Category Archives: New Zealand

The bad friend

The bad friend

I am a bad friend.

All her friends have always said so.

When she was nine, her best friend told her she was a bad friend because she wore glasses.

When she was 12, a friend told her she was bad because her braces and mouth retainer made her breath smell.

When she was 15, she was a bad friend for standing up for her boyfriend.

When she was 18, she was a bad friend for not being friends with a girl she hadn’t spoken to in two years.

When she was 21, she was a bad friend for not saying hello to a friend of a friend who really needed people to be nice to her.

When she was 24, she was a bad friend for not keeping in contact for the few weeks she went home to help her dad recover from heart surgery.

When she was 27, she wasn’t a bad friend because she had given up on having friends.

When she was 30 she was a bad friend for always calling another friend in the evening after a few drinks.

At least she’s got a few years before someone blames her for trying to be friends with them.

On the Magic Tyre Shop

On the Magic Tyre Shop

By the time I got to Christchurch, New Zealand, I was done living in people’s houses. Not because of the people, but because of all the food I felt obligated to eat. I don’t normally eat breakfast, yet house rules require I wake up and join everyone for breakfast and eat it too. So I was intent on staying in a hostel.

Luckily the YMCA (which allows females to stay as well) had open space for the next 5 days with a really reasonable rate. I was in an eight bed female dorm room. I was alone the first night, then the next day I returned from my exploration of the city to find an elderly lady sharing the room with me. Her name was Margret, and she was staying there because she had moved out of her apartment to take a job down south and for some reason needed to stay in the area for a few more days to wait for her place to live down there to be vacated.

She was a nice, talkative lady with heaps of stories to tell. So talkative in fact that I had difficultly telling her that I had to leave to go find dinner because I was starving. She said she had a car and if I wanted she would drive me around the next day and show me the city. I said I’d think about it over dinner and let her know.

At this point in New Zealand I become accustom to trusting strangers. After all she seemed harmless. I came back from dinner to find her sleeping and woke up the next morning to find she had gone out, but had left a note on my night stand.

“Girl, if you’d like, I’d be delighted to take you on a personal tour of Christchurch. I’ll be back around noon, you can let me know then.”

I decided to go. It was a Sunday and everything was closed anyway.

Later I found myself in her car full of all her personal items (remember she was moving down south and had all her things packed in the car, ready to go).

We stopped at the grocery store to pickup snacks, then around the area we went. First stop was the beach which had a long pier. It was cold but she insisted that we walk all the way to end. Along the was she told me about her life: ex husband, daughter, siblings, etc. She told me how when she was 12 her younger brother (who was 10) died in some sort of accident. I said “oh that is so sad,” and she replied, “yeah it was at the time.”

We stopped by her old apartment to get the mail. She wanted me to wait in the car because if I went in her old roommate would talk me ear off and we’d never get out of the place. From there we went to the neighboring mountains along a road that she had never driven on before. There were great views of the city and she was so excited about pointing out where everything was from there and how the landscape all fit together. We stopped at some old Tudor house, which was build only in that style about 50 years ago. It was now a restaurant, but she insisted that I at least peak inside the door to see the decorations.

She filled me in on all her views about life and how it works together and shifts into new forms. How there is always going to be something to look forward to and life often just mends itself.

By dusk we were driving down the mountain. Near the bottom, one of her car tires sounded like it was going flat because there was a reoccurring flapping sound. I told her to pull into a parking lot so I could check it.

I was kind of excited because I was finally going to get to use my tire changing skills, but after checking the tire I realized it wasn’t flat at all. I had her reverse and pull forward just as an extra check to find where that noise was coming from, and nothing seemed wrong. So we figured we’d cautiously drive our way back to the YMCA. As we pulled out of the lot she noticed that it was Tyre Shop parking lot and she exclaimed, “The tyre shop fixed my tyre!” I laughed because, well, it was true, the noise was gone and everything was fine.

In celebration, she bought me an ice cream cone from MacDonald’s and we continued on our way.

On Caving

On Caving

In New Zealand I suddenly found myself wearing a wetsuit, standing outside the mouth of a cave surrounded by bright green rolling hills, being given a rather short tutorial on how to abseil down a waterfall in the dark. It was one of those moments where I did realize that I was present for everything leading up to this moment, yet I still wondered how I managed to get there.

Next I knew I was in a cave, with the guide’s headlamp flashing in my eyes as he roped my harness for my first decent.

“How far down is the bottom?” I asked.

“This is a short one, only about 10 meters,” he responded.

Down I went, rather slow at first, because I thought I should take my time and enjoy this. Then once I got the hang of it, “Shwoosh.” I landed with a giggle rather suddenly to the worry of the guide at the bottom.

We made our way through tight passages, following an underwater river which caused us to have to dive completely underwater to stay on it trail.

It was the first time I had seen glow worms, though the guides said that there were other caves which had heaps more of them, which I did end up seeing eventually in my journey.

For the next waterfall I volunteered to go first, headlamp off. I didn’t go so fast this time because there were no lights to see where the bottom was and the freezing water was strongly pouring down on me the entire time. In the pitch black I ended up swinging somewhat awkwardly and touched down in a sitting position, in a two foot pool. From there I had to un-rope myself, signal with the rope that I was unhooked (the water fall was so loud that even yelling couldn’t get the message through) and feel my way around the cavern that I had lowered myself into tog et myself away from where the next person would land. The idea was to keep my headlamp off so that everyone could experience the process in the dark. So from there I waited, and waited for the next person. I oddly enjoyed sitting in a dark cavern full of water alone. The wet suit kept me warm enough, though there was definitely holes in the boots, but at that point there are much bigger issues at hand, like, where is the exit?

Finally the rest of the group made it down and we could continue on our way. For an hour and a half we repeated this process of roping down waterfalls, I going first each time because I’m like that.

Then there was a point were we had to start going up and it was then that I hit a wall. Literally it was at least a 14 foot wall we had to climb. I didn’t go first this time. I tried and tried but I couldn’t get my footing, the wetsuit wouldn’t let my legs stretch up far enough for the next optimal spot to push up from, frustrated tears were building my eyes just as my belt got stuck on a ridge, rendering me helpless and forcing me to step down and start all over again from a different section. So there I was analyzing this wall, with the realization that there was no other way to go but up and I had to do it. Everyone was waiting at the top, so up I went, with a little boost from the guide below me, exhausted, I managed to get my upper body over the top, just as my belt got stuck AGAIN, AGAIN. I was shaking and stuck. With a little pull from inside the small opening I had to get through, I finally made it out of the water fall.

The guides gave us some sugary candy of some sort and of electrolyte drink to boost our energies. Reinvigorated, we proceeded to make our way out of the cave. Next I remember being born into a sunny green sheep pasture. I sat down once I was out of the way of those behind me and watched each of them slowly drag themselves out. And I couldn’t help but laugh at how it would look for a random passer by to suddenly see a bunch of people in black suits and helmets emerge out of the ground like aliens.

Children

Children

When I was staying on the dairy farm in New Zealand, (TWO Whole years ago, damn!) the farmer’s wife was telling me stuff that was on her mind while we were making cheese from some milk we pumped out that day. One piece of information she shared is that when children first start talking to you, you have to keep listening, because the things that they really want to tell you aren’t the first subjects out of their mouth. So if you never let the kid speak and blabber on, or you tune them out, you’ll never get to the deeper layers of what is on their mind.

The same applies to me, except you can skip a fewer layers by asking me why I’m calling and I’ll answer the question.