Motutapu and the fencer

On the way to the ferry I start feeling insecure. My backpack is heavy, it looks like rain. Should I really do this? Just go to the island and stay there overnight? As far as I know nobody lives there but I found out that there are 4 other bookings for the campsite tonight (I called the Department of Conservation). On the one hand it’s relieving, on the other hand – who knows who those people are? I and 4 freaks on an uninhabited island.

At least I chose my tent site carefully (the campsite is partitioned in small tent sites) and didn’t book the one called Sleepy Hollow (it’s a horror movie, isn’t it?!). I will stay at Nest & Fledglings – which is exactly how I feel. The campsite is at the East coast of Motutapu. As there is no ferry connection to the island (only Sundays every 2 weeks) I’ll take the ferry from Devonport to Rangitoto (uninhabited island as well) and hike from there to the campsite at Motutapu. I read that the two islands “are joined by a causeway” – whatever that means.

Not really knowing what to expect, that’s the exciting thing about travelling and it’s also the scary thing. I’m nervous even though it’s only a little island in New Zealand about 10 km away from where I’m living now. Actually I can see Rangitoto from our living room (looks nice, it’s a volcanic island, pretty bushy from afar) but I can’t see Motutapu because it’s the island behind.  I wish I could reawaken my old travel spirit but I don’t know how. People smile at me while I’m walking towards the ferry station like they want to encourage me. They like travellers here. Except for the ferry ticket seller at the wharf in Devonport.

-Sorry, we’re sold out.
-But I called in advance and was told there are plenty left.
-Ah well, sorry. We’re sold out.
-Hm. It’s just me and can make myself very small. (smile)
-Yeah… nah. Really sorry. Sold out. (no smile)
-Mh. Okay, when does the next ferry leave?
-This afternoon.

I’m… annoyed. It means I might not have enough time for the hike (what do I do then, walk with my torch?) and it means that I need to go to the city first because the afternoon ferries to Rangitoto leave only from there (and all together it’ll cost $41 now). Maybe I should just go back home, but I’m too stubborn to give up.

On the ferry to the city I go on deck like always. There’s a young Chinese family trying to take selfies. I take a picture of them and they get so excited about it that afterwards I get a high five or actually a high… fist* from a stranger sitting on a bench nearby. He looks like a homeless magus. Felted raven black hair, dirty overalls, sun-baked skin and eyes which know about other worlds. He reminds me of Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty, just dirtier and oh lord, he’s so attractive. It’s a long time ago I met someone with such an aura.** He is reading a book, I’m just watching him. When we arrive 10 minutes later in Auckland city I’m alright with everything that will happen on the island.

I get lunch to take away at a restaurant and sit down on a bench at the wharf waiting for the ferry to Rangitoto. A few meters away there’s a guy my age failing at skateboarding. It’s strange, he seems to be so self-confident, tries his tricks again and again and fails all the time. I’m kinda impressed. He’s a beard- baseball cap- hipsterguy. Later on in the ferry queue he’s standing right behind me.

-Stayin’ overnight, aye?
-Ehh… what?
-You’re stayin’ overnight? Motutapu?
He nods in the direction of my backpack, my tent is sticking out of the big pocket.
-Ah, oh, yes.
-Beauuutiful island, aye? Moved there 2 weeks ago.
-What, you live there?
-Yeah, cool, aye? Got work as a fencer. You need a ride to the campsite? Have a vehicle waiting at Rangitoto.
-Thanks, but I want to walk.
-Oh, yeah, long walk, aye.

It’s very, very hard to understand him. He has the weirdest accent I’ve ever heard. I first think it’s Australian but later it turns out that’s actually Kiwi. Really rural Kiwi. He hitchhiked through the whole of New Zealand for two years. I’m almost tempted to ask him And you weren’t scared?! which is the question we all get asked but then I just smile and keep quiet. “…People invited me to their homes, gave me food and all that and one day I was really lost but then…” It’s the kind of story I usually tell, it feels nice being the listener and looking at his happy face.

We sit next to each other on the ferry deck watching Rangitoto coming closer. It’s windy and shaky and I can smell the salty sea. Hey mystical island, I’m on my way. This skating fencer and his ride offer, that’s a sign, isn’t it? Hiking could take too long. But the plan was: I want to learn English (tricky language…), I want to overcome fears (also tricky), I want to walk slowly (with springy energy though) by lifting and setting down each foot in turn (sounds feasible). More time by and with myself in nature would be good. That’s where the fears show up. But then I’ve also learned that it’s good to accept offers.*** What would the auratic magus want me to do?

-Ehm, you said you have a car at Rangitoto?
-Yeah, wouldn’t call it a car though.
-So… what is it?
-Just wait. You’ll see.
He laughs.

When we arrive at the wharf I follow him and realise people are looking at us. He speaks loud, his gestures are big and he explains me (and all the other tourists who are listening) what we see.
-See that pool here? – He nods to an empty concrete pool directly by the sea – Historic swimming bath. Fills with water when’s high tide. Built 100 years ago.**** Cool, aye?

The tourists are taking pictures. We go around the corner and under a tree there’s the non-car waiting. It’s… definitely not a car. It is square shaped, has 4 small wheels, an incredibly dirty plastic front, two seats with a roof, no doors and an open space for the backpacks in the back. The fencer makes an English gentleman-like welcoming gesture and says:
-Take a seat.
He passes me some big ear muffs.
-Take’em, will be loud. And say hello to Barbara.
He nods to the back. I turn and look directly in the black eye holes of a sheep skull fixed on a pole behind the seats.

Then he starts the engine. Ear-piercing noise. With one hand he steers and with the other one he is holding a handle in the middle front. We’re more shaking than driving on the gravel road. I get a private sightseeing tour around Rangitoto which is New Zealand’s youngest volcano and about 600 years old. It consists of dark lava rocks and reminds me of the Spanish island Lanzarote. Rangitoto is Maori language, Rangi means sky and toto means blood. There was a human footpring found in ash (here you can see a picture of it) from the time the vulcano errupted.

After a while we pass “THE SMALLEST BRIDGE BETWEEN TWO ISLANDS I GUESS.” (the fencer shouts in my ear muff covered ear). Then we’re at Motutapu and there’s immediately a landscape change. Green hills. Motutapu is New Zealand’s oldest landmass. I learn that it’s not total uninhabited, a handful of people are living here and a few hundred sheep and cows. Hill up, hill down, we’re shaking around and I try to take a picture for my father who likes strange old vehicles but I fail and laugh and have the best non-hike I can imagine.

Motutapu vehicle.JPG

The campsite is like a lot of campsites in New Zealand – effectively invisible. All I can see is grass, a couple of trees, a beach, and the sea. The fencer discovers a toilet and changing shelter on the right hand side. There’s no electricity but several taps, which is very good because I wasn’t totally sure if there’d be water. You need to boil or treat it but that’s fine.
-Want a beer? The fencer asks and takes two beers out of his backpack. He went grocery shopping in Auckland as there are no shops on the island (two eggs got broken during the not-car ride).

Then a desperate tourist couple coming down the hill asks for help. They thought there’d be a ferry going to Auckland from here. The fencer shake-drives them back to Rangitoto to catch the last ferry there (without the eggs, I took them out) and I walk around on the grass to check out the best place for my tent. It must be a good place, in case I stay here by myself. It’s pretty unlikely that there’ll arrive more people, isn’t it? We would have passed them with the non-car I guess. I set the tent up between two trees and ask them to protect me tonight. (At the header picture you can see a white dot between the trees in the middle. Thats my tent.)

As the fencer gets back, we drink the beers and go for an evening walk up the hill, he shows me eatable plants, we say hello to the sheep and cows and he tells me about his past which is the opposite of mine. Radical, dangerous, violent. He shows me creepy bunkers from World War II and we’re both glad about not being alone in them. In the twilight we walk back down on a beautiful forest track. At the campsite are a few other tents now. It’s a mid-twenties adventure guide girl with a bunch of teenagers who invites me to have dinner together and an older man with another bunch of teenagers. Apparently there are different tracks leading to the campsite.

It gets quickly and also very dark. The fencer and I get closer and watch the Milky Way together. I show him the Southern Cross, Scorpion and Mars. He shows me his constellation app and I’m stumbling around with his phone in the total darkness, discovering constellations, completely amazed. Seeing the Milky Way makes me feel so small and unimportant. I’m a grain of dust in this universe. Together with the grain next to me we share a long, warm goodnight hug.

He leaves and I walk over to the other tents with my cooker and food. I’m sitting on the grass with the adventure guide girl, sharing some stories and laughter and trying to keep warm in the freezing cold. I’m so glad I brought my beanie and the hot water bottle I can prepare with the camping cooker. The girl walked the Te Araroa hike which means she hiked through the whole country and I’m deeply impressed.
-Do it! she says, it’s amazing. If you have any questions just ask me. I’ll give you my number.

The fencer fed my adventurous travel soul and she encourages my hiking desires. When I go to sleep I realise I haven’t spent a minute by myself today but it was all perfect.

* In German it’s known as Ghetto fist. In English it seems to be called a fist bump and there’s even an article about it’s history on the occacion of Barack and Michelle Obama bumping fists in 2008.

** I think I met twice someone with such an aura. The first one was an ageless woman in a Yoga meditation centre in Germany’s Allgäu region. I felt at the same time attracted to and scared of her. I had the impression she could look through all my masks and covers directly to my insecure core. The other one was Mykola. I met Mykola in a hostel room in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Long greasy hair, black clothes, barefoot, not talking to anyone. It was my first and his last day in the land of the angry winds° and somehow°° we ended up making a ritual on a holy place on a hill.

° That’s not my expression. It’s from Galsan Tschinag, a Mongolian shaman I met in Ulaanbaatar one year after I met Mykola.

°° After trying a few languages I found out that we both speak Spanish and Mykola said: “Voy a despedirme al espíritu” and I – for whatever reason – said: “Puedo acompañarte?”. Later in the evening it turned out that Mykola was a shaman apprentice.

*** That was in Tübingen, Germany in the improvisation theatre class. Trust yourself and accept all offers. That’s the big rule and then everything flows. (The classes are free for University students. I got a social phobia attack every Tuesday but most of the time I went there anyway and I learned a lot about being scared, being brave and happy failing. Go there if you get the chance:

**** You can see a picture of it from 1935 here. Today it looks like this:

Motutapu Pool



Singalong at Muriwai


/ I can’t get no, oh no no no / It flows into my lungs, it opens my chest, swooshes up into my mouth, my voice, I’m screaming. / HEY HEY HEY / It’s my energy and it’s pulsing throughout my body. I can’t hear myself. The music in my ears is loud but the wind is so much louder. It takes my voice and everything with it along the beach over the dunes to the interior land.

I’m running. My feet sink into the fine black sand and it’s hard to lift them again and again while sing-screaming, headshaking. It feels like… freedom. I know that feeling. Where do I know it from? / ‘Cause I try /

/ And I try /
/ And I try /
/ And I try /

From when I learnt to swim! My student fellow M. taught me. Every Tuesday we met at the public swimming pool and every Tuesday I thought I would never learn it. There was not enough oxygen in my lungs*, not enough strength in my arms – until I suddenly got it, I suddenly could swim! It was one flow, my breathing, my body, the water.

For test purposes I stretch out my arms and crawl through the air. Yes, maybe I felt like that last year in a little public swimming pool in Northern Germany. I keep crawling. The wind is sharp and playing with me, tiny creature on this endless beach. Tiny, tiny, wind, wind. Mongolia! I know this freedom from Mongolia as well!

It was when I travelled for the first time by myself. I followed my heart until I ended up with six strangers somewhere in the steppe on the way to the Gobi desert. Everyone was sleeping and I couldn’t – so much noise, so much wind pulling at the tents. I got up, went outside and in the light of the Milky Way I saw wild camels, goats, grass stubbles. They all were ducking down to protect themselves. I ducked down as well. I felt the cold wind on my naked feet, my fingers, eyebrows, and especially sharp in my nostrils. Hello, wind, I said. And the wind answered with all it’s power.**

/ SA-TIS-FAC-TION / It’s a prickling tickling feeling. I’m barefoot now, too. I’m running, crawling, sing-screaming here on a New Zealand winter beach because of my colleague Annika. She texted me a few hours ago.

Hey, I think I’d like to go to singalong beach soon. How about you? I’d like to hang out there, read and maybe later go running. 09:35

*Muriwai 09:36

I needed some time to understand that singalong beach was an autocorrect mistake. Muriwai, I had no idea where that was. Annika picked me up and told me we’re going to Aucklands west coast. When we arrived at the car park it was already so windy that I struggled to open the  door. Out of the car, a cold breeze hit us so we got in again and put more clothes on, beanies, scarfs, winter jackets. As we left the car the second time three girls about 10 years old arrived from the beach. Barefoot, in swimsuits, totally wet hurrying laughing to the changing rooms. Annika and I looked at each other and I could see that she thought the same I did: Kiwis. Maniacs.

Annika was a little maniac as well though. She really wanted to go running, took huge headphones out of her bag, put loud music on and took her shoes and socks off. I couldn’t join her (to be honest, I wasn’t that sad about it), my neck was still suffering from the concussion a few weeks ago. So I sat down at a wind protected place on the dunes and started writing a postcard which somehow turned into a letter. Annika returned with rosy cheeks, smiling from ear to ear.

-How was it?
-Wonderful! Very hard to get back against the wind. But I was singing so loud, I almost screamed.
-Really? As loud as you could?
-Not as loud as I could but very loud.
-Wow. And it wasn’t cold?
-No, with all the moving it was alright.

I looked at her, this satisfying smile and then I said: You know what? I go as well.
We were both a bit surprised, Annika grinned, passed me her jacket which was more comfy than mine, sat down where I was sitting, jumped up again.
– Wait! Don’t look!
She took her mp3 player out of the jacket pocket, put a song on, put the headphones onto my beanie, smiled and shouted: have fun!

/ I can’t get no satisfaction / I can’t get no satisfaction / Instantly slaphappy I jumped over the dunes down to the beach and returned only a minute later to take off my shoes and socks, threw them to Annika and left again.

My neck doesn’t hurt, in contrast, it starts to release. The wind – more accurate to call it a storm now – and I, we dance together. The sand is whirling around, my hair, the jacket and skirt – everything blows and puffs. In the distance I can see two kite surfers, one is in the waves, over the waves, meters high over the waves, flying around there like a doll, the other one is standing on the beach looking at him and then – like he had heard me – turning around and looking at me. I know that I look like an idiot but – second surprise – I don’t care. I get closer and closer, pass and have the whole endless beach for myself again.

 / HEY HEY HEY, that’s what I say /

On the way back I go over to the kite surfer at the beach. I take the headphones off but have no plan what to say. He has green cat eyes. We look at each other insanely smiling and then he asks: How was your run slash walk slash dance?
-Wonderful! This wind!
We watch the other kite surfer in the water.
-Such freedom.
-Oh yes.

They’re both from Auckland as well, we chat a bit but mostly we are smiling. I already can feel a tension in the corners of my mouth when he finally says he needs to go and help his friend out of the water.
-Goodbye Katinka, was very nice meeting you. Katinka, right?
-Right. What’s your name again?
He mumbles something I cannot understand, probably a weird Kiwi name.
-How do you spell that?
-W – E – R – N – E – R. It’s German!
-What, really? Your name is Werner?

That’s very German indeed. We wave goodbye and then I continue with my run slash walk slash dance. I get lost on the dunes twice and find Annika back in the car, she got cold and I was away for ages. On the way back she spontaneously decides that I need to see the Bethells hiking track, now. We drive uphill for a while and stop at the track entrance where I can already hear the water slapping against the rocks below us. The sun sets, golden hour, we are glowing. Nobody is here, just Annika and I and nature.

Back home there is fine black sand everywhere, in my socks, tights and skirt, the beanie, hood, everything. My flatmate asks where I have been and I take my phone to look at Annikas message because I’ve forgotten the name. Ah yes. Singalong beach.

* When I was 12 a doctor told me that my tidal volume was too small and I remembered his words while wheezing and panicking in the water.°

° Fun fact: One night when I was in Russia (that was before I entered Mongolia) or well, rather in the sky above Russia (Siberia to be exact) on a small plane (there was just a handfull people on it) the person sitting next to me, a strange old man with long hair and big goggle eyes behind his glasses (he squinted terribly, I never knew what he was looking at), read from my palm without being asked, and the first thing he said in that overall surreal situation was: When you were 12 you stopped breathing propperly.

** In Mongolia everything has a spirit, the mountains, the wind, the rivers, … I didn’t know what that meant until I met them.

Closer together // up north

Lighthouse Cape Reinga


End of July.
– Thanks for driving me home again.
– No problem, I like driving around with you.
– I like that, too. I even like the traffic jams. (Yeah… that’s a statement.)
– What about a round trip then?
– Oh yeah! Can we go up north? And just leave as we would start tonight?
– You mean without any planning in advance?
– Yes, please! (His previous travels have been planned in every detail, I know that, but I smile the big smile and then he says:)
– Mmh… Okay.

— — —

Mid of August.
– Heyho, do you know the 36 questions to fall in love?
– No, what’s that?
– It was an experiment of a social psychology researcher team.* They paired up participants and had them ask each other 36 questions. It turned out that the questions make two people feel better about each other and bring them closer together.
– What kind of questions are they?
– I don’t know. I haven’t tried it before. But I’d be interested in how it is.
(And also: Going on holiday with someone I don’t know well is not what I do very often.** So why not get to know him better during the trip?)

— — —

End of August.
Auckland. Weather forecast for the next days: heavy rain. Current situation: sun and excitement. Up north!
– Ready?
– Ready.
– Question 1! Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
– Omar Rodriguez.
– Who’s that? And why?
– My favourite musician. He makes a lot of different and weird music. He released about twenty albums in one year recently and also makes films. He obviously just lives to be creative. How about you?
– (Oh, a musician, interesting!) My favourite sociologist, Ulrich Oevermann. From him I’ve learned how our language – what we say but especially how we speak – and subconscious patterns of our way of thinking and behaviour is connected with each other. He’s a mastermind.

3.5 hours and 5 questions later we arrive in Paihia. Parking near the beach, sitting on a bench, it smells like holiday: sea, fish and something fried. Here we’re gonna stay! Only where exactly, that’s the question. As he’s not used to that situation I probably should undertake this:
– I check hostels, you check motels, either 3 places, 10 minutes time, then we’ll decide and it will be fine. Okay?
We take our phones (I’m still against smart phones but in some cases they actually make life easier), he suggests a motel around the corner, we go there and – bingo:
– I’ll give you the bigger room with two queen-size beds for the price of one. Okay?
– Okay!
Pasta for dinner, early sleep for him, full moon supported mid night walk for me (I warned him that I’ll need some time for myself every day, otherwise I’ll go nuts – So far all good.)

Tuesday, hasty porridge (we’re both not morning persons), walk along the beach, decision about today: Russell. Bumpy road. He is worried about his car but the universe just wants to give us enough time for the tricky questions. I have a headache (oh, that concussion…) but the universe just wants us to make a stopover where I disappear for 15 min in the forest and return with good energy and without pain. In Russell, pistachio picnic at the sea, surrounded by hungry birds. Visit of the oldest church in New Zealand. (First surprise: It’s only the fourth church he has ever been inside, second surprise: even the churches here are made from wood, crazy country.)

Hungry Birds, Russell
Hungry Birds, Russell
Russell Church
Christ Church, Russell

Next decision needs to be taken: Where to stay tonight? Maybe Kaitaia? Lonely planet says:

Nobody comes to the Far North to hang out in this provincial town

– Let’s go there then?
– Yes.
(We seem to be a good decision taking team.) On the car ferry back to Paihia we get closer (9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?). And then, at question 11, very close (play the game to find out why). Stop at the motel from yesterday night, a hug for the office lady (such a cute smile) and a spoon and knife for me (I’d forgotten them and I’m very happy about the reunion).

Arriving in Kaitaia the motel lady kindly tells us about dinner options in this lovely provincial town – McDonald’s, KFC or a Steakhouse. Well. We find a Kebab shop which reminds me of Istanbul, feels cozy. Before sleeping we listen to crazy rain outside imagining it’s the loud, loud ocean.

Wednesday, wake up with no pain (yay!). Breakfast in an accidentally discovered café. Talks about happy shitting (important travel topic. I’ve only recently learned the term Glückswurst (literally sausage of luck; in English apparently called a no wiper, also known as ghost poop (links to Urban Dictionary).)*** The breakfast tastes great (I have something with avocado), the kitchen guys are singing out loud, with Country Roads I join them (just humming, I don’t want to scare him away).
– You know what? I’m feeling very appreciative of life today.
– Country rooooooaaads, take me hoooooooome.
Kaitaia up north, sun, sun, T-shirt weather. Cows, cows, sheep!

Wee-wee stop with sheep

And then, there it is. Cape Reinga. The end of the road, the place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in big swirly waves. At the tip of the Cape is an old (800 years they say) pohutukawa tree. According to Maori history, after death all Māori spirits travel to the tree and from there into the ocean/underworld (reinga) – by sliding down a root into the sea. They travel underwater to the Three Kings Island where they climb to the highest point, say goodbye and then return to the land of their ancestors.

In our back is the famous lighthouse (built in 1941, looks fresh like wet paint), we lie on the grass, watch the waves, listen to the loud, loud Ocean. I’m wearing no socks! No shoes either. Feels like I’m a real kiwi summer.

Cape Reinga view
Cape Reinga

It gets colder, we get hungry (thankfully I packed some emergency bananas, bars and carrots). On the way back south, I book accommodation by following my intuition. We’re somewhere at the west coast at Ninety Mile Beach, it’s already dark, the sea to the right, a few houses to the left, it must be somewhere here.
– What was it called again?
– Hmm… I don’t remember.
– Something like… Always Saturday?
Then we see the sign: ENDLESS SUMMER.
The question which rules the whole dinner conversation (Indian, I rediscover my buzz on spinach and cottage cheese) is 19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? (We both would change something and I’m quite surprised about what I’d change. I’d meditate more). Before falling asleep we’re listening to the loud, loud ocean (also good start for a change).

– What do you want to do today?
– Relax.
– Great, me too!
– So we’ll stay for another night?
– Yes!

Endless summer
Endless Summer, 90 Mile Beach

He is sitting in the garden and reading a book, I walk across the street and say hello to the sea. We both get a bit sun burnt. Later – hot chips on the dunes.

Friday, goodbye-day. Lack of sleep, headache again, rain, sun, rain, sun.
– We are both in this car feeling worn out.
– Ohh yeah. And we both have had a very nice trip I think.
– Both of us like direct and honest communication.
– Both of us enjoy spending time with ourselves.
– We learn a lot from each other.
– We like each other.
(25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”). Later lots of laughter (29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life).

With arriving back home we’d driven 990 km and just finished answering the 36th question.

— — —

* The idea is that mutual vulnerability supports closeness. “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Arthur Aron et al. (alliterations rule). 1997. The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness. A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings. In PSPB. (23), 4 p. 363-377. Download the scientific article here. You can try these questions with a stranger, a date, friends, family members or long-term partners.

** I did that once. 2012 I hitchhiked with half a stranger (I met him on couchsurfing, he was my host for a weekend) from Freiburg, Germany to Porto, Portugal for 2 weeks. It was my first hitchhiking experience, my first real camping experience as well. Very intense, very important for all of my future journeys. It was the basis – also for the current adventure here in New Zealand. (Thank you, Jakob! Thank you brave younger part of myself!)
Oh and wait!, also important: 2015 I went spontaneously (“Hey, nice to see you! What’s up, what are your plans for summer?” – “I don’t know, I took off work next week, no plans yet. You?” – “Oh… well, I’ll go to Greece with friends next week – pause – Ehh, you could join us maybe.”) for a sailing trip with an old friend and 5 guys I didn’t know. One week in a nutshell (in my opinion at least), I couldn’t swim that time, I feared the sea and it was: very intense, very important, basis for the following brave things I’ve done.

*** The introvert shit in contrast is a bit annoying and what you don’t want to have is the adamantine shit or the – in Germany well-known – beer shit. There are some shits you usually never get at home but everywhere else like the cork shit (also known as the swimmer, impossible to flush). More information (in German) here in the urbandictionary. The Bristol stool scale (Wikipedia link) also explains the different types of shit – in a slightly more serious way (it’s a diagnostic medical tool).
For those with deeper interest in that matter I highly recommend the (popular science) book Darm mit Charme (literally Charming Bowels, English version: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ) by medicine student Giulia Enders. It’s a book “about defecation, constipation and other bowel movements, but its message is far from flippant: our gastrointestinal tract is not only the body’s most under-appreciated organ, but ,the brain’s most important adviser'” (Review in the Guardian).