When I tired surfing…
Through talking to someone in a hostel in Nelson, top of the South Island, he suggested surfing at Raglan. In my guide book I discovered it’s actually no. 7 of things not to be missed, it had to be done. Raglan is on the West Coast of the North Island, so I had to write down my plan before I forgot.
Because there is always so much going on and you are concentrating on the here and now, I didn’t really plan much, other than book my bus and accommodation, so the morning I left Taupo, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had forgotten what I had read about the hostel or even that I needed a lift to get to the hostel (I remembered before I left the Taupo hostel, mainly because I looked in my diary, phew) from Raglan… being on a massive jolly, you read about so many places and I mix them all up, currently I am struggling to remember what day it is half the time, I even wrote the wrong year once…
It’s funny because I have been on the brilliant Magic Bus for about 4 weeks and after the first day had someone I knew on the bus, I was a little nervous again about not having anyone, then I reminded myself, this is what it’s all about.
So when I arrived in Raglan I had been advised that there were no shops so I should buy what I needed in Raglan- wine, milk, veggies and a few other bits, the essentials. When I was picked up, in a Ute, ‘Solscape’ is pretty special… it’s an Eco-retreat’ said the driver of a massive 4 wheel drive Ute, not very eco-friendly I thought, maybe I was going somewhere that only super powered 4 wheel drives can go… not so much, paved driveway.
Anyway ‘Solscape’ is a really special place, breathe taking seaviews from reception, train carriages turned into beds aka cabooses and a railway station as the common area. The first thing I noticed after the view and train carriages were people sitting on the grass in the sun, one guy in a hulla hoop and a plethora of surfboards lying around, I knew I was in the right place.
It’s also a really special place for surfers because it has two good surf beaches one for beginners and the ultimate surf bay- Manu Bay, which featured in the 1960’s cult surf film ‘Endless Summer’ according to my trusty ‘Rough Guide’.
I think that because it was an eco-retreat and the fact that I am not exactly an Eco-warrior, I felt a little bit out of my comfort zone, I felt myself quiet, but the first girl that spoke to me Megan, helped me to relax. I settled in put my stuff away and then came the two ‘mistakes’ that didn’t help me feel relaxed- ‘That is my cup you are using’ ‘Oh I’m sorry, but it’s the best’ (it was a big soup bowl size, perfect for a bucket of tea) then he said, It’s not actually mine, I just want to use it… I did feel better but still not comfy, I know it sounds stupid, but sometimes you can’t help feeling silly then same guy- ‘Is your name Lucy?’ “yes” ‘You’ve put your stuff on myself’ “oh it’s the only place that had space” then when I heard him tell this to someone else, finally I piped up “it’s not like it had your name on it, where else should I put my stuff”. Ok, I didn’t blow him away with my quick wit and forcefully word, but I felt better, but the icing on the cake was over hearing the same guy say ‘I don’t like having all of these new people, I don’t know that I want to stay’.
This guy is not a bad person, I just got the short end of the stick, he was someone who was working there ‘Woofing’ and had got used to all of his ‘friends’ being around and some of them were leaving and I was the beginning of the new… big deal, this is what travelling is all about, people moving off doing their own thing and you are lucky when your paths cross.
We didn’t fall out no other harsh words were said, but I just didn’t feel comfortable that whole weekend around him, but it’s a learning thing for me too. I am proud that I did stand my ground a little bit.
Another thing to make me feel a little bit uncomfortable was the fact that there were so many surfers, that were really into it and could have conversations for ages about waves… I couldn’t contribute and sometimes they were boring, so you didn’t even want to listen, but it sets you aside from the group.
Anyway Saturday came and I was about to have my first surf lesson and I was excited. We started with a chat in the surf shack, about safety and how to stand up on a board, VERY easy on dry land. Standing follows a four step process: Cobra (yes the yoga position), knee, foot and fingers to push you off the board into a standing position, like I said, VERY easy on dry land.
So then we hit the beach.
The thing about surfing in the sea, it is constant, endless waves crashing around you, which makes the process of learning to surf a little harder, it’s easy to begin with, lie on the board, standing up, not easy especially on a slippy board my hand fell off numerous times and I face planted into the water, so then you’ve to do it all again, with waves crashing all around you, trying to wipe salt from your eyes with very salty hands. Surfers are very hard core and it’s a way of life.
I did manage to get to my knees twice, I didn’t do the ultimate challenge of standing up and out of the three of us, I was the only one. Oh well, I’m glad I tried it. While I was “surfing” I thought I don’t think I want to do this again, but at least I know now, but a few days later, I’m thinking, well maybe I should try again, don’t want to give up the first time it’s hard.
Sunday in ‘Solscape’ was very lazy for me and it was nice, I read my book, I planned Australia a little bit and just chilled which is nice after constantly being on the move and doing really exciting things every day.
Monday the next adventure took place, because Raglan is rural and ‘Solscape’ even more remote, we got a lift in the Ute again, then Megan and I decided we could try hitching to save ourselves some money rather than paying for a bus to Hamiliton which is where we were catching our next bus from. We stood beyond a bus stop so if it didn’t work we could still catch a bus, plastering the biggest smile on my face, flashing an ankle and sticking out my thumb, we got picked up very quickly, but not by a car, oh no, a lorry! They pulled over and beeped as they reversed back “it couldn’t be for us” we thought, both men got out ‘jump in!’ we looked at each other, might aswell, saving $8.10. They men swung our backpacks onto the back of the lorry, which wasn’t covered so they secured them with a sandbag (my whole life is my backpack) the men seemed friendly enough, sing along to the radio and making friendly small talk, then one guys pipes up ‘tell them that joke you got’ “oh it’s not really for ladies” (it mentioned a**hole) “well you’ve already said it now, you might as well share, it was fine, I’d heard it before, then the first guy says ‘now the other one’. This one was not a friendly joke, it was racist and rude I didn’t appreciate it and I felt uncomfortable, but they were in control of carrying my life held down by a sandbag and I didn’t like to shout my mouth off. The conversation continued down a racist route, without Megan and I participating until the guy said “well they should all leave and that would be better”, this I couldn’t let go because New Zealand I made up of many countries, lots from Europe, Pacific Islands, Asia, the only people that are fully New Zealand are the Maori, which they weren’t. “If everyone else left you’d just be left with Europeans” I said, well they didn’t see the irony, that’s when I realized they were speaking through ignorance and lack of knowledge, one of them said he’d never been to the South Island, a big island, part of his own country he had never visited, it’s a lack of understand, a lack of knowledge and a lack of being challenged. In the 20 minute journey, this wasn’t the time to impart my world-ly knowledge. We just sat not participating and not encourage the conversation.
Again another lesson, should I have spoken up? They were kind to give us a lift and they were friendly apart from the above…
The lorry men dropped us off on the outskirts of town, so they wouldn’t be caught with hitch hikers, says it all really and then this lovely fatherly like man came along, worried about us, and gave us a lift to the bus station. It was going to cost $3.50 to get to the bus station from that part of town, it was silly not to try hitching again.