[Sunday - just added some pictures... the first one above is on the drive up Takaka hill, looking back over the valley. The second one is Evelyn and Sabine in Takaka. The third is Evelyn and Sabine on the trail to Wharariki beach (btw, the name of the beach is said, "Fair-a-ree-kee," because "wh" is said like "f"). The fourth is me, Bela, Evelyn, Sabine, and Amanda on Wharariki beach (Dion took the picture), and the last is the five of us doing yoga poses on the beach.]
Friday, the 13th of March, was quite a full day. Brigid and Amanda practiced teaching with John at 5:30 AM, and they started the 8 AM class. They have a wonderful connection and communication between them, and it came through in their teaching.
After their beginning, John let us go in to our own practices, and I was fortunate that he worked with me for several minutes. Having him right there, counting me through several poses brings dharana (ie., concentration) almost immediately. The thinking brain turns off, and it's just breath, bandha (mulabandha and uddiyana bandha - look them up!, and drishti (eye-gazing point)).
Most of us enjoyed "raw breakfast" after practice that Amanda had made the night before and let soak (with oats, seeds, nuts, juice, apple, and more). It was really good.
Oh - I haven't mentioned about the coffee in the mornings: I was missing french press coffee so much (like Tim and I make at home), that I went out and found a french press here (well, they call it a "plunger") as well as a hand-grinder, and got them for the kitchen. So, now the coffee in the mornings is, as the Kiwis say, "FANTASTIC."
Morning class was discussion. Lunch was quiche (with spinach - awesome) and salad. Afternoon class was adjusting one another through the fundamental poses, with the person practicing wearing earplugs to better hear his/her breath. Vayu and I worked together, and the time flew. I couldn't believe it when class was over. What a gift to repeatedly experience such focus and peace many times a day.
Following class, Sarah C, Sabine, Evelyn, Amanda, and I all packed our bags for a Friday night-Saturday adventure - hence the title of this post.
We headed out around 5 PM for Takaka, and to get there, you have to climb and descend the high Takaka hill, on a VERY twisting, turning road. Btw, tractor trailers use the road, so you have to be really careful. On the way down the hill, the clouds rolled in and it got very foggy, so I turned on the lights and slowed way down. Once we were near the bottom of the hill, it cleared up quite a bit, even though there was cloud cover and rain. We all prayed that tomorrow would be bright for a trip to Fairwell Spit.
We passed through Takaka to get to our hostel (well, a backpackers place - there are shared rooms and shared facilities) called Shambhala. We turned off the main road on to a very muddy and rocky road, traveling probably 2 km to get there. Since there were 5 of us, 4 stayed in one room, and one stayed with others in the other 4-person room (Sarah C).
The place didn't seem too bad at first, but somewhat rough around the edges. We were a bit nervous that the light didn't work in the upstairs bathroom, and when we flushed the toilet, the used toilet paper didn't flush.
Anyway, we were hungry, so we headed back out the muddy road and up the main road another 200 meters to The Mussel Inn, a real local place. The area seems to be filled with backpackers, many of whom seem to be from the 60s and 70s, as well as local residents, who seem to still live in that same era.
We placed our orders and were glad to get some sustenance. I ordered the scallops, which came with the foots attached; they were tender, and fairly good, but not great. Amanda and Sarah C ordered the freshly steamed mussels, which were again, fairly good or OK, but not great. It was actually disappointing, since the green-lipped mussels I'd had in NZ last year were really delicious. These mussels might have been better steamed in a sauce, rather than just water. Who knows? Sabine enjoyed a large steak (yes, some yogis eat meat).
The best part of the meal was dessert; three of us ordered the apple and peach crumble, and it was very fresh, and very hot, so the ice cream and cream that came with it melted fairly quickly.
We returned to Shambhala for what I was hoping was a good night's rest... well...
The first problem that we noticed before we left was eventually fixed (ie., the light in the bathroom), but some other problems couldn't be fixed... eg., the beds: you could feel the springs in the mattresses, and then you could feel the wooden frame beneath the mattress. It was very hard to get comfortable, and once you DID get comfortable, that sense of comfortability (?!) didn't last long. I must have turned over 10 times in the first two hours of trying to get to sleep.
The other major problem, which others didn't hear (Amanda didn't because she was smart and used earplugs) was a mouse in the room (or mice?). I almost asked if anyone heard it, yet I couldn't believe I was hearing it myself. I'd hear the mouse chewing on something, and then scurry across the floor, then silence... and then scurry across toward the closet (near my bed), chew on something, and then stop... and on and on...
I did sleep a bit off and on, and sometimes when I'd wake back up, there was silence, and other times, I'd hear the mouse again. Ugh.
The other issues were that our room was SO hot and dry that my nose completely plugged up and I couldn't breathe through my nose, and that the sheets didn't seem very clean. [In fact, in the other room, Sarah C had begun to climb in to one bed when a girl told her that she shouldn't get in that bed, because she had slept in it the night before and she had flea bites.
Oh well, I kept telling myself: It's just one night. I can do this. Before I know it, we'll be driving away from here toward the Spit. Breathe... as best you can, breathe... hang in there. The mouse isn't going to come up on your bed...
It was a bit scary around 3 AM when I HAD to use the toilet. I told myself, OK now, 1-2-3... get up, feet on the floor - I will NOT step on the mouse (I didn't)... etc.
Fortunately, morning DID come, and we were glad it wasn't raining, and we were even more glad when we left Shambhala behind and headed back to Takaka for breakfast at the Wholemeal Cafe. I enjoyed the Gardener's breakfast. Some others weren't feeling too well and didn't eat very much.
We left shortly thereafter to drive toward Collingwood and Fairwell Spit. There was still cloud-cover above us, but some hints of blue sky here and there. We arrived at the cafe at the south end of the Spit just after noon, and walked a bit around the area, seeing some brown sheep just inland from the ocean. Yes - brown sheep... none of us had ever seen brown sheep before.
We walked up and down the beach a bit, and even saw a jellyfish, waiting on the sand for the tide to come in, and indeed, the tide was coming in, so we turned back and walked back to the car.
We decided to take a different road (gravel road) toward Wharariki Beach, supposedly the most beautiful beach in the area, and after seeing it, I think we all agree that it must be the most beautiful beach. You can't drive all the way to the beach, however. You have to park and walk about 20 minutes through farmland (where sheep are grazing right next to the path) and sand dunes to get there. It was truly extraordinary. I'll upload pictures as soon as possible.
Sarah C was a bit tired; she stayed in the car.
I've neglected to mention that Bela had come to Takaka with her male friend, Dion, from Nelson today, and they met up with us to go to the Spit and Wharariki. Dion took some great pictures of the group doing yoga on the sand.
Evidently, seals come in to the rocks mid- to late-afternoon on Wharariki, and we saw a couple on some far-out rocks.
The whole beach area left us all in a state of awe. The beauty was indescribable.
The walk back was challenging, especially climbing the sand dunes, but we made it.
We decided not to stop back at the cafe, and instead, made a pit-stop in Takaka for coffee/drinks, and then headed back to Motueka. We walked around and shopped a bit to get some fresh air and move our legs again, and then headed on.
Amanda, Sabine and I decided to eat dinner at Riverside Cafe, and so I dropped Amanda and Sabine there and then took Sarah C and Evelyn back to Stillpoint. I then drove back to Riverside and had a wonderful meal of haloumi salad with greens and tomatoes, pesto-crusted grouper over risotto, and amazing 2008 sauvignon blanc. Ahhhh... what a delicious dinner on an incredible day.
Back at Stillpoint, Sarah P-C had made up our rooms, and they looked really beautiful and clean. We are all grateful to her. We truly appreciate the care and attention she gives to taking care of our rooms over the weekends, especially after experiencing what happens when people don't take good care of rooms (ie., at Shambhala).
One more fun thing happened back at Stillpoint: Sabine, Sarah C, Evelyn, and I watched the movie, Once, and since they hadn't seen it, it was great to see it with them. I loved it even more the second time.
If you haven't seen it, rent it and watch it.
Sarah P-C returned from her Saturday in Nelson while we were watching the movie, and she'd brought some beautiful, fresh flowers for the shala.
Well, it's late, and we have self-practice in the morning. I'm sure we'll all sleep much better tonight than last night.