Chance encounters in a small land

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New Zealand is a small country, slender enough that right now the whole country is being pummeled by a single storm system, the rain slicing out of the swollen sky and trees lurching around dangerously. It’s a bit of a dog’s dinner out there, as the RadioNZ morning reporter called it. B’s dad and step-mom got two weeks of glorious weather and just as they flew back to the states, they left us to the grey that keeps the grass green.

Traveling during the past couple of weeks, we’ve been running into folks we know all over the north island. First, on a quick stop for groceries in Kaitaia, we saw the fellow who presses and sells Far North NZ Olive Oil. B first met him at Town and Country on Bainbridge, and he remembered us as the GP and family who were moving to the Far North of New Zealand. It was fun to exchange greetings, and we’ll see him again on B.I. when he comes to sell more oil, no doubt.

Second, while we were walking on the pathways in the grand Waipoua Forest we said hi to a nurse who works with B who was out visiting the giant kauris as well. Third, when we stopped for lunch at the Blah Blah Blah Cafe in Dargaville (great food, funny name) we found a doc B knows from Whangarei and his wife enjoying lunch there as well. Fourth, we saw a woman walking down the street in Rotorua who had been on the dolphin boat with us in the Bay of Islands. What are the chances?! Pretty good, I guess. It’s a country of 4 million, not counting visitors, but those visitors tend to be moving around like ants on a melon, on the move to the next sweet spot.

Also on a street in Rotorua, I saw the French man I’d talked with as we walked up from the Waitomo Caves. The rest of my family had gone up ahead but I stayed behind to take his picture at the cave opening. He’d been driving for 7 hours straight and had hoped he was making a good decision to take the glowworm tour. I smiled at that because the experience was gorgeous. Floating in a boat down a dark river that winds through chamber after chamber with blue glowworm constellations up above, no one talking, chilly air and thick silence punctuated by occasional musical drips of water.

Exiting the cave was like coming out of a dark theatre after a riveting, absorbing movie. At first you don’t want to talk, and then you love finding people who experienced it as you did. So when I glimpsed him again it was strangely like recognizing a friend.

The sixth coincidental encounter came as we took the bus to a cultural show and dinner on our last night with D. and K. B. sat next to a young woman we had met the day before at the WaiOra Spa. Small country, so many wonderful people in it.


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