Narrative, Travel

Stuck in a Rainstorm

I am writing here because I am stuck in a rainstorm. It’s been four days since last sun, four amazing days. Now I want to leave, but the rain won’t relent… It rained non-stop last night and thank god my tent is mostly waterproof. Otherwise, I’d be wet right now, trying to write this. Then again, had yesterday shown sun, I would’ve continued my travels towards New Zealand’s famed west coast. Instead, I’m resting cozily against my backpack, in a soggy tent, between an almost flooding river and the highway somewhere near Motueka. I’m here because Ben & Annie, a couple from Cornwall brought me here. I’m still piecing together how it all happened.

I left Takaka that evening after a four-day respite. I thought I could reach the West Coast via the road north. That’s where Ben & Annie picked me up, on a rainy two-lane road by New Zealand’s Farewell Spit and brought me to one of NZ’s mediocre parking lot campgrounds. B & A pointed out to me that mountains block any road passage to the West Coast from here. The only way to cross is by foot, via the Heaphy Track. So I went to sleep that night preparing myself for a 4-5 day trek, thinking, how much more food do I need?

That never happened. A little thorn, called serendipity, shot pain up the heel of my right foot when I stood up the next morning, though I couldn’t find it to dig it out. Seeing as I’ve been barefoot for the past two weeks, it got there some days ago,  Thus, I decided against an arduous trek through rain clouds. That brought me to that day’s question: what am I doing again?

Do you see the seated boy with wings?

I hadn’t spoken to B & A since we got to the campsite, and I saw their van was gone. I figured they moved, and I almost took a ride with someone back towards Takaka. Instead I walked out onto the gravel beach to draw a strange driftwood figure, when Ben came up to me from a secluded spot. “We’re going north to the Farewell Spit,” he said. I hadn’t thought much of visiting there. It was something about a bare sandy spit I had imagined that didn’t make it a must see, but since they’re going, maybe they’ll take me along.

That was one rainy and beautiful day. From the Farewell Spit, we wandered through rolling hills blanketed in dense fog until we reached a massive cliff overlooking an ocean 100-meters below. We followed the edge down to an empty beach full of caves, which served as hostels for sleeping seals. Luckily, it was low tide; we filled a bag full of mussels from the rock shelves along the beach and Ben, being a chef back home, cooked the mussels in a coconut soup, which we ate with bread for lunch. We saw all we wanted to see those two days. It either rained, or spelled impending rain the entire time, but New Zealand’s nature made it a joyride.

That brings me here, in some mountainous backroad campsite, that B & A enjoyed a few nights back. I don’t see what they loved about this place. The river has swollen a meter higher than last time, according to Ben, and it’s muddy brown. The clouds hang so low that the closest mountains contrast against a soft white backdrop, obscuring everything behind it.

Despite the overcast, it’s beautiful, in a soggy way. I planned to leave yesterday, assuming I’d have time to dry my tent quick enough to pack up and go. It never stopped raining so, I grabbed my rain jacket and small backpack and walked along the road until I reached a gated logging road going up a mountain. I wandered up that quiet road for hours, I foraged blackberries, and soaked through my clothes and shoes (I had to stop twice to stop and wring my socks out). It was fun, and I called it a day and submerged into my tent to stay dry.

The clouds brought down a deluge last night and all morning. The river rose another meter, hence B & A left. Hell, the whole site emptied out, leaving me alone here hidden under a tree next to an ever rising moat. I’ve packed as much as I can. It could be another day, it could be minutes. As soon as this rain dies from a pour, I’m getting out of here.