I wish I could have been at the backpackers that evening to see what dish the loosing team was going to cook. Last I heard it was a debate between Spaghetti and tinned sausage but my faltering Spanish ear suggests that it was going to be Baked beans on toast. Easy stuff. Most probably because they are guys, but something tells me it’s also about travelling on a shoestring budget. Whatever the meal ended up being, I am sure it went down with a good laugh and at least a case of beers. Even though I only played one game of soccer with this rad group of guys, I feel like I belong to this specific social group more than any other I have encountered in my travels. For two hours I was not known as the South African, but as the guy who comes from the Vuvuzela country. I said hello in at least five different languages and made new friends easily during this extremely casual game of beach football, which I stumbled upon at the end of the day.

The day, however, started with a hangover of note. Serves me right for not listening to my wife, but we are only in Tauranga this one time, and we are lucky to have an unexpected overnight here. This welcomed rarity is cause for celebration so it is no surprise that half the crew members are out on the town. There are eight different samples of Macs Brewery on tap so no wonder the chilly 12 degrees Celsius outside feels much warmer after 6 suds. When we hear the last- rounds bell we feel in no way ready yet to go back to the ship, so we hit downtown Tauranga with an ambition to sample more flavors of the Kiwi culture. All I can say is that I was in the company of three sailors and they are not the queer kind. When one of them not only happens to be an Irishman, but a seafaring Irishman, you are bound to have a jolly good time. I don’t get motion sickness at all, but I am very happy that we are not in the Tasman Sea when I go to bed. The wake up shake from Tam felt like an earthquake, but once we started collecting shells on the beach, the fresh ocean breeze became the remedy for my eyes to slowly adjust and to take note of the beautiful surroundings.
shells 2

What about this one love?
It might be because it is a Sunday, but I get the feeling that the active lifestyle that the locals and immigrants alike lead is a way of daily life. There are families walking up the mountain. I see couples, young and old, taking the less strenuous path to the top. I notice very fit men and woman running up the not so beaten path. The summit of Mount Maunganui offers views that can change your mind about where you could eventually settle down in life. The wooly sheep lazily graze on the grassy green mount hills while the clouds fly by over a spectacular blue ocean. The excellent Eggs Benedict breakfast and the incredible view has restored my thinking capabilities, and the wind that moves through the ferns wrap around me as I put a small white flower, which reminds me of a fynbos flower, in my wife’s hair.


View from the summit of Mt Maunganui
The score is 7-5 in the other teams favor while we have a beer during halftime on the beach. The Argentinian guy invites me to stay with him when we go travelling there one day while the German guy tells me about his travels in India. After we finish our beers all fifteen of us get into position. The only rule is that the first team to get 10 goals wins. I feel proud when I play a role in the winning goal and when the opposite teams give each other a handshake at the end I also say Au revoir, Despedida, Auf wiedersehen and SayŌnara to my new amigos. With only minutes before the ship sails away I get back on board. I throw my sandy jeans on the floor and when a till slip from the night before falls out my pocket it makes me smile. Adventures have been had in this very cool place on the North Island.


Narrow passage into Pilot Bay

Shell one

I don’t know how we getting everything back home this time


                                                                   Kia ora Tauranga!


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