Paradise. Dead End

The German writer Martin Bettinger writes about people who set out to live a different life.

Paradise. Dead End

When God had finished creating the Earth, so the legend goes, he had a piece of each country left over. A mountain from Switzerland, a river from Sweden, a field from Ireland. From all this He created New Zealand. When the people finished with God, to continue the story, something was missing in each of them. So they set off to search. Those who travelled longest, finally came to Takaka, Golden Bay.
   “Everything’s better here”, said my daughter. “School doesn’t start till nine, you can go bare-footed, and in front of every second house there’s a trampoline.”
  “Everything’s easy-going here”, said my wife. “You don’t see a tractor before ten, the postman comes in the afternoon, the newspaper in the evening, and if you need a workman, he doesn´t come at all.”
  “This is not the place for us”, I said. “Let’s go somewhere else.”
  Golden Bay, even the name’s a bit much. I might have got on with the gold diggers, but that was 150 years ago. Welcome to Paradise was an Inn at the entrance to the valley. And what the inhabitants do is found in the G.B. Weekly: Togetherness, hypnosis and karma, tantra of love … “Come, let´s drive on!” I said.
  The trouble is, you cannot just drive on in Golden Bay. Like all paradises, this is dead end. To enter the bay, the car has to climb a pass, eight hundred meters high, and to leave it, you have to drive the same serpentine back. The nearest large city, Wellington, is five hours away, and Nelson, the next smaller town, two hours. There’s no railway station, no ferry, and the rare propeller planes are so regularly cancelled, that the little airport doesn’t actually exist … In short: we stayed. And ever since, I must admit, I´ve come back most every year.
  To purify my karma? To practice tantra? To live in peace and harmony with my neighbours? Don’t you believe it! This paradise has as many potholes as any other place. Jealousy, avarice, gossip, intrigues … whatever you want, wherever you want. However, although this is true, those human deficiencies have found wonderful surroundings. The rivers, some swear. The beaches, say others. The mountains, amaze some more. ”New Zealand is beautiful everywhere”, says Chris, my neighbour, “but here, there’s something extra special to find.“ And his wife reveals, what apparently held the first settlers here: “Energy! No other place in the world feeds you with these heaps of energy.”
  Well, well, I think. But I can´t avoid to see weary warriors here too. And that my neighbours are so well rested, might have to be another reason. They shy away from work. They all shy away. Nothing but singers and seers, nothing but shirkers of life. Some with money in their pockets, others on the dole, but all of them leave regular work on the other side of the mountain. Is that the lure of this bay? That it is halfway round the globe, away from the treadmills? No hectic rush, no time schedule, not even a traffic light?
  I don’t know. I don’t need to know. I find enough jobs to life from, I find peace for the night and enough hustle and bustle during the day. The salvation seekers still don’t interest me, but this bay has room for all sort of eccentrics. The boat-builder Ron provides me with books, with Rudolph, the piano-player, I go for a swim, and neighbour Chris takes me fishing sometimes. I see pinpricks of the sun in the water, evenings I see spectacles of clouds, and sometimes, in the middle of summer, I see snow on the Cobb Hills. And for the very unusual, the Golden-Bay-Energy, I keep to Harvey.
  At the end of the bay, where the tide deposits what the Sea does not want, Harvey has built a hut. At my last visit, two small crystals lay on his window sill. “Harvey”, I said, “are you starting to believe in that sort of thing now?” “Shit, no”, said Harvey. “But, I heard that these crystals work even if you don´t believe.”

From: Martin Bettinger, Wo der Tag beginnt - Storys aus Neuseeland, Conte Verlag 2012



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