Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Potatoes and Eels

Day 99
St. Arnaud to Blenheim
Time: 5:05
Distance: 103 km
Avg Speed: 20.2 kph (that’s right baby!!)
Terrain: trending downhill with a tailwind
Location: 41 30' 06" S, 173 57' 40.3" E

I can now leave NZ complete.
We left Nelson Lakes early this morning. Our goal was to get on the road and get away from the revelers still partying in the campground. I sensed disaster last night as a dozen or so piled into a low-rider pickup to go watch fireworks. A sober mind would have probably decided that it was bad idea, but alas, there wasn’t a sober mind among them. Luckily disaster was avoided due to the battery being dead in the truck. It was at that moment that we had our first vegetable thrown at us. Technically it was a tuber, but I won’t bore you with details. We were in our tent and heard it hit the rain fly. We both jumped out ready to take some names, but the little lushes didn’t want to fess up. I threw the potato away since the longer I held it, the more dastardly things I thought to do with it. We left early before the little arses woke up.
The ride itself was quite quick. We warmed up with a 45 minute climb to the top of the Wairau River Valley. From there we got our tail wind and took off. About an hour and half into it we ran into our first American cycle tourist. He was from Oregon and we all laughed at how if we had ran into each other in Texas we wouldn’t be nearly as infatuated with where we all came from. We all rode together chatting for another hour before Leslie and I needed to take a pit stop for fluids. He was here for a month touring and was heading out tomorrow. It was a nice surprise to talk to someone from home.
We decided that after three nights in an alcohol induced sleeplessness we wanted a backpacker room. We called around and wound up with a ‘small double’ at a nice place on the river. I figured it would be a bed with walls right off the edge of the mattress, but it is a little bigger than that. We ate our dinner overlooking the river and as we were finishing up some other guests walked down there with a chicken carcass on a string. I thought maybe they were baiting a crawfish trap. I headed down to check it out and saw that they were feeding the freshwater eels that are native in NZ. I had been looking for them the whole time we had been here, but I hadn’t seen any yet. These were on the smaller size (ranging from 10” to 24”) and were a little shy. I went and got Leslie and when we went back it was a feeding frenzy with them. It was pretty fun to watch. Voracious little creatures.
I am reading The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux right now. Leslie handed it to me after she finished. In it he points out that he, like us, have “embarked on a fairly aimless enterprise, the lazy indulgence of travel for its own sake.”
I am not sure that ours is “lazy”, but the “aimless” part is pretty spot on. Our aim now is no more vegetables being hurled and getting out of this corner of the earth with our sanity and manners intact.

1 comment:

JennSean said...

You are both such fantastic writers; I find myself all caught up in the stories & trying my best to picture us with you...ok maybe we will be driving the campervan instead of bikes everyday.