“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

South of the North Island

View of the Tasman Sea from New Plymouth.

In my previous posts, I described the road trip from Christchurch to Greymouth, and from Greymouth to Nelson. We took the ferry from Picton, on the south island, to Wellington, on the south end of the north island. We felt so disappointed to be back in civilization. The south island of New Zealand really feels like another world, or at least a different country. On the other hand, we stayed at the nicest bed and breakfast places on the way back to Auckland. The first, Oceanus Holiday home in Papapapaumu, north of Wellington on the Kapiti coast, was like a nice home-away-from-home. We could have cooked dinner there, with a full kitchen. Even better was the accomodation outside of New Plymouth, a cabin called Logger's Retreat. New Plymouth is supposed to be one of the nicest places to live in New Zealand. It is pretty remote, but has beautiful parks and convenient access to Mt Taranaki (below).Those beautiful photos of the New Plymouth coast don't display the bitter cold wind that was howling all day, and prevented us from going up the mountain at all. As we discovered the following day, it's only about 6 hours drive from Auckland, so not that remote that we won't go back some time.

Back in Auckland, the following weekend was Halloween, and friends Adam and Roberta hosted a "fun as" party. Check out Sara Palin and POW John McCain, and the other awesome costumes of our friends.

This year, I was a Lucha Libre. I had bought that mask at the San Diego Comic-Con some years back.

Book reviews:

I finished Pitcairn, Paradise Lost, by Kathy Marks. She was one of only 6 journalists allowed to cover the trials on the island. This book has shocking descriptions of child rape, which has basically been going on since Fletcher Christian and his crew basically kidnapped women and brought them there. Apparently, several of the men convicted are here in New Zealand, as well as the victims, making it more personal. The story is very sad, but shows that due to one woman's courage to speak out, and the pursuit of justice by New Zealand and England, behaviors are changing.

Following that, I started Roots. I'm 400 pages into it. This story is a real tragedy. I mean, the writing is fine, but the detail of the story made me physically nauseous and repeatedly brought me to tears. One quibble I have with the writing, is that the level of detail is a bit much. The whole book is 688 pages, and even reading about 1.5 hrs a day, it's been a long read. I understand that the author (Alex Haley) is trying to include a lot of relevant history, but it's sometimes a drag on the plot. Some of the things he writes just slap you in the face with relevance to the world even today. The most interesting thing I have learned is that slave taking is a part of nearly every culture, even in Africa. And today it persists. I just saw an article about a "baby factory" in Nigeria, on BBC news, where women were raped, and when the babies are born, taken away and sold.