was not English.
  That night I went to bed in my tent to the sounds of quiet conversation.  I woke later to the sounds of  boisterous conversation being spoken in German on the back patio and quickly reached for my earplugs in a bit of a huff.  I had fallen asleep on my stomach, arms apparently folded across my chest.  When I turned over to get the earplugs in the toiletry bag nearby I was accosted! Something had attacked my face! What the hell was in my tent!?  I reacted with cat like reflexes and put up my arms to defend myself against the offender…I put up my arms to defend myself!…I put up my arms…(taps foot impatiently waiting for arms to react)...ahem…arms? Arms? Oh midnight antics and clarity. Accosted by my own appendage, which had fallen asleep and slapped me in the face when I rolled over.
  No matter! I was still in a huff, even more so now that I had so rudely punched myself, and there were still earplugs to be put in, as I angrily grabbed repeatedly for the zipper of my sleeping bag.   The sounds of German conversation as welcome as a slap in the face, taunting me from the back porch. Zipper grab, zipper grab, zipper grab. Fail! It's like my hands went to the dentist for root canals. I could see them, but try as I might, they would not do my bidding. I finally got the zipper opened enough for me to force my torso out of the bag, and fight with the next zipper of the toiletry bag. Once inside I had to extract the earplugs from a tiny holding tube. Picture a ridiculous Jim Carey skit that has gone on torturously long.  By the time I had the earplugs in place the status of my huffiness had melted to laughter and I decided instead of plugging out the noise, to bask in it.  After all, it wouldn't be long before I was gone from this travel, left craving an opportunity to be woken by the sounds of foreign languages interspersed with laughter.  Soak it in.
  The next day Alex and I borrowed bikes and rode down to the Saturday market, over to the Waikoropupu Springs, then to Labyrinth Rocks and back to the hostel where I would partake in some local festivities, which I will explain further in the story. For now….pictures!

Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs
 This spring has a horizontal visibility of 63 meters! That's 189 feet!! From 8 main vents it releases 14,000 liters of water per second.  Enough to fill 40 bath tubs. That's absolutely amazing!  It's also one of the three cleanest natural springs in the world. The other two are located in New Zealand and Antarctica.
  Facts are fun!

Prettiest bark in all the land!

Fiddle Heads

Labyrinth Rocks

Inside Labyrinth Rocks was a beautiful boneyard. Could I feel more at home here!?
  Alright folks, if you have ever wondered what I do on a Saturday night in New Zealand here it is!!!

 That's right, I dress up in a tiger bra and walk through town in a parade!!  What!? What am I, in my first year of college or something!? Okay, let me explain how this whole scenario unfolded, as much to my surprise as yours I assure you.
  Just as I had arrived in Nelson perfectly aligned for their busking festival, I had arrived in Takaka for a  weekend Waitangi celebration and parade…which included a Mardi Bra contest.  The night prior one of the women in my hostel was working on a bra to enter in the contest and my friend Alex was going to be the model for it.  He asked if I wanted to be the model.  His questioning included some sort of excuse of how I would better fit the bra.  While he was saying modeling I was under the impression I would just be the model while she was making it.  The living mannequin to ensure everything laid right when worn…and nothing more.  It wasn't until hours later that the maker of the piece mentioned me wearing it in a competition that I realized foolishly what I had agreed to, and Alex was in no hurry to resume his place as bra contestant.  Reluctantly, since I had already agreed to model, I said I still would. After all, when would I ever see anybody from this town again?  Ah the powers of anonymity!
  The following day I actually got excited about it. Not so much because of the competition and the future public embarrassment I had before me, but because for the first time in over 3 months I got to wear make-up!!!  Not just makeup, but lots of it! And creatively!!!  So, was it still worth it when the creator of the bra and I went down to find our spot for the competition, to find out all the contestants had to march through town in the parade?  I guess, since I'm on the other side of the fiasco now, I would say I suppose so, but it took a lot of convincing! And maybe a few ciders.  So there you have it, one step at a time I was tricked into coming out of my shell.
  She did not win the competition.
  The next morning, I left Takaka and hitched to Motueka to find the cafe/gallery I had initially headed to Golden Bay to see, and was thankful to find it open this time.  If you ever find yourself in Motueka go to Up the Garden Path. You will be more than satisfied! And no I am not getting paid to say that.
  I hitched a few more rides to Nelson, where I climbed to the top of a lookout hill to find the very center of New Zealand, sit down, and watch the sunset.

Sunset with rays protruding out of the mountain named the Devil's Thumb.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! You are a talented writer as well as artist!