Five months ago, we were in New Zealand. It is still so fresh in my mind. Not like vacations that have no staying power, and what I mean by that is four days after you are home, you can just remember bits and pieces of your traveling. You argue with your spouse about which town had the aqueduct or which city it was where we ate grilled octopus like it grew on trees.
But, New Zealand has been different. It’s as if my soul is not counting on the mind to remember everything, and it has made its own backups of all those amazing landscapes which, at times, could have been moonscapes like the geothermal town of Rotorua where steam shoots straight up in peoples’ front yards or a sidewalk suddenly changes course to accommodate hot steam shooting into the sky. And, from the surrounding hills, when you look down on the city it looks like the whole place had been on fire moments earlier but a downpour put out the fire, leaving everything in sight to smolder white threads of steam. Sometimes I think about New Zealand, and just have to stop whatever I am doing so I can watch a scene again in my head. Like watching the waves at Urguharts Bay in the Whangarei Heads. Or the two-story tall Maori carvings on the side of a rock cliff on Lake Taupo, or the drive to Coromandel Peninsula when we pulled over and I cried for joy at God’s creation. I still think about our tour guide in a working Maori village and how proud she was of her heritage. Physically beautiful and built like a “she-warrior”, she walked down the streets of the little village like the mayor. Not a forgettable person and a woman with such strength and confidence you could trace it with your finger. There is also the time we spent talking about world politics with the captain of the boat we chartered on Lake Taupo. That time was special. His struggles and triumphs sounded a lot like our own, which reinforces that no matter how wide the ocean or how tall the mountain separates us all, we always can find something about the other that bonds us as citizens of the world.