Thursday, April 30, 2009

Oh lord, I finally posted my pictures.

All the must see tourists sights outside Oamaru were ROCKS. Elephant rocks below and Moereki Boulders above. I nearly died with enthusiasm. As you can imagine.

The cows who tried to block us from getting away from the damned Elephant Rocks.

What happens when I can't sleep anymore. Sometimes I take pictures. Sometimes I try to pray the rosary to bore myself to sleep. Sometimes I get up and start to run around the block.

Here is Jun. Looking all professional.

In the deep south of Invercargill, the cars races horses on the beach.

Me, happy to be alive.

Here is what I got from the University of Auckland for working there last year. Such a handy gift for a nomad that I gave it to Jun that very same night. And he is actually using it!

Still hanging out in graveyards after all these years.

Olive, the 79 year old lady who moved to NZ in her 30's as a nurse, became an old man's darling and stayed in NZ forever. She gold sneakers on.

I never saw a damned kiwi.

Stewart Island.

Never wake a sleeping sea lion.

Jun and a nice Kiwi-Canadian man who helped us get past the sea lion.
Run, Jun, Run!

The bay that the sea lion was guarding.

Stewart Island.

I spy a ghost.

We DID see penguins. :) Score.

At one time, a family of 5 or more lived in here.

I liked this composition.

Me and the lighthouse at Acker's Point.
I used to have this same sign on my fence.
A little mud on the Raikura Track.
Raikura track was actually stairmaster in the forest.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sailing to Stewart Island

Invercargill (pop. 52,000) feels like Grand Forks, ND. It's flat, quiet and the streets are laid out on a grid system. The sky is big, the air is crisp and the people are kind. Jun, one of my former students, works in Invercargill at an practice with four optometrists. He is one of only three who moved to the south island. I showed up in town the other day and met him at his clinic before we headed off for lunch. We'd planned to wander to Stewart Island (pop. 5300) for the weekend. 

It seemed early when Jun and I took the ferry across this morning at the tender hour of 9:30AM. I really wanted to slept in when my alarm went off at 7AM. Jun picked me up and the two of us took a thirty minute drive from Invercargill to Bluff, the embarkation point for the one hour ferry ride, which was smooth sailing, free coffee and perfect blue skies. We couldn't have had a better day. 

We've landed at a small hostel on Stewart Island. Today we walked around the island and on the advice of a local woman, took a water taxi to Ulva Island, which is a predator-free bird sanctuary about five minutes away by boat- truly an enchanting place. We didn't see a kiwi bird, but did see a penguin and several other native birds. Tomorro Jun'll be going back to Invercargill and I'll head off on the Raikura Track for a couple days of tramping before heading back to the mainland. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

In the Deep South

Current locale: Invercargill.

New experience: Couch surfing. Will explain more later...

I walked around today and talked to people. It's quite cold here. I'm headed to Stewart Island on Saturday morning with a former student via ferry. I'll stay for about 5 days- do a three day two night hike staying in department of conservation huts and then return to the south island via plane. I have a bus to Dunedin on 29 April which cost me $2.29 total. They have these wacked cheap fares for one dollar plus tax if you get lucky on your booking. I did.

Everything's finalised for graduation May 8th. I have a reserved spot on stage, robes rented, etc. So I'm going to be faculty! I'm starting to really appreciate my profession again as I travel- the incidence of eye problems across the population is quite surprising- just talking to people I meet as I move through the world. I feel like my experience in optometry is useful and interesting. That is good.

I've arranged to work at a hostel in the far north Bay of Islands for the last section of my time in NZ- mid May to early June. I plan to fly to Brisbane and see Ursula afterward and then maybe Melbourne or Tazmania. Perhaps come home in August. I don't know.

I may not be in touch for a while, especially once I leave for Stewart Island, so if you don't hear from me until April 30th, don't be alarmed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taxi rides from the Safari Boys

Just a few more images of Oamaru...

I always wanted to be a girl scout but we lived too far from town in Minnesota. Perhaps then I would be able to survive better in the world. Aw, no time for regrets. Life no infinito.
Praise the lord for shopping! Amen! Amen! I didn't go in.
I tried to go in here to get Holy, but it was closed. Shucks.
Anchors away! I'd put this in my front yard if I could bring it home with me. If I had a yard. If I wasn't homeless and unemployed. Guess I'm not ready to be anchored just yet.
Mmm. What a nice door.
There's an art gallery on the third floor here. In fact almost all the art galleries are on the third floor in this town. The artists and patrons must be the fittest in the world.
Introducing... the Safari Boys. AKA Bevan and Brian, a couple local Oamaru chaps who we met at the Phoenix Foundation concert. Incidentally, The Phoenix Foundation crashed at our backpackers last night, so we had breakfast in our PJs with them. Pretty good concert- they have quite a varied repertoire- slightly reminiscent of Radiohead only less depressed. They are quite the hot ticket in New Zealand and played for us at the Penguin Club, which only holds 120 patrons. If you're feeling naughty and bored, you can slip out the back door and look for penguins to photograph. I didn't. But I will.
Sylvia, a fellow Wwoofer from Singapore with typical Asian pose. Heheh. Just kidding. No serious.
Brian in his typical Oamaru pose.
Me trying to blend in. The real crapper was outside next to the dumpster. Not as nice, but more private at least.
Having a good time in the Retro Funk store after midnight. Listening to Phoenix Foundation tunes (how could we not?) with the Safari Boys. I tried to bring the fake fur coat home with me for the night, but it had to stay in the store. Sad. Very.
The taxi ride home. Safety all the way with lights and flags and, whoops, no helmets! But seeing as there's only 13,000 people in Oamaru, not too many cars had to be avoided.
By the way, I was taking these photos while riding on the back of the other taxi bike. No one died. Sylvia took the photo at the beginning of the blog. One has to be very steady-handed.
Just for kicks, here's the horoscope from yesterday- the day of the aforementioned events:
April 19, 2009: Your modesty isn't going to do you any good, so ditch it today and step into the spotlight! Get yourself noticed, and you'll inject your mood with brightness and sass. If you have been feeling blue, today is the perfect time to turn that mood around -- all you need to do is make eye contact with that cutie and they'll be falling all over themselves to sit next to you. You are projecting an irresistible energy and you need to learn how to start wielding it more effectively.
Oamaru. It's so small that I knew about ten of the locals in the bar, plus about eleven people from the backpackers. Since the event had a maximum capacity of 120, I knew about 20% of the people there. Not bad for only four days in town. I didn't try to blend in either with my new (old) white vinyl coat and gypsy-knitted (for real) hat.
The local bookbinder was trying to convince me to start an optometry shop with a local jeweler in the old part of town. Hmm. The ladies at the community art center (one of whom had macular degeneration) thought I could work at the hospital and take care of them. So many options when you are free like a butterfly.
PS Blogger is driving me nuts and trying to make all of this one giant paragraph, so I separated them by **** stars.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ode to Oamaru

Here begins my journey down to the nether lands of New Zealand- to places where time stands still, cousins marry cousins and there may be nary a stoplight in town. Yes, it is the deep south. If you hopped on a ship off the southern tip of the south island, the next place you'd hit is Antarctica. Remote. But very sweet people.

Artwork in Rutherford's Den in Christchurch. Rutherford "split the atom" way back when. He won the Nobel Prize for his work - it all started in Christchurch. Who knew these Kiwis were so smart?
Oamaru, the land of Victorian architecture. It's on the east coast about four hours south of Christchurch.
Dear Lord, why do I keep taking pictures of OLD cars? I can't help it. I think it's a familial dysfunction that's been passed down. But isn't this little Singer so cute? The dash almost had a heart shape. I think I'm in love.
Inside the whiskey distillery where they hold wedding receptions and a local artist paints every day until 4:30. I did my whiskey tasting downstairs and got the inside scoop from the lady who poured for me. Mmm. Whiskey! Surprisingly, they also had the best port I've ever tasted as well. (I wanted to buy a bottle for Lourdes, but those weight and shipping issues again.)
More whiskey. I don't have a problem. Aren't they beautiful?
Can you guess which building this was? I feel like I'm a 21 year-old. But we all know 21 year-olds don't drink whiskey.
This town is a place after my own desires! The bike shop started in the 1800's. And it's my favorite color on the garage door.
I don't know what this building was, but I was mesmerised but the light and the clouds.
An old hotel.
Just down the street, I spent about an hour talking with shopkeeper Michael O'Brien, who's a bookbinder in the old sense of the trade. He works by hand, making new books and restoring old ones. When I visited, he was working on an ancient worthless text for an elderly woman.

I asked, "How long will it take you to finish that?"

He pointed to a stack completed (less than 5% of the book) and said, "That's about three weeks work." I nearly fainted. He said, "I put off starting it for three years."

"I hope she doesn't die before you finish. How old is the lady?" I asked.

"I don't know. I had to get an advance from her to start the work," he said.

Oh lord. But this man who was dressed the part in Victorian garb from a shoppe down the street, was an interesting chat. He said he'd been trying for years to get people to do more trading and less money transactions. He'd moved his family from Auckland to the south island for a better life. He noted that the trades, like optometry, writing, bookbinding, tailoring, etc, were around before the industrial revolution and will continue to have a place in society. I felt better about my choice in careers despite the fact that I've now been unemployed for over six months. It's a noble career. And every career gets repetitive after a while. Sigh.
He also knew that one of our Wwoofers (Sven from Germany) was leaving today and he'd heard that the owner (Kelly- a girl) was sad about it. Small town living. A little scary.
Onward to the next cool building... Shit if I remember what it was. I wasn't paying attention.
And the bakery. But I didn't buy any baked goods. The woman who ran it was wearing a skin-tight, shiny copper long-sleeve top, had long wavy hippie hair which she kept playing with, and was all around, snooty, if you can believe that. So sad.
Here starts the obsession with the night light. It was like walking through a picture.
Oh the light!
Again! I think this is the coolest one. How the building turned blue. Heaven.
Old school natural books.
The church.
I think this was a bank. But it was more about the lighting anyway.
I guess you can read for yourself that this is a monument.

Who doesn't want to visit Oamaru after these photos? And to think I'd never even heard of it until a few weeks ago.

I'm doing my second stint Wwoofing at a backpackers and it's much better than the last. This time there are five other Wwoofers, from all over the world, so there is a sense of camaraderie and fun, regardless of the task at hand.

I'll be leaving here on the 22nd of April to head to Invercargill, where I'm meeting up with two of my students to go to Stewart Island. And that really is the last place before Antarctica.