In January I arrived at the Rongo Backpackers Hostel in Karamea, NZ for a yoga teaching work exchange…unaware of the beauty I was about to experience in the next few weeks. I remember sitting by a fire with a local, and he said that New Zealand was magical in a sense; everything always seemed to fall into place. And that could not have been more true. From sticking your thumb out and hitching a ride with the second car to drive by; to a tent and sleeping bag finding their way to you right when you’re pondering doing a 4-day hike. Or crashing on your shuttle bus drivers couch- who's prone to "picking up strays", and getting an amazing surf lesson from her friend right before you fly home.
It’s no secret that I’m a wee bit shy…and one of the hardest parts of travel for me (despite the fact that I love people and yearn for connection) is interacting with people. One of my first nights, I unrolled my yoga mat in the studio, and let myself flow freely. Spontaneous movement matching breath… a peaceful cactus garden outside my window… the sound of backpackers jamming out floating in the air. On my mat, I let myself truly experience all of the emotions that were running through me- from excitement to anxiety. I sat in it. I played with it. I breathed it in and breathed it out. And then I walked outside and started a conversation with the guitar playing backpackers. It happened so naturally, and I was pretty damn proud of myself. Days later, eating dinner, two girls invited me out to a folk show at Little Wanganui Hall. We drove there as the sun was setting, with Band of Horses blasting, wind blowing our hair, and wine bottles clunking in the back. A band called Fiddle Pie played- Appalachian style folk music…a group of people from different countries creating beautiful music together. We basked in the night. A combination of drifters and small-town locals- wild backwoods energy flowing through us as we square danced with strangers, shared wine straight from the bottle, let beautiful sounds fill our ears, as a bonfire crackled behind us and stars filled the open sky. It’s hard to describe that feeling- the beauty of the night…and most nights in Karamea were quite like this.
At Rongos, there was this ebb & flow of beautiful souls. There was never a shortage of nature-lovers, musicians, activists, artists, and passionate people. Constantly sharing stories, ideas, theories, music, memories, artwork, food, wine, laughter, love, and light. Someone would show up, and you would be strangers one second, and the next sharing an amazing connection. I can't really put into words the magic of New Zealand or Rongo's so I'll end this here.