Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tim`s here!!!

Thankfully, my husband arrived today, only 15 minutes behind schedule (which was fine, since I was a tad late). Unfortunately, the day is the first fully cloudy day, so he didn`t have a great view (as I did) flying from Auckland to Nelson. It was nice to see the low clouds floating up over the surrounding hills and mountains, however as we drove along. Now, there are even patches of blue sky showing through.

All of this followed a nice storm last night, including much-needed rain, and not-so-much needed wind. I`m sure it`ll take a little while to clean things up.

Fortunately, the storm didn`t arrive until late in the night, as yesterday, I drove home from Kaikoura. For this part of the trip, I was by myself, but for the trip down, Sarah and (the other) Tim joined me.

We all left Friday (also, Paulo and Erik were in another car, as Paulo was dropping his girlfriend off at the airport for a trip to visit a girlfriend for the weekend) after breakfast. It`s a 4-5 plus hour trip to Kaikoura by car, mostly because there`s at least 100 km through mountainous regions. It`s amazing how fast some of the NZers drive on the mountain roads. I took it slowly, especially being in a rental car with slightly squeaky brakes.

We listened to my Ipod (Andrew Bird, Broken Social Scene - both new bands to Sarah and Tim) for most of the way down. We all really enjoyed listening to Barbara Kingsolver`s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It`s about Barbara`s family moving from Tucson, AZ, to one of the Carolina`s (I hope that`s right), and learning to live off the land. Her family makes a commitment to live almost completely off the land and local products for a year (eg., they make exceptions for some spices, olive oil, and a few other things).

Anyway, it`s a fun and good read, everyone - go read it!
Also a good read is Omnivore`s Dilemma by Michael Pollan -- I`ve already listened to it on CD, and I wish I`d had it on my Ipod for Sarah and Tim to listen to, as I`m sure they`d really like it, too.

Friday night we all ate together at Hislops Organic Cafe; though relatively expensive, it was great. I had a decent Kaikoura Chardonnay with a local fish made with curry, and others enjoyed local beer and other mostly-local and organic items. Paulo and I shared desserts - one was an apple and oat crumble with ice cream, and the other was fresh fruit in a manuka honey crisp bowl with ice cream. Manuka honey anything is great.

After dinner, we headed back to a shared apartment at a motel, and I took out my body rolling balls... after a few go-rounds with them (eg., treating Erik`s tender hamstrings - from running miles and miles, and Paulo`s neck - from crooked collar bones), Erik said, ``and you`ve been keeping this a secret all weekÉÉ`` (btw, I hope that there`s a question mark that prints there... it doesn`t show up on the screen that way).

I`d only brought my yellow and red balls to Kaikoura, so I promised I`d show them the green and black balls, as well as the Feetsavers and wakers when we returned to Upper Moutere.

Time to plan on a body rolling workshop in NZ, perhaps.

Saturday morning, I headed out for the Dolphin Encounter. Because there was a heavy swell and seasickness warning, people had dropped out of the 8:30 AM trip, and so I was able to go at 8:30 rather than the 12:30 PM time I signed up for (this turned out to be serendipitous, as the 12:30 was cancelled!)

I and the others going to swim (some people just came to watch) all got fitted with wet suits (ewww... SMELLLLLYYYY!) and saw a video preparing us for the trip. It was funny to hear that, since these are wild dolphins we swim with, WE are THEIR entertainment, and not vice versa. The video narrator also encouraged us to make high-pitched noises as we swam around, in order to attract the dolphins. It looked quite silly on the video, but once you got out there swimming, everyone did it because you wanted to see and be near as many dolphins as possible.

Anyway, the trip was, in a word, INCREDIBLE. At the first swimming point, we were surrounded by playful dolphins who would swim under and around you. I used my underwater camera and took lots of pictures; hope they turn out!

One unfortunate occurrence during this first swim: I took in a LOT of seawater. Therefore, I started to feel quite sick, especially with the neck part of the wetsuit pressing in to my throat - ugh. I hung on through the 2nd and 3rd swims, but as soon as I got on the boat after the 3rd, one guide looked at me, and handed me a pail. They warned us to expect such things.

I think I would have been OK had I not taken in the seawater. I loved the up and down of the boat, as it was like being on a water-surrounded rollercoaster.

The crew had fresh water and ginger biscuits on board, so they helped me feel better, too. A nice, hot shower afterward, along with a delicious lentil and cashew burger, were also a big help.

Met up with the rest of the gang (who had gone surfing all morning - on a rocky beach nearby) afterward, and they wanted to surf some more, so we drove to Mangamauno (spÉ), and walked on another rocky beach to where they went out in to the surf. After ten minutes of watching them swim out to the surf, their figures disappeared in to the water. I kept looking for them, but it was too wavy and they were too far away.

Erik came back first and suggested I head home, as he didn`t think they`d be back for a while. So - I drove to find a payphone, made three tries to Tim`s cell phone, and he picked up on the 3rd try. He was just about to board the flight to NZ, so it was great to hear his voice.

I was glad to be back at the retreat center before dark - around 7:30 PM. The others got home some time around 9:30 PM. I must admit that it got a bit eerie sitting in the lounge area by myself, but I knew they`d be home soon. Sometimes company is just what you need.

This morning (Sunday) included a short by-ourselves yoga practice (John and family were away yesterday until today), after which I went to get Tim at the airport. Oh - a bit of a mishap on the way there... I forgot to ``give way`` (means ``yield``) at one roundabout, and a policeman nearby was outside his car directing people, and he waved me over to tell me so... I apologized, and he said, ``Not a problem... you haven`t inconvenienced me, just the people behind you...``

He was actually quite nice about it, and he must have noticed my American accent...
I will definitely be more careful at roundabouts from here on.

Tim and I had a relaxed lunch (VERY relaxed, as there were too many people and too few workers) at the Gallery Cafe in Nelson (where I`d gone when I first arrived), and then did some shopping - got a cell phone even, which I`m thinking of as another form of car insurance.

Once back at the retreat center, we unloaded and Tim enjoyed a shower. He met most everyone afterward, as I was showing them how to use the black body rolling balls in the lounge area. Then, Paulo, Erik, Sarah, and Tim went to get groceries, and Erik KISSED the balls before they left! He said he can`t believe they`ve been around so long and he didn`t know about them.
Maybe Yamuna needs to take a trip to Sweden.

Long enough post, wouldn`t you sayÉ (that`s another question mark... boy, these side comments are going to seem very silly if a question mark actually shows up there).

One more funny thing... we bought some bacon for Tim at the store, and Erik`s face lit up when he heard that.

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