Destination: Karamea, West Coast, South Island, NZ, Dec 12 – 19, 2006

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We just spent the week in Karamea. Wow!

Kathy and I were at times quite close to putting an offer in on a house. About 20 acres, 2 bedroom house, very cute and funky and tidy, 2 tunnel houses, a barn, a stream, photovoltaic panels, water wheel power generation, solar hot water, native bush, a cute little valleylet. Nice views. Already off the grid, turn key, ready to roll. But very affordable connection to the grid if we wanted it. No restrictions on building additional structures. And cheap! NZ$395,000. That’s about US$280,000 at today’s exchange rate. You can’t buy a one bedroom TIC (apartment without separate unit title, everyone on one mortgage) in our old San Francisco neighborhood for that price.

We haven’t sold the San Francisco place yet, we haven’t visited all the regions that are on our short list, but with a bit of financial finagling we figured we could buy it, move in, and take a step closer with our dreams and give us a good base to make further progress should this place not end up being “the one.”

Karamea is a small (650 people) town on the west coast of New Zealand. It’s at the end of the road, where further travel is possible only by foot trail to the next inhabited part of the island.

The parallels with Kathy’s former place in Hawaii continue. Lots of cool caves and trails to explore. It’s in a wacky little microclimate area that keeps it wet but sunny, and according to the locals the soil is quite fertile. Avocados and cherries both grow there—the best of all possible fruit worlds.

Karamea 012.jpgWe met good people there. Most of the time we stayed at Rongo Backpackers. Rongo is run mostly by a collection of volunteers supported and guided by a visionary who aims to establish an artists colony. After meeting this extraordinary person and seeing the beautiful work that has already been done there, and luxuriating in the very wonderful vibe, his ambitious dream seems not only achievable but inevitable. Between him and the friendly local real estate agent (just one in the whole town!) we were already connected to the other folks we needed to meet (Permaculture Pete, for example) if we were to make a go of it there.

And Kathy responded wonderfully to the trip. She went from burnt out to expansive. Note to self: make sure Kathy keeps travelling. It’s good for her, good for both of us.

Karamea 027.jpgAn added bonus on the trip was the wonderful Sebastian, who was passing through New Zealand, found us via tribe, stayed with us for a few days and then travelled to Karamea with us, and was the perfect sort of person for us: intriguing conversationalist, similar musical tastes (a practicing musician, actually), great vegetarian cook, mindful, thoughtful, kind, a burner and a GAMER! We broke him in on Puerto Rico, San Juan, and Ra, and he couldn’t get enough. Couldn’t have asked for a better house guest, travelling companion, and new lifelong friend.

We could have done it there. We made real connections with folks, the climate was great, and we found a great place to make a go of it. But in the end we said no, we’re not quite ready.

The question is, wave or particle? Is our positive experience in Karamea an indication that we should live there, or is it simply a resounding positive indication that we are on the right track and making good time? That our plans are aligned with our hearts. That we can hit a town and meet the people we need to meet to do what we want to do. That the kind of people we enjoy spending time with will find us anywhere, even at the end of the road.

That information is incredibly if not infinitely dense and we are appropriate interpreters of the information such that it results in the kinds of experiences we want to have? But that’s for another post.

The probability wave hasn’t collapsed yet. We don’t know if Karamea is the place yet, or if it is another proof of concept. We need to see Taranaki. We need to explore the Nelson region a bit more. We need, and I say this with a groan, to go through the next few months here, then go back to San Francisco for a couple of months as planned, and then come back again. Right now the trip to the US seems like a real burden; an interruption. Damn, is it that time again already? Good things will come of it, friends, family, Burning Man and Bernie Langan (my chi gung teacher ) but it sure seems like a big weight hanging over my head right now.

Would we live in Karamea? Yes. Absolutely. Without reservation. But only if we can’t find somewhere that’s even better. This is our burden, o woe is me, tongue firmly in cheek, to have both the ability and the awareness to seek it. Nice work if you can get it.

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