Thank You, New Zealand…

[written on 27 March]

For taking me in for 64 days

For all the vegan friendly shops and restaurants

For your stunningly gorgeous mountains

For your shockingly turquoise, jade waters

For the opportunities to drink from icy cold, clear waterfalls

For your commitment to protect this uniquely beautiful land

For your honest attempts at reconciliation with the Maori

For adopting Te Reo Maori as a dual National Language

For the endearing accent, with its sharp drop of “e”

For Claudia’s offer to stay free in a tent beneath her fruit trees in Glen Innes for as long as I need

For Meg & Declan’s offer to stay free as long as needed during national lockdown at their Vegan Magic House in Arthur’s Point

(And the pick up upon arrival in Queenstown)

For Dianne & Dave’s assimilating me into their family during my three weeks at their gorgeous little farm in Te Puna

For those 3 straight weeks of wonderful dinners at the family table

For Melissa bringing me The New York Times & New York Post from a Barnes & Noble in Orange County California, to Te Puna, NZ

For the ice cream at Whole Foods (not that one), Dianne, and waiting for me to buy another week’s worth of groceries as I extended my stay

For the Maori in Rotorua who invited us in, taught us of their culture and fed us

For all the gravel trails and sidewalks

For the “reserve” parks located everywhere, in every town, neighborhood and city every kilometer or less

For the lack of a law banning full public nudity

For all the newspapers and uncensored media

For the free bus rides, Mr. Not Too Excited to See Me Bus Driver in Arthur’s Point, but generous nonetheless

For Orbus Bus’s free rides for all during national lockdown

For the Anonymous Vegan activists

For Prime Minister Ardern, forceful yet kind, progressive. rational, logical, articulate

For giving us used packing boxes at grocery stores to box groceries rather than give out plastic bags

For two of the nicest bookstores anywhere in the world–in Auckland & Devonport

For the ride to Queenstown Airport, Samantha,

Then another ride home to Arrowtown after my failed attempt at departing

For Tony picking up my Coatesville race hat and leaving it in his mailbox for me

For Dorothy Brown’s Cinema–the best movie theater I’ve had the pleasure of visiting

For Arrowtown

For the fruit orchards of Te Puna and Anne giving us a crate of fruit on credit

For all those amazing runs in Auckland, Glen Innes, Te Puna, KatiKati,Tauranga, Queenstown, Frankton, Arrowtown

For the Tongariro Crossing adventure

For Hobbiton, The Shire & Middle Earth

For the gorgeous blue Lake Taupo

For Sheryll & Dave taking me down to Lake Taupo at sunset

For the surprise trip the next morning to the Lake for a hike

For Dave helping me realize “Nothing Else Matters” is a truly powerful song

For the world’s most fragrant, delicious mandarins on Waiheke Island

For every ray of sunshine

For every view of snowy mountain peaks

For every awesome vegan meal

For those vegan muffins from the little coffee shop at the Waiheke ferry terminal

For the Tui’s song

For every moment

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