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New Zealand revisited

Posted by moddyfire on January 23, 2010

We spent the last month in New Zealand, in the world rainbow gathering.

There was the usual stress of deciding when to go, buying plane tickets, worries about getting from the airport to the gathering and back (as hitch-hiking with a child is not much fun), packing,  and being afraid of the cold – in Uki it was unbearably hot most of the month before that. Ela had wanted to travel in New Zealand a little, and I didn’t – I was there 11 years ago and have seen almost everything – but the crucial factor was that Ela wanted to go to a midwifery workshop in Adelaide. Thus we decided to cut our journey a bit and to book  a flight directly from New Zealand to Adelaide. The day after, Ela got a letter saying the workshop is full and she can’t get in.

So we left our house with a sitter and he dropped us at the airport. There we waited for our flight to Sydney, until hearing that our flight is being delayed, and delayed again, and then that all travellers who go to Christchurch or Auckland should collect their bags and go to the help desk. Just like last time. The deal was that they take us by bus to Brisbane, and we join another flight which arrives to ChCh just half an hour later than we should have. So we did arrive at 1 am to the freezing cold Christchurch, took a rented car, and drove to a rainbow meeting point – a house that belongs to a sister who let hippies stay there while waiting.

There were of course hippies lying, sleeping and snoring everywhere, but they had left us a big mattress in the middle, and we managed to sleep a little. Some of them were old friends. In the morning we wondered where to go. A few days earlier the rainbow site in the west coast was flooded, leaving some of the seed-campers on an island in a middle of a swamp, and they had to be rescued by helicopter. They immediately started to search of a new site, and on the day we arrived there wasn’t yet a final decision on the location. So we waited another day, resting and visiting the museum and the botanical gardens.

That was very exciting to me – I was amazed to see how much I remember New Zealand; the rose garden which I had spent the afternoon with Marianne 11 years before; the paua-shell house which I had visited in Bluff and was moved to the museum; the paua-shell jewellery in the museum shop (I bought there a pin for my friend); the little biscuits that I was buying all the time; the funny accent and the unbelievable nicety of the Kiwis. I am still shocked by how nice they are and during my whole travels there, this time and in the previous century, no-one was ever less than friendly.

The next day we drove to the site, only three hours away. It was a lovely day – not too hot, yet not raining – and we walked with our bags and kid through a typical New Zealand beech forest to the awesome site. There where a few meadows, each on a different hill, and in the middle a criss-cross of streams that turned into a knee-deep bog when it rained. As soon as we walked it, Sequoia started to skip and jump joyfully, crying “I’m home!”.

Since the site was found too late, there was no much time for seed camp work. There were a few hundred people around before the kitchen was fully built, most of them first-timer who didn’t know they are supposed to share the work. Also, the scouts of the last camp were tired now. The result was quite unfocused gathering, with many people not knowing what rainbow is all about.

My first two weeks ware awesome, even my drive to ChCh to return the car. I did a lot of work; hugged and welcomed everyone; talked and told jokes and stories; made connections; and generally felt confident and happy: I’m so cool. Sequoia’s behaviour was very helping: she woke up in the morning, we gave her a snack, and then she wandered off to play with her friends. We didn’t really see her most of the day, and even in circle she often sat with her friends or some random rainbow people who took her fancy. She worked in the kitchen, participated in talking circles – she announced that she wanted to burn marshmallows on the main fire, like she had done in numerous gathering before – and one day as Ela met her on the path she said “I was stung by a wasp, so I went to the medical centre and they gave me some leaf to chew. It was yucky, but then they gave me some lolly to take the taste away and now I’m much better. Now go off mum. I’m busy.”

Then I got tired of being out-going, had a stupid fight with Ela, and someone told me I’m too frisky – and not in a good way.  I also got overwhelmed by the amount of new people that I can’t remember their names anymore, by the cigarette buts everywhere, by the flashing cameras everywhere, by people not participating and waiting for others to do it for them, by laser show in the main fire, and by seeing that I became an elder: I have been to more gatherings than most, I am older than most, I know everything about rainbow, and I look at the youngsters saying “When I first went, it was much better. Rainbow is going down. The elders are not respected. Maybe I shouldn’t come anymore.”

After new-years-day it also became colder and more raining. A few days before we left, the bog became almost impassable and half the gathering couldn’t come to the food circle. Luckily we had no rain for a day, and we thus managed to leave when we needed to. We got a ride all the way to the airport, and flew to the open arms of my friends Simon and Julia. They live an hour drive out of Adelaide, and were perfect hosts – they lent us their car to go to town, gave us the best room in the house, and their eldest daughter hooked up so well with Sequoia that we didn’t need to pay them so much attention. We spent the days visiting friends, family and sites.

And then we finally got home. It is unbearably hot We all promptly got sick – all the stress of travelling was finally allowed to come out – now we are recovering, waiting for energy to do all the things we need to do. We don’t expect any more travels until September!

Love, Moddy.

I wrote this circling song in the gathering:

There’s a light in the depth of the forest

Calling us home, calling us home.

There’s a sound in the depth of the ocean

Calling us home, calling us home.

The way of our fathers and mothers

Is calling us home, calling us home.

The love of our sisters and brothers

Is calling us home, calling us home.


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