green mountain with river in the middle


Dear Sophia:

In winter, the clouds hang low everywhere in New Zealand. This week in Nelson, I’ve seen so many, coming down from the hills into town – so close you could almost touch them. I kept humming The Carpenter’s song “Close to You” and would substitute clouds for birds. Why? Because I’m a nerd.

I just feel really good in Nelson, I’m not sure what it is, but I feel great. My accommodation is fantastic, arguably the comfiest bed on the whole trip. I have also stopped smoking, which seemed to help a lot.

I felt so good in fact that It seemed that nothing interesting would happen to write about. Especially since Auckland had gone into Level 3 lock-down and the rest of the country was at Level 2. No one is really travelling, except people from around the South Island.

Until HE showed up. You can tell an Aussie right away – their energy is so different from Kiwis. He had the nerve to call me out on MY accent. Hah! I asked him how long he’d been here – “10 years mate” he said. He’d met a Yorkshire Lass, who had won his heart. Together, they had settled in New Zealand.

He was out to play wing man for a recently separated friend – with permission from the Yorkshire Lass. He was ex-military and told me that he’d been to the caves in Tora Bora in Afganistan. He implied Special Services and it seemed impolite to drill him on this point. It was clear that this man had courage.

So when he started talking about his arrival to New Zealand, I was surprised to hear of his initial experiences. He arrived in New Zealand and was out with his Lass and meeting her friends.

Apparently the women were quite aggressive, buying him drinks, asking him to dance, slipping him their number. I gave him the seriously raised eyebrowtm, wondering if this wasn’t a humble brag.

He told me that he found it quite awkward and a bit scary. “The women here Lilo” he said “These women”

I laughed and said “but man, you were in the caves at Tora Bora!” All he said was “This was scarier”