Two of my close friends, Lauren and Melissa, came to visit us in Indonesia. Their trip has been this big, exciting thing on our schedule for the past few months and the time had finally come for real, live hugs.
We split our time between the jungle of Ubud, riddled with tattooed yogis and American Expats sipping detoxifying juices, and Gili Trawangen’s white beaches and Bintang chugging traveler scene. I had planned much of our time, but left a bit of the schedule open so that we could add in adventures or change plans along the way. Zach and I hadn’t been to Ubud or Gili T yet, but we had gotten pretty good at planning, negotiating, and making our way around Bali and I was excited to both explore and use my sassy traveler skills with my friends.
But there were three or four different times throughout the week when a little voice in my brain stomped her feet and whined, “This is not how this is supposed to be going.” Like when I split my forehead open in the pool and had to go to the medical clinic for stitches, or when I couldn’t drink fancy cocktails at the swim up bar because of the antibiotics that I was on. Or when our hotel that looked pretty good online was run by crystal meth addicts. Or when we all got sick and were just barely able to share the one toilet.
The trip was not how I had envisioned. I envisioned a funkier version of a vacation that you might see in a movie. I saw us making cocktails at our bungalow and going to bars at night, kind of like what we might do in New York. But over the course of two weeks, we didn’t finish the booze that the girls brought from the duty free shop or go to bars. We spent our days exploring shops, taking yoga classes, finding shady spots to enjoy a fresh juice and telling stories. And when we talked about the big stuff, we talked about the little stuff and asked about family and got our nails painted. We went to bed early and were awoken by the sound of roosters and iguanas and the call to prayer coming from the mosques.
Our trip had highs and lows just like life does. There was a point every day when I held my forehead while laughing hysterically because I thought I was going to rip my stitches. There was the night we all snuggled in one bed and ate Ritz crackers because that’s all anyone could keep down. Melissa accompanied me to medical clinics to get my bandage changed and take pictures of my wound. Lauren let a monkey sit on her shoulder, somewhat that no one else had the hutzpah to do. We shopped and negotiated. We barfed and drank ginger ale. We talked about Miley Cyrus and Syria. My friends got to experience what our life is like these days and we had the pleasure of their company, which is the biggest thing we miss about home.
As Melissa said in an email when she got back,
I had such a good time doing nothing. It’s rare to not have the internal nag saying “you should be going to the gym, you should be doing this that or the other pain in the ass thing you don’t want to do.” I love how no matter what we do, sitting on a beach, snorkeling, hiking, eating, etc. We know we are going to have an adventure, laughs, heart-to-heats with our without wine… it’s always guaranteed.
Couldn’t have said it better, Melis. Thank you guys for coming, we had a phenomenal time. Much love.
Today we leave Wanaka. We have been here for 8 months, which is long enough to make good byes quite hard. Last night was my final shift at work, followed by an amazing last staff meal, good bye drinks and loads of hugs at our local watering hole. Some of our friends are those whom I’ve worked side by side with since I started work in December. And some are those whom I’ve just met, but could tell right away that we are cut from the same cloth. So because it was hard to say good bye, we didn’t really. See you next year in the Czech Republic. See you when we eat New York together. See you in France when I stay at your parent’s house. See you when we’re 50 and bring our kids back to Wanaka. See you somewhere, some time, out there in the world!
The next leg of our journey is booked! We leave New Zealand on August 2 and are headed to Indonesia, with a four day layover in Melbourne.
Our NZ Working Holiday visas expire in two months. In visa/gov’t bureaucracy-time, thats not much time at all. We played with several options and seriously considered extending our visas and staying through September to make the most of the ski season here in Wanaka, but the cost and hassle of doing that wasn’t worth the trouble. And the thought of going somewhere new is REALLY EXCITING. So we will leave Wanaka “right at the beginning of the good snow,” as the locals keep telling us.
Our first step is leaving Wanaka in mid July and heading to Melbourne, a city that comes highly recommended by chef friends at Francesca’s and our former room mates. My hope is that Melbourne will feed the little part of me that misses a city. I don’t think it is homesickness; I’m pretty sure it is just city-sickness and that it can be satiated in a few days amidst cheeky grafitti, patterned tights and Edison lightbulbs, funky coffee shops and food trucks.
Before our roomies Robyn and Stephen left Wanaka, they made us a map of Fitzroy and Collingwood, the East Village and Williamsburg, BK of Melbourne. The neighborhood where I’ll live out my yearning for a morning yoga class, long brunch, afternoon aimlessly fondling scarves and trying on earrings before devouring cheap tacos and margaritas for dinner. Just like NYC. Just for a few days. And then we can dive head first into the crazy unkonwn that will follow.
After a week in Melbourne, we fly to Indonesia for some yoga in the jungle, moped excursions, water sports and island exploring. We are going to scope out the best of the best before my best friend, Melissa, comes for a visit at the end of August!
Then in September, we will find some cheap flights on Air Asia and make our way through Kuala Lumpur to India for climbing school at the Himilayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. And after that, who knows what will happen. We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, we will be working and saving and getting ready to pack up our life here in NZ into a backpack.
It is officially Autumn here. They don’t say Fall. Autumn. And in winter, the cost of electricity doubles. Doubles! When you need it most! We have made a no-heater rule and plan to heat the house using just the wood stove and hot water bottles. So on a bleak day, after a cold night, we went out foraging at “the spot.” 15ks out of town and 7ks down a dirt road, there was rumored to be heaps of driftwood from where a river meets the lake. After borrowing a chainsaw and making two trips to the spot, we have enough wood to make the winter in our breezy, not at all insulated house a super cozy one.