There are birds hopping around under my feet and inside this grocery store’s café. They slip on the tiled floor with every labored jump, navigating the aisle between the gherkins and cans of sustainably harvested tuna.
They’ve come in, like me, looking for food. This organic grocery store and café was actually a reason why I wanted to come back to Napier. The Tibetan Buddhist centre was another, though I haven’t been back there yet since arriving yesterday in the late afternoon.
I explored Wellington for a little less than two weeks, volunteering at a Hare Krishna yoga centre. That means I was stuffed with food and got to participate in all of their yogic programming. It doesn’t mean I particularly connected with it, however. Instead of allowing the experience to unfold around me, I couldn’t help but compare it to my own tradition.
For much of the time I felt like a square peg being held in a too-big round hole. I’d shove blankets around the spots that didn’t fit to create some sort of seal, but it wouldn’t work, the draft would still make it through and I continually felt as if I didn’t belong. That and Wellington is terribly windy making me acutely remember one of the reasons I left Lethbridge was to get away from its dreadful wind.
On my walk to the bar for goodbye drinks with my (non-Hare Krishna) Wellington friends, I had this feeling of satisfaction. Here I was, carrying all of my possessions currently in this hemisphere on my back, ready to face the next adventure.
I stepped into Bad Grannies and found a table, letting my backpack—somehow heavier than usual, have I really acquired that much clothing and foodstuffs?—fall to the ground.
The usual bar ambience surrounded me. Burly man out front, backlit liquor bottles behind the counter, tall stools with nowhere to put my coat and loud music coursing through it all:
“Here I am again on my own/going down the only road I’ve ever known/like a drifter I was born to walk alone…”
Yup. That about sums it.
I really did enjoy Wellington. The tiny shops, pedestrian-only downtown zone and ample waterfront access all appealed to different parts of me. It’s a city where there is always something to do no matter what I’m in the mood for. I’m glad I’ll have to go through it again to catch the ferry south, but I’m also glad to be in a smaller town with a slower pace.
Napier. Napier is lovely, from the little I really do know about it. It still has that irritating New Zealand habit of all its cafés and restaurants closing far too early, but it’s the kind of place that I will be able to relax into that a larger centre just doesn’t offer. Also, I got a call today about a job I’d applied for and since given up on so hopefully after our meeting tomorrow I’ll have some employment that will keep me in the area until February.
For now it’s café hopping and ocean-view basking. Oh, and of course, bird watching.