“It's not always good news
that's why we sing the blues.”
This morning just like every morning for the last six months Tahara wakes up with the same thoughts going round and round over and over again. If only I had brought a torch. I knew it was getting dark, then he wouldn't have slipped off the path and would still be alive. If only I had gone the long way home. If only I wasn't so impatient. If only.
This morning unlike other mornings, Tahara was also hungover from too many beers the night before at Aroha's birthday party. The depressing effects of the alcohol mixed with her guilt made this morning unbearable. She lay in bed with her hands wrapped around her head vocalising her pain with a low moan. How could this happen?
Memories of the night before began seeping into her consciousness. It was a good night. 'Time Out' were awesome. The music and dancing and lights and laughter and of course the beer all combined together for her to actually, albeit temporarily forget her worries.
Now though the vicious cycle was unstoppable. Something had to be done. She couldn't go on like this. She knew she had to go and do something good. Where she had played a part in the loss of a life, now she had to make amends.
Out of nowhere a plan comes to her that makes sense. She's a marine ecologist who's lived her whole life by the sea and has studied marine ecosystems for the past five years. She has something to give.
She made her mind up. She's going to Africa where she's needed to help in the last great reforestation project on the planet. She is going to help reintroduce fish into The Sahara Lakes.
Tahara gives Tane a call. Tane's going travelling to Africa soon and Tahara hopes she can go with him. She doesn't want to go off on her own and thinks Tane would make a good travelling companion. He tells her that he's at The Traveller's Rest and to come on over.
She finds him sitting outside in The Traveller's Rest garden talking with a few travellers over beers. Beer, no thanks, not after last night. Ignoring the travellers, Tahara walks right up to Tane interrupting him.
'Hey Tane, what you up to?'
'You know, just hanging,' said Tane. 'What's up?'
'Can we talk?' she says with a flick of her head towards an empty table on the other side of the garden.
'Sure,' he says, getting up smiling to his friends. 'Do you want a beer?'
'Na, I'm good,' she replies. 'What I want to talk about is well I want to go to Africa.'
Tane's face lights up. 'Africa, I'm going to Africa.'
'No shit,' said Tahara 'You've been going on about it for the past year. That's why I'm here talking to you.'
Tane looks at Tahara questionably. 'What's going on, why Africa all of a sudden?'
'I'm sorry Tane, it's been a bad day. I really need to get away. I want to go work on The Sahara Lakes. I want to do something, something good.'
'Is this because of what happened?'
'Yes, I need to make it up,' said Tahara. 'I need to feel like I deserve forgiveness.'
'Let's get together and make some plans. What do you say, how about after work tomorrow?' said Tane.
'OK,' said Tahara. 'How about at the restaurant, say eight o'clock?'
“Everyone needs a place to call home.
Everyone needs a place to grow. Peace will follow.”
Just nine days to go, then the trip of a lifetime and now Tahara is coming too, things can't get any better, Tane thinks to himself.
Tane is hard at work on his house, it's almost finished and has taken him two years to build. He started building when he was sixteen. The first two years were mostly refurbishments with the builders of his village and studying at the education centre in town. The last two were building his own house.
Once he's finished he'll be trusted by the builders of his village to take on projects of his own unsupervised. There aren't any bosses or qualifications anymore, but without the trust of the experienced builders no one is going to want him working on their house.
Building today incorporates everything involved in the construction of a house, designing, carpentry, plumbing, electrics and is mostly based on-site in his village but also involves trips to town to work with people in design, engineering and horticulture. Most occupations are like this, where the fruits of your labour are for your village and town is just for sharing skills, knowledge and technology. Tane's had complete responsibility for the construction of his home, with plenty of help from the more experienced builders of course.
His house is like his final exam, on show for everyone to see. If it's good then people will ask him to work on their homes. If it's not then Tane will have to look for another occupation. Not likely though as he would've known years ago if he wasn't good at building and moved on to something else.
Tane finishes work for the day and heads to The Traveller's Rest to catch up with Muzi before meeting Tahara later.
'You really must see the Mosi-oa-Tunya falls, it's truly an amazing sight,' said Muzi. 'The dry season is best for seeing the expanse of the falls but in the wet, the sheer power will blow you away. There's so much water crashing over that the spray rises up forming a cloud that sits above the falls like a white beacon in the blue sky.'
'Most of the time you're in the mist. If it's warm you know it's spray and if it's cold you know it's rain, but when the mist clears, before you is something you will never forget.'
Tane listens attentively. He's been planning to go travelling for as long as he can remember. For the past few months he's been hanging out at The Traveller's Rest to learn, but mostly to satisfy his excitement. Counting the days, just nine to go.
'And make sure you come and see me,' Muzi continues. 'I live near the Mosi-oa-Tunya falls and would love to show you around.'
Tane's become good friends with Muzi over the last week that he's been staying in Orewa. Tane's been taking him out and about to see the sights. The highlight for Muzi was snorkeling just the other day. It was the first time for him and now he's hooked.
Every town has a Traveller's Rest. Most travellers only stay a few days. Any who want to stay longer can, but are expected to do some work. At the end of the day travellers take more than they give. Travelling is after all supposed to be fun, but this doesn't bother anyone because people from here are being looked after there in other parts of the world.
There's also a network for sharing seeds around the world. Carrying seeds is one way travellers can contribute. Seeds and people and an occasional part for world cooperative projects are the only things that travel now.
“In one thousand years
all of our needs will be grown in trees.”
Tahara and Tane meet at the restaurant. It's in the entertainment part of town and there's just the one. Next door is the only cafe and the only bar and club. There are no shops and no middle men. If you need something you just go to the part of town where it is made and get it. Life is simple.
The people working there, like people working everywhere love their work. If they didn't they would leave as there's no money and everything is free. Town offers the opportunity for people to excel at cooking and baking and brewing and even customer service, even though the service industry was like a type of slavery.
'When will you be able to go?' Tane asks Tahara.
'As soon as you're ready,' she replies.
'I'm off next week, after the summer solstice festival,' said Tane. 'I'm not missing that for anything.'
Almost everyone from the surrounding villages go to the summer and winter solstice festivals. That's over eight thousand people partaking in music, dancing, sports and lots of food.
Tahara finished studying marine ecology a year ago and started working growing the many different types of food plants that are grown in the sea, but it doesn't need much hands-on work so she needs to find something else that will contribute to her village. For the last six months she's been helping out wherever she can until she finds what else is right for her.
'If you like you can help me finish my house,' said Tane.
She says she would be happy to help. They'll be able to discuss their travel plans and get to know each other better. Already Tahara is feeling better, just knowing she's going.
Tane's planted a grove of saplings next to his house that he plans to grow into a house. Tane believes this is the future. He loves the idea of growing a house that won't be lived in until after he is dead.
The idea of living in a living house, Tane believes will give people a sense of being a part of nature and a gratitude to life that will benefit everything.
He's seen on the Internet similar projects around the world and plans to visit them. In Australia they are growing baobab tree houses and in India there are bridges grown out of vines that date back hundreds or even thousands of years.
Tane's tree house is grown out of puriri and rata. Puriri to form the main structure of the house and rata to form the rest. Rata is a vine when young, and grows around a host tree. Usually the host dies leaving the rata standing alone. To look at a mature rata you would never even know, being such a tall straight tree, but puriri is soft, it moulds and bulges through the gaps between the rata's vines, so it survives.
Tane believes he can train them to grow into a house together. Maybe whole villages and towns can be grown like this. It's early days yet, but he loves this daydream that came to him when he was napping in a hammock between two trees on a sunny afternoon a few years ago.
Tane's busy setting up the communication station in the living room when Tahara turns up. Wireless was found to be a cause of stress like all radio waves of a frequency that we haven't evolved with so could no longer be used.
Now every house has communication stations connected by a fibre cable that runs along the cycleway that a personal device docks on to. It does mean plugging in to receive and send communication but the benefits of living in a stress free world far outweigh this inconvenience.