Narrative, Travel

Riding a New Years Adventure

New Year’s Day, I wake up to the usual obnoxious bass blares from atop the large hill where the main stage sits. It’s 8:15, I’ve fully rested and whoops, I’m late for work. I walk past the vans and tent to the kitchen and I see – Crap, nobody woke up. I’ve been here five days already and I’m the only one here now to make breakfast. How did I go from staying in a house in Whanganui to camping and cooking in a valley on New Zealand’s South Island at a music festival? I didn’t know this event existed before Basil picked me up, nor would I have the money for it.

A few days earlier…

I left the Dyhanna & Werahiko’s house two nights ago, where I stayed over Christmas. Tonight, I figured I’ll camp somewhere along the coast a couple hours south of here.

Two rides out of Whanganui, I land on a gravel patch in Sanson, whence a large white van stops for me. A friendly face on a head covered in shoulder-length dreads on a skinny figure , wearing colorful shaggy pants, a hemp sweater and calls me to hop in.

I’m going south,” I tell him. As soon as I get in, a large dog jumps on me from the back. “Alice, stay back there!” After Alice stopped stepping all over my balls, she became my seatbelt and while driving south, Basil told me where he’s going, “I’m going to a music festival near Takaka in South Island.” The more he described it, the more interested I became, and the more dog hair accumulated on the seats. Eventually an idea brewed. A possibility.

– “Do you think they’ll take volunteers?”, I ask.
Because you’re sitting in that seat, they might.
– “And if not?” I wondered…

The Windy Capital

My original plans crumbled as we approached Wellington. Here, I learn that all the ferries to the South Island are booked two days in advance, meaning if I can’t cross the strait, I’m stuck here. If I don’t make the ferry waitlist, then what?

Luckily, I don’t find out. We ferry out of Wellington at sunset and reach Picton four hours later. Then back in the car we hop, with a hyper dog that’s been alone in a van for hours as we wind the dark roads for several more hours.

We reach the grounds just as the night sky begins to brighten. I can barely make out the trees towering from both sides in this dark valley, though the tops rise up like skyscrapers. I go to bed still wondering, what if they won’t need me?

A couple hours later, I hatch from my tent in the morning sunlight, and see South Island for the first time. If I’m not smashing sand flies on my legs, I’m gawking at the blankets of green pines rising from one side, and the bush trees on the other, with large ferns popping out here and there. A stone’s throw away, the pristine Takaka river cuts along the length of the grounds.

Over the first few days, I get no official confirmation that I’ll be able to stay here without paying, so I bust my ass. I find my post as the head-dishwasher and cook’s sidekick. Since being here, I haven’t had any living expenses, I’m eating especially well, considering that I’m in the kitchen and I clean up leftovers. Then on opening day, two crew mates vouch for me, which covers my entry 😀

From standing on a patch of gravel in Sanson, to before a stove as a breakfast cook at a festival, I’m sure there’s a lesson in here somewhere. It feels cliche going with something like “Fortune favors the bold” or, “Luck comes to those that show up.” One thing I can take from this is, to ride life’s waves, and accept everything as neither good nor bad. Things we label as bad, often make us stronger in the end, and good things often give us what we want: to be lazy (which isn’t good in my mind). Though I made the ferry and the festival, I like to think I would’ve had other blessings in disguise had either of the two fallen through.

After This

I believe we choose the life we want to see, or have it projected for us against our will. With that said, I see my toiling here at a festival as an opportunity to see the amount of work that goes into organizing a festival, and it’s nice feeling responsible for once. I don’t know where I’m go from here, but a workshop at the festival tells me that I should WWOOF on a permaculture and learn while I’m here. On the flip side, I’m learning 5-days is too long for a festival. I can’t wait to move on!