392 Flashback to New Zealand 1990: Journeling our autobiopsychogeography

[Now that we've completed our archival geneography from ~65,000 to 3,000 B.C. + our geneomigration from Europe to America (1605—1849) + further westward to California + Oregon (1849-1960), now begin us to piece together the rest of the archival story of our autobiographical psychoge(ne)ography. There's a lot to fill in between 1960—2003, up to when we started keeping this here journel online. The archival approach we take likely becomes far from linear, probly more piecemeal ... + figured since we're headed to SE Asia in a few weeks, may as well start from our journels from whence we 1st went there in 1990. Thing is, this particular journel starts in New Zealand ... takes us thru Australia, before landing in Indonesia. So we'll start 1st in Z-land ... at the beginning of this journel. Here's a look at the actual journel object (to the music of Durutti Column):

At the point where this journel starts we'd been in Z-land for at least a month already ... a few weeks working on a courgette (zucchini) farm + another 2 weeks working on a dairy farm. This after crewing on a schooner from Fiji to NZ (some of the journels of which we already transcribed here). When we got to Z-land, we got us a cheap 10-speed + put our stuff in garbage bags which we bungeed to a rack on the back ... + this is where this journel begins.]

[On the inside cover we listed our mileage traveled thus far:

  • LA to Papeete—6607 km
  • Papeete to Rarotonga—1147 KM
  • Rarotonga to Fiji—2412 KM
  • Fiji to Whangarei,NZ—2156 KM
  • [...]

+ then we quoted Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (on the subject of flying):

"There is an art, or rather, a knack, to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground + miss."

+ Herman Melville:

"O nature, + O soul of man! How far beyond all utterances are your naked analogies! Not the smallest atom stirs or lies in matter, but ha its cunning duplicate in mind."

+ some other things ... as u can see from the above video, there's a lot of used tickets, postcards, letters, maps, brochures, etc. wedged in the pages which we wont bore u w/ here, O Internet. Here's the opening page in our writing ... if u can't read it then click on it to enlarge.]

[... continued from above ... but not that impressive until we got to the...] glo-worm part. They take you in a boat thru dark passages ... 1st you see a few neon-greenish blue lights ... then as your eyes adjust, the ceiling becomes covered w/ little pinpoints of light that look like constellations. [...] From the glo-worms you can make out the 3-D contours of the stalactites. Also looks like strange glow-in-the-dark polyp-coral formations.

The tour was quick + kinda lame being a guided tour + all. The guide picked up on my mixed feelings—being intrigued, but at the same time frustrated. So after he dropped everybody off he asked if i wanted to go back in. I was siked. This time he went slow + i just laid on my back in the boat w/ this other Canadian couple + just absorbed it all in awed silence. The biological world ceases to amaze me. We got a flashlight + looked at some up close ... they look like mosquitoes + for their adult life they have no mouths ... imagine that! What a cruel trick ... + then their offspring eat them. They spin these webs that look like snot-strings of jewels. The reason they glow is so insects are attracted to them + get caught in these stringy "webs".

[Obviously couldnt capture this on film, but google glo-worms or Waitomo caves if you're curious].

The overall affect of being 100 meters below the ground floating in a boat in a (would be) pitch-dark cavern w/ a 3-D galaxy of densely packed bright green pinpoints was amazing ... beyond words. Sort of soothing too. + if that wasn't enough, the guide took us back thru all these other passages not open to the public. At 1 point we were in this room above the "cathedral" + there was a tour group below. They were talking about visual images in the formations when i peaked my head out ... some dipshit American below yelled, "holy Jesus, that looks like a face!" We couldn't contain ourselves. The tour group was baffled, tho the guide knew what we were up to.

This guy took us around for over an hour. When we emerged outside, it was pouring again. So i had to wait, but it was well worth it as i saw the most incredible double rainbow even. All the caving club members were here when i got back to the camp. Matter of fact, besides these 2 other Swiss girls i am the only non-Kiwi/NZSS person. These cavers sure like to party ... right now the music is blaring + they are screaming + playing some game—don't know what it is except it involves a lot of beer drinking. They have all these agility structures to practice caving—wooden 4-D ladders that you have to crawl in + out of. [DRAWING] ... all these wild drunk people contorting themselves in weird positions w/ red faces. They are all totally obsessed w/ caving—it's their life. This 1 guy, Colin's son William, has attached himself to me ... wants to take me eel fishing tomorrow, after (...drum roll please) Black H20 rafting!

[not sure this is the same rainbow as above, but another 1 sumwhere on the north island]

Waitomo, [New Zealand] Oct 19 [1990]

Didn't sleep much as there was a raging party outside the door + drunk people kept stumbling in. Got up early expecting silence but they were all up again eating hearty breakfasts of pork rinds, ketchup + baked beans + getting their caving gear together—ropes, climbing equipment, wetsuits, diving gear, special lights + lots of other stuff. Talk about an all encompassing sport. Rode down to the museum where i met up w/ Don + Joe to go caving. Met the rest of the group + got our gear—wetsuits, grubby overalls + tennis shoes + a helmet w/ a light on it. Packed into this mini-van, 12 of us, + went to this cave 3 km away. It's too bad it had to be an organized event, i despise them.

Preliminaries ... they told us what to do, told us about biological life in caves, etc. In the middle of a sheep pasture, a winding stream fell down into this hole. We grabbed our innertubes + entered ... immediately we were in another world ... dark + damp + jagged. Stalactites + other strange calcite formations lined the walls. We waded thru these passages—felt almost like we were wandering thru the NY sewer system [... not that i'd ever been to NYC at this point, let alone in the sewer system]. The ground would squish every once in a while—just slimy eels. The water was full of them ... + rats—and these hideous giant crickets called Wetas that sposedly grab on to your eyebrows (unless this was 1 of Don's sick jokes?).

A big waterfall came from a hole in the roof. The water was freezing as i plunged in ... took my breath away. We squeezed thru some narrow parts then floated on our bellies laying on top of the innertubes thru passages w/ hardly any headroom. Floated on for quite a while thru luminous caverns, twisting + meandering in + out of the water, floating on our butts or bellies. Felt like we were in the digestive tract of some large creature ... frothing in its digestive juices that gurgled in indigestion ... in the bowels of mother Earth—w/ millions of tons of rock + soil above us. Sheep grazed in the sunlight over our heads.

We got to this waterfall of a few meters + stopped. We all turned off our lights except Joe. She went under water a few feet before the falls, then all was pitch dark, save for the little red safety lights on our helmets. We waited for about 20 seconds, but there was no sign of her. Then Don jumped in after her + his light disappeared. Then we saw their lights coming from under the waterfalls + they both surfaced. We proceeded in line ... like good little penguins up the side of the cliff w/ our innertubes where we were to jump off. I volunteered to go 1st. I stepped to the edge + could just see dark swirls + bubbles below. As i was flying thru the pitch dark abyss a lot went thru my mind. Before, i was just mindlessly trodding along in an unconscious state ... following the person in front of me. That's what happens when you go on a guided tour, you don't have to think, you trust your guide. I was trusting Don that the water was deep enough.

As i smacked the water  + went under the turbulent, dark, cold water (still w/ the innertube around my waist), it suddenly occurred to me where i was ... i was very far from home. What i was doing was completely insane. I thought of where other people were at the present moment. S was probly sitting in a boring lecture hall. [ ... listed other friends + speculations ... ] Kevin struck in traffic on the Pasadena freeway. Mom probly laying in bed smoking pot + watching TV ... every 1 completely absorbed  in their own affairs ... + little did they imagine i was 100 meters under ground in the southern hemisphere, bobbing around in "black H2O" + jumping off waterfalls in the cold pitch darkness. It was completely crazy.

Everybody else jumped. Don + Joe were showoffs + did flips. The river was bigger now + so was the hall-like cavern. We got in a line like a snake—each feet hooked to the next tube. It looked funny looking back—a series of lights bobbing up + down + moving w/ the curves—like an undulating Chinese dragon. We turned off our lights + floated in pitch blackness on our backs. Above us were millions of glo-worms—a long string of constellations from the southern skies. Gaia. I sensed the earth was alive. Felt the creeping nostalgia that would hit me in the darkness of dreams ... a sort of premonition. I was also cold as ice.

Then it started to become light—a greenish hue. We came to a "chimney" w/ water dripping down. Straight up—100 meters ... sposedly the longest vertical chimney in the world (as yet discovered). Above i could make out the faint outlines of prehistoric fern trees. Then we just floated at our leisure for quite a distance in complete darkness + silence. Thought of John Cage. You could make out dim outlines of contours from the light of the glo-worms ... the striated walls of the jagged passage. Then there was a familiar green light ahead ... the tunnel out. We floated out + were suddenly in a muddy river in thick lush jungle. Couldn't help but to think of the sexual/biological implications ... we were floating ova in the menstrual flow of mother earth ... thru vaginal tubes + out into the fertile bush.

We kept floating + were spotted by a crowd of tourists on this overhanging bridge on the "bushwalk". They stared in awe. We must have been a funny looking lot—floating thru the jungle in wetsuits on innertubes w/ miner's hats on. When we got back they fed us pumpkin soup + coffee. Went to the caving museum afterwards—everything you ever wanted to know about cave fossils + exploration. Moa bird fossils are a common find. They must have been huge beasts. Their bones were as thick as cows—massive legs. Watched this audio-visual slide show in this big auditorium + it was actually pretty impressive. Got back + went to read out in the pasture + fell asleep in the sun w/ the cows.

Just ventured out into the depths of the "Tomo hut". It always sounds like a party but it sounded louder than usual. Little did i know what would behold my eyes—the most outrageous party scene i've ever seen. 1st of all, there are 2 bunk rooms. When i walked out, the other [one was completely ablaze.... CONTINUED BELOW]:

[CONT ...middle-aged conservative looking] women, little kids—everybody. Getting loose—no inhibitions (lots of beer to help). Straight out of the 70s. At this exact moment they are playing REM "stand in the place where you are, think about direction wonder why you haven't before ..."

[burning down the house ... the bonfire]

Some girl Rachel (1 of the "groovy" people) appointed herself as my official guide. She told me who everybody was, where they were from, what they did (besides caving) + why she had such a passion for caving. They are all obsessed. It's almost pagan/ primordial the way they dance around the huge bonfire ... like things could quickly spiral out of control + digress like Lord of the Rings. They're all eating BBQ sausage + handfuls of grated cheese. A completely diverse group w/ 1 common thread—caving. A speleological bash. A guy w/ a "Mutant Chemist" shirt ... a Roseanne Cash lookalike ... even "Jesus" is there, jumping up + down. Jesus is called so cuz he looks like him—long scraggly hair, a goatee, wild goggly eyes, a red leather jacket + pajama bottoms. Pimply teenagers w/ pugnoses + glasses. A Maori chief. Hoods. Scientists ... + they all dance horribly. Rachel explains to me that they just don't care. Suddenly there was [a movement outside ... CONTINUED BELOW]:

Rotorua (164 km), Oct 20

I hate the wind. It sucks. Always against me. If i had to graph how much i was hating life it would look like this [CHART/DRAWING]. Managed to sleep a little thru all the commotion. Woke up before 7 + the 1st thing i saw was 1 of the English girls [who i was sharing a room with] + she was wearing full on make-up + her hair was combed + she was wearing her dressy clothes in her sleeping bag. Strange. After 5 large bowls of raw mueslix, it was 7:45 + still cold. Hit the road. Immediately had to fix my front tire which was wobbling back + forth. 19 km to Te Kuiti—sleepy town, nobody was awake. Then thru intense terraced sheep fields dotted w/ giant ferns + slabs of granite. I was getting very frustrated as my back tired seemed to be dragging a lot—kind of like riding w/ the brakes on. Couldn't figure out what it was—just oiled it, but the friction wouldn't go away. Until you get your mind off it, cycling is a grueling pain. But once your mind wanders, time flies.

I hit the forest. Sure, the rolling pastures are pretty, but when you think of all the forest that was cleared it's sickening. + the erosion in some places is really bad. In the middle of the forest this Malaysian guy on a motorcycle flagged me down just to have a chat. I have to admit, i envied him ... flying on this motor-powered machine dressed in leather + absolutely no bags except a small satchel. He could travel the whole north island in 1 day + here i was, taking 1 month. He roared off + left me huffing + puffing, losing my pride. But hey, at least i'm not contributing to the gulf crisis + i'm getting exercise. But i have to admit you probly absorb more on a motorcycle. On a pedal bike i'm usually too tired to give a flying fuck about the scenery.

The next 20k to Mangakino were excellent—downhill all the way + thru these killer forests. Had a large meal of fish + chips (what else?) then got back on the road somewhat siked that i only had 64 km to go ... but it was hell, took longer than the first 100k. The wind started up back against me, the back tire was acting up + it was hilly + my legs + back were fatigued like rubber. I was just plodding along in low gear—even down hills. I was hating life + didn't seem to be getting closer. With 30k to go i started climbing up + up ... + finally a last glimmer of hope? I was as good as dead + i envisioned coming over the top, seeing the lake + having it be downhill all the way.

... but i got to the top + no such luck ... more hills + the wind was picking up. For the 10th time i screamed "bastard!" at i don't know who. W/ 13k to go i had another blowout. The tread on the back tire was worn to the bone + just ruptured. Luckily i had a spare ... but it did little to soothe my agony. W/ 10k to go i could smell the sulphur. The soil was becoming grey w/ ash + a weird variety of plants grew in it. Hit the main highway + it was hell ... labor day sunday‚ the road packed w/ cars spewing exhaust + pushing me off the road in gusts. The shoulder was narrow + cluttered w/ glass + debris. Finally i hit a motor camp 5 km outside of Rotorua—i didn't care, couldn't go an inch further. Pitched my tent in this extremely big + crowded camp ground. Good thing i had my tent as i [overheard someone ... CONT BELOW]:

Rotorua, Oct 22

Woke up + had a dip in the hot tub, or a "plunge" as the Kiwis call it. Walked to Whakarewarewa ... on the way were pools of boiling mud all along the side of the road. This whole town will someday explode. The mud is rich + bubbly + looks really inviting.

But i had to move on, to pay to see the reserve ... Disney-geothermal-land. + Labor day to top it off. 1st off went to visit the kiwi (bird) in the nocturnal house—i.e. they light it during the night, then dim it during the day so people can see it. He (she?) was sleeping. Then to the real action. Hell on earth. A step back in time. Hot + boiling, hissing + steaming. I was just in time to see the Prince of Wales geyser erupt in full glory. Seems the earth gets pissed + needs to let off some steam ... w/ lots of pressure + intensity. The trail wound thru bubbling pools of mud, crystal clear, boiling cauldrons of H2O, hissing rocks, all w/ strange streaked colorations + reeking something fierce.

If it weren't for all the lame Japanese & American tourists w/ their video cameras i could really imagine being on the earth during its origin. Someone peeled off the scab on the crust + now you can see what it's like beneath the surface. A bad case of acne. I must've spent hours in there. Then went back + saw the kiwi. Looks like the back of someone's head w/ huge gawky club feet + a pencil as a beak. It really is a funny creature—it dances on the dirt, trying to trick worms into thinking it's raining so they will surface. + it walks very deliberately + is quite suave, not having wings at all.

Saw a Maori concert in 1 of those meeting houses—the walls covered w/ intricate carvings + geometric designs. The women look almost Native American + danced + twirled Poin [DRAWING OF A BARBELL/BATON-LIKE THING] + the men stick out their tongues as far as they will go in a disgusting manner (they think it is the worst possible insult to a hostile outsider). Walked downtown, but being a holiday it wasn't too exciting. Had to walk the 3k back in pouring rain—but hey, i had a hot tub waiting for me. I'm hitting a slump in inspiration + actually feel quite depressed, lonely + bored. Feel i'm just going thru the motions of being a tourist, seeing all the stuff "you gotta see" in N.Z.

Taupo (83k), Oct 23

Did i mention i hate the wind? Well i hate the rain even more ... packed my soggy + birdshit-covered tent + wet sleeping bag (...even sleeping in the garbage bag—a poor man's goretex shell) + took off. Went 20k + got a flat. As i was fixing it, it started to pour. A miserable cold-driving rain ... + the road sucked, no shoulder‚ lots of traffic + semis that swept me off the road + spat mud + gravel all over me.

Made it to Waiotapu + took a break from cycling to walk around the thermal area for a few hours. I had the place virtually to myself as the rain had driven all the tourists away. Someone told me i looked like a drowned rat—i was inspired. It felt like strolling on the moon on some strange planet. Same old thermal shit but it was rugged + barren + tinted w/ luminous colors. The water ranged from oily black, muddy brown, turquoise, opal + a lime green caused by arsenic. The rocks were tinged w/ bright yellow sulfur, a red iron oxide, orange from antimony, black from sulphur + carbon + white w/ silicon. Elemental to the core ... origins. Kevin would dig the poisonous elements fer sure. I was blown away by the "champagne pool"—a large 60m in diameter deep pool of bring green-turquoise color bubbling water bubbling w/ C02 + giving off clouds of vapor. The shores looked like fractal coral—bright orange below the water + delicately terraced. Bridal veil falls was also quite amazing—a silica almost marble looking cliff face streaming w/ all sorts of unusual colors in fractal formations. The whole place looked like a beautiful toxic dump. Unnatural. Rocks hissed + spit. They were alive.

[thermal spring that looks like a Mandelbrot set]

Hauled my ass the last 50k to Taupo in a little over 2 hours. Thru clear cut forest lands + by dead possums, rabbits, cats, frogs, birds, etc. Roadkilling grounds. Why should i have to see it at such proximity? Some of the fields had dead sheep—decaying mounds of wool that nobody bothered to remove. Got to Taupo. Nobody would cash a traveler's check so i had to splurge on a wicked Chinese meal + pay w/ MC.

Turangi (51k), Oct 24

Every time i stay in a hostel i swear i never will again ... fratboy's home away from home. Sterile boring environment, so as not to offend or discomfort. Woke up at 7, everyone was still asleep (went to bed at 12 + everybody was asleep). Was just getting ready to bury my face in a newspaper—something i haven't done in a while—when this lame German girl launches into a dull monologue. .. "yeah, i have been to America, spent 3 days in Pasadena at friend's of my grandmother—very boring place." What'd you expect? Rode around the lake to Turangu—the only eventful thing being a flat tire. It might have been scenic if it wasn't so gray + drizzly you couldn't tell the lake from the sky. I'm staying at this big place that used to be a boarding place for men working on the geothermal plant—my tent set up in the bushes. Walked around town + read Unnatural Selection [by Daniel Evan Weiss] + now am sitting on a plush couch in front of a fire ... cant complain. Tomorrow—the Tongariro crossing. Forgot to mention the most vivid image of yesterday that haunted my dreams ... on the barren yellow + red cliffs was a oval-shaped bright turquoise object which i thought was an agate. I picked it up + squeezed + it exploded sending orange yolk all over my face + shirt. Colors are haunting me. But i have B+W in my camera now.

(Turangi) Oct 25

Most unprecedented day of sheer beauty! I'm frustrated w/ this idiotic language—so limited, unable to capture the feeling. My head is so full of emotion—my body feels so good. What a day. At 8:00 this crazy woman picked me up + 3 others to go into Tongariro park. 2 were going skiing + this other girl Faith from Colorado was walking to Ketetalu springs as she was told Tongariro pass was unpassable. I was a little worried as i was told the same—but this crazy woman insisted i'd be OK ... so she lets me off in the middle of nowhere, suddenly alone w/ this huge snow-covered volcano—Tongariro towering over me.

The landscape was suddenly different than the rest of N.Z.—harsh, tundra-like volcanic terrain. Many unusual plants, grasses + mosses. This is finally what i wanted ... a change of scenery. I followed these springs up along a rugged ridge line + vertical escarpment. An hours or 2 later i came to the source of the spring ... clean crystal cool H2O pouring from the side of a cliff. [DRAWING] I filled my bottle + stuck my mouth to the source + drank. Took a shit + wiped my ass w/ an old bank receipt then continued on. It got steep + required a lot of climbing. It was freezing but i was in a T-shirt + sweating. I caught up to this Kiwi couple up on the ridge. The clouds had come in + now i couldn't see Mt Ngaurahoe anymore. I was now in the saddle between Ngaurahoe + Mt. Tongariro—which was actually a crater completely filled w/ snow—a huge flat field of snow 9 feet deep. I put plastic bags in my shoes + crossed. My only guide were posts sticking up every 5 meters. Nothing but white, white field + white sky.

[gratuitous selfie (back when i took them) somewhere in the saddle between Ngaurahoe + Tongariro]

Got to the other side—passed a few more "trampers" as they call them here—they all had huge backpacks (or "rucksacks") + big boots + all this equipment + looked at me in spite w/ my plastic-bag-lined tennis shoes + a bag containing just my lunch + a flask of H2O slung over my shoulder. Got to the trail to the summit of Tongariro + was doing well on time so i climbed it—i was on top of the world. I sat to rest + the silence was heavy but thin. All i could hear was the buzz of my nervous system. The expanse was awesome.

I "skied" (w/ my shoes) back down then switched back over to the top of Red Crater—appropriately named as it is composed of jagged bright red rocks—like the surface of mars. Steam hissed out of it.

[inside Red Crater (if i remember correctly) ... not that u can tell in B+W]

I followed the hissing vein—a sulphur crusted fault + slid down a thick ash mound to Emerald Lakes ... also aptly named. The colors were unbelievablly vibrant. Looking back the way i came were the bright turquoise lakes, below a hissing yellow mottled vein spitting steam, below the rugged red crater—all in the shadow of the awesome Ngaurahoe shrouded in billowy mists.

At this point the trail went straight across the central crater—a long trek thru more snow fields + i thought it more exciting to climb back up on the ridge. I could see the valley on the other side, fields of lava flows off into the distance. Got to the top + ate bread + cheese. Below me i saw a lone figure trudging the snow field ... figured it was Faith as she was sposed to meet me at Blue lake. I whistled + figured she heard me cuz she turned back. I wound down around to Blue Lake (not appropriately named as you could barely tell it was a lake—completely frozen over).

A few more hours over snow + winding down the other side i came to Ketelaki springs. Supreme geothermal action. The rocks were alive + hissing, pots of tarry goo bubbled violently. I tried the H2O at the top of the spring but it was too hot. Followed it down like Goldilocks— there many little pools of receding degrees—til i found my perfect temperature. Got down to my birthday suit + had a soak in a pool under a hot waterfall. A nice surprise for cold, sore + wet feet. Below lay a great view of Lake Taupo + some other lake. (You can't write a landscape like you can read one).

[looking down at lake Taupo (i think)]

Spent 2 hours in the tubs + exploring around. Then 2 more hours down. [DRAWING]. Everybody was there xcept Faith. She was probly confused as to how i got by w/o running into her ... + now! Wow! A full stomach, hot shower, dry clothes, coffee, sofa in front of the fire + they're playing Velvet Underground (Heroin) + all these anal Europeans are going ooh! + retreating to the safety of the T.V. room + this big, beefy, smelly dog is stealing my shoes + chewing on them + i dont care. I have that gratified feeling of a full + satisfying day—20 km over volcanoes, snow, weird rocks + plants + strange geothermal happenings. I'm on a mission from myself for myself.

In transit-Palmerston-Wellington (50k), Oct 25

[Shaky handwriting] On a train right now ... yee haw! I love trains. The way the landscape effortlessly flies by. On a bike it was also a giant panoramic movie ... but i had to crank the reel by pedaling. I was stationary + spinning the earth like a giant treadmill. I say "was" cuz my biking days are thru! Finit, kaput ... + what a way to end ... on the infamous "Desert Road" ... i left Turangi + climbed slowly up into the saddle, the shadow of the three awesome volcanoes. Unfortunately there were these insensitively placed power pylons right smack in the way + the volcanoes were shrouded in thick clouds—all you could see was their snowy bases.

I pushed on down + up thru 3 big gorges then the landscape changed into i guess what Kiwis consider "desert" ... i thought it looked more like a strange tundra of volcanic origins. Almost like the postcard [INSERTED BETWEEN THE PAGES ... more or less this view] but you couldn't see the whole mountain. Ahead lay a wall of black—the kind of rain that smells nice from a distance. I plundered on w/ 20k left to Waiorou. The rain began, then hit w/ full force. An icy stinging rain. I was only 100 meters or so below the snowline. I realized i was crazy. I could just picture myself, going slower + slower til i finally froze. So i kept pedaling w/ full force. The rain was pelting me + i could hardly move ... just when things were getting desperate i saw red tail lights in the mist. An army jeep stopping to give me a lift (Waiorou is the big army base—the signs on the road said "beware of stray bullets").

This guy Howen gave me a lift to Waiorou, then dropped me off + told me he would take me to Palmerston North after he did a few errands (he lived in Palmerston). So he dropped me off—civilians weren't allowed in the base—and i got some killer vegy chop suey in front of the war museum.

[another self-timed 1 eating chop suey]

... sure enough he came back—but he pulled a strange maneuver... there were 2 other hitch-hikers so he kept going. I had to ride off chasing him w/ my chop suey in 1 hand—still chewing. The other hitch-hiking backpackers probly found me a bit strange—exchanging dialogue w/ some soldier then taking off after him on a bike holding Chinese take-out. Howen told me he'd meet me a km up the road as he wasn't supposed to pick up civilians. So i rode on ... by a herd full of wild horses. He stopped ahead, he had his beret on + was holding his hand out in an official manner. We quickly + inconspicuously loaded my bike + stuff + put the tarp over so nobody could see + were off.

What a cool guy—if only other soldiers were this cool. I mean, he was totally w/ it. He was for the green party, thought war + politics were absurd + was quite liberal. We talked about sports, politics, etc. He wanted to know about racial problems in the states (he was Maori). I guess he was a little confused by all the T.V. programs. He said racial tensions were virtually non-existent in N.Z. except for certain gangs + from what i've observed i'd agree. Well-travelled guy—he had been in the army for 13 years + part of it he was stationed in Singapore—so he'd travelled all thru Asia. Meanwhile the scenery is flying by + it's getting toasty warm (not used to such luxury!). By the time we hit Palmerston (4:30) there was not a cloud in the sky—a 1st since i've been in N.Z. Palmerston is a university town—80,000 people + is always sunny. I would have stayed but there was no youth hostel + i wanted to keep my momentum (... what am i running, or should say cycling, from or to anyway?)

Went to the bus station—no busses to Wellington. But i sent my bike ahead to Christchurch. Then i had 45 minutes to make it to the train station on the other side of town. My timing couldn't have been better as it took 45 minutes to walk it ... thru Palmerston, past all the hip university students + for once pretty girls. But i hadn't much time to observe. I must've been quite the spectacle—all my stuff in garbage bags + i was covered w/ dirt, oil + other grime (2 more flats this morning) marching thru the streets. Some computer geek helped me carry my bags + directed me to the train station, blabbing on the whole while about HPs, LED displays, laptops + such. Made the train. As i was waiting i noticed my curry powder had spilled all inside my bag. I ignored it. Got on the train—my seat 2A was occupied by a sleeping baby. I was flustered + questioned the family. The father—a beer drinking wild man got all pissed off + got up + insisted i take his place (while he stood hovering over me). I said no but he started to get violent so i did. Then this lady across the aisle said i could sit next to her, so i moved. She was a hilarious old lady—very British + prim + proper, twirling her pearl necklace + asking me all these questions, like why i smelled like curry powder. Another crusty young backpacker was sitting w/ her, acting like they were a couple. I couldn't figure them out + said i needed a scone + the British lady said "by all means, go have yourself a spot of tea." So i did + now i sit here in the buffet car digesting + looking at green fields of sheep + train stations that all look the same. I just love when things go unexpectedly ... + moving at high speed. Biking is for the birds! I resign, after—lets see—some 1300 km, 12 punctures, 4 tubes, 1 tire, 1 pump, 1 wheel, 6 brake pads + a sore soggy bony ass.

In transit—Picton to Christchurch, Oct 27

Another train—no more sniffing + snorting that long white line on my bike. To my right is the coast w/ turquoise waters pulling in + out like someone unsuccessfully laying a sheet on a bed. To my left are rugged snow-capped mountains towering over layers of green hills. (I am riding backwards). Sure is hard to write on trains. Now it is stopped—Kaiwowa—I hope no one sits here. I have a booth to myself (everybody else follows their seat assignments).

... drats, wishful thinking. Canadians. Gee, how could i tell? As if all the bright flags embroidered over all their shit didn't give them away. Yesterday i entered Wellington right as the sun was setting. "Windy Wellington"—a well-deserved name. I was blown thru the city w/ sheets of newspapers to the YHA (yuck) where i took a shower then fought the wind back downtown in search for the ultimate salad. It was past nine but bless this city things were open ... a salad bar even.

[the only photo i took of Wellington]

What a city. It's got a vibrant beat, a definite, unique feel. A lot like San Fran. Friday night + everybody was out having a good time. Trendy cafes, yuppie bars, intellectual dives—but the center of it all was McDonalds! I saw a crowd gathered + heard some raw blues music ... group of hippy looking Maori dudes w/ dreadlocks, grinding the blues. Kiwis sure dig the Blues. Heard more music from the rooftops, but had a hard time tracing it to its source. When I finally found the club, i was not allowed in due to my ripped trousers, sneakers + lack of collar. Fuck them.

Retreated back to the real people—the punks, drunks + hippies. At 1 point the Maori blues band was taking a rest + the harmonica player was going off solo when this black lab comes up + starts howling his head off to the key! They regrouped + continued playing. Coins were tossed from all directions, some missing the case + going into the gutter. Got "home" past 12 + all the lights were off + doors locked.  Had to knock + wake some girl up. She told me the phone was broken + you could make calls long distance for free. Hmmm... 12 p.m. here, 4 in the morning in California. If i waited til morning everybody would be up + wouldn't be able to do it. I figured I'd wait up til 3 then place some calls. Too good to be true.

Fell asleep on the couch + woke up at 1:30 a.m. + realized they'd probly just reverse the charges to whoever i was calling. I climbed back over people in the dark to my bunk + woke at 7 a.m. Excited to see the city in daylight. Everyone still sleeping—all i've seen here are sleeping bodies. Went back into town + had coffee + muffins + watched the windy city wake up. 4 bohemian punks came in + sat down w/ me. When they found out i was from California they revered me as "way cool" but i told them Wellington was cooler, that Wellington "blew" Auckland away + they went into hysterics (guess there's some rivalry there). They were really funny—strung out looking Misfit punks but they talked proper like regular Kiwis. 1 of them looked just like Paz [friend of mine back in California] w/ a silver-spray-painted mohawk hanging in his face. His face was painted in streaks of black + white making him resemble Dracula. Classic breakfast attire. They were pissed when they heard i was leaving so soon as they wanted me to "come have a tea later". Left them + walked some more around the harbor until it was 9:30 + i realized i had to make the ferry. Ran back to the hostel + got my stuff (while everyone was still sleeping) then made the ferry just in time.

Christchurch, Oct 28

Everyone i've met lately after a while says, "hmm, smells like some spice ... tarragon, cardamom, etc. ... cant quite put my finger on it." I'd give them them a second + say "curry powder?". "Yeah, that's it!" So finally i washed all my stuff of all the curry powder that spilled in my bags. Found a low-key, family-run (non-YHA) hostel where i share a room w/ some crazy German guy named Hanz that goes square dancing by night + runs ½-marathons by day. Slept like a log, woke up + went downstairs to the botanical gardens. Christchurch is a clean quaint European-like city w/ lots of parks + gardens + ducks + birds. The river Avon winds placidly thru downtown w/ willows weeping on its banks. A romantic city, but i am alone. A hopeless romantic, plagued by memories + wishful hypotheticals.

I meandered about early morning sunday, just like the river Avon ... til i finally found a cup of coffee + banana muffins in this cafe where i sat + read till the afternoon. Moved to the fountain in front of town hall + read more while watching the seagulls bathe, then meandered more ... [at which point i described (in too much detail) a street fair, the various street musicians, a museum, what i ate, etc.] Walked back thru the park but got lured by the lake + grass + sunshine + fell asleep on the shores in bare feet... ahhhh... (postcards of places i never saw).

[cathedral in Christchurch ... that got toppled in the recent earthquake]


the same cathedral in 2011

Christchurch Oct 30

I've been here too long. My bike hasn't arrived yet. I was up + at the C.P.O. before it opened on monday ... got 11 letters, i was siked. Sat in this coffeeshop + read them all. Went to the botanical gardens ... shit, i don't know.... i've just been sitting around in various cafes + watching this stupid wizard street performer. All feels so pointless. I'm in a frustrated + unexpressive mood.

[... the bike eventually arrived + from what we remember we quickly sold it for ½ what we paid for it ($100) to some 1 biking around the south island. Should also mention that i didn't see much of the more popular south island cuz i spent too much time on the north 1 + only had a 2 month visa so by the time i got to Christchurch i had to leave ...]

[the route we took ... again there's more to the North Island part (went all the way to the tip)
that we'll include when we get around to transcribing that journel]

Christchurch airport, Nov 1 [1990]

I'm outta here. Looking out at all the planes + the snowcapped mountains in the sunrise. [DRAWING ALONG SIDE TEXT OF YELLOW BRICK ROAD] Follow the yellow brick road? Yes! Follow the yellow brick road ... thru the endless sky. Maybe i'll sit next to the scarecrow. Maybe Toto will bite my ankles. Travelling is intense. Especially the process of it. The take-off is dying, the landing is being born. Flying is dreaming. Sleeping in the clouds. Dying in heaven. Were off to see the wizard! The wizard of NZ was an asshole. I believe he was a wizard, but he was an evil 1. How could he degrade my wonderful Newton, Kepler + Copernicus + call them evil-doers? [ ... think this is all referring to a street performer in Christchurch that called himself the wizard]. I'm amazed more people don't get angry at his sexist slanderings.

The tornado is taking me away—knocking me in the head. Nostalgia yearns. There's no place like home—yes—but it will always be there. Shit, look at my ruby red slippers ... scuffed, ripped running shoes. I've already thrashed 2 pairs. Remember those ol' huaraches? In some garbage bin on the side of the road in Tahiti. I miss Tahiti in its polynesianness ... + my plastic reef shoes dumped elsewhere ... oh yeah, at the caving hut. Got a pair of cheap black chinese karate shoes yesterday.

7:09 a.m. The plane leaves at 8:30. It was sposed to leave at 7:15. No worries. They gave us coffee + scones for our troubles. Yum. I just bought this pen 2 days ago + it's already out of blood. All those letters. It's only symbolic that the pen should dry up—the Kiwi pen. Inspiration gone. Dying. The blood pouring out on the pavement. The Cocteau Twins filling my head. Mind already on Australia. OZ. Yes! I'll ride the yellow brick road on a big black motorcycle—back north where it is warm ... + shoes + pens + boooks + feces are all i leave behind.


[had us the habit of listing + talking briefly of the books we read on the backflaps of the journels, not always mixed into the travelogue like we do now ... here's the books we read during this time:]

Return to Paradise by James Michener (Oct 22)
[likely we picked this up from a youth hosel bookswap cuz there nothing else + we'd just been thru the South Pacific] ... intresting tidbits on each of the South Pacific islands, including N.Z. .. but themes generally center on war + he's racist, specially w/ his attitude towards Indians in Fiji (comparing them to Maina birds).

Unnatural Selection by Daniel Evan Weiss (Oct 24)
Pretty raunchy shit, didn't know what to make of it. So blasphemous that it was too controversial to be published in U.S. .. where he's from. [member some1 telling us about this book but couldn't find it stateside ... so bought it when we saw it in N.Z. Remember liking it more than we let on here ... not sure why it was banned, perhaps the scene where the cockroach performs cunnilingus on the woman? In retrospect probly a publicity stunt.]

Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene (Oct 28)
[again, probly slim pickings at these bookswaps] decent stuff, specially the part about having a church for dogs. But why'd they do that Wordsworth? I was quite fond of him.

All Gods Children Need Travelling Shoes by Maya Angelou (Oct 31)
[dare i admit it?] good shit, tho a bit self-righteous + idealistic in her approach to racism. Her anger is definitely needed + her sickness of it all adequately conveyed. Especially of intrest was African's reluctance to accept Black Americans ... talk about a double-edged sword.

[... this journal continues here, wherein we travel thru Australia.]

 > 393 > Economized media: WHAT becomes writ = more important than WHO writes it


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