This is the final instalment to Lisa's "Loopy Guide". If you missed the beginning then here is part one. No one will ever fish with me again!
Stranded! No way! The thought of one more wet, cold and rainy night with just one tin of beans and a serious lack of alcohol was enough to put us into action. A log jam was needed. Another long trek and some more risky backwater crossings were made and Paul eventually found what he had been hoping for: a great log jam and two fantastic places for us to cross the river.
He went first of course. It did occur to me that if he killed himself I would have been in real trouble. I couldn't even catch a fish to eat and the baked beans were in his pack!
Paul crossed the highest log since it was wider and therefore easier for me like a tightrope walker and came back for my pack. I crawled across (yes, I'm a real chicken when it comes to heights and falling off things). Overcoming my fear, I think I laughed all the way Paul had his camera out and I was determined not fall in. Upon reaching the other side, he showed me where I would have ended had I let go of the tree trunk let's just say I probably wouldn't be writing this now.
Feeling relieved after all we had made it to the other side we climbed over and under logs and made our way through the bush to find the path heading back to where a ferry would take us to civilisation. But it wasn't over yet. I have never had to fight my way through dense bush and moreover, with a backpack and no breakfast. I summoned the last of my strength and kept fighting. I fell into holes, got stabbed by broken branches and at one point landed like a beetle on my back, while Paul was most likely wondering what was taking me so long. Eventually I heaved myself up the final slope and onto the track and with a cry of determination swore that I would sleep that night in a soft, dry, warm bed, with sheets, have a hot shower, drink red wine, eat lovely Italian food and not give a monkey how much it all cost.
Along the track we stopped to eat. I got changed into dry clothes and put on my trainers to walk the remaining 10 km or so. The first thing was to get warm so I drank the last of the Sambuca whilst Paul rustled up the baked beans! And they were the best beans I've ever tasted!
We had to wait a little for the ferry and so we cast for fish along the lake edge. There was a big beauty just waiting for us to catch it and I had a couple of attempts with Paul nervously watching and directing me. All of a sudden it struck. Wow! I tried to do what I thought was the right thing and let it run and then reel in, but to my horror, everything happened too quickly and the leader snapped! The fish was gone and Paul was sure it was a monster! I didn't quite comprehend it; I was shattered from the adventure just getting back to the ferry and it seemed that I was not meant to catch a fish here. Maybe in my next lifetime!
No room at the inn
It had been great fun but I was exhausted and looking forward to buying chocolate on the ferry. The guy on the ferry told me that all the town's accommodation was fully booked. On relating this to Paul, I was confidently informed that there were always cabins in campgrounds and places to stay in New Zealand.
We reached Te Anau. The visitor centre told us that everything was booked, all apart from the most expensive hotel in town (and that they probably wouldn't accept us the way we looked even if we wanted to spend loads of money!). Paul had a rather cunning plan of driving two hours to Queenstown (a large place by New Zealand standards).
We arrived under darkness and all the signs seemed to say "No Vacancy". No problem; "there were always campgrounds". But even here we were greeted with the same "no room at the inn" message. Resigned to the fact that we were not going to get one, my dream of a bed, shower, food and drink shattered, we settled for an Indian restaurant. Feeling grubby but hungry we ate and Paul drove us to a place where we could camp and sleep in the Red Herring. I fell asleep during the drive.
The following day we continued on; we wanted to meet up with Hair and Bronwyn. This time, however, we cleverly decided to look for accommodation at the earliest opportunity. Lake Tekapo was fully booked as well and I literally begged the lady in the visitor centre for help she was going to offer us a room in her house! when it occurred to her that we could perhaps take a holiday home for the night.
It was pure luxury: shower, washing machine (Paul needed this badly), fireplace and the main feature . table football. If you want to know something else Paul enjoys aside from flyfishing then this is it! My goalie didn't seem to move much but we both had brilliant strikers and spent hours playing. So much so, that I felt my hands and wrists aching afterwards. Paul doesn't like losing and so I let him win on purpose (wink, wink)!
After dark we met up with Hair and Bronwyn who like me were on the last leg of their holiday and we were more subdued as we dwelled upon leaving this wonderful place. Bronwyn cooked a lovely meal and we girls sat in their campervan and kept warm, while Hair and Paul were standing around the campfire, freezing. It was time to say our goodbyes and head home (a few more rounds of table football before going to bed) and head off to Christchurch the next morning, stopping at Mount Cook on the way. We all made a promise to meet as soon as possible in Tasmania and I'm sure this will happen in the near future.
Mount Cook didn't happen; like everything else the weather put a stop to that. I vowed to come back and see it all another time round. It was time to head back to Christchurch and we took the scenic route and stopped off for coffee hoping to prolong our journey. Suddenly Paul got a message from Deano; our paths would cross in the next town. I had met Camo-Guy, Hair and now Deano, all the Sexyloops' characters. What a privilege!
Deano was lovely and I could see how much fun he and Paul must have together and although we could have sat and talked for hours, we had to keep on moving to our final destinations.
Christchurch and the plane the next morning were nearer. The fish were now far away. The only consolation was one last evening with Paul; drinking wine and, well, doing whatever took our fancy (hmmm - we mainly play crib a card game, for those not in the know).
To our horror, there were no rooms available in Christchurch anywhere close to the airport! It was fate, I decided. I'd started by camping in a tent on the beach; I was to finish camping in the tent on a campground! So, seeing the funny side, we set up camp and bought some whiskey. Later, we grabbed a few hours sleep before setting off at the ungodly hour of 4am to catch the 6:30 flight to Sydney.
Lesson number ten: Be prepared for anything. Paul doesn't plan anything in advance and would never dream of booking a room anywhere. So, if this means going without a few home comforts, just grin and bear it. You know you will be going home eventually.
Of course, I was sad to go but I refused to say goodbye. Just a "I will be back" passed my lips. And next time fish beware! I'll have lot's more time to practice before then.
And Paul, I'm going to buy a table football (for the boys, of course).
Loopy Lisa :-)
So what did I think of Paul's world? Is he crazy?
Fishing with Paul has had added an entirely new dimension to my life and how I want to live. I live as most of us do a very busy life; the pace is fast and the responsibility for my boys and providing warmth, food and shelter is high. I'm a positive person, full of energy, which I hope I pass on, but there are times when I just want to stop and take a deep breath.
Paul's world is not like this. He can be spontaneous and free to change his mind as many times as he wants. He can sleep when he wants, fish, eat, "work" when he feels like it. No appointments, no watch, no television, no news, no people (if he wishes). He can choose to be himself and be happy. Of course he can drive around New Zealand hooking up with people and having a few stressful days but that is all it is; short-term chaos and then he can relax and chill out the following week.
His friends although they have jobs and houses and so on were very similar in their outlook on life. This made me aware that, although I cannot have a lifestyle like Paul's no matter how tempting that may be I can at least incorporate those wonderful things from this trip into my future. I can take my boys to beautiful places, I can camp, I can fish (one day) and I can get away from the everyday hectic and stress.
I also found out something very important about myself: I am totally at ease in nature and more relaxed than I've ever been; I felt younger and very much at peace with the world and myself. Who would not want this in their life? Flyfishing is amazing, if it can enable one to open up and experience life in this way. Thanks Paul, for showing me your world and letting me be a part of it (even if you are a little crazy that's why we love you).
Here are the ten lessons (not commandments) for flyfishing with Paul:
1: If it is not fishing or casting then don't let Paul organise it!
2: Don't expect to arrive anywhere during daylight.
3: Be prepared to eat your main meal of the day at 11pm.
4: If you want a good night's sleep then remember your earplugs! Paul can play guitar all night long and tends to fall asleep with it in his arms.
5: Paul is fit and don't even contemplate trying to keep up with him unless you are ready for some serious pain.
6: Be warned, Paul has some very amusing friends and you have to go with the flow. Be prepared to do things you have never done before!
7: Paul is definitely not a morning person; don't organise anything before noon if you want his attention and cooperation. And make sure you have juice, coffee or an energy drink at the ready.
8: Just take your time and Paul will stop walking eventually. Don't believe him when he tells you that you only have 150 metres left to go.
9: Paul doesn't feel the cold, doesn't get hungry and will not notice if you do, in fact all his basic needs are temporarily shut off whilst fishing. Be prepared to call it a day, otherwise you will be there until dawn.
10: Be prepared for anything. Paul doesn't plan anything in advance and would never dream of booking a room anywhere. So, if this means going without a few home comforts, just grin and bear it. You know you will be going home eventually.
"Loopy" Lisa firstname.lastname@example.org is Sexyloops' Superwoman has been flyfishing for just over a year. In that time she's fished Devon (one fish), Spain (nada de nada), Germany and most recently New Zealand. She has a unique approach to fishing, life and Tim Tams.