All of us on the plane from Honolulu to Auckland, New Zealand,
earned certificates for crossing the international date line.
Suddenly Saturday became Sunday. I was on sabbatical leave, with
pay, to "research, travel and rest," and, because I
taught philosophies of recreation, I wanted to observe the use of
leisure among people of other cultures. I scheduled stops in
Hawaii, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia, staying in
youth hostels. The international date line was not important at
the moment because I had a travel problem: Would I be able to buy
a tire in New Zealand to replace the spare, which was now on my
I was alone and had ruined a tire in Hawaii. At the Auckland
airport I topped up the air in my tires, strapped the saddlebags
on the rear rack and was about three miles from Auckland.
"BANG!" The other tire blew out and I had no spare.
Tiny cars sped past, so I slipped off the front wheel. The next
car stopped and a fellow said, "Let’s see if we can get
your bike and bags in here somehow." We did.
Not only did he take me to Auckland, he located a bike shop.
By looking through the window we saw everything bicyclists
needed. On the way to the youth hostel he drove past several
interesting things I should see later. I asked myself how I could
have found such a helpful stranger. The answer is that New
Zealand’s three islands are far away from Australia, their
nearest neighbor. Early Europeans found it to be three days away
by steamer. No wonder they enjoyed tourists.
On Monday the bike mechanics stopped work to talk about my
trip. Clerks at a woolen shop were delighted that I could pay in
U.S. dollars; they had little money coming into New Zealand, and
there was a limit to the amount local people could take out. They
were delighted that I could pay in American $20 bills.
About unstructured recreation: It was no surprise to find
children creating their own fun, much as we kids did on the farm
when I was a youngster tag games, towers with driftwood
sticks, climbing, swinging and impromptu races. In Samoa, boys
went "to sea" in cobbled-up boats they’d made with
scrap wood and tin. Older boys, barefoot and physically fit,
scampered up the leaning palm trees to get coconuts. Girls,
unsupervised, gathered shells and waded or made sand castles at
the beach. One held a 20-foot octopus by the head, stabbing it to
death. She offered to sell it to me for "a quawter." We
spoke in pantomime, otherwise.
New Zealand’s young people were also spontaneous and
creative in their play activities. Thirty-six youth hostelers
invited me to go with them, by bus, on their three-day trip to
Mt. Cook. My seatmate said, "I can’t believe that
I’m sitting here talking with an American woman!" We
hiked and sang and went to a Roman costume party. I made Roman
costumes for the girls by taking down the hostel curtains and
using lots of safety pins to drape their "robes;" we
rehung the curtains after midnight. Spontaneous recreation.
The day before I left for Australia, we hostelers spread out
our various foods to share for breakfast and talked as we ate
together like family. We were from Canada, England, Germany,
Australia, the United States and New Zealand.
Recently, on New Year’s Eve, I recalled the certificate
and that breakfast. One fellow said this about recreation:
"When I get on that wheel o’ mine and ride out 15 miles
and back, I get the feeling that I’ve done somethin’."