Six more to go. Come on – we can do this! Aotearoa New Zealand
Day 3,200 since October 10th 2013: 197 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).
Thank you one and all
So many faces, so many people, so many conversations, so many memories. It has indeed been a long road. The road continues.
Last week’s entry: Struggling with inner demons in a very beautiful country
There are things I’m good at, things I am average at, and things I’m bad at. That is presumably the same for you. I find that I am good at thinking outside of the box and finding solutions. I’m not very impressed with my own story telling and how I handle social media. On the topic of social media then it has by now grown to far more than what I can handle while simultaneously trying to manage everything else within the Saga. I’ve long ago given up on replying to everyone. I personally think that is rude. But the sheer volume of comments and messages coming from many thousands of people has literally become overwhelming. What can I say? Thanks a lot for the support! I am overwhelmed with kind offers from many people. I’m constantly invited to join people for dinner and I have often had to decline as I simply haven’t had the time or the energy. In a brief conversation today with Campbell, the host and owner of Verandahs Parkside Lodge, we talked about meeting many people and seeing many faces. Campbell has an act for remembering faces but as it is with me, names tend to slip away over time. I generally remember nationalities for much longer than I remember names. Campbell and I both agreed that over the years there is one thing which we never grow tired of: conversations. Ah yes, the conversations I have been privileged to have with more people than I can recount. And the conversations which are yet to come.
NPDL Auckland office.
One day is taking the next here in beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand. I have barely left Auckland as my future is unknown. Our friends at Neptune Pacific Direct Line (NPDL) have a vessel which trades between Auckland and Port Vila in Vanuatu. Unfortunately, it left Auckland without me. The good thing is that it will return after three weeks, again, and again, and again. I fully understand that NPDL on a corporate level would be hesitant in bringing a passenger onboard. Even one as unique as myself. COVID-19 remains a risk factor and bringing the virus onboard can result in expensive quarantining of the ship. However, we have four times during the pandemic proved that it can be done safely and responsibly. Twice with our friends at Pacific International Lines (PIL) as we reached Palau and afterwards returned to Hong Kong. Once with our friends at Swire Shipping as they brought the Saga from Hong Kong to Australia. And most recently with our friends at Gold Star Line in collaboration with ZIM, as we crossed the Tasman Sea to Aotearoa New Zealand. With appropriate caution and responsible COVID-19 measurements it has been possible to carry me onboard these four ships and not spread the virus. Of course, for management the SOP for unfamiliar requests is often: no.
Breakfast on a morning with no rain.
I feel well supported from all around the world. Many have lately been reaching out left and right trying to advance the progress of the Saga. It was great to reconnect with Maersk again when I spoke at their Auckland office last week. And Maersk has since been very supportive in assisting with ideas and contacts. So have many of my friends in Hong Kong and Singapore. And lots of people from social media as well. Thank you. I desperately want to see this project come to an end so I can move on with my life. I currently do not know if the best option is to hold out for clearance to join NPDL’s ship or scan NZ’s marinas for the potential sailboat heading into the South Pacific. As such I’m doing both.
They are doing great on YouTube too!
Many have recommended that I should get in touch with Gone With the Wynns. Nikki and Jason Wynn have been exploring the world for about a decade now. They are both from Texas, USA, and began in a campervan but have since progressed to a sailboat. They entertain their impressive online audience with stories and tips from their everyday life. The pandemic had them stuck in Tonga for about a year which would have been enough time to meet nearly every beating heart in the 100,000 strong island nation. I was fortunate to pull them out of their busy schedule for an hour and we got to talk about social media, their lifestyle, and most importantly how they could help. Nikki shared a few contacts with me which has led to a greater understanding of what’s possible in the Pacific. I did travel with several sailboats within the Caribbean and from my personal experience gaining passage is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Not to mention that the form of transport is slow compared to container ships. Essentially you need three things to fall into place: 1) the boat needs to go somewhere relevant. 2) the boat needs to leave soon (e.g. not wait months for spare parts). 3) the owners need to be willing to help. There are websites to help with this search but it has been very time consuming in the past. Nikki and Jason were great. They just sold their catamaran and are now looking forward to reuniting with friends and family after several years away. The Wynns are taking delivery of a new catamaran and will continue their adventure soonish. Good luck to them both.
In NZ masks are still required in certain situations e.g.: public transport, shopping centers, and museums.
If you’ve been following the Friday Blog long enough then you are not new to me complaining. This project is such a mind game. I have trapped myself within my own ambitions and cannot see my way out of it. I’m as madly in love with Aotearoa New Zealand as anyone else. The people are village-level kind and often very humble. Apart from a few conversations with Māori and British descendants I have recently had the opportunity to chat with a couple of Iraqi’s, an Iranian, a few Germans, an Israeli, and some Turks. There’s solid diversity in Auckland and I know from the NZ Red Cross Journey that they are doing great work with refugees from Syria, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. I would love to visit NZ Red Cross in Wellington but it is far away and south. The most attractive marinas are north such as Whangārei and Opua. I’ve been in touch with several marinas and been shown kindness. Unfortunately, the consensus appears to be that most of the boats going to the Pacific have already left from NZ - they usually depart May-June to go from NZ to Fiji and then on to Vanuatu and New Caledonia in August/September and then back to NZ in October to avoid cyclone season (November-April). Relocating to Fiji might as such still remain a valid option. But how to get there? Within the next few days YWAM Ships Aotearoa are departing from Tauranga to go to Fiji and I have been in touch with them. They have limited space which is generally reserved for people with certification. But they seem to be considering it? Who knows?
I partook in a Zoom call with Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI). Unfortunately Reopening dates for Tonga and Tuvalu are yet to be fixed.
Who knows indeed? With all of this uncertainty I have decided to take action and rent a campervan for eleven days. Eleven days gives me a pretty good offer of NZD29/day (USD18). As such I will have my own accommodation on wheels. Fuel prices are high and I will need to sort out stuff such as taking showers, but it will offer a lot of freedom, a chance to visit several marinas, duck in to Wellington and meet the Red Cross, enjoy some of the sights, enjoy some activities, and see my cousin :) Yes! I do have a cousin who’s living in Wellington and it would be nice to see her too. NZ Immigration appears to be overwhelmed and few I know have been fortunate to get through to them. On the other hand NZ Customs has been nothing but amazing in my experience! So, this week I walked down to Ports of Auckland, where I arrived a while ago, and had a chat with Customs. They are truly amazingly chill and kind. Customs confirmed that I am permitted to stay in NZ for 90 days and not only 30 as I had been informed by authorities before departing Australia. The reasoning behind 30 days was due to my arrival onboard a container ship. 90 days is good. I laughed at my ninety days in Hong Kong back in 2020 as I thought I would be on my way after four days. Those four days turned into two years. If I end up getting long-term stuck in NZ then I will probably challenge myself with their 3,000km hike (Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail) and I will probably set my self the goal of standing on top of Auckland’s more than fifty volcanos. But…let’s not get long term stuck.
Red Cross Shop on Karangahape Road (K Rd). Probably my favorite road in Auckland. Very diverse and very old!
On a tip I headed out to Lover's Walk looking for glow worms. No such luck. But many report they have seen them there at night.
On top of everything else I caught the flu. It is not COVID-19. I have done several rapid tests and they all came out negative. So far, I remain one of the few who has not had COVID-19 during the pandemic in spite of having been exposed to it. My time will likely come. The flu is going around in Auckland these days which is not a mystery as you often have four seasons within a day. Temperatures are down as we are in the winter season but if the sun is out then shorts and a t-shirt will suffice. Their “paper houses” seem quite cold though. Having a cold/flu is truly annoying as it just makes everything a lot harder in an already tough project. It’s like extra weight in a backpack or an anchor tied to my leg. You know – you’ve had a cold before, right? A cold generally also rarely warrant’s any real sympathy as it’s “just a cold”. As such it feels completely useless :)
Moshe and Gina invited me over for dinner which was absolutely lovely, and so were their two adorable daughters. Their friend Sam joined us and was so impressed about the Saga that he told his friend Mina, who works in media and runs the Mina Amso Show. As such I made it back to the North Shore for tea and baksum. Gina is German, Moshe is from Israel, and Sam and Mina are Iraqi. Four wonderful people from three wonderful countries.
I’ll round up this one by reminding you that people all over the world are just people. People who are trying to make their livelihoods and find a path through the years they have been given on this planet. We all feel lonely sometimes and we all find laughter. Some people try harder than others but in the end we all adhere to certain needs such as sleep, food, and love. It has been true for 196 nations before NZ and it has “surprisingly” also been true in the land of the long white cloud. We are batting 197 of 197 regarding people being people. My heart goes out to those who are dealing with hardship. When I was in South and Eastern Africa, they were fighting against the worst drought in thirty-five years!! Now they are struggling against the worst in forty! Ukraine: ‘nuff said. While the world is by no means a utopia it is valid to remember that most things are in fact getting better: lower child mortality, more education, fewer wars, less casualties from natural disasters, scientific advancements, and much, much more. That’s it for now. Let’s see if next week will be a seafaring voyage or a life on wheels.
New Video! Was Sir Edmund Hillary a backpacker? ;)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - taking in C vitamins and catching some Z's
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga