We are free to roam in our “new to us” 2007 Toyota.
After jumping through the hoops of both American and NZ banks we finally were able to get money transferred to buy the Camry from another Peter. Having gotten this accomplished on a day of sunshine and blue sky, which we haven’t seen too much of in the last 10 days, we headed up the highway to Milford Sound. It’s about 2 hours from TeAnau with breathtaking views throughout. The trip re-ignited my desire to work on my photography skills and there was no shortage of material as we made our way up and back down the sparsely travelled road. Seeing the famous Mitre peak towering overhead just fills one’s soul with awe. We are both looking forward more than ever to seeing it in December, in the summer when we plan to bring some friends along with us.
Prior to the car purchase, we had the good fortune of borrowing a car from our generous hosts here and on one of our trips into town to get the bank accounts sorted, we picked up a portable cooler with which to cart our food around the country. We opted for the sturdier NZ brand over the familiar Coleman label and walked across the street to pop it in the boot (to those of you in the States that’s the trunk). Well, that wasn’t as easy as. No matter which way we turned it, the large rigid super sturdy cooler was not going to fit–We looked at each other and shrugged. Without saying a word we just moved together to the side door to slide it in the back seat. I reached in to tilt the seat forward only to find that it slid a few inches. This time laughing as we looked at each other, I poked my leg in behind the seat and slithered into the back seat, pulled the front passenger seat back and Paul plopped our new “Chillzone” in the front seat. Only as we were driving away did Paul make the comment, “hopefully it’ll fit in our car.” Another entertaining story of shopping here was observing how we adjusted very slowly to the layout of a new supermarket. Now, this could happen anywhere, not just a different country because it always takes a while to find the products you’re looking for in an unfamiliar store. It was on about our sixth trip to the store that we discovered there was an entire section housing pre-packaged bread where we could have browsed a large selection of breads of different grains rather than standing and staring at mostly empty bakery case before picking up the last two mini “farmhouse” loaves.
Apologies for the repetition, but neither one of us has gotten used to the sun not coming up until after 8am, this transition only complicated by coming from where we did. Literally an overnight change from the longest to the shortest day of the year. The short days do, however, make it easier to get to bed early so Paul can have a reasonable night’s sleep before his alarm at 3am. So far, I feel like we haven’t gotten out much, but to keep it in perspective, we’ve only just gotten a car and getting out is dependent on what elements you are willing and prepared deal with. On one of the other partially sunny days, we helped Peter “shift” his cattle. It didn’t take us long to reposition the posts and run the wire for a new section of fence as it was only a few acres and a handful of cattle. Still it was fun to get out and help a bit and see how very different it is driving plastic posts into soft moist ground with one step of a foot as compared to driving steel posts with a sledge hammer into partially frozen ground on the plains of Colorado. On the other hand in walking up and down the hills in Peter’s paddock it was more like hiking than strolling along the long stretches of fields we’re used to. We were stepping over big rocks here like we do cactus on the prairie. We were not willing to go hike in cold wind and rain yesterday, so we stayed in and enjoyed another day of the view from our little cabin as the rain fell and fell and fell. Today we may decide to just suck it up and go out anyway as our days in TeAnau are drawing to a close for now and there’s a reason the walking tracks here are world famous. It may be worth it to get a little chilly and wet. Those days make me very grateful that we are not on a backpacking trip, though the days of sunshine make me want to, until I browse the websites about all the great walks warning of avalanche danger during the winter season. I’m perfectly content to gaze at the snow covered peaks from a safe distance standing between a coffee shop and a wood-fired pizza restaurant after a short walk on the Kepler track.
I’ve tried to stop asking the question that was constant for months before we arrived here. What are we doing? Neither of us has an answer to this other than “living” Simply going through life and “living” and I have been more convinced in recent years that there is not an answer to the mystery of life. If an answer were indeed revealed, wouldn’t that indicate that life is not a mystery after all and how disappointing that would that be?
Here are a few things I do know for sure. The eggs we’ve had here are amazing. They are delicious with tangible substance in your mouth. Pizza is delicious, and it’s still one of my favorite foods, no matter where I eat it. Same goes for coffee, I simply love it. You can find almost anything in apricot flavor. Yum! Gas is expensive. I’ve gotten a bit creative in the kitchen and managed to prepare some decent meals with a microwave, electric kettle and electric skillet. Maybe by the end of this travelling I could compile a new recipe book and call it “No-bake NZ.” I need a lot more practice to get used to estimating distances that actually make sense to me in meters and kilometers. I’ve started trying to do a rough estimation and conversion in my head before confirming with the phone app in hopes of soon becoming less reliant on the app. It is amazing and somewhat frightening how dependent we are on technology on keeping us connected to our family and friends, but I for one am extremely grateful for the “magic.”
I’ve dreamt twice already about being a unorganized, unprepared college student and I can’t help but wonder if this is in some way paralleling my feelings about being here. In a somewhat unfamiliar place, not only a different country but in this place in my life, unemployed and feeling so dependent on others. I feel unprepared and unorganized, but that just adds to the adventure, right? Is there a better place to foster creativity than to arrive at a more pronounced awareness of dependence on my creator? Somehow I believe that something good is going to come of this, a life lesson that I could not otherwise experience. For the most part I am enjoying the lack of structure, by making my way in the simple daily activities of drinking coffee, writing, reading, taking pictures and no-baking in the kitchen. It is refreshing to have time to ponder and reflect.
Here comes the rain again….