Our life during the past month can best be described as transient. We left Simon and Carols on April 23rd and hiked the Abel Tasmen which was wonderful. Some of the most beautiful views followed by camping on wonderful beaches. After the hike we started our month long adventure traveling the northern half of the South Island. We travelled for roughly twenty-five days out of which it rained twenty. That changed things for us quite a bit and really made us question the purpose of our travels. Why? Why are we doing this? What is the purpose of being stuck in our van while it was a torrential down pour outside? Anyone who ever tells me again that traveling is the most fun they’ve constantly ever had, I will not believed they’ve really travelled. It really is like a roller coaster. Its has its true ups and downs, but I do believe that it makes a person whole. You must realize that you are the one who has made the decision to ride it and must trust that it is on a safe, but adventurous track, and you will be fine. It takes one out of their comfort zone and when they are on the down part of the ride, it provides endless opportunities for reflection. When they are up, which comes extremely fast, it provides a euphoric state. When the ride is finished, you will get off more confident than before the ride began and will make you wonder why you ever doubted yourself.
Our trip took us through New Zealand’s wine country and coastal settings. We stopped for a few days in a little town called Kaikouria, home of the famous Dolphin Encounter. Patrick was sensing that I needed a little pick-me-up and encouraged me to go for the highly recommended dolphin swim. Only one of us could do it because it cost a small fortune and he wasn’t really up for it anyway. I loved it. It was unreal! I was 5 kilometers into the ocean swimming naturally with Dusky dolphins. Five hundred of them to be exact. They make eye contact with you and swim around you in circles. All you can do is follow. Swim with them and be with them in their environment. That day on the boat was one of the roughest seas they’ve seen in a while. About 90% of the other swimmers were as sick as dogs from the rough sea. Some how it skipped me and I was left enthralled with all the dolphin activity.
Further along, we decided to stop for 6 days with another wwoofing host about thirty-five minutes north of Christchurch in Rangioria. Merel and Jan and their 3 kids who are all from the Netherlands. It was a very interesting wwoofing experience for us and I really learned a lot. Merel is just as passionate about food as I am but she comes at it from a different perspective. Her son had epilepsy and severe ADHD which she has literally cured with their food choices. She therefore appreciates clean, ethically grown food merely as a way to heal her family while I see it as a benefit to the earth and to those who grow and consume it. Regardless, healthy, local food was being eaten. They follow a very strict diet called the GAPS diet and therefore we ate primarily home made yogurt and eggs for breakfast and lunch. While there, we learned how to cull a chicken and make traditional dutch farmers cheese.
We then began working our way back to Simon and Carols as it was Carols 60th birthday party that we were going back to help get everything together for it. During our way back, it rained every day until we crossed the Takaka Hill entering beautiful Golden Bay and the sun hasn’t left our side since.
Carol’s party was a great time. All her and Simon’s family came from all over New Zealand and as far as Australia. There were about 80 people there to celebrate Carols 60 beautiful years. We really feel at home at Simon and Carols and have made good friends with their son Peter who is our age. Peter is one of funniest, kindest, biggest party-ers and FOMO-ers (Fear Of Missing Out) we know. The day before we left, Peter asked if we’d like to go caving. Of course! We literally ran up a small mountain to the most beautiful views before it got dark so we could make it down with some light left. Just getting to the cave was half the fun. During the caving expedition, we had to avoid falling into the frigid river running through the cave but had so much fun doing it.
During our return from the adrenaline pumping cave experience, I opened the zipper of my backpack to put my beloved wedding ring back on, only to realize that it had fallen out in my excitement to pull out the camera in the cave. I had taken it off so it wouldn’t get scrapped up on the rocks. I am still beside myself. I have never loved a ‘thing’ so much in my life. It wasn’t just a wedding ring representing my amazing marriage, but each piece of wood within the ring represented a different aspect of my marriage and myself. It was built by a beautiful couple who put so much love into the workmanship. As I sat crying more tears than the river in the cave, I could hear my mothers voice telling me to stop feeling so sorry for myself because it won’t bring the ring back, which is so true. Peter made the point ‘you don’t need a ring, look what it did to Smeagul from Lord of the Rings’. I have had to make myself realize that the ring was a physical representation of my love for Patrick, and whats more important is that I still have Patrick and a wonderful marriage. Perhaps this is another story for Stewart McLean and maybe after the story is read on air, I might find the ring in the bottom of my backpack!
So, this past month surely has had its ups and downs, but it has been truly amazing in all aspects of what we are both learning about ourselves. We now venture to the North Island where we will be doing some more wwoofing for two separate Permaculturalists followed by a week wwoofing at a small micro-brewery.
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