Lord of the Rings Trilogy
At first, I was really skeptical about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the series of films grew on me as I watched them for the first time this past week. Whenever I start a new movie or a series, I try to find something meaningful that runs along with the theme. I found what I liked best about the trilogy was the friendship between Frodo and Sam. It was something that I looked forward to and to see the friendship both grow and fall throughout. In the very beginning, Frodo and Sam were lighthearted and felt the excitement of adventure that they were destined to go on. But as they realized the power of the ring of Sauron, Frodo began to push Sam away. The loyalty of their friendship is what really caught my attention; Sam never left Frodo’s side even when the ring began to take a toll on Frodo, to me this was the epitome of what a friend of truest form would do. He wanted to share the burden with Frodo, or at least help him stay true to himself while bearing the ring. What broke my heart was the scene during the Return of the King when Sam offered to help Frodo and take the ring to hold for a while as he could see that the ring was turning Frodo crazy, but Gollum turned Frodo against Sam. Frodo abandoned the one person that was there during the whole adventure, it was an emotional rollercoaster for me to watch the fall of the friendship at that moment.
The crisp air of New Zealand hit my face as a sign of welcome. The city of Auckland was full of diversity and peaceful coexistence. It was something I have never seen before: a peaceful melting pot of people full of love. But, Waiheke Island captured my heart from the moment I stepped onto the ferry. The sea salt filled wind had a sense of serenity, it was the first time I have felt any ounce of relaxation in the past several months. I felt all my anxieties leave my mind and float away with the wind. The untouched beauty of the rolling hills covered in bright green grass surrounded me as I watched the water roll in and out from the bay. A moment so breathtaking, I had to take a moment to realize that I was, in fact, not in a dream, but this was my reality. A reality that I never thought would have come my way in the beginning of the year. The rolling hills lead to little villages filled with people of hope and high spirits. I met a woman that owned a quaint antique shop. She showed me the most beautiful, yet simplistic necklace; it was the greenstone of New Zealand. But, this is not just an ordinary stone, this stone represents something larger than itself. The greenstone represents the people and life of New Zealand. It serves as a reminder of the beauty of New Zealand and that that beauty will always be in your heart no matter where your travels take you. It was something that the locals took with them quite frequently along their journeys. It was then I realized that New Zealand was more than just a beautiful place with rolling hills, bays that stretch for miles and interesting Kiwis, it was a home.
Into the Woods We Go: Transalpine Railroad
The sun begins to rise as we board the alpine railroad. Little did we know that we were about embark on the most majestic ride into the countryside. The rolling hills followed us and the sheep ran away. The icy blue colored river meandered through the mountains creating another path for those to wander. As we ride, the wind gets colder and we get further into the land of mountains. Rolling hills turn into steep mountains with snow caps, what was once green is now white covered in ice. The shrubs and short grass turn into thick patches of pine trees. There is no civilization in sight, just us and a few others on a train. In the valleys we ride, mountains soaring high on either side. The thick fog creeps as we go deeper into the forest, from there we enter the tunnels. Under a mountain we go! Black tunnels stretch for miles, complete darkness besides the lights from our cabins. It is peaceful almost just surrounded by all black. Seems completely morbid, but it feels as if we are time traveling, going deep into a blackhole. Forces us to be social with one another without a view to be awestruck about. Breaking out of the tunnel felt like a reward. The wind hit our faces again, welcoming us out of the darkness.
I begin to wonder, how did we get so lucky? Blessed with this place we call earth. We take it for granted this majestic planet of ours. Always looking for the quick way out, the most efficient way, the cheapest way. We all live in a black world, full of darkness, dark thoughts and feelings, until we see the beauty in our mother earth. With that, we see the glimpse of the light, this bright, bright light.
The untouched beauty has baffled me during my stay. There have been so many moments of breathtaking views that I cannot count them on my fingers. It is something so unique to New Zealand, something that you normally do not see in the United States unless it is protected by the government, or is a private, for profit park. Like eyes on a painting, the rolling hills that I have been in awestruck about followed me from place to place. As always, they were welcoming. But, this time there was a little difference in our welcome, seals waved hello as we entered Wellington.
The ride: bumpy, the views: worth it. The beach of gray sand and gravel sounded like rain on a tin roof. The paths were rugged and felt like I was back at home messing around with the farm jeep on a hot summer day. It was just the dose of home I needed in that moment. The terrain was rough and twisty. We went up and down beaten paths that led to the ocean where the lazy seals laid. There they laid by the rocks near the shore line undisturbed by the humans that were peering around them. The life of a seal seemed ideal, just sunbathing and sleeping all day.
This trip has taught me a lot, not only about myself, but about the beauty of leaving nature untouched. It showed me that it is possible to protect the environment without having to disturb it and with that, nature will thank you in return. The Māori people have heavily influenced this idea that the earth is our Mother and we must treat her with the utmost care and respect. This concept and way of life truly shows in New Zealand. The untouched beauty of this land is something that I will always remember and reflect back on.