Day 4: Pupu Springs

Ligar Bay

Annie did not approve of the name “Pupu Springs”. She did not approve of the full name of the springs, Te Waikoropupu Springs, either. When her parents told her that they were going to visit Pupu Springs, she instructed them to refer to it simply as “the Springs” which they tried to do when they remembered. When they forgot, Annie helpfully shouted at them.

These were very special springs. The water was the third-purest water in the world, according to a sign. Annie and Cora were not impressed by this. The family walked past signs instructing them (repeatedly) not to touch the water, which was sacred, and not to remove anything from anywhere.

A few minutes later, after they started walking down the path to the Springs, Annie bent down. Ignoring the breathtaking beauty of the jungle around her, she focused her attentions on the gravel path. She picked up a small, jagged stone, A few paces later, she picked up another. Then another. And another. Soon she had to cup her hands together to hold them all.

“Hold these for me!” she commanded, holding out her cupped hands towards her mother.

“I’m not holding your rocks for you!” her mother cried. “If you want to carry rocks around, you can carry them yourself. Look around, Annie. Isn’t it so beautiful?” Her mother gestured to the lush green vegetation, the water they could just barely see through the ferns and lichen-covered tree trunks, burbling gently a little distance from the path. Invisible birds chittered and warbled and croaked overhead.

“Look at these,” said Annie, holding out her cupped hands. “Those two are gold!”

Mommy looked at the rocks. “The yellowish ones, you mean? They’re very pretty. Why don’t you just leave them here?”

Annie pretended not to hear her mommy. She continued to hold the rocks. The trail wound even closer to the river, so it was just alongside the path now. The land was barely above the level of the water, and green plants dangled fronds and leaves over the edge of the water, so it was hard to know where the land ended and the river began. Streams branched and merged together again like threads in a net, and the trail, which turned from gravel path into a wide wooden bridge, just barely above the level of the water, wound its way along and over the branches of the river.

Mommy and Daddy paused to stare at the water. They admired its beauty in awed voices. Cora stared too, silently. She was impressed. Annie fidgeted around.  They walked on. When they were quite far out on the wooden bridges, above the water, she voiced a desire to throw all the stones in her cupped hands into the stream. There were no rails on the bridges, so it would be easy to do.

“You’re not supposed to put anything into the water,” Mommy explained. “It’s special water. We’re not supposed to touch it.”

“It’s sacred. It’s like church,” Daddy added.

Annie did not see any connection between a church and the walk through the jungle. What did that have to do with throwing rocks into the water, anyway? This was not church. Church was inside. This was outside. She tried briefly to explain the differences to her parents but then gave up. It was hopeless. And she was feeling an urgent need to put down all the stones she was carrying around. She needed to put them down immediately. If she couldn’t throw them in the water, she had to put them somewhere else. She bent down and piled the stones near the edge of the wooden bridge.

“No, no, not there!” her mother cried. “They will fall through the cracks into the water. Go back and put them on the trail.”

Annie looked annoyed. Why did it matter? These were beautiful rocks. No one would mind if they were in a pile here on the bridge.

“Come on,” said Mommy. “Pick them up.”

Scowling, Annie scooped up the rocks, and carried them back over the bridges to the gravel path, where she put them in a tidy pile, separate from the identical-appearing rocks of the rest of the path.

They continued down the meandering path, stopping to admire the river here and there. Daddy carried Annie on his shoulders, which helped her to forget about the rocks.

Eventually they reached the Springs. The family was standing on a broad wooden deck, staring out at a small body of water, like a pond, except that a few areas of the pond were bubbling quietly to themselves.

“Look at that!” Mommy said to Annie. “Do you see it? Look how the water is bubbling! It just keeps going! It’s like there’s a tap under the water, and it’s turned on, and the water is running and running and running, but upside down!”

Annie stared at it for a few moments. “I want to turn it off,” she said. “I don’t like it.”

Cora especially enjoyed this part of the walk, because she could crawl around in the sunshine. She crawled up to the railing and stared at the water. There were some ducks fooling around, sometimes drifting along on the water, sometimes diving, and often flying away, only to land again a few minutes later. Cora loved watching them. She made a half-hearted attempt to say “duck” which caused her mother to praise her extravagantly and repeat the word “duck” another hundred times – “Cora! Can you say ‘duck’? Can you say it? Look! It’s a duck! Duck, Cora! Duck!” Cora enjoyed this attention, and she chose not to spoil it by any further attempts at speaking, but laughed at her mother, who was very funny. She then pulled her sock off, and almost threw it in the crystal-clear sacred water, before her mother grabbed it.


That afternoon, after nap time, the family attempted to play “Charades for Kids”.

“Now, Annie,” said Mommy. “You take a card, like this. See? This has a picture of an airplane on it. Then you have to act like an airplane so that everyone guesses what you are. Okay? Try it. Try acting like an airplane.”

Annie waved her arms around, halfheartedly.

“Bird!” her father guessed. He had listened to the conversation. “No… airplane!”

Annie nodded unenthusiastically.

“Okay, now you take a card. Don’t tell us what it is, okay?”

Annie picked up a card and looked at it silently.

“Do you know what it is?” Mommy asked.

“Yes. It’s a bee,” said Annie.

Her mommy gave her a new card. “Don’t say it! Don’t say what it is!”

Annie studied it and said nothing. She then put it down, face-up on the table, so her mother could see the picture of a kangaroo.

“Okay,” said Mommy, quickly flipping it over. Daddy was in the kitchen .”Daddy didn’t see that one. Try to act it out, okay?”

Her daddy came over to watch. He waited, expectantly. Annie leaned forward a little. She put a hand out behind her as if feeling a large tail angled down at the ground. Other than the subtle hand movements, she was still.

“Kangaroo!” Daddy shouted. Mommy stared at him, open-mouthed. Annie nodded, unimpressed.

Daddy took a turn next. He pulled a card out of the pile. He looked pleased.

He then walked across the room in front of them, and with each step his body moved down a little, and he got a little shorter.

Annie stared at him. She didn’t make any guesses.

Her daddy repeated the movement. She continued to watch him without saying anything. Then he went behind the couch and repeated it. It looked almost like there was a staircase behind the couch, and he was going down it. It was very realistic.

Annie stared at him.

“What do you think, Annie?” Mommy asked.

“I don’t know,” said Annie.

Daddy went behind the counter in the kitchen and repeated the movement. Now it looked like there was a staircase behind the counter, maybe going down to a basement.

Annie continued to stare blankly at her father. She didn’t make a guess. She didn’t even smile.

“Going down a staircase?” Mommy finally guessed. Daddy nodded.


At the end the day, since they had reached the halfway point of the trip, Mommy asked Annie what her favorite thing has been about the vacation. “Other than the food,” Mommy added. This is the list Annie came up with:

  1. The food
  2. Eating stuff
  3. The playground
  4. The Bonk Beds
  5. The chocolate-honey granola bar that a stranger had given her in the airport

1 thought on “Day 4: Pupu Springs”

  1. Pingback: Ligar Bay: A Week in Paradise – Year in New Zealand

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