A story about moving one's boundaries and facing an array of challenges.
Soo, it's been a while... We've been busy! Allow me to explain what we've been up to
After a couple of weeks of living at a friend's place (with the Polydactyl cat - see pictures!) while Scott was doing some building jobs, we finally left Wanganui and made our way to a wonderful HelpX project in little Marton. Milking the goats and making cheese, getting to know the kids and cooking, it was a short but sweet visit. Definitely a place we want to go back to later!
Then, of course, it was finally time for the long anticipated Kiwiburn adventure! Based on the principles of burning man (such as gift-economy: no money is involved what so ever, people just share food, drinks, music..., participation, consent...) this kiwi-version was totally different than any other festival we've been to before. A happy, friendly, colourful bunch of people, mostly in their 20'ies and 30'ies, having a whale of a time dancing, going to workshops such as (acro-)yoga, meditation or poi, drinking, having a sauna, chilling, chatting, listening to talks about earth building, communities or love, sharing food, meeting new friends, and being whoever they want to be (even if just for 5 days). Set on a beautiful location by the river, with a set max of a cosy 1500 people and some epic nights burning the art installations and dancing (naked) around the fire, we had a blast.
After the festival-adventure it was time for some action and we made it all the way from Picton to Queenstown in one day, stopping only to shop, eat, view the seal colony, and pack our bags for the tramp up the Rees track and over the heights of the Cascade Saddle.
We finally made it to the start of the walk at 3:30 am and joined Scott's friends in the hut who made it there before us the next day. What followed was a trek with stunning views over the mountains and glaciers and seeing Keas up close. However, we were lucky to have such fantastic weather, as multiple fatalities have occured on that saddle due to its steepness and slipperiness when weather conditions are less favourable. It was a brutal, but beautiful trek.
Unfortunately, after this adventure our dear car broke down with two broken CV joints. We got towed to a garage where it would take at least a couple of days to be repaired. Thankfully, we had already planned our next tramp and could get a ride with Scott's friends, so we left our Jade behind and on we went to Te Anau to start the Pyke Crossing and the Holliford Track.
Gosh, if I had known what it was going to be like, I'm pretty sure I would not have attempted this hike... It was one challenge after another, resembling some kind of test we had to pass, comprising of climbing, crawling and paddling our way through the edge of the lake - driving us to dispair, the black swamp - which is exactly what it sounds like, swarms of sandflies any time you stood still for more than 2 seconds (with an extra addition of mosquitoes in the toilet of Big Bay Hut; a toilet visit turned you into a self-molesting maniac, slapping yourself anywhere your skin was bare), a treasure hunt for the orange markers marking out the 'track' through dense bush, disappearing where landslides had occured or due to fog-issues, one extremely long haul on the 3rd day for which people generally camp between the 2 huts but which we wanted to get through in one day, aaand -after all that great weather (I'm sure you can guess!): yeah, a storm. It chucked it down, for days, turning trickling creeks into raging rivers, incredibly scary to cross, and plunging the tracks into an identity crisis on whether to be a path or a waterfall...
In any case, Scottie enjoyed putting his foraging knowledge into practice by picking Supplejack berries for breakfast and -shoots (which we fried like asparagus) for dinner. One evening after another, we felt particularly proud of ourselves, having reached the hut alive and well and having delt with obstacles effectively pulling us out of our comfort zone. Moreover, the beauty of the Fiordland rain forest is truly charming, and seeing it in its natural state of wetness was moist but amazing. I regret only having pictures of the sunny, easy start of the track but when frustrated, tired (and wet), and confronted with yet another nearly impassable section of the trek, "Let's take a picture!" is not the first thing on your mind
Well anyway, we got to the end -drenched- with a bruised tail bone, legs full of cuts and scratches from the flax and sharp grasses, and many an itchy bite reminding us of our persistant little black companions, but I believe we successfully completed the test. Madeleine, a kind kiwi lady we met in one of the huts, offered us to stay the night at her place in Te Anau to have a warm shower and a well-deserved rest.
It's magical how a hot shower, being warm and dry, having so much food and being able to simply make a coffee or a cup of tea can make you feel after an adventure of the like.
The following day we were miraculously able to get a ride back into Queenstown with her friend who was heading that way and thus picked up our vehicle and rapidly needed to think of a new plan of action.
We found a HelpX project run by a permactulture teacher (living in an earth ship!) willing to teach us about earth building, food conserving, cheese making, gardening and so on, to start on the 28th and decided to go and help at a hotel due to open in about 10 days in tiny Lumsden (near Queenstown) till then, of which we heard from some guys on the Holliford.
We're glad to finally find a little peace and the opportunity to get ourselves together, sort out a plan, our e-mails, our paua collection which we want to turn into jewelry with the help of the silver thread from Thailand, and it's simply pretty sweet to be living in a hotel
To end with, there's obviously one last challenge that we must face, being together nearly 24/7. Frequent sharings and me-time are helpful, however being together so intensely also has the big advantage of being confronted with your shadows frequently, thus enabling us to grow on a personal level.
I'd love to hear more from you guys and what you're up to, so if you feel like sending me a message, please don't hesitate to do so!
Sending so much love and big hugs to all of you,
From Scott and Tanya