Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Southland Times June 16 1997 Travelling the world without leaving your home patch

For Southland Times - June 97

I’ve read lately that 500 million people will take an overseas flight this year. I hope they don’t all come to New Zealand!

Flying is extraordinarily cheap today as long as you stick to well-trodden routes.
For about the average monthly wage you can buy a round-the-world ticket, complete with extras.
I had great plans for travel, I thought that once the children were grown etc I would head off again overlanding as in my younger days.

However for the past two summer seasons we have been globetrotting without leaving home. It is comfortable, inexpensive, exciting and rewarding.

How do we retain the comforts of home and enjoy the wonders of Planet Earth at the same time?

We have visitors, lots of them, from all continents, all ages (mostly young), all backgrounds. We never know who is going to come through the front door, we only know someone is.

Some come as paying guests, some come as ‘farm helpers’ to live as part of the family and take part in everyday farming life.
Some of those come from farms themselves, maybe central Alberta or Denmark or northern Ireland. Others have never been on a farm and have to learn from scratch.

If you said Chiang Mai to me last year I would have thought of opium, jungles and child prostitution. Now I think of a young man called Saran and the life he described as he sat at our kitchen table: except for the servants it sounded pretty familiar. I remember too the meal he cooked which was an adventure for us to eat as well as for him to cook.
I remember him in a tearing hurry to catch up with Colin one morning when he’d slept late - off he went on the pushbike without waiting for breakfast. - ‘So much fun drenching lambs’.

If you said Shikoku to me last year I would have remembered with difficulty that it is one of the four main islands of Japan. It is actually tucked in south of the main island and has still got much of the traditional way of life which is disappearing in the big cities.
Kazumi was the delightful girl who told us about it. She had spent a year at school in Nashville which was where she met the people who years later, sent her to us. She had a deep knowledge of traditional Japan as well as a real understanding of Western people, both of which are missing in some of the young urban Japanese we have met.

Dozens of others have crossed our threshold. Every one has contributed something to opening doors in our minds. Sometimes we have needed patience. Sometimes we have been stuck for something for them to do, sometimes we’ve needed a little time on our own, but always the rewards have far outweighed the effort. The best reward is being reminded how incredibly lucky we are to live in the wide open spaces of Southland with miles of deserted beautiful beaches as our back door playground. Another reward is that we have excuses to spend time on the beach, to sit on the sand beside the sealions at Waipapa, to walk the fabulous coast along to Slope Point, to go to Curio Bay and watch penguins plodding over 180 million year old petrified logs, and dolphins cruising round ecstatic bathers.There is plenty of adventure to be had in Southland, - and you don’t need a passport! All you need is to keep company with a few enthusiastic visitors!

Christine McKenzie
Fortrose 5RD Invercargill

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