Saturday, January 01, 2011

Men on the Run

You would think we were fugitives from justice the way we move around. Having to get a taxi at 7am to go anywhere is unseemly, but we needed to get to the ferry station. Saying farewell to the north island for awhile, we are heading to the south island. Let me guess, you did not know that New Zealand was broken into 2 major islands. Come on admit you didn’t. I didn’t think about it until planning the trip, but yes, it is 2 major islands. Most of our time has been spent on the north island; now we are relocating for some southern comfort.

Once we left at 8:30am, our ferry ride lasted about 3 hours. The ferry is like many others we have used in the past to go from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin, Ireland or England to The Netherlands. All ferries are created equal with some just a bit more equal than others. Arriving in Picton, we had to transfer our bodies to the train station to continue our journey by rail. Our luggage was checked through to our final destination, a mid-way stopover to Christ Church. At the train station, a five minute walk from the ferry station, we were able to grab a bit at the Subway restaurant (another loose association). It is in the train station with few other options and time limitations making demands on us.

The train was cute, not seeming like a grown-up train. It was more like riding in a model railroad for oversized children. Not many people were in each car, but still there was limited leg room. Seating is two-two facing each other with a dividing table in the center. The scenery more than made up for any minimal discomfort. We passed huge pastures filled with dots of white fluff portraying the illusion that there were thousands of sheep. What, not an illusion, Ron says. Those were thousands of sheep. They dotted the greenery like bad case of white chicken pox. Then they were followed by fields of plain greenery with no stimulation. It was like saying to the senses, here is a mental sorbet to cleanse your mental palate before the next course. Ready, we are now bringing on the densely filled forest with trees lined up like green toy soldiers in straight lines up the hill. A lumberjack’s dream come true, there were millions of trees, evergreens mostly. Another grouping was lined up like chorus girls waiting to kick out their branches in unison. For our next course hold the salt, because this is salty enough. We give you vistas of the sea complete with seals dozing on rocks, tiny waves breaking over rocky beaches. There was literally something of visual interest for anyone’s delight.

When our train finally reached Kaikoura, we were not sure where to find the YHA. We are only here for one night. Ron thought this would break up the trip to Christ Church. Well, it turns out the YHA is about fifty miles away from the train station. Okay, not that many; it is 2 miles, but it might as well be fifty when you have luggage. The shuttle charged us NZ$8.00 for each of us. For gosh sakes if he were taking one of us there, he was going anyway, why another 8.00? What a rip. Once we arrived, it turned out they had no information on our connection tomorrow and we had to turn around and walk back to the iSite tourism office. The hostel lady said it was “only” a twenty minute walk. I have learned that when people give me approximate times, I need to multiple it by 12 and then take the square root of the product, and then align it with the retrograde of Jupiter when it is in alignment with Venus to get the real deal of how long this trip is going to take. Today, we only had thirty-five minutes before they closed, so there was no time to calculate, but run. We made it. Our bus comes at 4pm.

While in town, we decided to have a beer and I ordered some fries. The fries took so long, I needed a 2nd beer to wash them down. However, you need to know I am a light weight with alcohol. Two beers and I am drunk. By the end of the 2nd beer, I needed a Seeing Eye dog to get to the bathroom and the dog would have needed to help me once there too. When we left the bar, the whole purpose of wandering downtown was to go grocery shopping, but that memory was fading. I wandered into a different store first. Drunk or not, my instincts are to shop; that is how I am programmed. It was one of those stores where their primary products greeting you are fifty-six varieties of hand and skin lotions of different blends of fruits and herbs that most people have never before encountered in their life in any produce stand. I tried one, but like most of them they are so greasy, when I put my hands in my pockets, they slipped right out again. If had money in my hands at the time, it would have slipped out and I may have unintentionally bought something.

I was standing looking at other gizmos on a shelf still transfixed because of the toxicity of the beer. Either way, this young woman comes up behind me with barely a whisper saying “Excuse me.” Apparently, I was blocking the entire area for her to pass by me. If it were not for my superior hearing I would have ignored her request to get by entirely. With the influence of my imbibing shortly before, I looked at this twenty-something woman and said “Let me give you some advice while you are still young. Don’t be afraid to let your inner lioness pour out. Speak up, let yourself be heard. Stop your timid behavior or you will have people walking over you your entire life. Be self-assured. Be strong.” She looked at me momentarily with a blank stare, but then with an emotive effort she said “Get the hell out of my way you old drunk before I call the police on your sorry ass.” I must say this young woman was one of the quickest learners I have ever come across.

It was quite a trek back to the YHA after returning from town. They must have picked it up and moved it farther away than it had been. The wind picked up though transforming into a gale force. We had to fight the wind so hard as we walked back, it made me sober again. With the winds there was no case of wanderlust for us to be out and about again regardless of how tasty another beer would be. When we finally located the hostel again, there are no complaints about the view. It sits directly across from the ocean with mountains in the background – spectacular.
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