Doing Well in Wellington

Wellington is a great, green city with just the right amount of urban edge. It also definitely lives up to its nickname of “Windy Wellington.” It reminds me a little of San Francisco, with its hills and light colors and ever-changing sky. I spent two nights here and now I’m about to board the ferry for the South Island (the crossing across the Cook Strait takes three hours), where I’ll be staying the night in a small city called Nelson.

I made reservations at an inn in Nelson called The Shortbread Cottage, which makes me think of a fairy tale or nursery rhyme, and I half expect Goldilocks’ grandmother or some character in the Candy Land board game to open the door and offer me a plate of rich golden shortbread. I also have this vision of teddy bears on the bed. And maybe a lollipop forest outside. But I’m trying to go in without any expectations. That’s the big trick of traveling.

I’ve felt a little aimless these last few days without any wildlife projects to work on or subjects to immerse myself in. More like a plain old American tourist (often people’s first guess is that I’m Canadian, but I think they’re just being kind, and since I’m traveling alone, how loudly American can I possibly be?). But I’m making the most of all this leisure time. Yesterday I visited several organic grocery stores, found a vegan restaurant for lunch, walked and walked, took an 8 pm yoga class near my hostel (almost exactly like a yoga class would be in Brooklyn), and then had a late dinner at a Malaysian restaurant. I have got to stop myself from apologetically saying “just one” or “only me” whenever I enter a restaurant, but I don’t know what else to say. Intrepid solo traveler? One crazy wombat lady? Maybe just “one, please.” Hey yeah, that’s it, keep it simple.

This morning I had an hour-long Skype call with work (how can such a thing be free? I still don’t get it). It was mysteriously easy to shift into work mode, since I’ve been feeling a world away. I imagined my giant face on the screen in a conference room in which I usually see other people’s giant faces on the screen. Oh well. People walking by popped their heads in to chat when they saw me, which was such a great treat. (I Skype with Michael almost every day, but haven’t seen visual reminders of my “regular life” except for a wall in our apartment, and occasionally Michael will hold up Marvin the cat for me to talk to. Marvin always looks kind of startled.)

Crazy that the trip is more than halfway over—just 12 more days left. Here’s to spring having already sprung by the time I land, but mostly, here’s to all of you surviving this last stretch of winter!

Here are some photos from yesterday:

View from top of cable car ride.

View from top of cable car ride.

My meditation hut in the botanical gardens.

My meditation hut in the botanical gardens.

Bench in botanical gardens.

Bench in botanical gardens.

Along the quay.

Along the quay.

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