This is not a land of mysteries. Like most places in the world, this was discovered before Columbus set his grubby feet on what is now called America. Kupe was the first here, they say. Then came Abel Tasman and Cap’n Cook. And now every blessed inch is freely available to view and critique on Google Maps. But inside, what about inside? Has Google mapped that too?
For most of this year, I have been cleaning shit. Yes the S word. Faeces. First it was horse shit, then human. Explain? What is there to explain? I was at the RDA, then at a special school. Doesn’t that explain it all? But listen. I don’t want to talk about shit, I want to talk about travelling. I want to talk about discovery and fear and flying. The knot in the stomach, the bile in the mouth, the insane spinning of the skies. Have you ever jumped off a cliff?
This began, as all journeys seem to, with the jumping off a cliff, a quitting of jobs, a trusting of fate to the winds. And what a journey this has been. Did you know that horses can’t vomit? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Or that just like the rest of us, the disabled need care, not pity? That there are at least 22 Pa sites in what is now called Hamilton? That the koru of the Punga tree is also known as bush asparagus. That pine needles can substitute for straw when laying down strawberry beds. That you can be poor and happy. That normal is just what you usually do. That op-shops don’t sell just second hand clothes, but a chance to get away from the waste and pollution of half arsed consumerism. That riding a horse could be as good as riding a motorbike. That people who give freely of their time and money and energy need not be on the Left. Or rich. Or even young. That a funny song can make a point better than an angry poem. That the Japanese government is yet to acknowledge the ‘comfort women’ from World War 2. And that if you wrestle lions in your sleep, you probably can beat most things when awake. Did you? I sure didn’t.
And now, 10 months later, it is almost time to go discover another place. While I am a huge fan of Pearly and Cédric’s epic cycle trip through south Asia, I cannot shake the feeling that they went too fast. While Tasman’s name for this land has stuck, it is Kupe’s and Cook’s tradition that I am interested in- they stayed put for a while. And as we prepare to move again, I must remind myself. To stay put. For a while.
But it all starts with jumping off a cliff.