|Hot pool soak at base of mountains.|
(written from Wellington, New Zealand)
There has been a lot of talk about karma on this trip. This being the case because we've had plenty of opportunities to be dishonest (by getting away from camp sites lacking oversight and not paying as we leave) while road-tripping through this country.
I'd like to say that I've never been tempted to leave a campsite without dropping some coin in the box, but if I said that I'd be a liar, and, in efforts to have as much good karma on this trip, I'll avoid blatant dishonesty whenever possible.
A few days ago, we could have saved $34 by not paying the holiday park that we slept at in a gorgeous alpine town called Wanaka. But, had we not paid, I would have been tormented by the thoughts that the dishonest action led to the crime we were victims of just two days later.
My mind would've inevitably chalked it up to bad karma.
Let's talk about the crime:
|The damage done to our car.|
Shelby and I parked Shannon (the '95 Subary Legacy) at a carpark (Kiwi-speak for parking lot) in the middle of nowhere at a trailhead that we were amped to tramp (Kiwi-speak for hike). The track wound up a mountain, over creeks, suspension bridges and boulders before eventually arriving (18 kilometers later (Kiwi-speak for about 11 miles)) at a 32-bed bunkhouse situated at the top of a mountain. Right near the bunkhouse were geo-thermally-produced hot pools. To soak in these pools after a sloppy hike up the mountain was utter bliss. On the way up Shelby had sunk both her feet in deep muddy sludge pits and her shoes were thoroughly water-logged. When her first foot disappeared into the mud she was able to laugh it off, but when her very next step landed her second (dry) foot into another messy trap she couldn't help but to curse and then cry. I was torn between being really compassionate and laughing really hard. I wanted so badly to take a picture, but she was in no mood, and so the memory visual will have to keep me laughing for the years to come. In fact, I've laughed aloud almost every night as I'm falling asleep at the thought of that moment. Anyway, now that we've established that I'm a jerk I'll get back to the story. We hunkered down at the hut that night with a full house of other trampers from all parts of the world. The bunkhouse was practically at capacity, so I'm assuming there were just about 30 people total. Shelby woke up early the following morning, as she often does, and went to grab herself some breakfast in the downstairs kitchen area. The bunkhouse was constructed entirely of wood, and any and every sound could be heard throughout the place as people stepped on the creaky wood floors. Shelby attempted to step as lightly as possible. However, even in socks, one could be heard stepping muffled thuds by those sleeping on the floor. So when a thunderous, tumbling crash filled the cabin in the early morning hours people took notice. Most people bolted up in their sleeping bags and looked around to make sure that an earthquake wasn't shaking up the mountain. A look through the windows revealed a calm world outside, no human expression of pain could be heard, the tumbling noise stopped, and so most people went back to sleep. I walked down the stairs and found Shelby eating breakfast at a table in the community kitchen area. She asked if I had heard the noise. I said that everyone had. She confessed that it was the sound of her body falling down the flight of stairs. I was torn between being really compassionate and laughing really hard, so I was both. I giggled while simultaneously asking her if she was alright. She said it hurt really bad, and I said that it sounded like it would have. She said she would be fine, but that she was just embarrassed. I told her that most people thought it was a stack of books falling down the stairs and that she had nothing to worry about. After this exchange, we began our tramp down the hill and back to carpark before many of the others had even woken up. We were eager to return to our car and continue our adventure north to visit the likes of Franz Josef and the Fox Glacier, but this would not be so. After two hours of navigating through bush (Kiwi-speak for the woods, wilderness, wild areas, etc.) we approached fellow hikers making their way up to the hut that we'd just left. They asked if we had a car parked down at the carpark at the trailhead. We said yes. They said they were sorry to inform us that all the cars parked there overnight had been broken into. At least one window on each of the eight cars parked there had been bashed in. Our stomachs turned to knots and our hearts sunk. Both of our laptops, Shelby's fancy camera, and all of our clothes had been left in the car. We only took the bare essentials for our two-day tramp. The fellow hikers shared their condolences. We booked it down the hill to go assess the damage. With one final river to cross before reaching the car, we quickly took off our shoes and waded across the chilly water to find a policeman waiting for us and the other hikers to emerge from the bush. Sure enough, Shannon's driver's side window was bashed in and all of our stuff was strewn throughout the car. The cop wouldn't let us touch anything because they were going to take fingerprints off of the car, but it was clear that Shelby's backpack had been sifted through and her laptop and camera were gone. I was filled with nothing but compassion and sadness for her. Miraculously, my laptop had been overlooked even though it was in a backpack sitting right next to Shelby's. I thanked God with very sincere gratitude. I couldn't believe it.
|Dusting for prints|
So, the verdict's out. Is karma real? Is it basically the same as "what goes around, comes around"? What did we do wrong to deserve Shelby's stuff being stolen? Then again, what did we do right to have these thieving mongrels (Kiwi-speak for assholes, jerks, scumbags, etc.) forget to grab my laptop too?
All we can do is continue to do as right as we can and be as good as we can be and hope that the best possible things happen to us.
Karma will just do its thing and we'll do ours.