Aroha Nui, Aotearoa – Part 2

Good morning, sunshine.

I hope it wasn’t too cold for you last night. Get up, get up, and grab some delicious breakfast from the local deli. These are mornings you actually remember to thank the Creator for. Your mom got fascinated by the array of bread and pastries arranged in those glass cabinets. You must take a photo of these, she said, we would want to pick an idea or two out of the arrangements next time.

You noticed an Asian family seated next to your table, and their lingo seems familiar. Speaking in fluent Hokkien you wondered if they’re from your home country. As usual, mom greeted them first and both families got acquainted quickly. You didn’t say much, either it was still too early for you, or you were busy clicking away. You scanned the images in your camera just to realize that… the memory card got corrupted and the photos you captured this morning were gone. Luckily, you brought a spare and changed it pronto. You cursed silently under your breath about the lousy new memory card you have just bought for this trip.

But fate has its own ways of bringing people together – family, friends, lovers, unfortunate events can turn out to be pretty magical ones. Turns out that your second visit to the sites allowed your family to bump into the same ones at the deli. These time, they took time to get to know one another and found out that their son and his girlfriend were your seniors in university. Their older daughter is a private flight attendant and it didn’t take long for you young people to become friends.

Oh, and as all these took place, you were all at The Church of the Good Shepherd, overlooking the lake, which was the first church built at the Mackenzie Basin. It’s not a very big church, only the size of your living room perhaps, but there is a sense of serenity when you’re inside of it. It was as if you have found God. Why can’t all churches back home be like this, you wondered.

You and your new friends continued to awe at the beautiful lake, as I have promised you. Almost unbelievable, you had to touch the crystal clear waters to acknowledge my presence. How come you don’t have photos of yourself, your friend asked, making your wonder the same thing. She offered to take some photos of you and me, just so we can make others envious. Do you smell it? That’s the smell of freedom. Inhale. Remember.

The day was still early, and it was time to adjourn to our next destination: Mount Cook. The most enthusiastic person was your dad this time, naturally. Eager to meet his hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, he drove the family to a familiar yet majestic sight: the snowcapped mountains you saw the day before in bird’s eye view. And now, you will see it life-sized, and it’s larger than life, literally.

No, we won’t be climbing Mt Cook. It’s a holiday, not a hiking expedition. You bump into your Malaysian friends again at the Alpine Centre! Apparently Mt Cook was not in their itinerary but your parents have somehow managed to convince them to make a trip here. You exchange hello’s again but it was time for you to leave before it gets dark. There is a salmon village somewhere near you, you heard, but it was nowhere in sight. Perhaps there will be some good salmon treats at Twizle when you’re on your way to Queenstown. You’re hungry already anyway. You leave Mt Cook behind, as you take the peaceful roads of Kiwiland again, occasionally accompanied by sheep and cows.

I’ll see you there, my love.

Aroha Nui,
Aotearoa.

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