Friday, December 18, 2009

NZ - Rotorua

Zorbing!  Our first and only task for this morning is to zorb!  It was expensive for a 30-second or so gig, but I can’t deny it’s something that just had to be done.  Gitti and I both did the water one and the zig-zag course.

That is, when you zorb you have two choices: strapped in & dry, where you just get really really dizzy; or you can just sit inside unstrapped, getting tossed about in water.  The latter lets you roll and flip & also try to stand up… only to fall right back down.

The zig-zag course means just that: when the gate opens, you throw yourself against the side of the hamster ball & send yourself down a graded back-and-forth hillside.  The other option is to go straight down, but then a 30-second trip takes only 15 seconds… the only perk about that one is if you want to roll down at the same time as someone else in another zorb; but nah we chose to zig-zag it.

You leap into the zorb Superman-style.  When you get out, you emerge feet first… and with all the water in there with you, it looked a lot like giving birth.  Ahh, the zorby womb.

Gitti and I walked around town a bit ‘til 11am, when it was her actual time to work this day – even though yesterday she’d thought she started at 5pm.  So at 11 I bid her farewell and got in the car to head up to the Coromandel Peninsula.  First a brief stop in Te Aroha, then all the way up to Hahei to check out Cathedral Cove.  The Cove involved a pretty quick hike and was completely worth it: not just for the cute international co-eds enjoying the beach, but also for the beautiful geologic formations in all directions.

Cathedral Cove was definitely worth the diversion, and following that I took the 309 Road across the peninsula to Coromandel Town.  Much of the 309 Road is unsealed and extremely twisty, guaranteeing a fun drive.  Along the way I stopped at a Kauri grove – I almost passed it by until it occurred to me that I’d come to New Zealand and hadn’t seen their iconic trees.

My first glimpse of kauri trees was quite the rewarding experience: they’re huge and have a certain beauty that is tough to describe.  So I’ll describe it with an LotR reference, since I think it’s obligatory to do at least one such reference each day.  The Kauri felt a lot like the Mallorn trees of Lothlórien, and to stand directly beside them staring upwards was quite the sensation.  I really like the Siamese Kauri, which started out as two separate trees which eventually fused together.

I nearly forgot where I’d booked a room for the night.  I ended up driving right past the place – the Jacaranda Lodge – before turning back and pulling up the driveway to see if my name was in the books.  I was quite surprised when I heard a voice from the garden go “Is that Andrew?”  My response was along the lines of “Well I guess I have the right place, then.”  The enthusiastic and sociable owner excitedly showed me around.  When she showed me my room, she noted a mosquito repelling thingamajig for the power outlet, to which I dismissed it saying that I’ll be fine.  Oh crikey, I came to regret those words.

That night I slept horribly for the first several hours.  I could feel myself twisting and turning and scratching and scratching.  I awoke scratching my forehead and shoulders vigorously, and all of a sudden I heard a faint buzz in my ear.  A blasted mosquito.  I spent the next 30 minutes or so dousing myself in antiseptic to control the itching, and also hunting for the mosquito.  Looking in the mirror, the thing had been treating me like an open buffet: every bit of skin exposed above the covers had massive bumps from bites.

It came to an end with a clap.  One clap and I saw a little speck go hurtling downward.  Inspection confirmed it as a rather leggy mosquito, but I couldn’t get it out of my head that there must’ve been others in there with me.  The one I killed didn’t look like it had been gorging much, and yet clearly I’d been a soup kitchen for hungry critters.  So my mind manifested imaginary buzzing & convinced itself I was itchy all over, even though I increasingly suspect there really was only one mosquito.  I came to feel like I was a madman: randomly swinging and swatting at the air before returning to a fit of calm.

Eventually I wrapped myself up so tightly in the sheets that I knew nothing could get at my body, and I secured my head so that I felt confident enough that I’d hear anything attempting to land on my head.  Eventually I mentally turned off each itch, and next thing I knew I was waking up to my mobile’s alarm: it was morning & I’d actually slept.  I didn’t feel itchy at all anymore, and most of the itchiness & bumps had already dissipated and subdued.

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