Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Beginnings End

We have to take a decision: are we going South, to Stewart Island, a birds’ haven, or East, to Dunedin, more Scottish than the original? You see, the weather here is wonderful if you see the blue sky, but if it rains, is cold, and humid, and the wind can move your whole van, not a pleasant experience. After ten days of continuous spectacular views we’re getting tired. And the roads, and the driving, and we didn’t see our children in ages, because they’re in the back.  
Dunedin Wins!

We’ll spend two nights here, because we need to recuperate. It is not easy to travel, even in an RV. What have we here?

Otago Peninsula is a place to see yellow eyed penguins, blue penguins (the smallest one in the world) and the nesting grounds of one specie of albatrosses. There is one way to get there, and that’s the scenic road: stone on the right side, sea on the left. The lane is literally two feet away from the waves. 

Mihai is driving, but I am in MY normal driving position, so I push an invisible break every time I feel in danger. The Milford Road was a piece of cake compared with this one; you can’t drive with your wheels in a straight position, it is curve, after curve, after curve!

Low tide with little sand castles

Breathing holes for clams

At the end of the road we take a vote and no one wants to see the penguins. There are many factors that count, one of them being that people scare them and if they feel threatened they will not return here for breeding, with its consequences.

 We chose to visit the Royal Albatross Centre 

This picture is from Canterbury Museum, but I put it here so you can see how big is an albatross. When it opens its wings, it is taller than a human.

where we read the information about their habits and different species, and long line fishing. Albatrosses fly daily huge distances, something between 500 and 1000 km. They catch their fish at the surface. Long line fishing uses baited hooks attached to a long line and it takes a while until it sinks. This is the window in which albatrosses try to eat the bait, but they are hooked and sinked. Did you come across “Albatross Friendly” in the fish market? That fish was caught with baited hooks that in a way or another did not hurt the albatross.
We chose to see the albatrosses from the cliff. 


And then back to the campgrounds. I am the copilot, and I don’t like cities, especially when I don’t have all the streets on my map. I would have gone back on the road that I came. Mihai has an internal compass that takes him exactly where he wants, without looking on a map. So he chose High Street. What do you know about Dunedin, New Zealand? It has hills and valleys. Does the name High tells you something? Yeeeees, it goes up. 

The small cars didn’t have a problem going on it, but our Big Bear went slowly out of steam, and had to crawl in the first gear. Stress from blocking the circulation, stress from what if we damage the car, hey, how about ourselves? Stress from crushing everything on our way back to the bottom of the hill! Stress! I prayed!
As you read these lines, you understand that we survived and the car is doing fine.
The day we leave, we visit Dunedin.

 It is St. Patrick’s Day and everywhere is green. They’re preparing for a feast day. 

And the last thing was to go look at the steepest street in the world, in a 38 degree. It is paved (how did they do it?) and it is used in February for a bicycle race going downhill and somewhere in March for a Gutbuster race, uphill this time. 

This is our next stop. There are some caves with Maori rock paintings but we couldn’t make it. We’re in survival mode: eat, sleep, and don’t move. 
Back where we started. Last night in the campgrounds, happy that we don’t have to do it again, for a while at least, until Australia. We clean the van, pack our bags, recycle, leave the surplus food in the kitchen for somebody else to pick up.
We drive to the Hagley Park and leave Big Bear in a parking lot. We cross the whole length of the Botanical Gardens and enjoy its wet look.

 We want to visit the Canterbury Museum for its Maori section. The first surprise: it’s free. The second: time flies. I know that we could move into museums, but this was an interesting and very well organized one.

Panels from a house

Basket made of bark and on the left, a bird pouch, made from the bird's skin, in which they preserved the meat cooked in its own fat.

Long coat made of kiwi feathers

It surprised me to find out that slander was present even here. In the Chatham Islands lived the Moriori and they were slandered at the end of 19th century, by the whites and Maori all the same, saying that they were an inferior race, not of Polynesian roots. Even now there are people who believe this idea, and the museum is fighting it with this exhibit and public apologies.

I wanted to know more about Maori, but it was not possible. The one place where they had a village, I think a touristic one, didn’t have shows on Sundays. I’ve seen Maori people. They are tall, robust, beautiful in their way, existing in this western society. A woman from Utah was asking some friends “What about the Maori?” making a parallel with the Native Americans. I didn’t hear the answer. From what I’ve seen they are at home??? and proud to reclaim their heritage, customs and culture.
South Island New Zealand... such a variety of landscape in such a small place, so few people, so many sheep and deer... I’m happy that I had the chance to visit it and happy to leave. It impressed me in ways and lengths that I have yet to discover. One of them is the Maori saying:
“May the treasures of the land await the descendants yet to be born in Te Wahipounamu.”
Did you like the pictures? They were taken with Ileana I. in my mind. She gave us a generous donation just for photographs! If you would like to see them again, just click here and enjoy each and one of them.
See you, mate!
While an adolescent I saw in a Ion Dragan’s exhibit a painting of the sun’s rays through the tree’s leaves, made with just yellow and black. It was called “Friendship.” Thank you, Ileana!

1 comment:

  1. What a gorgeous picture of such a glorious tree! Thank you! ii


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