Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Weekend in Waikanae

I was going to post this entry yesterday, but Fortune stepped in and allowed us to catch the last showing of Star Trek at Wellington's Embassy Theatre. Good thing, too, because it seemed best to see how "The Future Begins" before discovering how "The End Begins" with the premiere of Terminator Salvation.

Yesterday was largely a regrouping day after returning from sunny Nelson on the top of the South Island. I'll get to our stay there next time, but first let's go back to our weekend in Waikanae. Through a mutual friend we met in Nelson two years ago, Jenifer connected earlier in the year with Melissa Billington, an American expat who teaches "Myoga" at her Powa Centre in downtown Wellington (and also on TVNZ's Good Morning show). As luck would have it, she was running a teacher-training workshop in Waikanae, about an hour north of Wellington on the North Island's west coast, and we were invited to go along.

The drive up was fairly unspectacular if you were somehow able to become bored with the steep hills, dense bush, and glistening blue-green water; or if, through a sizable act of will, you had overcome your fear of hurtling down the wrong side of the road, perched to the left of the driver as if dangling like the gyroscoping gun turret mounted on the far side of a B-wing fighter.

In any event, we safely reached our destination, a lush and serene place far from the road known as Saddle Creek Farm. As we crept along the winding dirt path, a massive black-tailed rabbit sauntered across the lane, taking all the time in the world and offering our whirring hrududu no regard whatsoever. He had dealt with our kind before.

The retreat building itself was a rustic wood cabin topped with the fairly commonplace corrugated steel roof that suggested a shantytown in Nairobi, Mumbai, or Johannesburg. Yet the scenery gave a far different impression, of a rugged land worked by rugged individuals who don't seem to mind the isolation of the bush or, indeed, of their tiny island nation.

Dinner that night, as all the weekend's meals, was prepared by a feisty Italian woman named Pia. The food was hot and excellent, an Italian/macrobiotic blend that was far heartier than I could have expected. Breakfast the next morning, however, would not be served until after a two-hour yoga practice that began at 5:30. Those familiar with my metabolism will know that this prospect was not encouraging, but somehow I found my center and enjoyed an excellent practice led by Melissa, and survived to tell the tale.

After breakfast, Hawk and I ventured into the wild. Along the way we met a strange goose with a green face and a box-like body. His "shoulders" were pointed and his honk sounded like an old-time motor car's; he was strange yet still familiar, as if from a world turned sideways, and typical of the fauna to be found on this fair green isle.

Further down the road we came upon a tiny white chapel set on a slope set before a tall sheep's grazing ridge. We had learned that this little building was actually the painting studio of the farm's owners. It seemed the perfect place for contemplation.

We returned from our tramp, content in having bolstered our man points; for we were the only males in a workshop full of women. The setting would have been perfect for who knows what manner of moon dancing, witchcraft, and Cosmo quizzes ("How to Tell If He Really Loves Your Dosha!"), but in truth the discussions (at least the ones I was privy to) centered around the science of Ayurveda and the Vedic moral precepts known as the Namas and Niyamas, as outlined by B.K.S. Iyengar in his book Light on Yoga.

I alway find that such getaways, when enjoyed in the company of new friends, tend to seem longer than they really are. But the darkness of Sunday evening rolled around soon enough, and we were on our way back to Wellington, for a brief interlude at our familiar room at the YHA, before an early-morning flight to the South Island, to Nelson, and to familiar faces.

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Blogger Eric D. Lehman said...

Love the shout out to Watership Down.

And the fair green isle! "She is no common earth..."

10:05 PM  

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