Thoughts from my First Two Days in New Zealand

The trees are nothing like anything I have seen before. So gangly and geometric and tall.

Is it ridiculous to want to live in a place after only having been there for 48 hours?

I met two Afghani women my age while browsing the NZ poetry section in a bookshop in Auckland who told me about a river in their hometown in Afghanistan. The neighbors built their homes so that a stream would flow through to take the place of running water. I felt the need to apologize for being American––both relocated to NZ because of the war.

It’s a bit of culture shock to come here from Fiji and Tuvalu. So many vegetables. I don’t have to feel shy about wearing shorts in public. There are swingsets. People talk more quickly and in a cadence and accent that is completely new. Dairy = a convenience store. Togs = a bathing suit. There is so much to learn.

I keep thinking I’m in San Francisco. Something about the light is the same.

I have been adopted by a vegan climate activist couple who take me to the most delicious food and coffee places and introduce me to their bike-riding friends. I’m sleeping on a pull-out couch in their place where there are four bicycles mounted on the wall: one silver, one black, one orange, one green. It’s wonderful and strange to be in a city that feels so instantly like home, only different.

I have a lot of catching up to do on Maori and colonial history.

After a brief kerfuffle with customs, my bicycle arrived from the states in a box this morning. I spent the day putting it together, checking that all was good at a local bike shop, and going for a test ride. Left turns are easy and right turns across traffic are astronomically difficult. Tomorrow morning I leave for a seven day ride south along the western coast of the north island, roughly along this path:

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 12.51.42 AM
A French man in a bike shop asked me why I am doing this alone. “Are you running away from something?”

“No. I’m moving forwards.”

My first stop is New Plymouth for a gathering of climate activists in Taranaki.

 

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6 thoughts on “Thoughts from my First Two Days in New Zealand

  1. I still ache with longing for Aotearoa, seven years after returning to the Pacific Northwest (and there is so very much of New Zealand that reminded me of the PNW, and of Northern California). We lived on the South Island- east coast, Christchurch and south of Kaikoura. Will you be making it down south?

    Happy Trails, Devi!

    • Hi Julie, thanks so much for this message! I will definitely be making it down to the South Island in February. NZ is the first place that I can honestly say that I knew I would miss within 24 hours of arriving… it’s the weirdest, most wonderful thing to know! Now just to anchor myself to the here and now.

  2. New Zealand is a great place . We were there on a cruise and always said we would like to winter there. Sending hugs and kisses.

  3. Love the premise of your travels – story telling and story gathering. You will no doubt bump in to many on those two magical islands. Just make sure you capture them on paper or video (I went biking solo in NZ for 6 months hoping the read all the classics I had not read in college — came home 2 years later having read NONE but having had a most incredible journey!). Enjoy enjoy enjoy…

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