Departing Shots…..

One of our last days on this wild and wooly trip was in Queenstown, a beautiful city on Lake Wakatipu in southern New Zealand.There was a mysterious mist as the clouds lay softly in the valley between soaring mountains. They hung there like a down duvet keeping the residents below tucked in their beds. The Kiwis are either lazy or sane. They wait till 7:30 or 8:00 AM to rise and shine.

We had started our week in Wellington. We left the mothership and took the ferry across the Cook Straits. The clear blue water dropped straight down to depths of many hundred meters. We came into the harbor of Picton within just a few yards of the shore. Not like that crazy Italian captain.

We stopped that night in a simple B and B in Nelson after touring a few too many wineries. At breakfast we met an unassuming couple who turned out to be anything but. He was a pediatrician and she was a neonatal cardiac surgeon at the only major children’s hospital in NZ. This was intentional to give the best of care in the most expeditious way and children came from far and wide.

Not only NZ, but Tonga, Fiji and Samoa were under their wing. It’s just the way they do things here. She told of a problem figuring out how they could have a surgery date for a newborn prior to the birth date. That dateline thing you know.

They also told of their teenage child who was severely autistic. How difficult. They spent their days assuaging fears and conquering turmoil in young parents only to go home to face their own.

As we drove down the coast Kathy and I marveled about how dedicated and soft-spoken these people were. No egos. Just serving mankind in their own special way. They drove a not so late model Subaru wagon.

The major highway is two lane. There is a particular quirk of one lane bridges. One side or the other has the right of way. You wait for the all clear. No rush. There is too much to absorb. The speed limit is 100 KM(60mph). Cops will fine you, take your license and impound the car on the spot for heavy infractions. Funny, not many people break the law here….in any way.

The scenery is breathtaking. Much like the Big Sur in spots except more dramatic and lush. You weave in and around several microclimates descending the west coast for several hundred miles. From the sea to the rain forests. From 10-15 foot ferns to the edge of a glacier. We pass a rusted out road grader in a field. Don’t worry big fella.I am sure they are stopping at two lanes.

We became stranded in the outpost of Haast. The road ahead was blocked by three landslides that might take awhile to clear. No worries. We holed up in a motel without clocks and mini bars. They couldn’t depend on the electrical supply.

We met a couple from the Netherlands. He had done work with AT&T and knew of our former homestead in NJ. One of several three degrees of separation we had on our trip. The next day we sprinted while viewing the washouts along the way. Natures fury is fascinating.

These people are green but in a particular way. Some are tree huggers but most just understand nature and live within it. It brought us to just sitting back for a moment and enjoying life. Take what the world gives you and work with it. It wasn’t so much striving but doing the best they could with what they had. Very cool.

The Maori people discovered NZ over a thousand years ago. They now number only 15% of the population. Both the colonists and originals have intermingled. There are no reservations to defend but the comfortable melding of two distinct groups. The Kiwis are one. They maintain the culture but move forward. On the way back from a trip to Milford Sound we watched “Whale Rider”. It put a lot into perspective.

It is with a touch of sadness we leave this part of the world. As we go through security at the airport there are smiles and graciousness from their TSA. You feel you are friends and not just beef on the hoof. There is a better way and it costs nothing.

Kathy has done a fabulous job of organizing us to a tee on very short notice. I managed to drop off the car without killing us after driving on the left for some 1200 kilometers. Let me get this straight. Driving on the left is right. Too complex for this simple mind.

We have met literally hundreds people from big deals to small. The captain of the ship.The captain in the restaurant. The barrista at the coffee shop.A barrister on his way to work. Tour drivers. Waiters and waitresses. Widows and couples. A bellman named Kevin.They have all affected our lives for the better. I wish I could have told that to all of them. I wish I was more talented at relating it to you.

It’s not a grass is greener thing. We have had a great time learning another part of life. We are looking forward to being home. It is where we should be. As they say here “Good on ya”. Have a great day. Thanks for bearing with me and tagging along. I ‘ll probably be back to my feisty self after a few brief encounters with US media of all kinds. Such is life.

As always
Ted The Great

Definitions:
Tall Black….a large coffee.
Goods Inward….service entrance
Tag In Tag Out……swiping your ID card on a reader.
Slow Vehicle Bay…….passing lane
Gated Community….prison( Now think about that one.)

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