Middle Earth Day 21: Happy New Year!

I just finished an entire kilo of peanut butter; in how many days, I would rather not say. I feel a bit disgusted with myself but it has been essentially the entree of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner the last several days. My body is now composed of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and peanut butter. I woke up before my alarm this time around with relatively uninterrupted sleep. Since it was so cold during the night, I slept in close to four layers of shirts with a rain jacket over top, two pairs of shorts, my legs stuffed into a sleeping sheet/garbage bag combo, and a towel formed turban to keep my head warm. If you opened the tent, you might have mistaken me for a homeless man but, in my opinion, whatever gets the job done I’ll do it. I took the water taxi all the way to the northern end of the national park and on the way I saw some of the beauty that I had been promised from so many fellow travelers. At the southern end I got to see the famous Split Apple Rock, which is a well rounded boulder that has been split right down its center and sits on a crumbled bed of rocks in a V-formation at its center in one of Abel Tasman’s many bays. Further along, we got to see a few seals who were being bums sitting on their own private island. The shoreline the rest of the way was much like what I saw on my first day here with a full spectrum of green dotting the hills of the coastline and golden beaches tucked tightly below the forest. For a short spurts, the boat waded in each of the bays allowing us to take in their beauty. My imagination ran wild as to what my eyes were witnessing. A fair bit of the coastline, especially where the rugged land jutted out into the water, looked kind of like elephant feet: a clear rounded base with smaller parts reaching out, tempted to dip into the salty sea. We sped along, skipping across the almost too perfectly blue waters before getting dropped off at Bark Bay. I had epic plans in store for the day since I wanted to make the most out of my last day at Abel Tasman. I thought about going further north and then backtracking down south to where the taxi would pick us up again at Anchorage Bay. With the superhuman pace I kept on that first day, seeing as much as possible was only expected. To first savor Bark Bay before moving on, I had to sit down on the toasty warm beach and watch the trees sway and the boats rock in the wind. After a rough series of nights sleeping in my night, the forgiving nature of the sand to my body calmed my spirits. I ended up starting my beach adventure with an hour nap. Maybe I have low standards but that beach made one of the nicest cushions I have ever slept on. The walk to Anchorage Bay began slowly as I eased myself out of my slumber. This path opened up more at times and seemed to contain more lively bright green ferns. I crossed the low tide stretch of the track just past some lucky S.O.B.s who managed to have private homes within this tropical paradise. Despite the uninviting cool temperature of the waters, I still felt the need to plunge in after working up a sweat on the trail. I met couple from Melbourne, Australia who had met in the states when backpacking themselves. Curious, the guy wanted to know a little bit about my life story such as what brought me here, what do I do back home, etc. He told me that it is good I am taking my time figure out what I would like to do with my life and applauded me for making the effort to travel; he wishes that someone told him when he was young that he shouldn’t be in a rush to know right away. We always talked about why Australians travel more than Americans. Partly, it has to do with how cheap it is for Aussies to get to SE Asia. Also, I find that many Americans are content with just seeing what’s in their own background. I have nothing against that; Americans are blessed with a lot in their own country but there is so much more out there to explore such as the non-Westernized world. The water taxi took me back to Marahau, the base for Abel Tasman, and left me with two choices. Either I could stay another night and hitch hike to Picton tomorrow (a city in the middle of the Marlborough Sounds and the only dock for the ferry to Wellington in the North Island) or try to hitch hike today to Nelson at the very least. It was already 4:30 but I figured why not give it a chance. With my cardboard sign, I posted up near the beach and eventually a prime corner after getting advice from a passing local. Not long after, I got picked up by a Hungarian family (a couple with a younger child). They didn’t speak a lot of English but they were friendly and wanted to talk and practice their English. I was dropped off in a town called Motueka and had to make a deceptively long walk out of town. To hitch hike properly or with any success, you must find a spot outside of town where traffic is departing to the next city. To my surprise I got picked up by the German couple that sat next to me on the water taxi. After a smooth ride into Nelson, I realized I had forgotten my prized KU hat in Moteuka; a bit of my soul went along with it. I decided not to press my luck by trying to get to Picton late at night so I chose to head into town to hopefully get a camp site at my old hostel. Sadly, they were booked out. Before making the long walk out of town to a motor camp not that close by, I needed something to eat. In a pinch I could have eaten a cheap $5 Dominos Pizza but I had some standards, as questionable and suspect as those standards have become. With a little flair and a touch of this and that, I made a dish that would leave French and Italian chefs all over the world speechless. I mixed sweet Thai chili tuna with canned mixed beans and folded into slices of multigrain bread. No Bueno! I’m getting sick and tired of this bean or peanut butter and bread combo. On the way to the motor camp while I struggled with my large pack on my back, groceries in one hand, and map in the other, I couple asked if I were going to the motor camp. They lived nearby so they figured might as well give me a lift. The evening was quite boring since I needed to look up international flights for SE Asia but the time spent was necessary. Once again, I tucked myself into the tent with multiple layers on and my signature turban on top.

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