Sunday, 18 April 2010

Last days in Auckland

Auckland is a busy place, teeming with pedestrians, tourists and students. I drive around looking for a parking lot, knowing there are lots but somehow I don't see any on the path I choose to follow. I did of course find one and after squeezing into it I went looking for the Art gallery. Suddenly there were parking lots all around! Right.
I meet Roo in the gallery after walking completely around the building looking for the entrance. The art on display is contemporary and, for me, pushes the definition of art way past the edge I understand. A large rectangle spread across the floor composed of the remains of a completely dismantled and burned car in 3x5 pieces. Perches suspended from the ceiling that when bumped squawk like a bird....
We go for tea and catch up on the adventures. I go walkabout looking for a cellphone repair. The consensus being I "should buy a new one". I get a haircut from a fellow who doesn't seem to understand what I want, or I don't explain it well. My first brush cut in many years, and most of the beard off look. Back up the hill to Victoria Park where folks are laying about, playing guitar and studying (?) The trees are immense, I attempt to capture their essence in a photo. I wander through the university surrounded by the vigor and possibilities of youth and education. I am feeling old and the busyness is wearing on me. I have had enough of the hustle and bustle and head back to the van...which is where, exactly?
Elke calls as I figure out where I am and we connect briefly.
Back at Liz and Fraser's, I prepare to sell back the van, clean it up and empty everything out. Somehow I need to assimilate or discard these precious items. I saved almost every receipt and tourist brochure I received. I go through it all whittling the pile down to the most pertinent.
I arrange to bring the van back and thankfully it starts easily every time the fellow starts it. Fraser waits as we go on a "test drive" nervously biting his nails waiting for the final verdict. We visit a panel beater (auto repair shop) where the bump on the back bumper is assessed at $400 and taken off the resale price. I am glad to be free of it, knowing I would not do it that way again.
A visit to Waitakere the next day and a chance to use my camera with Fraser's tutelage. We collect images in the interpretive centre, of the native forest, massive tree fern fronds, and occasionally mushrooms. Stop for meat pies and visit a gift shop. I am feeling antsy, impatient and sad. I love this place!
I finally arrange to visit Earthsong the Co-housing community. Fraser and I drive north first and walk the beach, taking pictures of course. Then south and west to Swanson out Waitakere way to Earthsong. Helen, who I met at the Heart Politic gathering takes me around to see the buildings, the community house and then feeds me lunch on the deck. Each residence has their own garden space, there are orchards, nut trees and community gardens as well. These folks are all serious gardeners and the surplus ends up for sale at the nearby farmers market. Helen has a banana tree outside her front door! We talk about the structure of the place, residents, gardening and finally the governance. Christof and Susy also from the Heart Politic gathering, live here and offer to take me to Bethells Beach. Cool! Fraser had told me it was one of his favorites, unfortunately he was unable to take me there.
it is beautiful! We tramp across the black sand my camera grabbing images. Susy talks about cooking and the cave across the river. The full moon and low tide make for a bigger beach than Christof has ever seen. I have my shoes on so I explore the shelf in front of the basalt and creep around the corner on the sharp edges taking pictures of green lipped mussels and the rocks.
I am still amazed at the starkness and fresh feeling of the lava, the geology. how the land seems so alive and active, pieces breaking off, edges everywhere. Another piece of the permaculture puzzle falls into place.
After a nice dinner Christof drives me to the train, one of the reasons these folks chose to build here. A quiet and relaxed hour later I am downtown where due to a lack of street signs, spend a few panicked minutes determining where to catch the bus. Auckland has at least three bus systems going in three directions. An hour later I'm sharing my adventures over tea with Liz and Fraser.
The morning arrives, I have spent much time packing all my treasures into my suitcase and the chilly bin: books, clothing, mead, shells, honey and a 3.2K lava rock for the sweat lodge. All the feathers I found, the wings of the hawk, I place lovingly into an envelope to mail to myself. However when I declare what is inside for customs I cannot lie, I say it is an "unassembled fan" (!) then "roadkill feathers". Apparently "plumage" is not permitted to leave the country. I tell Fraser I figure I am doing my bit to support the NZ economy. I hope it will arrive and let go of the outcome. As I write this three weeks later I am quite sure I know the outcome of that envelope.
Liz takes me to the airport, we have a bit of an adventure finding it as the roads are altered from the last time she drove there. Fraser at the hospital having a procedure which turns out well. I hang out, read, look at people, magazines, more people, wait till time to load. Then the moment when I walk in and sit down. Watch 5 movies drink wine and eat the onboard dinner. The woman in front of me tilts back and it is like she is in my lap. In Vancouver I declare my honey so I am obliged to check in with Ag Can Customs. No problem. No one even looks in my bags! I stand in line again to go through yet another security check, have time for a quick pee and step outside to board the plane to Victoria. Immediately the air hits me. It smells and tastes like home.

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