Monday, November 28, 2005

Southern hospitality

Spent the last couple days in Dunedin, second city of New Zealand located in the south east of the South Island. New Zealand has some of the damndest weather in the world I'll tell ya. Staying comfortable is impossible unless you are willing to throw on and off layers every 30 seconds all day long. One moment it's sunny, then windy, then rainy, then sunny and rainy at the same time (quite a favorite of the NZ climate) then every once in a long while you get a brief spell of fine weather as they call it when trying to predict the weather forecast which they do much worse a job of here than back home.

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I met an Italian guy by the name of Michelangelo at this Hostel with some very friendly staff. We ate out at a fancy Italian restaurant where Christmas music played in the background sung by Italians. Michelangelo kept saying how much he missed his food back home and cannot even cook himself a proper Italian meal because the authentic ingredients cannot be gotten in New Zealand. While I enjoyed my mushroom sauce pasta very much, he complained his was not nearly up to snuff.

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When one of the managers of the hostel overheard Michelangelo and I bemoaning the cost of renting a car she offered to lend us her car for the day, hence the title of this blog. People in New Zealand never cease to amaze me. So we drove around the scenic and wildlife abundant Otago Peninsula seeking out sea lions, penguins and albatross. These are the same birds that Shackleton saw in Antarctica in "Endurance" and a very small, windy tip of the Otago Peninsula is supposedly the only place in the world where you can see them. Watching them whirl around above me while the wind relentlessly whailed against the mountain cliff was quite an awe inspiring experience. Other seabirds would play in the wind letting themselves nearly get smashed against the cliff before managing to swoop up again. (of which I wasn't able to get a decent picture.)

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Curious fur seal looks at me inquisitively.
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Sealion comes ashore
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Yellow Eyed penguin waddles up the beach to its nesting site.
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Blue Penguins up close and personal.
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We finished our day waiting with about 30 other people for the blue penguins to come ashore at nightfall. The Department of Conservation (DOC) setup an area for close viewing of the penguins without disturbing their evening routine as they come ashore to return to their nesting sites. Dozens upon dozens of these little penguins waddled ashore in several groups of about 18 penguins. Unfortunately it was too dark to get pictures (flash photography damages their eyes.) They were the cutest things in the world tho, especially when they'd try to hop up these little steps.


ben said...

splendid my dear chap. you seem to be enjoying yourself royally and blending in nicely with the local flora and fauna as well.
NYC is ok but i've fallen extremely ill these past few days. some of the nastiest flu i've experienced since probably 15 years ago. as gio said, perhaps from inhaling the bum's feces who crapped all over the floor of the restaurant a few days ago.
very much missing my exercise regimen and the gym, and i'm totally withering away. have slept more or less straight through since sunday now, but am starting to come out of the haze, walking around in befuddlement, curiously sniffing food, etc...

glad to see things are well. always fun seeing the pics.
take care comrade,

pregnant momma said...

Root, as Ben said you seem to be settling in and finding your way around quite nicely. Happy that you are able to drive the country side and stop for the seals and albatrose. Again a big wow. I love you and it's great to have updates so often!!! Love Illona

Daniel Schmolze said...

Great stuff my man. Glad to see you're meeting people and staying busy. Any thoughts about things to do in the next two months? Life continues to plod along here, although I think I have a job writing software in Lenox. Other than that, I'm just waiting for interviews (I have 4 so far, so at least I'm beating last year).

Que le vaya bien,

The Intrepid Dr. Root said...

Yeah, it's crazy that I still have two months here after seeing and doing so much already. No plan yet, there are still quite a few things I want to do that I haven't. One is Mount Cook, the tallest peak in NZ which, I believe, you can attempt to climb in a similar fashion that you did in Ecuador Ben. I'm tempted. Also, still haven't swum with Dolphins or done a whale watch or sledging, which is white water rapids on a boogie board and then there's the rest of the North Island I am saving for summertime, the highlight of which will be learning how to surf. Of course there's always doing another sky dive over glaciers after doing the Tranz Alpine scenic train ride that goes across the country and is supposedly very scenic. So, yeah, still plenty to see and do! And I still haven't gotten the proper adventure I was seeking when I decided to come here. New Zealand is very tame and safe; not like Peru. Been hitchhiking the last couple days which is fun and am continually delighted by the friendliness of Kiwis. For instance, the guy that picked me up today bought me a coffee and offered me a WOOFFing opportunity as he just recently started it with his wife where I'd get free room and board for four hours of farm labour a day, organic farming, feeding horses and his wife has a monarch butterfly "colony" or whatever you call it so that could be a nice way to kill some time. We shall see... we shall see where things take me. It's nice to not be doing the tourist thing anymore and more discovering New Zealand on my own in a more ad hoc basis. Will have another update soon. Thanks guys for tuning in so often and taking interest in my galavantings. What's the weather been like back home? Any snow yet? Do tell me of things back home. :)