My feet will wander in distant lands, my heart drink its fill at strange fountains, until I forget all desires but the longing for home.
Keep in touch.
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2004-10-18 5:44 PM
Paihia and the Bay of Islands
An unexpected day to catch up on errands, before beginning my southward trek at last. About a week ago, I got the news that spring is finally coming to South Island. Kathie wrote, "The thistles are growing nicely and we are weeding; feel free to come weed as soon as you like." So I've left Kaitaia, catching the tour bus back to Paihia. I couldn't resist staying here (Paihia) a few days to enjoy the famous scenery (which I skipped before because of the rain).
I was planning to start off today, but the Magic Bus back to Auckland turns out not to run on Mondays. I've booked it for Tuesday, and meanwhile I've repacked, planning to store about a third of my gear with some new friends in Auckland. (Business partners/friends of the family I stayed with in Kaitaia). After a month of kicking my heels, I'm going to travel flat-out after all.
I suppose I could have gone on Sunday, but I don't regret being ignorant of the timing.
Sunday, the first really sunny day here in ages, I had a glorious day on a sailing ship. We had a leisurely, exhilarating tour through the Bay of Islands, which is like a few hundred miles of the nicest coastline you could imagine, chopped up into little islands so it would fit into one bay.
This trip, we were four passengers and four crew, on a two-masted "Tall Ship" that can hold up to 46 at the peak of the season. (I forget the length; maybe 87 feet?) So we got to stretch out, play with the ropes, climb the rigging, get personally acquainted with not only the other passengers, but individual crew members as well, and generally luxuriate.
We took a few pictures, which I'll post presently, but you can't really photograph most of the experience. For example, the softness of the sand and grass on the island where we stopped mid-morning for a break; the taste of scones with intense cherry jam hiding under piles of cream; the subsequent fresh salad and enormous wedges of soft bread with lunch. And few cameras can capture the effect of climbing into the rigging, and seeing the waves flowing past. It is like flying: everything smoothly gliding underneath you; the exhilaration of being up high, physically active, and dependent on your own awareness for safety; and a fully three-dimensional perspective on the landscape and air around you.
Fellow passengers included Marie, with a lovely Irish lilt to her voice, who had spontaneously interrupted her tour of Australia to come here for a short visit with Australian Mac. Mac regaled us with tall tales and anecdotes from his time in the Special Forces; a master spinner of yarns, he kept us entertained whenever opportunity arose. Based on later conversation, I would say that his ability to tell tales was honed in sales; but that his subject matter was largely genuine knowledge.
Afterwards, I visited some local hot springs, courtesy of a genuine local -- a shopkeeper who very generously invited me for dinner two weeks ago when I was through, and offered to show me around again now that I'm back in town. It's the first such offer I've accepted, and has turned out well.
I'm gathering more and more friends, both Kiwi and foreign, as I travel. As yet, they're scattered -- which suits me, since I can visit them as I scamper up and down the country. I no longer doubt that I'll find friends wherever I settle for summer, as well. If I'm ever among incompatible people, I'll also have confident hope of finding better companions nearby.
Since I post pictures more rarely than journal entries, there will probably be a consistent lag. I may move pictures to their matching entries eventually, but for now, here's a quick link to the pictures I've uploaded so far.
The Big Tree, which is my favorite picture so far (umbrella unwittingly provided by a fellow passenger on the Northern Exposure bus); it's a giant ancient kaori tree, but if I remember correctly, it's not Tane Mahuta himself.
The other pictures are all jumbled together in my NZ folder online. You're welcome to peruse them if you like; it's mostly landscapes and trees, the sort of things I like to draw.
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