Monday, March 29, 2004

oh. my. goodness.

Well, we're back in town! The girls are in Sydney again, smelly smoggy Sydneytown with the pretty beaches and the pretty boys and girls, the pretty opera house and the pretty pretty waterfront. But not, ever, as pretty as where we just were.

I must say. I mean, I can't really say, but people are saying, that I seem buzzed. And I am. I feel like whatever the city-living sucked out of me* my trip to a much less populated country put back, and in spades. (How do you measure things in spades? What size spade do you use?)

*Disclaimer: city living in general is not necessarily soul-sucking. And, more importantly, the city-living I've been doing has heaps of wonderful things associated with it, too, like Mike and Sarah and Yadira and just the city in general.

But beyond disclaimers: I come back to 'my' city and I feel more motivated, somehow, to get out of it and see beyond it, and just, plain old, better, having seen New Zealand and having done the things I did.

Brief retelling of the past few days, after Kaikoura:

We spent a night in Christchurch, which is New Zealand's "English" city, full of churches and parks and even an Avon river, where punters punt. It wasn't the best bit of NZ by far, so we left the next day and went to Lake Tekapo, which was amazing. A turquoise-blue lake in dusty golden tussock hills and plains stretching way off into the distance. Here I climbed Mt. John and nearly got blown off (this involved a sudden rainstorm blowing up when I was at the top and having to make my way down a scree slope that was very exposed to the elements, and only being in my denim jeans and good ol' cblocals hoodie). Good adrenaline rush!

The hostel here was well cozy and at night we took a ride up to the astronomical observatory that was at the top of Mt John, with the hostel owner; the U of Canterbury opens the observatory three days a year as a fundraiser for the local elementary school and we happened to be there for the last day. So, for five bucks, we met the old couple who ran the telescopes, and saw Saturn, Jupiter, the moon, and the amazing star-filled Southern sky, the milky way like a thick rope of stars across the middle. I could see galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. The frigid wind was blowing in from across the plains and the Southern Alps and we were chilled to the bone, but still stayed to see the stars.

From there, we went to Mt. Cook National Park with two Canadian women we'd met, and hiked (along with Barbara the german) the Hooker Valley trail. This took us first past Mt. Sefton, across two swinging bridges, then along a river towards Mt. Cook (or Aoraka, to the Maori) until we got to the glacier lake, a muddy grey-brown. From the head of this lake we could see the grit-covered glacier way up the valley, where it curved around the mountain-side and poked around into the lake.

I tell you. These mountains, that place--the top of them were solid spectacular snow, ice and blue and shadowy, some of the peaks clinging to creamy clouds. Then further down they were bare rock, valleys carved long ago by the action of water. Further still down they began to grow vegetation, the golden tussuck and all the alpine herbs and flowers. I woke up the next morning early so I could drink my tea while watching Mt. Sefton's peak turn pink then golden.

Yesterday we drove back to Christchurch with the two other Canadians, going to a fancy dinner (Jacky's just turned 20!) and carousing until we went to bed. Woke at 4 this morning, to a dark and chilly city, then flew out around 6 or so. Landed in Sydney (cars and people and loud and trucks and whew!) around 7:30 local time, and were met at the airport by Tony (Macaroni) and dear Mike. And here we are. That's all we know so far.

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