Wanderlust

The cold is starting to enter the aging bones. Persistent winds of Antarctic origins drive the thermometer further and further towards that gruesome lower end. Layers of clothing grow onto the body until it feels like an onion with its layers exposed after having been sliced open on the cutting board. Something deep inside what many call the soul starts to shift, wiggle and stir. Memories of sweet tropical bliss bubble up between a shiver or two. Warm temperatures call; soothing water whispers. Cool coconut milk, colorful reefs, excellent fishing, and many of the other natural amenities of the lower latitudes dance before the gloomy eyes that have become partially glazed over by translucent cataracts of cooling contractions. The sun appears to have serious trouble climbing up into the heavens. It sleeps in for a good part of the morning and once it has begun its daily levitation it lazily hovers just barely above the hills on the other side of the bay even at noon. Its shine has lost a good bit of the characteristic bite it had only a month ago. It then sets prematurely and leaves many a task unfinished. Then bed covers and sweaters come out of moldy wrappings under the bunks and provide much needed insulation for the warm-blooded mammal we are. There’s a general slowdown happening all around us, and a shivering soul can barely make it through the daily thick and thin of life. Tucked in the miniscule fireworks of a synaptic interchange inside the prehistoric brain stem, tiny ferrite crystals activate. Their oscillation tunes to the magnetic field lines that penetrate all bodies on Earth and look for ways to counteract the temperature drop. They indicate North as the preferred route of escape. There are more obnoxious memory snippets now streaming through the river of time. They keep insisting again and again that life in the tropics under the palm trees, nicely shaded from the powerful sun and soothed in the cool trade wind breeze, is clearly much preferable to what the fast approaching winter is promising here in these latitudes. Their designation as sub-tropical becomes an outrageous misnomer for almost one whole half of every year.

opuafromokiato1

Miniscule Aluna in Opua’s town basin, viewed from across the Veronica Channel in the flowery hills of Okiato, New Zealand’s first (European) capital.

When it comes to choosing possible destinations for our travels a tendency seems to exist that always favors the new, the yet to be explored, the unknown. What has been visited and seen has lost attraction and charm. Five nations surround New Zealand like the fingers of a hand outstretched across the vast waters of the South Western Pacific. Each offers a peculiar set of attractions worthwhile to be visited and a specific cultural mélange to be studied. All of them are close enough to make a return trip down South possible once the seasons again have changed for the better. Over to the West behind the setting sun the continent-sized landmass of Australia promises a complicated bureaucracy with endless and costly paperwork, and mining really isn’t my favorite pastime. I’d love to have a chat with a real kangaroo or go swim with a croc, but there’s definitely not enough charm over there to pull me in. To the Northeast, where you can imagine the pinky and ring fingers of our invented hand dive into the sea just beyond the tropic of Capricorn, lay two island nations we have already visited, the subdued kingdom of Tonga on our way down from our brush with the southern end of the doldrums and tortured Fiji during my jaunt as a temporary bachelor last year. That only leaves the middle and index fingers for this year’s austral winter exploration. For a moment it looked like we might get to see both!

Some time back we had let the dice fall to the middle finger, which runs up the seismic island chain of Vanuatu towards the wild Solomons and even wilder Papua New Guinea. A coin toss is as good as anything substantiated by reason when it comes to making these kinds of decisions. I have long ago learned that there are no good and bad places on planet Earth if one is on a path of learning, and preferring the good over the bad has proven to lead to serious limitations in one’s own personal world views. But once a choice is made there’s a lingering radiation of highly charged flirtations with reconsideration, imagining plenty of things we will miss out because we chose one over the other. Those will eventually ebb out and lose their punch once actual travel has started and the adventure is on, and cause no further disruption. But before they do so, life happens in a limbo of alternate possibilities.

All the merrier we were then when out of the blue the offer of a crew position came flying our way through the miracle messenger service of electronic mail. French friends down in Auckland were preparing their 26 meter super yacht for a quick stint to New Caledonia and saw themselves short of crew for the stringent demands of their ever-diligent insurance agents, who require a minimum number of souls aboard during passages. They kindly thought of the two of us to fill in their missing numbers and were offering return airfare to Auckland and all other expenses paid in exchange of our humble presence on their board. This temporary change from the Spartan living aboard Aluna to the opulently luxurious living on a super yacht with the immediate wasteful use of resources implied was most certainly going to fan the flames of friendly fire.

Alas, things hardly ever turn out as planned on this side of life and before the excitement had a chance to die down, other news came in communicating that due to unfortunate circumstances the departure of the mighty vessel of our friends had been delayed, which could only mean that we would have to return and leave New Zealand aboard Aluna literally at the doorstep of the austral winter. This does not seem like the wise choice a careful mariner would make. It therefore happened that this little superficial dreams puffed like the soap bubble of a youngster who blows through his teethed plastic loop with way too much exertion from his lungs and the wiggling contraption bursts before his eyes and destroys the possibility of sealing off its perfect interior shape from the destructive influence of entropy. Deeper communal dreams have usually a much sturdier consistency in man and remain vigilant in their vibrant struggle towards reality. They are living beings ready to take flight with a need to breath air, to move around in space and express themselves towards their peers. Hopefully Vanuatu will turn out to be one of those!

 

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One Response to “Wanderlust”

  1. Rudy Says:

    My eyes are weary. I am in the need of a BB REPORT.

    RUDY

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