Onto the last leg, not such a great plane. A 747 with overhead screens that could not be watched because the light fell on them. Food was okay though. And a welcome at Schipol and another at home where our house was bedecked with flags.
We have had a great time. Thanks to everyone. This blog is now closed!
Apart from this message to Chris of the Aquapackers as appreciation of one of many high-spots of this holiday.
A Backpackers Heaven
I had never been to New Zealand, nor had I ever done any serious hiking since the Boy Scouts in the 1940’s. At the age of 66 I found myself wandering around the Abel Tasman Park with a pack on my back the size of a small house. The scenery was wonderful, but the pack was heavy and the flies were fierce. After a few hours of staggering up and down stony paths laden like a donkey, one looks forward to the evening rest with some misgivings. Normally this would be in a crowded DOC hut full of fellow travellers snoring and farting and trampling over you to find their beds and shining torches in your face and can you spare some toilet paper. Food you must carry on your back, and unless you have a stove, it will consist of nuts and raisins. If you do have a stove, it will be a packet of dried macaroni with a chemical beef flavour. What it will not be is filling and tasty. Milk will be powder, which, when mixed with water, looks and tastes like paint. You will not sleep because sand-flies also need food, and you will provide it. Instead you will lay awake and dream of real food and cold beer. It was with such a feeling that I tumbled out of the bush at Anchorage Bay and sprawled on the beach. I knew that we were booked in somewhere, but could not care what as I just fell onto the beach and slept. And dreamed that I was some traveller in biblical times who had stumbled out of the desert and found himself surrounded by water , but it was salty and he could not drink it.
“I am dead”, the traveler thought, “for I see a heavenly ship gleaming white upon the blue waters”. A figure sitting in a small boat detached itself from the back of the ship, and skimmed over the water towards him, faster than any man could row. “It must be an Angel”, the traveler thought, “to travel so swiftly without paddle or oar”. The Angel beckoned to him, and he climbed into the boat, which was soft and not made of wood as was the custom in his own land. “Who are you, and by what magic does your craft hurl itself over the waters?”. “I am he that is called Chris” said the Angel, polishing his sunglasses, “and I suppose a Mercury 50 hp four stroke outboard is a bit of magic, mate”. The Angel helped him onto the heavenly ship and the traveler saw a women of great beauty. Angel Chris said “This is Titania, my girlfriend. She will prepare food for you, won’t you Angel“. The traveler marveled. Two Angels! The Angel Chris showed him where he could place his belongings and where he could lay his weary head upon clean, soft bedding. The traveler looked at his body, dusty and bruised from his journey and said “I am unclean and not worthy to lie down upon this pristine silk”. The Angel Chris led him to a magical fountain and showed him how to command it to rain upon him water as warm as the far holy hot springs of Lake Taupo. Much refreshed, he sat upon a throne in the sun upon the deck of the heavenly ship and closed his eyes, and noted that out here upon the waters there were no flies to torment him. He dreamed that he sat before tables sagging with the weight of cooking meat and rice and salads, and that rich smells of cooking arose like incense to perfume the air around him; and found it all to be true when the Angel Chris awoke him with the magical words “Barbie’s ready!”. He ate until he was nearly full, the most delicious meal of his miserable life. “Forget the Mannah”, he said, “I’ll have another of those steaks if I may, and that lasagne is out of this world, which is where I am, I think!”.
Later, as he sat back on the deck of the ship and watched the sun go down, he noticed a vessel of golden liquid in his hand, upon which was the inscription “Speights Beer”. The bottle was as cold as ice, and a mist had condensed all over the glassy surface. With his finger he wrote a message in the mistiness. “I AM IN HEAVEN”.