I take a walk alone to reflect on the intense emotions, still running through me: terror, accomplishment, sadness, pride. I’m still overwhelmed by the fact that I made the jump at all when I wander right up to the water’s edge. Sitting by the healing liquid I watch the tide go out. It’s a black pebbled beach backlit by massive snow-capped mountains. The water retreats, pebbles in tow, reminding me of the sound of a snake’s hiss. I hear footfalls over my left shoulder but I do not turn to confirm who it is. I’ve been admittedly cranky on this tour trying—half-heartedly—to handle the younger crowd of backpackers more concerned with who they may hook up with versus the experience of being here. Being the oldest in this group—a first for me—leaves me annoyed at the lack of consideration and the juvenile behaviors displayed by excessively loud post-teenagers masking themselves as young adults.
I try to reach for my empathy and remind myself I was young once too, but it’s no use. I’m long past my threshold for stupidity and my tolerance as at zero. To make matters worse my sleep habits, to which the foundation of my life balance depends, are off. A result of repeat dormitory sleeping arrangements on bunk-sized beds. I’m unable to create time for self-care throwing my own resiliency, and by default, my patience, under the bus. Still, I inhale slowly, focusing only on the sound of my breath. I feel the rise and fall of my chest as I exhale and just sit there. Quiet. Calm. When a few undisturbed minutes have passed I make my way back to the group. They’re humming with excitement about upcoming stops. I float past them in an introverted haze and board the bus.
The bus ride is relatively quiet as we make our way south towards Milford Sound. Water cascades from the majestic mountains, winding through the sharp edges and streaming down the slippery surface. The runoff disintegrates the farther down it gets on the mountainside, splintering in several directions like the plump veins of a flexed bicep. The rain is really coming down now—the fog doing its part to assist the mystery in the atmosphere. It’s a dreary day and the sky is dark enough to take the threat of continuous rain seriously. The southernmost point of the tour, Milford Sound, is a fiord. Carved out of melted ice, nature, a patient sculpture, created the crevasse during the most recent ice age.
We’ve arrived a solid thirty minutes before our scheduled ferry boat departure time. The ride itself is bizarre. It’s pouring out and the water is rough making everyone jostle about from one foot to the other as they walk to and fro. I dawn a poncho and head to the scenic level to stare at the towering rocky edges of the surrounding cliffs. Every peak seems to come alive in my mind. The waterfalls whisper stories as the dark-colored mass moves quickly, greeting gravity with vigor. I watch as seals bask upon the rocks, slick with mist. We come close enough to the roaring falls to drench the bow and anyone standing on it. The freezing water reinvigorating sullen spirits gasping in spontaneity as the ice-cold temperatures touch their skin.
The tone of the tour is muffled; compounded hangovers the catalyst I assume. Things took a turn back in Queenstown when the group went out as a whole. All dressed up and being sized up by the boys, we march in disjointed blobs towards the pizza place selected for us by our guide. He gets free drinks from the bar so I can’t say I blame him for the blatant transparency. The women outnumber the men in the group so things get sloppy when two guys make a play for the same gal. I can’t help but giggle at the awkward display playing out on the dance floor when Whitney’s voice finds my ears.
My girls and I—being in, or dangling by a thread of, our own relationships back home—-pick out a square of space suitable for our triangle and gear up for the chorus. “OHHHH I wanna dance with sumbody!” We scream-sing the lyrics perfectly content in the hypocrisy of our words being more than pleased to be dancing with ourselves vs somebody. We circle each other prancing and clapping our hands. The Skittle-flavored vodka shots really living up to their fame, we wobble and shuffle too. As the song ebbs the three of us grow tired of the environment and duck out to get lost on the boutique-filled streets of this tourist town. Queenstown is the first time on the whole tour we had more than three nights in one place; the majority of us bonding with the city as a result. Arm-in-arm we guffaw and stomp our way through the emptying streets back towards our hotel. These moments, though fleeting, reinstate my resolve and cement two more international friends in my life. I’m very pleased to have made your acquaintance Queenstown and to have taken my time to properly introduce myself to this beautiful country of New Zealand in turn.
Queens-eye view of Queenstown, New Zealand
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I like your vivid descriptions, they are awesome !!!
Thanks for reading Aleksandar