Whose land is it anyway? 

To get to Paihia is a good three hours’ drive from Auckland airport. Once I left the main city suburbs the land gets greener, as the road twists and turns through wooded forests with the ubiquitous Myna birds hopping by the roadside and once an Australian harrier floats across and over the trees. The land seems parched – on a stretch of road just south of Whangarei, the acrid smell of smoke permeates the car, and a helicopter flies overhead dragging an enormous bucket – it’s one of two urgently ploughing back and forth into the river and dragging water across to put out a bush fire.

I cross the brow of a steep hill and there! A beautiful sparkling bay studded with tiny wooded islands glints in the late evening sun. I lean that the Te Reo (Maori) name of this place Paihia means “Good Here”.
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I’m an alien…

It’s been a longish flight already, and we’re about to start our descent into Dubai to refuel when the woman in the seat in front of me turns around and asks me to hold her hands. Quick, quick, she says, put your hand here. I instinctively obey, and place one hand on top of hers, and the other below. There are slivers of paper on her hands between ours – they’re intricately patterned henna tattoos, and she needs help getting them to stick! She moves around, plonks herself next to me, and tells me she’s on her way to Somalia to see her mother. Born there herself, Sehara has lived and worked for the last 27 years in East London, whilst bringing up four kids. But this lovely, friendly, hard working woman is on Donald Trump’s Muslim ban hit list, should she ever try to visit her brother in the States right now.

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Fired up… ready to go!

“She knows not where she’s going
For the ocean will decide
It’s not the destination
… it’s the glory of the ride.”  (words from Zen Dog, thanks Nilufar!)

I got a brilliant card (below) from a sweet and very ‘lovly’ 6 year old little friend … I just love all the hues of blue & aquamarine she’s used for the sea & islands.  It’s now installed as the very appropriate screen saver for my round the world adventure …

So that’s me off to Heathrow today, crossing a new threshold… and off on an explorer’s journey. See you on the other side!

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Carpe the f***ing diem

 

One week to go til I set off on my big adventure…

So, the idea of taking time out from work is also meant to be a break from my über-planned life to date, in which I’ve never been out of work for a single day since I left university, and slogged away at my great and interesting jobs almost without pause since the summer of 1987.

Throw caution to the winds… throw plans out of the window, and just go with the flow…and see what happens. What turns up.

It lasted about a week.  It turns out I can’t live without a plan. I was almost cracking up with the strain of not knowing what I was about to do next. Lost and anxious. My good friend Shirley in Boston came to the rescue. “Carpe the f***ing diem”, she said.

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2017 – a year of adventure

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started

And know that place for the first time.”   

TS ELIOT

So, I finally took the plunge…

After 13 amazing years working for the Fairtrade Foundation, I’ve had the privilege of meeting coffee farmers from Costa Rica and Ethiopia, banana growers from Colombia and Dominican Republic, sugar farmers in Fiji, women cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast, date producers in the deserts of Tunisia and beleaguered olive farmers in Palestine. Some I’ve been able to visit on their own farms, others I have met here in the UK.

Now I have decided to take a break from the day job to embark on my own personal adventure in 2017. On 31 January, I board a plane in London and head off down under to Australia and New Zealand, and then from March on across the Pacific to Easter Island, Chile, Peru, Ecuador/Galapagos, Colombia, Panama and finally ending in Costa Rica some time in May. On this trip I want to get closer to the stories, cultures and ecosystems of the places I go and people I meet. There may be the odd familiar face, and hopefully many new ones too, along the way, but this time I definitely have no work agenda – just to meet and make friends, explore places and communities, stop, look, listen and gently breathe in and out for a while 🙂

Come with me on my journey & stay in touch as I go 🙂