We arrived at a small lodge on Lake Ohau. It was a sweet little place. when we got inside I did a quick scan of the place for any possible pit falls that would make the stay difficult and all I saw were three or four steps leading up to the hallway of rooms. people were starting to gather in the two meeting rooms that were in the lodge. There were people playing pool, groups talking with each other, and people gathering near the bar. I sat on a bench taking in my surroundings…then I saw something stunning, possibly one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen the view of the lake from the balcony. Apparently people had discovered it before me. I joined the crowd that was gathering outside. I just kept staring. There was a chilly wind blowing and my teeth were chattering, but I did not care. Then I saw something very rare… a double rainbow. I quickly asked a friend to take a picture in front of it. One of the gentleman working at the lodge came to me. the silver haired and bearded man told that if I needed help up or down stairs, I should ask him. Again, I was struck by the people’s kindness in this country. I thanked the man and went about trying to find internet access.
I returned inside to get warm, although i really didn’t want. I sat down on the couch and chatted with my friend Bre. I remember she asked me something and I became very emotional. It’s funny because I don’t usually don’t tear up. I really think it was the beautiful place. I remember feeling so relaxed and happy so maybe that’s why teared up out of no where.
The owners of the lodge made us a lovely dinner. I remember the room got very loud with silly conversations and laughter.
As the sun set, music began and we gan to dance. I from group to group getting to know new people.
After hours of music dancing and chattering, My vision became fuzzy and and my eyelids got heavier and heavier. Off to bed I was. I pushed my way up the stares to my room. the hallway was dimly lit and endless. It reminded me of hall ways that one sees in horror films. I saw that my bags were sitting there waiting for me.in the room. Hmm, should I pull out my night gown? Naah, I thought. I pulled off my shoes with difficulty. I fell on to the card board box that was the bed and immediately into a doze.
In the morning, I woke to a beautiful sun rise and a beautiful view the lake. I had never felt so rested before. I picked up the phone and called my father… I did not even let him speak I just gushed about how beautiful the place was.
Soon my luggage was being loaded into the coach. driving away, I felt and overwhelming sadness.I felt energy surging, like a healing energy. I began to cry. Thankfully, I was sitting by myself in the front seat so no body saw.
Happy By Pharrell played on the radio. we began to sing.
The excitement was building as we left Christchurch. As we drove to Geraldine, I was sitting in the front seat as I would for the rest of the trip. Although it was convenient and comfy, `it made me feel very lonely. Anticipation was bubbling in me. however, as rain clouds started to gather, the excitement slowly dissipated and turned into fear. My new friend A and me decided to go to a tiny gift shop across the street. It seemed like a beastly task, A took my arm and we crossed through the deluge together. The gift shop was a little place, crowded, and full. There were so many little trinkets to look at and admire. I quickly picked up some postcards to give friends and family. A postcard with two baby sheep caught my eye. This one is for Azza, I said to myself. I looked outside; the sky was grey and the rain was intense. I was already wet and jittery from being in the rain. My friend and I made a run for it across the street to our coach. I must admit that I began to feel really nervous about the rest of the trip. What if my crutches slipped and I fell in the rain? I made reluctant decision to use the wheelchair in the rain. I found myself wishing I had learned how to use a wheelchair. It came as a shock to everyone that had never even used a wheelchair before.
The deluge turned into a drizzle. I joined a couple of new friends as we had some lunch in a cafe. We went to see a an enormous knit jersey. I later learned that the sweater is in the guinness book of world records for it’s huge size. A few hours passed by in this sweet little town and soon we were off on our next adventure.
The trip was a daze… I remember watching Despicable Me 2 on the way from Fiji to Christchurch and listening to the song Happy by Pharrell. Who knew it would later become the day song, the soundtrack to the tour. Upon getting off the plane in Christchurch, I was helped by a blonde older woman. She was also helping a sweet young boy who was being met by some family members, I assume.she escorted me outside to meet my ride to my hotel. My driver was a sweet, soft-spoken gentleman. He loaded my belongings in the van and we were off. I was disoriented. We passed by a many beautiful residential areas. The driver was our guide for the duration of the ride and pointed out some land marks. I had a difficult time understanding what he was trying to say. He was very soft-spoken and he mumbled quite a bit. We passed by the Avon river. I remember seeing what looked like an old antiquey looking train pass right ahead of us. Although, I have to say that I may have been hallucinating from fatigue because to this day, I cannot find the picture I took of it. Th city was rather ghostly. There were empty areas of space accompanied by some lonely looking high buildings. There were many buildings made of shipping containers. I had heard about the devastation caused by the 2011 earthquake, but it was a totally different experience seeing it up close. I was dropped off at the hotel relieved and ready to rest. I had forgotten my wheelchair at the airport, but the driver was kind enough to bring it. Even though I was fatigued I went to my room rested and went back out for an adventure. The city had vast spaces of nothingness and once a while interrupted by buildings made of colorful construction boxes.
In the city was the clock tower. The clock was frozen at the exact time the earthquake began 12.51 pm. I remember feeling very sad when I saw it. There stood the bones of a beautiful city frozen in time.
Quite a milestone it was making it to Christchurch. My fist trip on my own could have been potentially disastrous. thanks to the wonderful locals in the city, I was successful.
I talked very briefly about my trip to NZ in my initial blog posts. The way there was a struggle but I did learn a lot. I prepared very early for someone with wheelchair to take me to the gate. I was told that once I checked my luggage in AZ, I won’t have to see it again until I get to NZ. That sounded pretty wonderful to me because I had my crutches. However, this was not the case. Once I got to LA, I had a nine hour layover….I don’t know why I did that to myself. I have to say that was either sheer stupidity or stubbornness on my part. I was told I had to recheck my luggage to go to FiJi. I held on to my luggage.
My stomach starts making noises.
I video chat with my mom and my sister.
I remember after that I wanted to make sure when check in opens for my flight to Fiji. I looked around at all the different faces, trying to find someone who seemed friendly enough to help. out of all the weary travelers one Chinese gentleman offered to help me. He helped me push my luggage and my wheelchair over to the check. I thought how kind he was. Most people would not have even bothered. I was so intimidated by the massive international terminal at LAX.
I was sitting just around the corner from the airline’s check in counter. it was not scheduled to open until 5:00 PM. As soon as it opened, I put my luggage on my wheelchair along with my crutches and pushed my way toward the counter. The woman at the counter ( Fijian I think) had sweet disposition and a big smile. She took care of me right a way, and promised to come and get me when it was time to board. My luggage and my wheelchair were off on the adventure before me. I remember looking around and feeling really intimidated by the massive international terminal at LAX. At that moment what a monumental undertaking it was for me to travel so far by myself for the first time.
We are celebrating the month of Ramadan. As wonderful as this time of year is, it is also very difficult for me. During Ramadan one cannot eat or drink water until sunset. This goes on for about a month. Normally I nap though out the day to make it go by faster. However, this year is uniquely difficult. We live in Arizona and it’s very hot right now. Our air conditioner gave out a couple of weeks ago. Now it is as hot inside as it is outside. I cannot go for a walk because it is hundred degree weather. I have made the decision to keep drinking water until our AC gets fixed because I don’t want to push myself too hard. I think Ramadan is there to teach patience tolerance and empathy with those less fortunate. I’m definitely learning a lesson this time around.
*** Update: Less than a week after we returned from Nepal, the 7.9 earthquake struck… what a disaster! We’re all lucky, but also really saddened by the news of this tragedy that is still unfolding in Nepal. Even the news that my post will be featured by WordPress is bittersweet, the upside of which is that more people will see the beauty of this place. In support of the people there, my friends and I have decided to organize a photo exhibit (check out my travel buddy’s great post on the kids of Nepal), the proceeds of which we’ll donate somehow to a charity there. We’re still working out the details, but I’ll keep you posted.
I urge you to donate as well. If you don’t know how to help, please consider purchasing a full resolution image from me and I will donate on your behalf. Get in touch if…