“Bring music or podcasts or something outside Foranger. It’s so flat. You can see for miles and miles. You’ll wonder ‘Where’s the will to live?’ ” said Roger, who usually placed positive spins on things.
Allie and Roger were giving me pointers on what to see and where to camp where they were coming from and where I was headed.
“Set up at Curio Bay in the early afternoon for a prime tent spot. They have a campervan section on one side and tents on the other,” Allie said.
This pleased me greatly. We all had formed a shared hatred for the disruption of incessant sliding doors at most every campsite in New Zealand. Our entire New Zealand experience was not the wild we had hoped for. We were experiencing tent life in a camper van world. We just wanted to fall asleep by 9AM, was that so much to ask? As touring cyclists, we were not after the same drunken late nights camper van goers seemed to be. A few nights prior, Allie and Roger counted the hours while their neighbor continued to close and open his camper van door. At midnight, cool-headed Roger got out of his sleeping bag to ask the van man to stop sliding his door. Allie and I have taken to asking people to keep it down come 9PM. After more hills than snacks and six to eight or more hours in the saddle, we just want to go to bed early to beat the heat the next day.
“Also…in Curio Bay, I swam with dolphins! They were right there!” Allie added as her eyes welled up. I crossed my fingers the dolphins would still be around by the time I arrived but truth be told, I was almost more excited about the tent section.
“What discussions on the tandem did I miss?” I asked the tandem due. Their conversations and two cents never ceased to entertain me, or at the very least, give me something to consider. They excel at philosophical questions, and always seem to be asked the important questions, getting right to the heart of things.
“Oh! We talked about how we’d cure alcoholism and if we, as people, have a social or moral obligation to contribute to society or a community,” Allie said.
It’s something I’ve struggled with my entire adult life. Can I make an impact if I live in the remote stretches of where grizzlies roam? Or will I become a full time hermit, never considering anyone outside my small clan and the plant and wildlife around me? What makes me the most fulfilled? What if I don’t want to contribute all the time? There are so many questions. And only one way to answer them or try to, to see what works best for you.
I’ve lived in enough small towns and freckles on the map kind of places that I think as far out there as you may be, your nearest “neighbors,” be it five or 50 miles away, will form a community of sorts. It’s what humans do. But even so, you’re living the life you want and are free to do so. Maybe your impact will fall under inspiration, maybe education, or perhaps it will have an effect on non-human worlds.
Days later, when I arrived at the Curio Bay campsite, I considered how much the site applied to the question at hand. The host pointed to where the camper vans parked in one direction and in the other told me I was free to set up my tent anywhere my heart desired. I stumbled upon the answer to the question without meaning to. The campsite seemed to tell everyone coming through, “You do you and we’ll do us.” And shouldn’t we be able to apply that to anything, to simply let it all be?