Updated: Nov 14, 2022
When the sun sets and darkness slowly fills the room, I sleep. In the morning I open my eyes to soft pinks and golden hues. I feel rested. Knowing I am awake before the others, I move softly and slowly. I drink big gulps of water and do a bit of yoga. Carefully, I walk downstairs and start a pot of water heating. Just before it boils, I pour it over a teabag in a brown mug and return with it to my room upstairs. I work on whatever project seems to be calling my name that morning while I slowly sip the tea.
After a while I hear muffled sounds of someone else rising. An hour or two has passed and I am about ready for breakfast, so I make my way downstairs. My host leaves out a lovely spread each evening so that it’s ready for whoever is awake in the morning. Sliced bread, granola, cereal, milk, grapefruit juice, fresh cut fruit, Vegemite, peanut butter…
Today I bring with me the avocado I purchased at the market the day before. I pop a slice of bread into the toaster as my host comes out and starts the kettle again. We chat about the day ahead; she shows me where to get a knife to cut the avocado, and I fix a bowl of fruit, yogurt, and a bit of granola to accompany my avocado toast. I sit at the table and Anne sits in her chair in the corner. We plan a massage trade–I’ll give her one this evening, and she’ll reciprocate tomorrow afternoon. I thank her again for driving me to the ferry yesterday, and we swap stories. I tell her about walking around the Auckland marinas, followed by a bus trip where someone asked me for directions and we all had a good laugh. Then the art museum with the engaging performance piece, and walking through the park to find a good spot to sit and eat my veggie banh bao.
Soon we quiet down and go about our days. Today it’s very windy and though I had planned a relaxing day at the beach, I am feeling motivated to work on some things so I spend a couple more hours at the computer (and on the phone, catching up with a friend). At noon I pack a few things into my backpack and go for a walk around the neighborhood. The wind is a bit annoying, but the sun is shining and the water is sparkling. I walk to the marina, keeping close to the shore as I marvel at the number and variety of boats.
As I am approaching home, I notice a bright blue car parked out front and wonder who it might be. Just as I turn up the sidewalk toward the front door, a familiar voice calls out, “El! Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?” I’m surprised to see Binu, another guest at the house, leaning over to look at me through the window. “Not really,” I reply, “Why do you ask?”
“I was just going to drive up to a beach I heard about if you’d like to come along.”
I smile and say “Sure! Can I grab a few things real quick?” He says yes and I dash inside and up the stairs, throwing a towel and swimsuit in my backpack and grabbing a granola bar. Within a minute or two, I’m in the car and we’re on our way. We stop by the grocery store for something to drink, and the $2 store where I find a much-needed hat. I learn my new favorite New Zealand term: chillybin!
Driving north, we encounter dense forests of green and bright meadows with grazing sheep and cows. We go through some getting-to-know-each-other conversation as I gaze out at the rolling green landscape. It's absolutely beautiful to me.
Eventually, we arrive at our beach. Not the one he had in mind, but one we picked at random from google maps after the first choice turned out to be a golf course. The wind is fierce and feels a bit chillier than the neighborhood. We each grab an extra layer and a drink, and climb down a massive tree’s roots to get to the shore. The water is brilliant shades of turquoise and cyan. After a few minutes of bracing ourselves against the wind and pretending like we aren’t cold, we decide to wander farther downshore where a rocky cliff face looks like it might provide some shelter. It does help a bit, so we settle on a log there and continue chatting. The lapping waves lull me into sleepiness.
Through the trees in this spot, I notice some interesting rocks and walk around to get a better look. This leads us to a small alcove and a lot more of these strange rocks. It’s as though they are being peeled, layer by layer, exposing their centers. I stare at the rocks and the millions of tiny snails stuck to them. Two oystercatchers (torea pango) make little noises at me as I accidentally wander into their space. I stop and watch them for a while as they poke their bright orange beaks into the tide pools, searching for a snack.
I quietly appreciate this languid afternoon. Neither Binu nor I have any agenda, any plans causing rush or stress, and we both seem to be content to enjoy a bit of conversation or some silent appreciation of the water in motion and the beautiful landscape around us.
But eventually, it’s time for us to head south. As we turn onto familiar streets, I tell him that this already feels like coming home and he laughs but I think he understands how I feel. Inside, we prepare our quick dinners separately and sit down opposite one another at the dining room table. Anne comes in and we fill her in on our day. I also ask about the fireworks that have been going on, and I learn about Guy Fawkes Day (something I long ago heard about but long ago forgot).
After dinner, I give Anne a massage. It feels nice to do this work again–I focus my attention on the muscles and replay her complaints in my head as my hands gain information so I can stay attuned to her needs. She sighs contentedly and says “this is so relaxing!” I smile but remain quiet. I love being able to help people unwind and feel better, physically and mentally. I hope that I can find a way to continue doing massage while I’m here.
Now, here I am, typing away as fireworks pop and crackle outside. I wonder if I’ll have trouble sleeping tonight. I was considering going to downtown Auckland tonight to check out some clubs, try to meet people or just enjoy some dancing, but I’m already a bit sleepy. I’m enjoying the rhythm I’ve already fallen into of rising and falling with the sun, and I think I’d like to keep that going for a while.
Thanks for reading and I hope it’s been pleasant.