I don’t know how travel bloggers do this sh%*.
So much has happened in the past three weeks, but I keep getting caught up in the sequence and schedule of things before I even start writing. Every day, my inner monologue goes something like this:
“What an amazing experience you just had! You should definitely blog about it tonight, when you definitely won’t be exhausted from said Amazing Experience.
But wait, don’t write about this thing until you blog about Event A that happened yesterday.
And it wouldn’t make any sense to talk about Event A without giving context with Events B – J. Events K – L were also incredible but you don’t have any pictures or videos from it, and you would’ve definitely been arrested if you whipped out a camera during Events M – Z, so…
Also, now that we’re on the topic of F*@&$d Up Sequences, shouldn’t you really start with the 36 hour plane journey over here?!”
And every day, I end this dance by giving up, rolling over and talking to some sleep about it.
So, if you’re wondering at all: “Dudes, why haven’t you guys written anything or made any videos, like you promised?!”
- We’re just doin’ stuff. Stuff may include WWOOF-working, napping, laying, talking, or staring at nature; through most stuff, we continuously choose Let’s Just Enjoy This over Wait Stop Let’s Document It. The free moments we do have to blog or make a video, we just… don’t. We choose to read instead. Or sleep. Or journal. Or meditate. Or figure out where we’re sleeping tonight. Or see what vegan feast our host is cooking. We just don’t.
- I’m not tryna be That Person. When something fantastic does happen: 50% of the time, I feel like a total ass for being That Person with my camera out during some beautiful moment. So I go old school and trust my eyes and nose and ears to take it in and process it where it matters. The other 50% of the time, I do document it with all the Millennial intent in the world that it’ll land somewhere to be seen, and then I put it away and never really think about it again.
- Short has been sweeter. If anything — and this is strange to write, since I just quit working there — Instagram’s been our metier. The 4 seconds it takes to post a Story is perfect for documenting daily highlights without ruining The Moment or making it weird. And we’re usually posting in bed at the end of the day, where we only have about 15 minutes of strength and consciousness left in us — perfect for a quick post.
Maybe all of this points to us having a doomed future as travel bloggers, but — and here’s the delicious part I need to remind myself about often — who the feck cares. No one asked! This pressure is self-inflicted! When I get into the aforementioned Anxiety dance, I remind myself that we didn’t go on this trip just so we could document it publicly. We did this for us.
And if our entire year goes by without a public peep — like 99.9% of all travelers’ experiences since the beginning of time — we would still have every single experience for ourselves. In ourselves.
Take today, for example.
We woke up after our first night of car camping at Whatipu Beach and decided to go on a barefoot beach run. It was the most surreal, gorgeous run we’ve ever done.
I took in what I could with just my senses: Our Jurassic Park surroundings; Peter’s bare feet making deep indents in soft, foamy, untouched black sand; the tide splashing around our ankles and legs as we ran, imagining that this is how dogs must feel when they discover the ocean for the first time; barely seeing any other humans around, except for a few happy fishermen.
Force-filling my lungs, clogged up with allergens from living with a cat for 11 days, with fresh ocean air. Stopping to dunk ourselves, clothes on, in the cold little tide pool that formed behind the lighthouse, pretending nature had made a mild ice bath for our rusty runner legs. Stopping fully at a deserted cove and diving all the way in – clothes still on – floating on our backs, glancing at each other repeatedly and going, “Can you believe this? This is it. This is why we came.”
And I just didn’t want to bring my camera — for weight, for ease, for not being That Person. The entire run, I had John Mayer’s 3×5 in my head with one block of lyrics on loop:
I’m writing you to catch you up on places I’ve been
And you had this letter, probably got excited, but there’s nothing else inside it
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world through both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m in the mood to
Lose my way
It’s that. Maybe it’s a Just Acclimating Phase thing, but I’ve been wanting to absorb with my eyes and ears only. And I don’t know if it’s New Zealand juju, but a lot of the time, bringing out a camera feels icky. Like popping a bubble. Like desecrating the experience. Like generally killing the vibe.
And so, we just haven’t digitally captured a lot of what might be considered blog or vlog-worthy.
And I kind of don’t care.
And it kind of feels great.
But, for posterity; for our friends and family who might care this much; and ultimately, for laziness: Below are my quick lists of things we haven’t blogged about yet, and probably won’t, unless you, The Reader, really, really want us to. You Wanting To See It is a way, way better reason to blog than I Feel Like I’m Supposed To, and I promise to be much more enthusiastic, should you want more details on anything down there.
Otherwise, the details can keep living in my brain and eyes and lil’ folds of my soul. Where they matter.
Some of the sequential things:
Events, dates, things that can be calendar’d
- The 36 hour journey from SF to Auckland. All the arm-clutching and wide-eyed gazing at each other, all the “oh my god we’re really doing this”‘s, the butterflies and the numb silence and eventually the tears of disbelief. The 9-hour stopover in Beijing which we thought would super-suck, but once I remembered my Priority Pass access to Air China’s First Class lounges, it super did not. We managed to eat dumplings while gazing at the (actual!) Great Wall of China. Suck on that, layover.
- Our 7-hour, 14-mile coast-to-coast hike across Auckland the day after we landed, which we thought would be good to tire us out of jet lag. (It worked. A lot.)
- Our day ferry trip to Waiheke Island, and monkey-barring between two barely-touched beaches using 3 different kinds of public transportation.
- Showing a visiting college friend around Auckland, feeling two inches less tourist and a bit more part of the fabric; seeing a familiar face and realizing just how much I missed familiarity.
- Visiting the incredible Zeal, a non-profit dedicated to serving young people in Aotearoa through art, and starting to piece together a picture of New Zealand youth.
- Our first WWOOF experience — our 11 days with an intensely eccentric, hilarious, critical, sharp, spiritual woman and her treehouse in the kauri forest; every delicious vegan meal, every half-failed farm task. (And the 3-hour musical goodbye ceremony she sent us off with.)
- Our first WWOOF friends, and the immense joy and comfort that came with finally being able to bounce our initial experiences off of super kind, mature and seasoned wwoofers.
- The short search — and unexpectedly long, long purchasing day — for our new-used adventure-mobile, Big Tuna.
- The two hour catch-up convo I had with my mom (which was free; thanks, Google Voice) that finally brought the hammer of homesickness down upon my skull.
- Our night out at a speakeasy with our elderly WWOOF host — that she invited us to, mind you — which ended in bar management forcing us to quit dancing to the live music, because fire hazard.
- Our evening at the Bethell’s Beach cafe, installing ourselves into a genuine and super-lively beach community for the night, and seeing our first-ever New Zealand sunset with new buds.
- My two days with our host’s two extremely intelligent grandsons (3 and 5 years old; Kiwi accents on 100), playing hours of Bear Doctor, Police Chase, Stick Gathering, Things Robots Hate, and Scarf Dance Party.
- How Peter made 5 (!!) protective plant cages by hand in the hot-ass North Island sun. Well, with wooden planks and a drill and a lot of black bird netting, but, still. Hot.
Some non-sequential things that have been sitting in my brain:
Bigger, dreamier frou-frou thoughts
- The joy of learning lessons together: How to be better at car hunting, at taking Auckland public transportation, at negotiating with mechanics, at receiving criticism. The simple but immense joy of finding things out together and every day — sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully — getting smarter. The love and pride we’ve take in ourselves as a team, as co-adventurers.
- The way Maori culture, language and reverence is woven into every day Kiwi life, carried also with the knowledge that European, Spanish and Asian settlers did the Maoris just as dirty as every other indigenous culture in the universe. The unique relationship between modern Maoris and Pakehas; the reparations given but poorly distributed; the contrast to European Settler vs Native American and/or African American culture in the States. My weird obsession with consuming as many Witi Ihimaera books as possible, learning loads more about the Maori story than my pathetic knowledge of Native American or even Filipino culture. How I wish I read Woman Far Walking ages ago.
- The special kind of exhaust that comes with stacking so many firsts and new lessons learned on top of each other, day after day, sometimes hour to hour. To go from finally understanding Auckland public transportation and feeling comfortable on Western line trains and buses, to nervously trying hitchhiking for the first time (and loving it), then straight into becoming registered New Zealand drivers and co-owning our first car and decoding roundabouts and one-way bridges and flipping every driving instinct we have for the left side of the road. To go from feeling comfortable enough to casually text the owner of the Parnell hostel we stayed in twice; to understanding all of our WWOOF host’s very specific house rules, preferences and peeves; to car camping in Big Tuna for the first time and figuring out our best car + tent + sleep + cooking configuration while surrounded by seasoned Kiwi campers. The lightning-speed, yet slow-drip learning curves of long-term nomad life.
There. If you got all the way down here, remind me to buy you a beer. I’m serious.
We’re all caught up now, right?
PS: The reason I could bust out this biggo’ blog now? I’m writing this from inside our stationwagon on a beach campground at 10:38pm, sans-wifi. Car camping means the world kinda shuts down when the sun goes down. And as a night owl, this means I have 2-3 more hours than usual to do whatever (but it’s gotta be dark-friendly. O hai laptop + f.lux, out here savin’ lives!).
PPS: I repeat — I don’t know how travel bloggers do this s@$*&. But soon, I’ll be embarking on a cool project with a new blogger mentor-friend, figuring out how to travel blog without losing my mind so that you can learn, too. Stay tuned!