At the marina we were excited to find ourselves tied up a few boats down from Field Trip, a cruising family we met in the Caribbean two years ago and who were a few weeks ahead of us on the way to the Marquesas last year when we were dismasted and had to turn back. It was a happy reunion as it always is whenever we cross paths with people we shared good times with in distant anchorages. This is Field Trip’s second cyclone season in New Zealand so they know the lay of the land, something we plan to take full advantage of for the Cliff Notes on our new temporary home. What’s more, they have a car and Sarah immediately offered to drive us to Kerikeri, a town about 40 minutes from Opua and the closest supermarket. Jack and I never turn down a car ride to anywhere but a supermarket trip was definitely tops on our list after weeks at sea and sacrificing the last of our produce to the biosecurity regulations. There’s a very good convenience store in Opua but it’s expensive and limited in variety. So off we went, along with Mark and Sue from Macushla and Audrie from Rehua.
Sarah is a good shopping guide and pointed out the various stores along the way and what they’re good for. I don’t know about everyone else but the combination of long-term exhaustion and complete culture shock after months of retail deprivation sent my brain into a tailspin. At the huge and beautiful high-end, well-lit supermarket I was dazzled by produce we hadn’t seen since our trip back to the states last year, like kale and mushrooms and mandarins. I know it’s late spring here, and we normally buy and eat what’s in season locally, but I couldn’t resist parsnips, turnips and butternut squash. All of us were fully aware of the space limitations with a car already packed with people and yet we all met at the checkout lanes with carts full of good New Zealand wine, gorgeous fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs, cheeses and other groceries we haven’t seen in months.
Sarah then took us to a specialty store where the vegetarians and vegans among us picked up a few more unusual items, then to a Walmart-like department store so we can see what’s there and plan our future shopping trips.
Back at the marina we struggled to our boats with heavy grocery bags, then struggled even more to fit all the produce into limited fridge space. Sarah laughed when I swooned over the kale and said, “It’ll be there again tomorrow.” And that’s what we need to adjust to. Over sundowners with Mark and Sue we laughed that we’re so conditioned to jump on hard-to-find items when we see them, sometimes buying all that’s available knowing we may not see it again for months. Now that we’re back in the land of plenty we can be more conservative in our grocery shopping knowing it’ll all be there again tomorrow. It’ll take some getting used to.