Urban Sprawl

It was to be expected and you must have been able to guess from my last post, and from the long period of subtle silence since then: the urban wasteland has swallowed us whole. Without our floating home we have been free-floating from the house of one friend to the next so as not to become an additional burden on their already feisty struggle to keep his or her own existence afloat in this tightly knit economy, where average to low salaries drown and choke in sky high living costs. Everything is expensive here in Kiwiland, and the human warmth has retreated into half-hearted declarations of rather thin and toothless friendliness in spite of it all. The sometimes overwhelming generosity of the people back up there in the tropical Pacific Islands who very often have little to no material possessions but are ready to share with you whatever they call their own with a hearty smile and with no second thoughts, is now a mere speck of fading memory in a vast sea of selfishness and senseless competition. It is a rat race all along the hilly streets of this barely one and a half million member strong nest of human ants, there can be not the slightest doubt about that!

Auckland is a relatively young city with the typical aspiration of a giddy adolescent, who desperately needs to catch up with the latest trends of the global craziness in order to pass the manifold exams of coolness. Decades of car-centered planning by those who call the shots around here have left it with a public transportation system that is a pungent insult of that name. Outrageously expensive its busses and very scarce trains bring you to places in three to four times what it would take you by car, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to be dropped off close enough to your destination without having to walk for an hour and a half at either end of your journey. With two people going to town and back your wallet is relieved of more than twenty bucks. That’s Kiwi bucks, of course, but still…

The desolation of drifting in the urban experience is partially relieved by the conclusion of my almost one year venture into the bittersweet realm of bachelordom. Beatriz is back at my side in our eternal and stubborn upstream stroll against the deafening flow of modern civilization. She came back refreshed and renewed, in spite of a couple dings and dents in the physical plane, haunting reminders of the growing list of payments due from her wild career as a professional dancer. Reconnecting with the living remainder of her family in her native Colombia and working through the tunnels of grief remnants from those the grim reaper had coldly decided to rip away from our sphere were quite obviously good investments in the bureau of the spiritual currency exchange. There are once again hints of that quirky fizzle in her light-hearted self, which fascinated me back when she was young and tightly curved. They still manage to catch me off guard and derail me deliciously from the monotonous boredom of all those obnoxious everyday trains of mediocre thought. There is much work to be done though. We need to find new connections, escape old patterns, search for fresh ways to tick and click, avoid all traps of blame and shame and see to it that one plus one results in more than two instead of less than one as it does so often. Especially when coexisting with a local population that so completely lacks passion and inspiration it is essential to generate your own ways of staying alert and alive.

Too serious?

Too serious?

Oukayy then...

Oukayy then…

Alive! The little that’s left of life happens to occur in the nooks and crannies of exceptions to the norm. Some friends have hearts that allow them to offer their house to us without a long list of conditions and tightly choreographed rules of engagement. This month we’re staying on a boat at the fringes of the vast sea of pealing sailboat masts at Westhaven Marina, put generously at our disposition by a couple of relative newcomers to this society, who seem to have been able to avoid the iron rule of the British stiff upper lip that so desperately wants to keep things in check here. So while not totally at home in the cozy comfort of Aluna’s hulls we are able to rest at night with the orange gloom emanating from the high-rises of Auckland’s Central Business District giving way to the calming web of twinkling stars and galaxies overhead, and recharge our somatic batteries from the depletion of our runs into the valleys of concrete and highly refined combustion motors.

westhaven1

It looks like once again the elusive official blessings of being able to work and contribute freely and generously in the society we happen to live in is always just slightly out of reach. We’re looked upon as intruders, eager to take away the bounty. It’s a society that has lost the ability to trust. Its laws are built on suspicion and fear of being taken advantage of. It has been said so many times and its truth is so obvious that it reeks of cliché for miles on end, but here it is again: Greed has us in its grip on every level of our dealings with each other. The more sensible amongst us know this and are aware of it, but see it only in others. Then they despair since nothing can be done about it and continue to talk about it with no end in sight with more and more bitterness growing in them. Can you see from this perspective how important it is to see your own shortcomings, not the ones the others suffer from? Search for the places where evil has grown roots within your own self and be awake at the very moment when you’re committing the mistake. That is the only chance for change.

In the meantime a cold wind from the South starts to tell the tale of fall. The most splendid summer on record for the last 40 years is threatening to come to an end. It’s high time for the wanderers to start thinking of packing their bags. We’ll be back up in the Bay of Islands at the beginning of May to prepare Aluna for another blue water journey. From memory I know that by the end of that month the cold will drive us away. Where to? Could it be mysterious Vanuatu with its outrageous fees for cruisers and a limited stay of only four months? Or maybe hip New Caledonia with no fees but sky-high prices of everything else? Visa complications lurk for Beatriz at both places. We’re working on that. We want to give New Zealand on more chance to share its boundless bounty with us so we can’t go much further than that. Already the return trips from both those places will be more challenging than the simple beam reaches from Tonga or Fiji. But nothing that cannot be done with a bit of free will and determination!

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One Response to “Urban Sprawl”

  1. Beatriz Restrepo Says:

    Thanks for your love, dedication and company 🙂

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