There is no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard that would sum up the past week.
I’ve just smashed through the 2,000 mark with the number of children I have presented to since starting out on my bike just under 4 weeks ago, which has been an awesome rollercoaster. But that is not the focus of this little snippet.
This needs to be entirely dedicated to the magical madness of the weekend. Saturday treated me to car pooling my way out to Piha beach to get to the big Sustainable Coastlines beach clean. I had only seen glimpses of it on some reality TV show. It is even more glorious in real life. 160 of us picked up over 2,000 litres of rubbish and left the place looking a little bit sparklier than when we got there. Amazing juice people gave us free juice. Amazing hot dog people gave us free hot dogs. It was pretty wonderful.
But the adventure really started on Sunday morning. I was loving the solo cycling journey out to the Villa Maria Estate, the other side of Auckland. People looked at me like I was mad when I told them I was cycling the 25km to get there. But I had Jack Johnson singing to me at the top of my phone’s voice from my basket and life felt utterly fantastic (and maybe a tiny bit sticky, thanks to the factor 50).
As I was cycling along the shoreline near some fishermen, I was struck by the irony of a sign declaring that any saline animals caught there would be toxic and shouldn’t be eaten. Boo hiss. Worth a photo, I thought. As I grabbed my phone out of the basket, a car passed me pretty close and my phone went flying into the air. It was one of those slow-mo moments where you look on, helpless to save the somersaulting phone in time. It hit the ground, bounced, tumbled a bit and finally landed face down. Jack was still singing. How lucky, I thought, it must be fine… Hmm… fine in that he was still singing, not so fine in that I could now only see the top 6mm of the screen. Mid journey. No maps. No stopping Jack singing. No control. No phone as I headed to see Jack himself in concert and hopefully in person, to talk to about my mission and my beautiful bike. For which I’d really love to have the ability to record photographic proof. What timing… I am still not sure what the Universe’s message was for me.
Somehow I managed to laugh to myself about the situation. Life was still pretty awesome; this is a very first world worry; I can stop and ask directions. I have plenty of time. Luckily I always leave plenty of travelling time. I spied some friendly maori fellas outside the nearest dairy (corner shop). They provided much hilarity and a phone to consult Google Maps. One of them asked if I was from India. I’m not sure I look especially Indian so I asked why India. He said because of my accent… Brilliant. That’s the first time I’ve ever been mistaken for an Indian. More smiling material to ponder on my onward journey.
I decided to swing by the airport, which was only 10 minutes past the concert venue. If they couldn’t magic my phone back into action, I had the luxury of throwing a few dollars at the problem and it’d all be ok. So much easier than situations that arose whilst living in Africa (but again, that’s a whole subject in itself, not for this post).
The Vodafone people looked rather confused by a bamboo bicyclist turning up at the arrivals shop. Satisfied that my phone could be rescued at a later date, I decided to buy their cheapest little smartphone so I could still find my way around, find my friends outside the concert and find the schools that I needed to get to for the next few days. Mid purchase, I heard my name bellowed by a gaggle of giggling kids. I had spoken at their school several days earlier and they were excitedly telling their confused parents about how I made my bike, much to the equally confused salesman’s delight. Boom, a few minutes later, I was outta there, with a vaguely functioning $45 (£23) smartphone. Back on track and still running on time. Life was still good.
I got to Villa Maria and met up with the most chilled out volunteer co-ordinator ever. An American surfer style dude named Kona, who was super lovely. And cute; which isn’t awful. Green Jack Johnson t-shirts were donned, we were prepped on the fellow conservationists represented at the Village Green stalls, and then suddenly up rocked Jack and Kim Johnson on the back of a golf cart. She told us that he’d messed up his knee (which was in a hardcore brace) and wasn’t even supposed to be walking around), but it takes more than that to stop Jack Johnson being awesome and talking to people. We waited whilst he made his way along the line of stalls and suddenly, there he was, asking if he could have a photo with us. Bike in hand, I asked if I could get a photo with him and tell him a bit about my mission.
He seemed totally into the bamboo bike thing in itself, but when I told him about cycling to schools to talk to kids about alternatives to single use plastics, his face really lit up. His All At Once social action network supports oodles of awesome conservation projects. He told me about other people doing awesome missions who he’d met on his tour. What a wonderful way to tour around the world. He hasn’t let the fame go to his head. He uses his tours to turn his fans’ attention towards environmental causes and he gets to meet people who want to make a difference along the way. In awe.
He very generously told me he loved my bike and mission, signed my bike to boot and left me feeling high as a kite. What a guy.
The concert was amazing. The other volunteers were amazing. I definitely made some lifelong friends, who I have already met up with to talk about what action we can take next. I have been asked to join some of the Village Green groups on a tour around New Zealand – because it’s so much better when we’re together, right?! I am still giddy. We danced and kept looking at each other laughing, totally present in the moment soaking up every wonderful second. “We’re here right now and this is happening” we kept saying, whilst dancing, jumping about, hugging. So much good energy.
Heart filled and overflowing, here I am still basking in it, days later. Rock on.