Three Parts

My blog is dragging like sheep in the heat.
I feel compelled to write about my trip chronologically.  Since I'm behind in my [up]dates, this post is about my last day in Auckland.  It's all written in bits and pieces of the past, present, and future. Meanwhile, I'm in the middle of nowhere, sleeping next to a few goats and a pig. I have so much to tell you!

9/9/10

Morning:
I've been told Aucklanders take their coffee very seriously. As a San Franciscan, I can understand this mentality. Just like a stroll around the Mission, the Town [Queen Street] has at least one coffee shop/cafe every block. The first day in Auckland I went to get COFFEE from the COFFEE SHOP only to be met with a blank stare when I asked for a cup of COFFEE. They call it "flat white" or "flat black," which is more like a shot of espresso with milk or without. Still not sure about their love for COFFEE when they really only love things that are flat. Which makes sense considering how difficult it has been to find sparkling water.

So this morning I felt rather silly hiking over to Starbucks to get a tall brewed coffee with soy milk. The barista thought it was funny that they sell soy milk. Why?
In the end, I only drank about half as their milk to coffee ratio was a little off. Ehh, coffee flavored soy milk is not my thing. Still learning.

We are getting ready to leave behind heated towel racks and room service for the unknowns of the North Island.


Afternoon:
Grocery shopping was more challenging than expected. My brain is a little slow in processing the stay to the left rule. Cultural differences have a sharp learning curve. Until this moment, I had no idea the overpowering need I have to always be right. No wait, that's not what I mean. I am always right but not always aware that I instinctively stay to the right when I walk.  My confusion knocked me into two innocent shoppers. It's the little things.


Evening:
We spent most of the day driving and are staying at a hostel in Paihia, one block from the water. The drive to the Bay of Islands was a beautiful postcard of luscious green hills covered with trees, cows, and sheep. It was "wowwwww" around every single bend in the road, and there were a lot of them.

The New Zealand campaign for safe driving is frightening. There are so many signs posted about driving slowly and many other disturbing signs that say things like "High Crash Area," "Don't become a statistic,"  "Your last family photo," and "People have lost loved ones on this road." Blunt. It is clear that more than my fear of heights, more than my fear of dirty bed linens, and more than my fear of the dark is my sickening fear of cars. It was a quietly painful drive with swelling anxiety that settled into a spot just above my left temple. Denise did an awesome job driving on the wrong side of the road and I did my best not to scream. Success. I am a good navigator.

On our trip up here we spontaneously pulled off the highway [one lane each direction]. 'Want to go to the beach?' Swerve. Right turn. Stay left. Some signs later we arrived at a parking lot.
I was grateful for the break and some fresh air. We ended up at Bream Bay -- more like Dream Bay. I started to walk on a small boardwalk to the shore, still hidden behind the wall of dunes. I paused for a second before the ocean became visible. I wanted to take in the next moment to its fullest, knowing that whatever I saw was going to be amazing. Yep. The sand was compact and I sprinted down the coast ... and then stopped, took off my shoes, and ran into the water. Just my feet, that's all. The water was surprisingly warm and the waves were very gentle. I touched the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Neat!

I walked up the steps to the Peppertree Lodge and saw the ... HOLY SHIT the stars are bright!


current location: Waitomo, NZ