Dolphins and Moonlit Skies

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Last night was as good a nights sleep as I've had here so far. Comfortable and warm enough so I can't ask for anymore. It was the second night in my new abode - the first spent alone, this one with the company and the quiet, yet melodic snores of young Sinnyad. Considering that the size of the van is a lot smaller than most, there is still quite a lot of room to sleep and stretch, even between the perimeters of the windows and the half way line, so accommodating two was quite straightforward and problem free. When I awoke, I somehow managed to find a way to open the large back door to the van from the inside without getting out of bed and without breaking my fingers. Then with a little push, it slowly opened out fully on its own - marvellous. A quick roll up and clipping of the back window curtain and there it was - Akaroa harbour just after sunrise. What a sight to wake up to. We just lay there half asleep staring at the harbour with the hugest grins.

After breakfast we drove up the dangerously steep and twisty roads right up in to the hills and on to the summit road along the ridge which looks over the beautiful harbour through one window and right out on to the vastness of the Pacific through the other. It was surreal. The scale and grandeur of what we were looking at both East and West was like an optical illusion, it almost didn't seem real, and the photographs don't even deserve to be uploaded.

Half a hour later and we had made it safely through an abundance of steep entwining tracks right down to sea level and on to the secluded shores of Okains Bay (located about two o'clock on the 'Cog'). This one blew us away totally - just $7 to camp for the night on a plot of our choosing in the middle of the woods right on the beach. Speechless! We were so excited and quickly set up camp under some light shelter right by another conveniently placed bench and table. I positioned the back of the van quite conveniently looking directly over the estuary ready for sunrise the next morning.

Okains Bay has got that kind of 'private' sort of feel to it that makes you feel privileged to be there and share it. There wasn't many other campers around so we'd pretty much got the place to ourselves. Before long we'd decided to take a long leisurely stroll along the secluded bay. Sinead was way ahead and had managed to secure her own private spot high up on the rocks right at the other end of the bay. The rest of us followed about twenty minutes behind, individually at our own pace, having our own time, in our own space. It was a very relaxing, unspoiled afternoon for all of us. I took off my sandals and dawdled the length of the 'Okains Pacific' up to my knees. This was the first time my foot had been introduced to saltwater since the infection. It was so warm and so tranquil. Before I knew it I'd lost nearly an hour. It was such a peaceful moment. I was where I loved to be the most; by the ocean and in such a beautiful bay in the most beautiful, stunning country under some of the most exciting circumstances with some really fantastic people. That hour will stay with me for a very very long time.

Minutes later that hour was to stay with me forever. I had reached the end of the bay where Sinead was sat, high up on the rocks with the most contented grin I had seen on her. This was slightly but not totally out of character for me and I have absolutely no idea why, or what on earth made me do it but for some reason I just did. I took out my money, keys and camera, placed them on a rock along with my sandals and asked Sinead if she would keep an eye on them. I then walked straight in to the sea up to my neck and just bathed in the ocean under the sun. The sea was so calm it was almost like a mirror. It was cool but with a soul-warming feel to it that I'll never forget. I was in heaven. Just swirling around in my own world in complete heaven, when out of nowhere, no more than ten metres away from me, straight from beneath the sea emerged the most amazing thing; a big beautiful dolphin, glistening in the sun right in front of my eyes as clear as the day itself, peaking high in mid-air before plummeting gracefully through the surface of the water with the most impeccable elegance. It was as if I had watched the whole show in slow motion. I spun round urgently to see if Sinead had seen it from where she was and she too was in shock. I turned back round and it jumped straight out in front of me again, crystal clear, greyish silver, in perfect form before arcing over and plunging effortlessly back in to the water. Then it did it again, for a third time. My head was spinning round in sheer excitement and amazement at what was going on right in front of me, so close. God knows what I must have looked like. I looked round again and Sinead looked amazed too. I will never ever be able to describe the emotion that I felt at that moment, especially in light of how I was feeling at the time. All I can say is that the afternoon in Okains Bay will stay with me forever.

After staying in the water for a while, the wind had started to pick up in the bay so I returned quickly from the beach and took a hot shower. When I got back to camp the others were standing around the table. All I can remember as I walked over was seeing Sineads tears as she saw me. She'd shared that wonderful moment too from the rocks. It had been an incredible afternoon.

The temperature dropped quite significantly this evening. By mid-evening we were all huddled around the bench and table, warming ourselves with a huge bowl of risotto in light celebration of the great day. We were still on a high around midnight. Someone suggested we take another walk along the tranquil stretch of the bay and we headed off without any hesitation. It was so peaceful. The sky was perfectly clear and the moon shone so brightly it lit up the beach and some of the waves in front of us. We all stood there in total silence taking in the sounds of the waves, the cool breeze and the magnificence of the stars that were all around us. It was the most memorable day and night. One I shall never forget.
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