We arrived at the airport in the afternoon, with the body totally broken, sleepy, hungry and totally disconcerted by the extreme change of schedule and position in the world.
We slept in the airport´s chairs surrounded by all our luggage and packages to take care of them during the night. Strange dreams.
The next morning it took us 4 and a half hours to put everything back in its place: take the two bikes out of the boxes and put them back together, that’s what Aitor made, while I opened the rest of the boxes by pulling out what we had and forming new saddlebags. In that corner of the airport was scattered everything we use, what we need for the normality of our life, everything we own. It was a similar sensation of that when you wake up full of energy and decition, you roll up the sleves and say ….
-Today is the turn for cleaning of the cupboards!!!- and you take everything to get it back once it’s clean. Well … same-like but in the middle of an airport.
We went directly to secondary roads.
We did not even have any interest in visiting the capital, or taking main roads, even, if they promised to be flat or shorten kilometers; we have come to enjoy, not shorten or skimp, this is not a race and is not our intention to get anywhere.
The first surprise was not finding people on the street, we have spent a lot of time in Asia in recent years, and so much in Africa in the previous ones that, we have become accustomed to places where there are always people everywhere, even walking on the road, people outside , making life together, mixing.
The sight of no one was so shocking and cold, that it made us to be shocked.
“But … where are they all? What happens here? How does this work? Is there going on a party somewhere else? ….”
Days later, we discover the mystery: people move in cars, from their home to work and then, to the supermarket (or the points where they shop), that’s where they can be seen, but, time is limited after buying they return to the car and back to their homes. Mostly this is how everything works. In the day-to-day, the doors of supermarkets are the best place to see them, watch them.
There was something that when we saw the people that populate this country left us literally dumb, impressed, it was shocking to see the number of obese people there, not only fat: obese. This is how we both imagined America, but we would never have thought of New Zealand in this way. Something sick.
What happens we also discovered later: here the people eat a lot of fast food, American fast food is raging and worth two reales, vegetables and fruit are quite expensive and many live on fried potatoes, bagels, cookies and sugary drinks . This reality scares.
The fattest ones are the poorest people, and the majority are Maoris (the natives of these lands) are the poorest.
In the first days of pedaling we head towards the center of the island, the mountains.
An explanation is necessary here, with your permission, to tell you that after pedaling the Indonesian islands, we decided to park the bicycles for a while and make a couple of trips. Different family reasons, (some sad and some happy) made us decide that to spend this last Christmas with the family was important.
The journey trap you, takes you, has you, happens to you and lengthens in time, becomes your life and the years pass, may (as in our case) many, many years pass and miss some truly important moments (perhaps more for others than for oneself) and unrepeatable. Here we had one of those moments and we found miraculously, a good offer of flights, so we came back for Christmas to Spain !!
But before … we did a meditation course in Nepal, and a couple of months of yoga in India, total: we have been five months without touching the bicycles that we left with a friend in Kuala Lumpur (Capital of Malaysia) just waiting for our return when we left.
We realized with the first mountains of the central zone of this north island, the symptoms of the low fitness that especially in the uphills is easy to feel.
The pain of the lack of fitness may be accused more in the mind than in the legs, not giving, not being able, suffering …. you can easily low down the mental power. When one is out of shape, what you have to keep strong is the mind, if the legs fail, she, the mind, can not fail, otherwise …. you are lost .
There were mountains continuously and the rain was coming behind us not allowing us to take the long awaited day of rest, we were pushing, pushing.
The central area of the island is very rainy but once you reach the east coast, everything is transformed and dried up, almost it doesn´t rains and it was necessary to arrive there, as they announced great storms in the coming days.
Also that happens when traveling like this: you depend on the elements, they are the wind, the rain, the heat, the cold that often mark your rhythms and breaks, it is not you who make the decisions. Nothing makes us to feel freer, more alive, more secure and happy, than to leave decisions and rhythms in the hands of The Life itself, and take what it brings us, thanking.
Pedaling, cycling, for both is not only to ride a bicycle and, we agree, bike tour is much more. Is to move with absolute freedom and another thing, must go together with camping, then it is total, it is a whole, a sense of unity with the world, with everything that surrounds us and for what we travel.
Urine and shit in the field, we did not change it for any bath, bathing in a river, is cold,yes, but … alive !!. Sit in the grass, look at the clouds, the stars, the birds, feel the wind, take refuge from the sun under a tree, cook by the side of the road … all that for us is to travel a bicycle.
In many places, countries, moments when arriving, camping in the afternoon, we have said:
-“We’re at home again!”
Home is everywhre, the world itself, a world that personally and over the years I perceive more as an “whole” and not as something divided.
Even though in this country the division exists, yes.
A country fenced everywhere.
For our way of travel that means difficulties: at noon to cook, in the breaks to take shelter of the strong sun (which here is especially hard because of the hole in the ozone layer that … yes, it is felt and you have to protect yourself) but as always, facing difficulties …. you have to adapt, create solutions and change habits.
For sleeping we have been asking to the farmers if we could pitch the tent inside their lands and so, we have found that here the people are extremely friendly and cordial. We have always received smiles and even an invitation to go to take a shower and a tea, we have never seen a bad gesture or a contempt, always, always welcome and finally, the fences that are apparently there to separate, have brought us the approach to these people and to know them a little more.
We also sleept in the woods, in the few remaining forests, as we have discovered that there are no fences those are our favorite places. Having them we avoid the campsites and even those that are free, because there is nothing like sleeping in the wild, nocturnal sounds without identifying, animals, some approaches and sniffs but we are calm …. there are not lions (many of you know the history already), we turn the head to the other side and we continue sleeping in the best hotel of all: the tent and the forest.
Also to feel again in the morning the broken, tired body, after having slept 9 hours, I still can not incorporate !!; Wrists, back, quadriceps, neck, hands … pain and tiredness, but you have to go ahead, and tiredness, disappears with the first 10 or 15 kilometers, as the body heats up and the mind gets cdistracted with the landscape.
Yamas, cows, sheep and how unexpected similar is this other side of the world in terms of trees, flowers, plants … with the Spanish mountain range. The people also told us that the colonizers cut the original forests and were bringing and introducing trees, plants and crops brought from their countries of origin, hence the apparent similarity.
We are already getting gypsy´s color and our legs are pecked, also scratched. The sweat has stopped smelling and, some black stains appear through the back and below of the neck … we are back in our “comfort zone” 🙂 .
To New Zealand, the Maori (Maori means “local” or “original”) are the people who inhabited these lands before the colonization, call it “Aoetaroa” meaning “long white cloud”.
Every day we laugh, every day, for we see continually somewhere on the horizon, a long white cloud perched in the mountains, every day is and has been somewhere, on the horizon.
The Maori are now a minority and are struggling today, for their rights legally with the government and claiming their lands. They arrived here as we have been told, sailing in wooden boats from the Pacific islands.
Tall, big, strong, dark skin and hair, and beautiful features, they were always strong warriors, greeting each other with the tip of the nose and forehead in a sign of “sharing the breath of life”.
We wished to have more contact with them, but as we were descending to the south part of the island, we have seen how the Maori population has almost disappeared in this area. Anyway in the time that we have left we will do our best to try to approach more to them, to get together, to be and learn more of these people and their interesting culture.
We promise to tell you wath we´ll discover.
After arriving at the east coast and just at the junction where we had to decide which route to take, two cyclists appear in the opposite direction, who also come loaded with lots of saddlebags, yes, we are of the same race. They stopped and we began to chat, they turned out to be a Candadian and an American who apologizes for being so. The Canadian has been coming to cycle New Zelanad for 8 years and knows all the routes. He gave us a map and indicated a road that would be longer and yes, he said, it is also harder and more mountainous but promises, the absence of cars and trucks, peace and tranquility and, of course, we changed the plan and we went throught it.
Thus, through lonely roads and mountainous places, we continue putting our muscles, our legs in shape for the south island.
We arrived, after many encounters with beautiful people who have offered us their houses as a refuge, and their friendship as a gift, to Wellington, where we were heading full of emotion, as an old friend Iranian brother, years ago moved to live here and we have been since then, saying that “we are almost arriving Mehdi”, “we are going there”.
We met him in 2008 on our first time cycling through Iran, in 2012 after Africa and back out in Europe, we pedaled with him on the second route through Iran for two months, together and we often had lots of fun and laugh. A beautiful soul, with an ironic and fresh sense of humor to who, we have finally gave back a hug that had been waiting for years in the saddlebags.
Here we will be a couple of weeks or three, sharing again, before starting the next adventure that we will tell you soon …. we can anticipate that what is coming … unexpected surprises that will leave you perhaps more than shocked!!!!