When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.
I arrived at my mum’s land, beaten down and worn out from all the drama in Auckland and I just wanted to melt into the safety of her arms. I needed her reassurance and to be told everything was going to be okay but it didn’t quite turn out like that.
What mum didn’t tell me was that her partner was having an emotional meltdown and I had arrived right in the middle of it, so there I was like meat to the slaughter and he let out years of emotional vomit onto me.
I was in no space to hear it or deal with it so I packed up the van and left with mum. Just as quickly as I had arrived I was leaving with nowhere to go. My idea of having a safe place to relax and rejuvenate in were completely shattered and I now had the stress of trying to find somewhere to sleep with my dog Kyra and my emotional, teary eyed mum.
I wanted to break down and cry but I held it all together and kicked into survival mode. Up until then my mum’s land was one place I felt at home at but now I really was homeless.
We drove towards the coast and up state highway 10, turning off at Kari Kari Peninsula until we eventually reached Matai Bay campground but we were turned away because of the dog. The campground caretaker must have sensed our urgency to find somewhere to stay as we were flustered and frantically searching for my map and campground books that had suddenly decided to disappear with a loud barking dog in the background.
He came over and quietly told us about a spot that we may get away with freedom camping at, which was a few kilometres back towards the highway at a lake near Tokerau Beach, so we drove back towards the highway and turned off down a gravel road that led us towards a long stretch of beach.
I carefully manoeuvred my way along a bumpy and narrow one-way road which ran parallel to the beach until we reached Cola Lake. The lake was a dirty brown colour, much like its name, and we parked inconspicuously under a tree with the hope of not getting a fine or be moved along.
We ended up spending a couple of nights there and we managed to keep ourselves entertained with long beach walks, yoga, and lots of relaxing. The rest of the week we found places to sleep at around the Peninsula.
We discovered the most spectacular spot at the end of a steep and unmaintained gravel road that I was initially hesitant to drive up but at the end was a car park perched high up on the hillside with panoramic views of the white sandy beaches and the sand dunes of Kari Kari peninsula below. In some ways it was a blessing that the dog limited us to freedom camping otherwise we would not have experienced the beauty of some of the places we found off the beaten track.
We were feeling adventurous that day so we walked around the hill trying to find a track down to the beach and ended up walking for miles across farmland and gorse until we realised we could either turn back or scale the vertical cliff down. My daredevil mum coaxed me on and we practically slid down on our backsides until we reached the bottom.
We arrived at a rocky bay, scaled some slippery rocks and finally reached the most beautiful deserted beach I have ever come across. The powdery white soft sand glistened under the bursts of sun that peeped through the clouds and the water was a brilliant turquoise blue. We walked along and met a friendly local fisherman who offered us a freshly caught snapper and I played around in the hot sand doing yoga and handstands.
Time went by fast and before we knew it, it was time to leave. We had to make our way back before it got dark and we needed to find a path to make our walk easier, luckily we found a track, which took us only half the time as it did to get there.
Ravenously hungry from the day’s activities we enjoyed a basic dinner of quinoa and avocado salad and I sat beneath the stars pondering how quickly my life had changed and in that moment I decided I wanted to change my name to symbolize the transformation.
I wasn’t the old Taleta anymore and some of my friends and family were having a hard time accepting that. I had been bombarded by all their judgements around my lifestyle choices and I lost some relationships along the way but I had to stay true to myself. I wasn’t here to please anyone else. I had to live my life for me.
So I ceremoniously changed my name to Shanti Taleta on Facebook. I didn’t want to be known as Taleta anymore, I needed a new name to fit the new me and Shanti, the spiritual name that Osho gave me when I was 4, which means peace, was perfect.
Feeling content, I climbed into my little bed next to mum but as I lay close to Kyra I felt heaps of bumps on her and when we looked closer we realised she was covered in ticks from the cow paddocks we had just walked through.
As the dog shared our bed, we sat up and meticulously pulled them all off, one by one. Not a particularly enjoyable bed time task but a task that had to be done!
We awoke early and decided to drive to 90 mile beach, a wild and rugged long stretch of coast-line and a stark contrast to the previous beach.
As we briskly walked along against the wind we stumbled upon a dead baby seal laying in the sand.
I wondered what had happened to it and it got me thinking about life and how fleeting it can be. We are so often caught up in our busy lives that we forget to look around and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us everywhere, even in the small seemingly insignificant things. It is so easy to take things for granted and I found myself feeling so grateful for everything, more so now than when I had a lot of ‘things’ living in a house.
I could have focused on the negatives but instead I was grateful for the special bond I share with my dear mother, for the heartfelt connections I have with a handful of true friends and for mother nature for providing such beautiful landscapes for me to play in and admire.
With my heart full and open we walked along further and found an alive seal frolicking at the shore line. What a marvellous site to see watching a wild animal at home in its natural environment. I was mesmerized and it left me feeling connected to nature.
Life is an intricate web of complexities and death is such a mystery.
After a few handstands it started to rain so we made a dash for the van just in time before it poured down. As we were nearing the end of the week and our time together we stumbled upon a quaint little campground right on Tokerau beach that allowed dogs and I had my first hot shower in a week.
I was in bliss!!
I was still getting used to sleeping on a thin foam mattress and not having hot showers or power but on the days that I needed to feel clean I learnt that hot flannel washes and wearing clothes inside out were good alternatives for when I wasn’t in a campground and using their facilities.
A week went by fast and I had a lovely time with mum. Her being with me helped me to adjust to my new lifestyle and I didn’t feel so alone. I was dreading saying goodbye to her and driving back to Auckland. I had this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. But my daughter needed me as she was already back in Auckland and mum needed to get back to her life on the farm.
As the green rolling hills turned into houses and buildings and the old beaten up 4×4’s turned into flashy SUV’s and sports cars the familiar hum of the city grew louder and I could see the obtrusive sight of the sky tower jotting out of the skyline through the city smog.
I was back in Auckland.
I apprehensively reached the harbour bridge sooner than I had wanted to and I took a deep breath in for what lay before me on the other side.