Today was my first day off in a week. (By day off, I mean off from my second job not both!) Last night, my coworker invited me out to watch some live music in town. Unfortunately my shift ran too long, but I did get to hang out with Pavla and Ben (my coworker) who introduced me to some cool locals. Paihia is strange because many of the locals are actually transplants who come back for the summer each year. Very few of them are actually Kiwis. However, one of the people Ben introduced me to is his roommate, Adam, a Kiwi who asked if I wanted to join him for a surfing adventure today. He wrote his phone number on my hand along with a message (that I assume was a joke).
I decided that surfing sounded much better than doing laundry so I agreed and contacted him (not to be dissuaded by his obvious desperation). After cleaning in the morning, he picked me up and we headed toward an area called Sandy Bay. He told me that the surfing was supposed to be the best there. On our way we got lost several times and spent hours roaming around back roads in Northland. He kept pointing out interesting plant and animal life along the way, including a colorful bird that steals the nest of another bird, pushes the eggs out and replaces it with its own eggs to be nurtured by the unsuspecting victim. Adam would even pull over and have me taste different plants and fruit. The best was called a loquat which is a tangy, sweet fruit a bit larger than the size of a walnut. You can eat the skin and all, everything except the pits which are poisonous. There are generally two pits in each fruit. As with the grapefruits, these grow on the side of the road and are so ubiquitous that they just fall off and rot.
We also stopped for ice cream (as I do) when we got directions in a tiny beach town in the middle of nowhere.
While we were following the directions, we drove past a large bone that was on someone’s lawn. We did a u-turn and stopped to examine it and when the people came out, they explained that it was a female whale skull. They had found the whale beached and buried it for two years. Then after the body had decomposed they transported the skull to their lawn. We were fascinated by the foresight and the ability of the people to move the corpse. They had another whale that had been buried for almost two years that they planned to retrieve soon.
When we arrived at the beach it was nearly deserted (it also wasn’t the one that we planned on visiting), but it was absolutely stunning.
The area has wide sandy beaches and the color contrast of the water was amazing. He gave me a brief rundown on how to surf on the beach and we just dove in and got started. I found surfing to be quite awkward and precarious. You have to find balance even when you are just laying on the board. You have to arch your back to an awkward angle which causes bruising on your ribs and hip bones. I caught a few waves, but I wasn’t able to stand up. I can see how it could become addictive though. I had a blast. I can’t wait to try again; Adam may have even convinced me to buy a surfboard in my next town.
On our way back, Adam introduced me to the world of the deep fried Moro bar (a caramel chocolate marvel) and we gorged on oily fish and chips.
We also did a drive-through of Opua (the seaport town next to Paihia) and he showed me the ships where he used to work. He has lived all over the world and worked on yachts, ships and in water sports. He is currently a dive instructor with my roommate Allie. I am fascinated by people who make traveling a lifestyle. I wonder what type of skills I could acquire that would allow me to sustain this type of life. It seems that most of these people (skydivers, divers, kayak guides) all find their interests when they are very young and they seem to have many adventure interests, not just the one they do for work.
When I got home, I decided to walk off the fish and chips and I headed to the beach to watch the sunset. It was beautiful! There was even a rainbow!