As the tour bus made it’s way down Milford Road towards Te Anau, the memories of the past month became more distant. Even the kayak trip I did in the morning seem like a dream; full of fog, rain, motion sickness from the rolling currents, and playful baby seals.
The last few days at Milford Sound was a flurry of activity filled with hikes, meeting the new work exchange volunteers that would replace us, goodbyes, cruises, and strolls by the shore front. We even watched the peaks at dawn.
Y, my Finnish coworker/friend, and I were to meet in Stewart Island in a couple of days. but since we used different bus companies I made arrangements to stay at Te Anau, to recharge, and to feel solitude again. Also – to use digital gold in the form of Wifi at the local library. It was time I hunkered down and planned my next-steps.
The whole bus ride down, I sat next to an interesting French traveler who was between jobs, who had just completed the the Milford Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. He was staying in Te Anau to walk the Kepler Track next. He talked of constellations, photography, his trips to the U.S., and his fiance. He hinted at sharing a meal together, but the tiredness and the call for solitude was too much.
By the time I reached the hostel, I was pooped. After a long shower, I went out and bought groceries at the local Countdown and made myself a quick salad. In the kitchen, I started chatting to another French traveler when she asked me why I was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, which was passed on to me a friend in Milford whom reads it once every year. According to her, it was a depressing novel that she was made to read in high school.
I hit the sack that night before 10 PM and slept until 1 PM the next day.
A month later, I finished The Stranger and I understood why my friend found it significant. For me, it was a novel that reminds of how society alienates and even punishes people who don’t abide by societal norms. It reminds one not to judge too quickly and that everyone is entitled to their beliefs as long it does not break the law or cause anyone harm. It reminds one to stand firm in their character and quirks, even if it goes against the tide.