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I’m knackered.

All surfed out. Awesome fun day out at Manu Bay. I sort of pressured Roland in to coming out with me this afternoon. I had given him a ride into town to buy sunscreen and we went for some coffee. He had hired a surf instructor, even though he has surfed before in France. He was just nervous about coming to a new place and going out surfing alone, so he booked three surf sessions from Switzerland.

This morning crazy winds and rains woke me up around 5:30am. I hung out in the tent thinking I would ride it out. These storms seem to pass quickly here. After a while I started to hear squealing and laughing from the other tents, as people escaped and were running through the rain to their cars. The poles were bending wildly and the flaps violently flapping. I really did not want to go out into the cold rain, so I laid there a while longer. Finally it just seemed ridiculous to stay so I ran up to the lounge/kitchen area. I was freezing. Barefoot and shivering, I curled up on the couch and read some local low-brow paper for a while. By 7 it seemed to have completely passed, Light was just barely breaking but I was so cold I just wanted to curl up in the sleeping bag. I zipped myself entirely in and slowly but perceptibly I warmed up. Guess I won’t be heading out surfing early today, I thought.

Up at around 9am, I bought a couple fresh eggs and cooked them up with the last of the Washington bread toasted. The hardest part for me to get motivated to surf in the morning is the cold. Maybe I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: I really hate being cold. I decided I would test out the beach break today and carried my board up the street and down the path to Ngarungui Beach. Far off to the left, near the jutting out land, I had the waves to myself. Shifting around and breaking in sections, it was no wonder. Occasionally a wave would peel in a decent line so I thought with luck I could catch one of those. As usual, I was just happy to be out in the water. I keep forgetting the water stays about the same temperature even as air temperatures shift in extremes. And right now the water is still pretty warm. It’s being on land wet in the shade that is the problem.

Not much going on there, so I surfed in on the whitewater which was fun enough.

I decided I would try out Many Bay later in the afternoon when the tide started to come back in. In the meantime, more food! Sitting with Brandon, the civil engineer from San Francisco (who was/is working on the new bridge from Oakland to SF), eating some spicy vegetable soup and having a cup of tea, an older man came up and asked if Brandon was Mike. Nope. Then he explained, in an American accent, that he lived up the road and was moving a hot tub over a fence and needed help. Sort of directed it towards Brandon, who is a big guy, but I volunteered as well. He was looking for six people. Jerry sort of corralled another young guy Juan into helping as well as we were walking to the car. We piled in and went driving around in a huge semi-circle that brought us to a property looking down on Solscape. After getting what looked like a large open-topped old-style keg made of high-quality redwood over the fence, he invited us in for beer. Juice for me. Juan is a young guy from Chile who just finished university and has been in New Zealand a year. He has been inspired to bring recycling and sustainable living ideas back home with him, where apparently that is not much a part of the culture. Brandon talked about the bridge, I talked about lighting. And we all talked a bit about the American and worldwide economic crisis. Jerry’s really amazing property is a Bed and Breakfast. It has spectacular views all around. You can see downtown Raglan from there. And it is backed up right next to Karioi Mountain. There is more to say about all this, but I really want to talk about surfing.

I had picked up a bunch of new food in town, so had a late lunch of yogurt, blueberries and honey. And the ever-present cup of tea. Around 5pm I started to tie up the board to my car and Roland came over to say he was coming along. Awesome.

The sun was out and the water was warm. Everything was a little mushy and smaller than the day before, but there were still good, rideable waves coming through. I was so happy to be paddling out with someone. Since I have been in New Zealand I have always paddled out alone. Having a buddy in the water adds to the enjoyment for me. And Roland is new and excited about surfing, I knew he just needed a nudge to get in the water.

We stayed around the inside again, to catch the waves as they reformed or the ones that no one was in the right place to catch on the outside. That awful current that was sweeping me backwards last time was non-existent. So paddling was satisfying because it actually got me somewhere. I caught a couple short little rides, even turning some. This board is far easier to turn than my 9 footer back home. Roland caught a couple himself. After almost two hours the sun was getting low and I was getting cold. I paddled over to Roland to say I was going to catch one more than paddle in. He said he would come in as well. Very shortly after this a wave came right to me and I was in the perfect spot. All I had to do was turn and catch it. A ridiculous no-paddle take off! And the ride was by far the longest and best of the day for me. It took me almost as far as the little jetty and I dropped down to lay on the board with a huge grin. Paddling towards the boat ramp I saw a dark, round, hump in the water that looked a lot like a human head. When another wave had passed I looked again and it was gone. Probably a rock. Then, out of nowhere, a small wave crashed on me, sending me and the board tumbling. The fins flew around and smacked me on the forehead. Ouch. No time for daydreaming out in the water.

Back at Solscape, the send-away for Lenny was just getting started. This guy has been working at Solscape for three months and is on his way to Taranaki next. The American woman who works at reception, Dani, and her boyfriend, Nelson, cooked upa huge pot of vegetarian chili. $5 got you a bowl.

i had a great short chat with Nelson who is doing his PHD here. He is working on finding a way to inject environmental education into the science curriculum of high schoolers. He talked a lot about the idea of permaculature. It is a science and an ethics. The idea is to bring people back to self-reliance (as opposed to self-sufficiency, which is a myth), by helping them to become better environmental problem-solvers. As it is now, the use of fuel is the answer to all our problems. Don’t have bananas? Add fuel to fly them or truck them in. Run out of water? Add fuel to dig deeper holes. Not only does this solution pollute the air and create climate change, it is also running out. The answer is a return to local self-reliance, and a shortening of supply lines. It is achieved by many incremental and baby steps, not a sea-change. A slow process. First, one has to become aware of this as a problem. Once you are, you see it everywhere. Nelson’s very local example was this: Solscape composts its food scraps. When he arrived, they were trucking it all 10km away to a pig farm. 10km there with the load, and 10km back empty. The overall environmental cost is still probably negative with the fume pollution from the truck. So, his answer was that they could use the compost here, and maybe even achieve a carbon-postiive result. By using the nutrient-rich compost to feed gardens here, you are eliminating the truck drive and growing plants which take in carbon-dioxide. Also, you then have fruits and vegetables within walking distance, lessening the need to rely on grocery stores which may import (more fuel burning in trucks and planes). This whole process is, in a way, the reverse idea of globalization. With the current economic crisis and the shrinking off people and countries from such a connectedness to the rest of the world that can prove toxic, these ideas will again be coming to the forefront. Grow and make what you can for yourself. But global trade won’t – and I don’t think it should – ever end. But steps can be taken to shorten supply lines, and this has many postiive effects for the world and local communities. Such fascinating people come through these sorts of places.

I was so exhuasted last night, I gave up on finishing this post before bed. It’s almost 10am here now. My arms and back are sore, in that pleasurable, sleepy way. I know it will disappear when I get back into the water. Time to go down to the lookout to see how Manu Bay is shaping up.

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