I took a ferry to the south island. My first car ferry! That was OK. It was more entertaining than fun...I'm still not a huge fan of boats. I just haven't really been on that many. There was actually a tiny theatre on board and I thought I might watch the movie they showed. But it turned out to be some boat caught in a storm movie. No thanks.
|A van of birdwatchers waiting to board the ferry.|
I arrived in the late afternoon and drove an hour or so to a nice, quiet, simple campground.
|There are great trees on the south island too!|
Here it was a money making machine. I did not meet the person I was going to be strapped to, the person about to be in control of my life, until I was already suited up and waiting to get on a plane, about two minutes before we boarded. He got on the ground, unstrapped one human, went inside to exchange an open parachute for a packed one, came back out, introduced himself, gave me a couple sentences of instruction, then we got on a plane. A little plane packed full of as many people as possible. It was interesting. We talked on the plane: some instruction, some scenery explanation, some small chat. But it was pointless. I was already snuggled up and strapped in between his legs, don't bother.
I enjoyed the flight; it was beautiful. I didn't really register what was happening until they opened the door. Then I started to freak out a bit. We were the last ones out of the plane, so I was able to panic for a minute or two. Then we jumped.
I did the highest jump they have, 16500 feet. It's something like 75 seconds of freefall. It was unbelievable and amazing and incredible and beautiful and terrifying. I loved every second. And the peaceful float down the remaining way. I wanted it to last forever.
It's then strange to just go about the rest of the day. All of this took place before 11am. How is everything still functioning normally? It's like I didn't just plummet towards the earth. No one even noticed. There isn't even a real difference in me. If that doesn't change things, what does?
|The lovely 'you chose to jump out of a plane, clearly nothing is our fault' paperwork.|
I gathered myself and bagged up all those errant emotions, feelings, and existential crises, and drove to the northern part of the island. I spent a couple nights camping on the east coast. In Abel Tasman National Park. It was beautiful. I went for a long beach and forest hike. While I was resting in the sand, I saw a penguin. I got up in the middle of the night to pee and saw a shooting star. Things are strange here.
|Lost: Alison's kiwi ranger badge|
|Life's a beach.|
|Terrible picture of a penguin that I think looks like a dragon.|
|Always another waterfall.|
|Gary is loving it.|
|Who photographs the photographers?|
|Can someone write this song?|
Other things of note:
- Ducks. Not only can they fly, but their body is a boat. You want a piece of my bagel? Get real.
- White people with dreadlocks everywhere. Everywhere.
- All the bug bites. All. The. Bug. Bites. Add the smell of repellent to the grime of sunblock.
- If a person grows out all their hair at the same length (for example, shaves their head) and does not cut it, does it naturally grow to be a mullet? (I'm asking for a friend)