I have updates, I have notes for blog drafts not yet written, and I have a big, trip-changing announcement.
The best vehicle for these announcements is a post written in the style of an email from a white, 40+ year old suburban housewife who is updating a friend who I imagine was in the same sorority.
Whew! What a whirlwind it’s been! Was it really January when we last connected? Shame on me for not getting to you sooner. Last time we gabbed I was in Christchurch saying good bye to Manya. After that I went north to Nelson. Rental car companies offer this great deal where you can re-allocate a car for nothing except the cost of gas. I did that, but the car agency put me in a big 4×4 pick-up. Can you imagine me in a car that size? Hilarious! Naturally I didn’t know how to drive it, got it stuck in a narrow driveway, and, while trying to get it out, broke a wood fence and completely scratched the right fender and side swiped the entire left side of the car. I’m such a klutz!
Nelson was absolutely lovely. It’s tropical but not Caribbean tropical. So the beaches are very clear and there are ferns and other tropical botans, but the water is cold. Thank God I didn’t have to break out the bikini. About a month after I left hundreds of whales washed up on Nelson’s beach. If I had been out there in my bikini people would have been trying to rescue me!
I stayed with a delightful couple who made me lamb chops and a salad from their herb and tomato garden. I got us all a bottle of wine one night and had two glasses. Look at me, such a sot, but it was so nice talking with friendly and older people.
Another thing I did in Nelson was hike the Abel Tasman, which is a national park trail that was four days long. I met Matt Lee. Do you remember him? He was the whistleblower that told on Lehman Brothers. The people you meet out here are fascinating. It seems like everyone who is old and traveling alone is running away from something. Like retribution from a shadowy financial institution, mortgage payments, or drug addicted adult children. But good on Matt. I’m glad there are still honest, decent people in the world. Shame on Lehman and what they did to so many hard working middle class Americans. Makes me sick to think about it.
The Abel was lovely and beautiful, but it rained one day and I lost my boot for a bit in a huge mud puddle. Can you imagine?
After the Abel a friend put me in touch with one of her friends whose name is Holly. Well now Holly is a friend with no intermediary. Funny how that happens. We went to a dairy farm and had raw milk right from the cow’s udder (not right from, it was refrigerated first). It was only a dollar for a jug and was so delicious. Nothing tastes as good as something that is fresh. Shame that so many antibiotics are used in our American cows. Not in New Zealand. That is maybe why they do not have as much autism as us.
Holly and I also went on a cycle tour of breweries. One of them was run by Americans. So funny! I had three beers, so thankfully the bike trail was not shared with cars because I was like an Indian basket maker—weaving all over the road!
When Holly left I hiked the Heaphy Track. While waiting for the bus to take me there I met a Dutch boy who was also hiking the Heaphy. So beautiful (the Heaphy, not the Dutch boy!). It rained every day though and I got soaked and wet. I vowed to never hike in the rain again, but I tell you I still had a blast. At one point I was all alone, soaked to the bone because it was raining so hard and because I had to cross rivers up to my knees, and I don’t know what got into me but I just started yelling at the landscape. It was like the type of yelling you do when you go to law school in pursuit of a dream but then you graduate into a horrible legal recession and accept a transactional law job even though you know you’ll hate it but you’re too spineless to say no and know there is nothing else available so you feel blessed that you got the job in the first place and you start working and you’re right you hate it and you don’t really sleep and you work all the time and even once one of your Jewish friends calls you the Hitler of friends because you cancel so much on plans out and you get to a point that you think it makes more sense to move 9,000 miles away than continue with what you’ve been doing while moving the one mile across the river into Williamsburg so you just say fuck it and sell all your things and buy a one way ticket and promise all your New York friends that you’re going to let them know there will be a going away party but there won’t be and you always knew there wouldn’t be but you just said that so they would stop asking you questions and then you literally Irish Goodbye your entire country. So good to get that anger out!
After the Heaphy I rented a car to spend three days to get to Queenstown instead of paying over a hundred dollars for a two day bus trip. Bus travel is so expensive and inefficient here. I wanted to really enjoy the scenery of the west coast of South Island. It is quite beautiful. All of New Zealand is beautiful, you really have to see it. Pictures don’t do it justice. They never do.
One night I stayed in Westport, which is a real boring town. I’m so awful, but it really was bad. I hiked a trail called Cape Foulwind. The weather was beautiful! Just kidding, it was terrible. Haha. That night I was sitting in the common room and who walks in but the Dutch boy from the bus stop! This is so funny about travel, that you can see someone for two minutes, not even get their name, but then if you see that person weeks later you are automatically best friends. That’s the way it was with him. That night I also met a Dutch girl (so many Dutch people!). She was as friendly and cute as could be. She was close to my age and also quit her job. Naturally we were meant to be travel buddies so we traveled together all the next day. We visited rocks that looked like pancakes and even ate pancakes that looked like rocks. Just kidding (again—I kill myself from silliness sometimes), the pancakes were normal, delicious pancakes and eating them with a Dutch person is what I imagine eating Taco Bell with a Mexican is like! Such a great connection to authentic culture!
I spent the next month hiking New Zealand’s best hikes—the Routeburn, the Milford, and the Kepler. They were all so beautiful and all so lovely. The Routeburn especially. That was my favorite. I saw a Kea bird, which is an alpine parrot and quite cheeky. (Cheeky is a Kiwi person word for mischievous.) The Milford was nice, but we had some rocky issues when an older man took quite a tumble and ended up needing to be evacuated by helicopter. Poor man, but at least he is alright now. The Kepler was disappointing because I got kicked off. No, not what you’re thinking. The winds were 120 mph and I would have been blown right off the mountain. So I’m glad they closed down the track and made me turn around, and it was very good of them to refund all the money I spent on huts. The Kiwis are good honest people. I like them.
When I was in Queenstown I met lots of great people. I met up with Holly again and we played golf at such an old, ratty (but fun!) golf course that you paid for by the honor system. Honestly the greens were so torn up that not even Martha Stewart could iron them out, but we had such a blast. Haven’t had a golf experience like that in ages. Also I met my parallel life buddy! A girl named Anna (also a friend of a friend but now just a friend!), who lived in San Diego, went to Wash U, and also quit America to live in New Zealand. We are both bibliophiles and we both over think everything. The world is so small sometimes! I hung out with her and her Kiwi boyfriend a few times and had such a great time. The people you meet while traveling are great, and it’s so easy to make friends. Traveling is like it’s always 1am and you’re drunk on Appletinis at a fantastic bar that you just discovered and everyone is friendly and doesn’t want to be alone although they are destined to be so you all just throw caution to the wind and impersonate art. Such a great vibe.
I said good bye to Queenstown and South Island and spent a week in Wellington. What a cool, funky city Wellington is. There is such a great young person vibe. It really makes you want to get buzzed on coffee, get a tattoo, and maybe get high and do some hard drugs while shopping for vintage black jeans. I’m only being honest! Dutch girl was there too and we hiked Mt. Victoria together, visited the botanical gardens, and spent far too long in all the great coffee shops. It was Valentine’s Day and, thank god, she hated the holiday too. So sad what corporate America has done to holidays. V-Day is not a big deal in New Zealand though. I didn’t see any girls buying ice cream alone and no one made a big deal about not having a significant other. New Zealand though has a very bad domestic abuse problem. I’m just saying because it’s true and people should know.
I wanted to get away and read and write, so I stayed a week with a nice couple in New Plymouth. Nothing to report here except that I got badly sunburned when I hiked Mt. Taranaki, an old volcano. You get sunburned so easily in this country. Why did so many pasty white people move here?
Right now I am next to Tongariro National Park. That’s what they used as the land with all the bad guys and goblins for that movie with Orlando Bloom. I am supposed to hike it tomorrow as long as the weather allows. For the last week I’ve been on a river journey with the Dutch boy. He really is quite nice, and, it was so funny, he kept performing magic tricks for me. One lady asked if we both perform vanishing tricks for each other. I said kind of and showed her my bank account balance from when I arrived and then what it is now and she was very impressed with the trick and a few people clapped. I was glad to receive the attention, but I also started to panic because I realized I’m gaining no marketable skills while financially bankrupting my future over such a selfish endeavor. The river itself was spectacular. Lots of green and rocks and water. Very therapeutic to paddle in water and sleep under stars. Like a spa package except you are active and get a hundred sand fly bites and look forward to when it will end.
Anyways, I have a big announcement. I am—duh duh dum—leaving New Zealand! I know I know, but I feel that the time is right. As much as I have loved it here I want to keep traveling. I am going to Australia on March 10th. But I still have so many notes on things I want to write to you about. So I’ll be sending you a post about the Waitomo Glow Worm caves, which are the neatest thing in New Zealand. And I want to go over the hikes I’ve done, because New Zealand makes a big deal of them and I had some pretty neat experiences.
Anyways, it was lovely hearing from you as always. Let me know how you are holding up and whether there is any legal update on the status of alimony payments and whether Mark has gotten the clap from that whore he left you for yet (I know I’m so bad!)