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December 4 2023, Anakiwa to Havelock:
It was a super chill day today, having a pretty decent road walk. As we were leaving Anakiwa, we walked alongside cow pastures, farm land and horse fields. We followed the length of an electric fence and saw several dead rodents glued to it, figuring they might have attempted to climb over it, then got electrocuted to their death. I studied their fried appearance.
We met a local kiwi on an ATV who was blocking our path unintentionally. His little brother sat behind him with his legs hanging off the side of the vehicle’s rim, both of them covered from head to toe in mud splatters. Their down jackets and faces splattered with burnt umber brown speckles. They definitely went off roading. I loved being in areas where strict rules about what people could and couldn’t do ceased to exist. I saw numerous tractors and ATVs driving down the main road without it being an issue.
We stopped at a tavern, but it was closed so we had a snack break at one of the picnic tables. Orange went to swing on an odd looking contraption which looked to be a mixture between a seesaw and a wooden swing from the old days. As I watched him, I felt heavy in my heart. I still wanted to talk to him, yet it seemed so impossible for me to just voice what I was feeling. I was learning.
We packed up and trekked on, following the footpath beside the windy, meandering road. We received scenic views of the meadow marshes and green mountains whose tippy tops were covered by clouds. We saw horses that were dressed like English men and ones that had emo styled haircuts.
Apparently it was going to be our last day seeing the ocean up close until we got to the near end of our hike. We began climbing again and eventually took a break on a bench that overlooked the city of Havelock. I looked out into the ocean’s horizon. The tall grasses in front of us were covered in dew droplets and reflections of the two of us. I took a breath. I knew both of us could feel the tension in the air. I desperately wanted to speak what was on my mind. I felt scared, yet the longing to be ready for the ‘hard conversations’ was stronger than my fear of them. I felt into the truth—that I was only speaking to myself. There was no one out there so there was no need for me to be afraid. I felt a sense of peace knowing that. It helped release all anxiety in an instant.
“Orange, do you have feelings for me?” I asked.
He took a deep breath.
“I wouldn’t say ‘feelings’,” he said as he held eye contact with me. “I mean there’s definitely attraction there. I’m very much attracted to you. It’s just I never met any girl like you before. Ever.”
“I never met a guy like you, either. It’s just I know where I’m at right now in my life and I can’t meet you where you want me to be,” I said.
I didn’t feel good for him. I saw his character and I knew of mine. I knew if I had the opportunity to meet someone else I was attracted to, I would run off and fuck the dude. I didn’t feel inspired to make our relationship into anything more than it was because I knew it would get tricky once romantic feelings became involved, let alone physical intimacy.
He made sure to further clarify and said, “No, Goldie. All good. I’m just happy to be hiking with you.”
“Okay, I’m glad. I am, too,” I said, “it’s not going to be awkward sleeping in the same tent?”
“No, of course not,” he said.
I was still feeling guided to invest in a tent, as I knew by now that the Universe liked to throw curveballs at me. I also knew I would be craving the space of solitude soon.
We sat in silence for a moment more then he said, “I like your accent, too. It’s like magic to my ears.”
“I have an accent?!” I asked. “Oh, wait. Yeah, I do to you.”
We laughed it off and continued hiking. We came across a small waterfall with a bench beside it. Next to the waterfall was a living tree with a branch that had a hole in it that was releasing another mini waterfall through it! I had never seen anything like it before! I stared in awe as I watched it drip fresh spring water out of it. What a phenomena.
We walked across a boardwalk, saw some very fluffy sheep beside a swamp, then officially walked into Havelock. We found a place to reside in for the night called Blue Moon Backpackers. They didn’t have a bunk room so we booked a private room, instead. I asked the woman working there if they had a hiker box. She looked at me in confusion. I had a feeling that would be the case for the rest of the trail. In one sense, I wanted to be the trend setter for future backpackers on the TA, but in another sense, I found it cool that the trail wasn’t popular yet. I enjoyed the feeling that no one knew much about the trail and that there weren’t numerous advertisements directed towards hikers with a strong intention of making money off of them.
Orange Man laid out his tent to dry while I went to write in the cozy space of the community kitchen. Instead, I ended up talking to a girl who was on a 6 month visa visiting from Austria. She was moving all throughout the island, mainly WWOOFing and exploring new spots, however she was now looking for places to make some extra money since things were starting to get expensive.
Orange and I went out to eat at the local pub at the Havelock Hotel. On the way there I spotted what looked like two thru-hikers so I ran across the street to say aloha and converse. I often felt I had to tone myself down due to how intensely excited I would get in a matter of seconds meeting another hiker. We introduced ourselves and I could feel they didn’t understand the concept of trail names. They gave us their real names—Elodie and Rémy, a French Canadian couple. Times like that, I noticed I felt bummed. I wanted them to play along, joining me in all the different kine of hiker lingo.
We parted ways and went to get our table. I went to order, knowing damn well I was about to be the ‘picky American.’
I looked at the host and asked, “Can you cook my burger rare?”
She had a blank look on her face. At first she said yes but then quickly changed her mind to no. Orange warned me about kiwis not normally cooking their stuff rare.
Beyond that, they made us everything we ordered, with all the specifics. For the main entrees we got burgers, steak, and pesto pizza.
An older woman brought out our meals one by one.
After we ate our burgers and steak, she brought out the pizza she said, “Whatever you don’t finish, you can just take home.”
“Oh, we’ll finish it,” Orange said.
We devoured our savory meals quickly and thoroughly.
“How full are you?” I asked, “percentage wise.”
“Mm, about 55%,” he said.
“Me, too!” I exclaimed, “I was gonna say 45-55%.”
I enjoyed sitting at the pub and watching all of the locals run into each other and reconnect. It had a very homey feel. It was cozy and the bartender appeared to only be about 18 years old. She was taking everyone’s orders quickly and thoroughly as if she grew up doing it.
“How do kiwis feel about Americans?” I asked, “are you guys annoyed of us?”
“Yeah,” he said, “we jus think you’re arrogant.”
“I could totally see that,” I said.
“It’s jus ya guys are so expressive,” he explained.
Couldn’t argue with that.
We ate everything off our plates, the woman came back to get our dishes and said, “Musta been hungry, ay?”
“Oh yeah,” I said, “thank you for making it with pesto sauce by the way.”
“Oh I can’t stand marinara sauce, maself. Especially not in pizza,” she said.
Finally, somebody understood.
We ordered two fudge brownie ice cream sundaes. She brought us the dessert and we annihilated that, too. I went to get some napkins and out of the corner of my eye I saw a thru-hiker walking along the sidewalk. Out of excitement, I ran out the door! Everyone in the restaurant stared at me as if I was dining and dashing.
I ran back inside after a few seconds because I thought to myself, This will be really creepy if I’m trying to chase a stranger down the street.
After we ate, we ran into a hiker named Jeff whom we met on the ferry. His partner came to hike a quick four day section with him and then she left so he could complete the rest on his own.
Orange asked, “What inspired ya to hike the TA?”
“I don’ know,” he said, “I like hikin’.”
Guess there wasn’t always a spiritual reason behind it.
We walked down to the near edge of town, then turned back to go to our hotel. I found a pile of free books in a mini storage compartment offered to the public. Just earlier today I had a thought about if I found a pile of free books, I would love to carry some to read on trail. First one I saw was definitely a cheap, pornographic novel.
“Perfect for ya,” Orange said.
“I know I write about this stuff all the time, however I would never read pornographic stuff nor am I into watching porn. Not my thing,” I said.
Next thing I did was pick up the book and take it with me, figuring it was the perfect size to fit into my pack.
“I love how I keep doing shit on this trail that I said I would never do,” I said.
Orange Man walked us back to the room and put his arm around my waist. I didn’t feel comfortable but I didn’t say anything. I noticed a deep fear that I was going to break this kids heart.
At the end of the night, I met a girl at the hostel who worked there. She was in the lounge area reading a book, biting her lip while doing so.
“What are you reading?” I asked.
She smiled shyly and admitted she was reading an erotic book. I laughed and shared with her that I was an erotic writer. We began chatting and her name was Boot. She was a kayak guide from Flagstaff AZ. She wanted to try something new, so she emailed places in NZ looking for a job and this hostel happened to respond so she booked a ticket over.
Upon arrival she had to learn how to drive a stick on the left side of the road, on the right side of the car, all in one day in order to drive down to the water to do raft guides. She enjoyed the change of pace living in a small town for the time being. She was used to going to parties and drinking out with friends in AZ, yet here she found to be more inspired reading books and slowing down her pace.
She was only 23 but wise beyond her years. I told her to reach out to me when she was in Flagstaff again. She offered me another erotic book that she just finished reading, written by Sylvia Day. She said I could take it with me along my trek. Now, I was carrying two erotic books.