Imagine a world in which you cannot travel. You cannot fly or leave your home. IMAGINE... A few friends of Klein reflect on where their imagination has taken them during lockdown.
We had hired a fishing cottage and on arrival we were met by the local aging pastor, lit only by his paraffin lamp. With the help of his family he took care of the house and was also able to sell us locally grown weed if we so desired.
We turned in early and woke up to the sound of the sea, goats' bells ringing whilst grazing on the green hills and someone in the kitchen rustling up a fresh coffee brew.
We walked the coast in search of good swell for the surfers among us and we found some around a few bays, at a stretch of beach named Shark Bay. We spent the day watching cows roam the shore, we dipped in and out of the ocean and dreamt of what lay in our futures.
When the day was nearly over and the sun was dipping low, we headed back to the cottage where the humble pastor was waiting for us, with his grandson and two large tubs of oysters freshly harvested. With beach sand stuck to our feet, sunburn on our skin and salt in our hair, we feasted by candlelight. Not having had an oyster before, I was a little hesitant to try, but did. I felt something gritty between my teeth and discovered it was the start of a pearl slowly forming around a grain of sand. For years to come, I kept that teeny tiny grain in my purse. It took me through breakups, make ups, new love, marriage and sweet babies. All seen in the future I’d dreamt of on the beach that day.
It is so hot. So unbelievably boiling and humid that every once and while, you’ve got to stand up and readjust where you’re sitting. To dodge the sun and the sweat pooling where your thigh touches the plastic chair. You’ve never been happier. You’re on the beach, in Maputo, and your best mates are sitting opposite you. You’re also a bottle of vino verde down, singlehandedly, and the conversation is getting more hilarious by the sip. Plus, a gargantuan platter of king prawns has just appeared. It’s heaving with garlic butter and wedges of lemon – and competing with a pile of freshly fried chips for your attention. You can see the waiter hesitating with a tray of crayfish. And you realise that you’ve just solved the afternoon’s most pressing problem: it just might fit on the table, if he clears away the empty bottles of 2m beer.
To get to Our Secret Beach there’s a faint path that winds through the cliffs, where in most places, you’re protected from the heat of the day by a generous spread of needles and cones. Twists of gangly leucadendron with overly dramatic fiery-red tufts grow among wild rosemary bushes humming with honey-drunk bees, and shiny black dung beetles languidly roll their precious balls across the path.
Suddenly, without warning, the pines will disappear and immediately you’ll notice a change in the air. Salty with lingering notes of sap, of yesterday’s seaweed and the red Algarve dust that settles on everything. Up ahead, the cliffs fall away sharply towards the sea, to little dashes of wave crests and from which a deep blue blends endless beyond the horizon and into the sky.
Now, you are closer than you think possible. Making your way down the cut away edges to finally reach the beach is a complex series of trips and toe stubs choreographed alongside the negotiation of sun umbrellas and straw hats from left to right, juggling bottles of cold beer and oranges, cinnamony natas and a football.
When I was younger I couldn’t wait to get away from New Zealand. So isolated, so boring. But right now, for the first time in over a decade I truly feel homesick and crave that isolation. Give me the snow-capped mountains, misty fjords, sunny beaches, green forests, geysers and the rapidly improved vibrant multicultural cities right now please.
As a café lover, NZ excels in delicious food, wine and coffee. Something magic happened over the past few decades where the food scene went from zero to one hundred. I’d do anything to eat my favourite jackfruit tacos, vegan pies, kimchi pancakes... the list goes on.
I’d start my day with a flat white at any local cafe in Auckland (NZers don’t accept bad coffee, so every coffee bar is excellent), then cafe hop somewhere else for brunch. Then take a hike in the beautiful nature, overlooking the harbour feeling safe knowing the country is run by the awesome Jacinda Ardern.