Friday, Dec 26
Wow, what a day. It’s Boxing Day, so I thought I’d put up a real fight against the craziest head winds I’ve had so far. They say that on a bike there is always head winds, but this was something else. With 145km it was quite a stretch from Wanaka to Haast on the Westcoast, but it felt like double trying to go against winds of between 5 and 20 knots coming straight at me. What does that mean? If you have to make a real effort and paddle to get DOWN a 4% hill, that’s one friggin’ head wind. But I’m not complaining, I did ask for it…
The scenery was amazing, you can’t stop at every waterfall; except maybe to re-hydrate🙂
The best part was seeing the change in landscape, from the higher Wanaka region with pine forests and turquoise lakes, to tropical rainforests (with turquoise rivers).
Humidity doubled over the course of the day, and now I’m sitting in an atrium at the hostel in Haast, amidst ferns and palm trees. One highlight was this jungle tunnel J found, only because I was looking for fellow travelers, who were carrying insect repellent. I was putting of my lunch break, because the sandflies were so unbearable, I could not have enjoyed a bite. So getting really hungry after a while I was desperately looking for some recreational parking lot or view point, where I hoped to find someone. And I did: a family equipped me with enough ‘off’ to scare away a dragon, and since I had stopped already, I decided to follow this path. Let’s see if we can get the video to work.
Surprisingly it only took me 10h (including 3h of breaks); after starting without any training whatsoever, it seems Ias if I’m starting to get in shape. And the feeling of ‘I made it’ justifies all the pain on the way…
Time to wind down and enjoy some lime soda, matching the colors of the new climate.
For almost a week now I’ve been wanting to set up this blog, something I should have done before I left. And as with many of these shoulda, coulda – feelings, they get worse with every minute, hour, and day. It creates this spiral of a bad conscience leading to – STOP. never look back. So better late than never: I finally found a laptop at this wonderful host family, and I hope I can keep up sharing some of the wonderful impressions now. The highlight today, and one of the most exciting moments so far:
Riding a Penny-Farthing in Oamaru
I don’t even remember how I found out about the bike shop ‘cycle works’ and a bike club of fans of the old ‘ordinary bicycles’ (popular until the safety bicycle was developed). The shop closed about a year ago, but the club still exists. And, lucky me, I met Sophia, a Penny-Farthing enthusiast, who let me try one of these precious beauties, after her boyfriend Mark had prepared the most delicious blue-cheese walnut pasta. We got along very quickly, the bike and me, it went a lot smoother than I had thought. The feeling is hard to describe: a mix of respect for an original, one-hundred year old machine, circus flair, time travel, and a totally new perspective of the city; otherwise unknown to short people like me. I could not possibly imagine a more suitable place for this exercise than in Victorian Oamaru. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how about a moving picture?