Lockdown New Zealand…Again
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
Locked out of my beloved Kerikeri…
We’ve just gone into lockdown level 4 in Auckland for 1 case of Covid. As I sit inside enduring another lockdown, I’m reflecting on what it feels like to live in New Zealand. Jacinda’s handling of Covid has made me proud to be here. After watching the feuds between Trump and Fauci, it’s refreshing to see the way Jacinda and Ashley Bloomfield work together. There appears to be great respect and teamwork between the two. The thing I may admire and respect the most about them is their willingness to say “I don’t know.” In this country, it’s ok to be up front when you don’t know the answer, and even acknowledge, in some cases, you should know and are working towards getting the answer. When I worked in corporate, I noticed “I don’t know” was often a phrase people talked around. I always had the most respect for leaders and managers that admitted the truth and didn’t make lack of knowledge a bad thing.
A Different Lockdown Experience Than Round One
I spent my first lockdown in the beautiful town of Kerikeri. Nature was literally at my doorstep and I found great refuge in the depths of the woods many days. This time, I’m in Auckland. I had planned to do a house sit, but that looks like it’s now out of the realm of possibility. There’s no deep woods nature nearby and I’m greatly missing it. However, I’ve ended up in one of those living situations that seems a blend of the life of a full-time traveler, and normal life in New Zealand.
While up in Kerikeri, I stayed at my beloved Wharepuke Accommodation, Restaurant, Garden And Art. While there, they had an artist in residence, Ioane Ioane, who created a moa. He’s from Samoa and only the second person I ever met from that country. I was delighted to finally make aquaintance with a moa. After over a year of hearing kiwis talk about their “moas” and being frustrated to learn they were actually talking about their “mowers” I finally saw an actual moa! Never mind it’s a sculpture, her name is Nova, and Ioane created a beautiful ceremony around her. As next-door neighbors for several weeks, we enjoyed drinks, dinners and great conversations. He offered to give me a lift to Auckland with his best friend and roommate, Ella and I graciously accepted.
Moa (“Nova”) created by artist Ioane Ioane on exhibit at Wharepuke Accommodation, Restaurant, Garden And Art.
I May Be In Auckland For A While…
Ioane also said I could stay till I sorted out my first house sit. So, I planned 5 nights with him and Ella and then to be off. All those plans were dashed when lockdown level 4 was announced. Now I’m in a house with two lovely roommates until they get sick of me or lockdown ends or some other plan is made. So it goes. I’ve just bumped back my flight to Australia for the fifth time, hoping, maybe, I can still get out there before leaving this region of the world.
A nice side effect of more time in Auckland is learning more about it. I knew it was huge but now I’m getting familiar with the neighborhoods. I’ve stayed with friends in Gulf Harbor and Botany. Now I’m in Westmere, not far from Point Chevalier. My housesit was to be in “pt Chev” and, entering lockdown, I was even invited to stay with the family I was supposed to houssit for. Ioane and Ella took me to Ponsonby my first night here. I was looking forward to exploring it during the day as it seemed like the perfect place to find an endearing coffee shop and ecclectic shops. I’ve eaten in the food court there – I can tell you the Malaysian booth is excellent.
My favorite tree in Kerikeri. I miss being able to walk over to her.
A Reminder To Always Follow Your Heart…
One of the things I’ve learned, traveling full time, is to listen to the yearnings of my heart. Once again, I’m so glad I did. On Tuesday, I went into central Auckland and decided to see the Maritime Museum which I hadn’t done on previous visits. It was a wonderful visit. For whatever reason, I followed my heart and treated myself to a wonderful lunch. It’s been ages since I’ve gone out to a restaurant in a big city, and I was craving the experience. I ended up at Soul Bar and Bistro. I quickly sorted out a glass of Chardonnay and some oysters and enjoyed the view. I felt delightfully decadent, relaxed and warm. I eased into the chair. For lunch I had some of the most wonderful salt and pepper squid I ever tasted. I’d tell you it’s like calamari, but really, it was nothing like the tiny, fried rings I’m used to. These were huge pieces of fresh squid that melted in the mouth, accompanied by a hummous-like sauce that perfectly complimented the light bread coating.
The gentleman at the table across from me kept looking at my lunch and I told him it was fabulous. On my way out, he had finished his, and I asked how he enjoyed them. This turned into a lovely conversation, and I learned that his name is Shaun. He, learning that I’m American and a “covid-refugee” offered me a room at his place. He introduced me to the man next to him, reassured me that he’s fully gay, and there was no danger if I stayed wtih him. LOL! This is the kind of hospitality I’ve received, over and over, from most Kiwis I meet. Now in lockdown, I’m reminded that if I put off my heart’s desire, I might never have gotten to that restaurant. Just like, if I hadn’t had the balls to quit my job when I did, I might have been stuck at home, unable to travel, instead of making it to 25 countries in 3 years.
Maritime Museum, Auckland.
I’ve already chatted up the next-door neighbors. The guys are outside most days making fishing spears of some nature. We’ve all been wagering how long lockdown will be. I think this is a national passtime now. I’ve won the first part of the wager; Auckland was given 7 days at level 4, and the rest of the country 3 days. My wager was that the entire country would stay in level 4 for a week. My next wager is that Auckland will be at level 4 for 3 – 4 weeks, while the rest of the country (barring Wellington, perhaps) will go into level 3 next week or a few days in.
My other amusement is a grey cat who comes round some days and enjoys a cuddle before stalking off on urgent business. Ioane and I did a long walk and some calisthenics yesterday and have made a master plan to repeat this. However, today is cloudy and chilly and we all slept in till 11am, so looks like that will await another day. Instead, I’ve begun filming a video about each day in lockdown to document our time. I’m actually looking forward to all the time to be able to focus on getting some work done, and catching up with friends.