Wednesday, 20 November 2013

a sort of nirvana

Entering the Bay of Islands, a sweet, sweet sight

Opua Marina on a gloriously sunny day
New Zealand feels a little like we finally reached the carrot at the end of the stick. It’s a place to pause. Somewhere one can look back and ponder the incredible distance travelled in the past 8 months. We’re still a little surprised. We crossed the Pacific Ocean to get here! We met incredible people, travelled thousands of miles, visited dozens of islands. And we made it in one piece. (More or less.)

New Zealand is also where we have rediscovered a world of plenty. Leiagh, a friendly local woman, took a few cruisers to Paihia, the town next to tiny Opua. Opua basically boasts a marina and many friendly marine businesses and not much else. It was a Thursday afternoon and Paihia’s outdoor farmer’s market was in full swing. There, we stuffed our carry bags with fresh avocadoes, oranges and lettuce. There is also a medium-sized grocery store in town. When Nicole and I stepped through the front doors, we were dumbfounded. We’d forgotten what grocery stores could be like. They have everything here. I picked up a large block of sharp cheddar cheese and asked Nicole, “Do you think I’m overdoing it if I buy this?” To which Nicole replied, “Are you kidding! I have the same one in my cart!” Our eyes were shiny with all the possibilities.

To say that our first week here was a tad overwhelming is an understatement. Yet we are not the only ones. Every day, there are new arrivals. Ocean travellers like us, a little shell-shocked, relieved to have finished another long passage, and not quite believing they’ve come this far. The main topics of conversation have revolved around passage making, quickly followed by food, hot showers, haircuts, and the Laundromat. I felt self-conscious about the sheer volume of laundry we carried into the Laundromat the other day, but only for a very brief moment. We are all in the same boat, pun intended. Every piece of fabric is damp after passage making, and warm clothes that haven’t seen the light of day in years, smell bad. Comforters and sleeping bags need a refresher.  Everything has to go in, and oh, the luxury of machine-washed laundry. It was as good as I’d imagined…

A cigar was just the ticket...
The best part in all this was reuniting with friends and acquaintances. We caught up with people we hadn’t seen since Mexico. We met others whose boat names we’d heard over the radio waves throughout the Pacific, and of course, there were the ones we had our first celebration with. Our friends on Dream Time and Bella Star were here when we arrived. A night of cigars and whiskey (or wine or beer) and stories was the perfect way to begin our stay here. We have since explored the area with the gang, and went as far as Keri Keri for Nicole’s birthday a few days later. We don’t need a reason to celebrate with these guys, but this was a great excuse to pretend we were normal and go to a “real” restaurant. Since then, many friends have arrived, and it’s difficult to walk from the café to the shower block without having to stop and chat with this boat crew or that boat crew.

The Dreamers, the Stars, and the Nyoners... Celebrating Nicole's birthday in style!
But the whirlwind is slowing down. We are now faced with decisions. Where we settle down and who do we contact for potential work. We also have to catch up on paperwork and real-life stuff. It hasn’t hit us yet, all the coming changes. Rick says he has a hard time shifting gears between having the boat in survival mode to a cosmetically pleasing coastal cruising vessel. (It’ll take us a while to get there.) We both welcome change, but we also wonder what it will do to us. We’ll just take it one baby step at a time. In the meantime, we await the arrival of a loved one in our midst. Canada is sending us our soul-sister, and we can’t wait.

Now, I must find my jandles, get ready to fill a trundler with Kiwi goodies while I call out g’day to all the friendly Kiwis as I wander the streets. Just you wait, soon I’ll sound like a Kiwi. With a French accent, that is.

~~~

Shout out: Just wanted to mention the Marina Shop folks, they let cruisers use their Internet for free, answer a million questions and give you boat insurance if you want it. We've been hanging out in their office harrassing them and they keep smiling. If you come here one day, go say hi to Bill and Laura.

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on arriving! What an incredible accomplishment. I just recently returned from a 3 week visit to NZ. It is a lovely country full of wonderful people. Enjoy! Don't miss Hot Water beach. Its an unforgettable experience. Best regards, Tanya

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  2. Hi guys, I presume you've seen Sara (Wondertime) excellent post about the process for getting work visas or residency in NZ? (http://www.svwondertime.com/2013/07/03/how-to-move-to-new-zealand-in-31-easy-steps/) Take care my friends. We just pulled into San Diego to buy a used boom, headed for Mexico this weekend hopefully. Michael and family

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  3. Congratulations again!

    I'll be looking forward to reading about how settled life in NZ will be for you two after being vagabonds for so long, and if you get antsy in time to continue on with another adventure once the weather changes for cruising again.

    Don

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  4. We are so glad you made it here safe and sound!! Can't wait to catch up in person very soon and pass on our New Zealand survival tips. ;-)

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  5. Thanks all! It is a very exciting (and uncertain) time for us and we're enjoying it! :)

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