Okay, I meant to post something funny today. Maybe an anecdote about my IT training yesterday, invasive body screens….there was much material from which to choose. Today, after all, was Saturday, my day of leisure (which has been, let’s be honest, pretty much every day so far, since I don’t officially start work until Monday). I was going to have all day to construct my humorous tale. My jet lag is wearing off, and I slept passed 5am today. I watched the sun rise, and looked out my window, and caught the sun just hitting the Otogo Boys School up the hill. I promise this is my last picture of the Boys School because, well, if I take many more it would just seem creepy (imagine the security detail watching me with my telephotos lens taking pictures around the boys school). So here it is, at sun rise.
So, after breakfast I studied for an hour (three boards, T minus two years), and then went to the Farmer’s Market. Here’s the thing about Dunedin’s Farmer’s Market. The food there is all great- fresh from the farmer, a tremendous selection, friendly people- it’s all that AND it’s cheaper than the supermarket. I’m used to the farmer’s markets back home when you shell out $20 dollar bills like they are Monopoly money and get two apples. It was a great find, and I’ll surely be back next Saturday. I could only spend a short amount of time at the Market, because one of the doctor’s with whom I’ll be working invited me to his house for brunch today. He and his wife live just outside of the main town, about a twenty minute drive out on the Otago peninsula. It may be only twenty minutes, but it was a world away. They have about 40 acres of lands and as many sheep, two donkeys and four goats. Their dining room has glass on three sides, and we sat over 1,000 feet above sea level and the room afforded breath taking views of the surrounding hills (green, and dotted with white sheep) and Pacific Ocean. It was similar in many ways to the coastline of Big Sur. Just spectacular. And the brunch (lobster, Quiche Lorraine and Paella and fresh pastries with local honey) was more than I could have asked for. I came back to the apartment to meet up with a chap who kept a car I bought from one of the doctors who left two weeks ago. He took me up to his home after we dropped off my rental car, and then I became the official owner of a silver Subaru Legacy. Sweet. To celebrate my new wheels, I went back up the Otago peninsula to Sandfly Beach. The drive there was treacherous, not so much because the road is narrow and winding (it is) or because I’m still acclimating to driving on the left (I am), but more so because at every turn is a beautiful vista, and you’re want to look at it, instead of watching the road, as you should be. Here is what I mean….
So tell me, could you keep your eyes of the road while driving past these views?
I arrived at Sandfly beach unscathed. It’s called Sandfly Beach because the wind blows the sand around a lot, and not because of any pesky little insects. I’m sure if there is a Sandfly Beach in Austrailia, it’s named that because the sand flies there burrow into your skin (it’s a Bill Bryson reference…you have to have read ‘In a Sunburned Country). The parking lot for Sandfly Beach sits about 700 feet higher than the ocean, and it’s all sand on the way down (it was fun) and the way back up (not as much fun). But the thing about Sandfly Beach is there are BOTH penguins and seals that rest on the beach in the late afternoon. That’s what I was told, anyway, but how many times have you heard stuff like that and gone there only to be spend hours watching the waves come in (and no animals)?
Wait, could that be? There were easily a dozen seals up on the beach. Big ones, smaller ones. Lighter ones and darker ones.
I walked to the end of the mile long beach, because I was told (and read the sign on the walk down to the beach) the penguins come on to the beach in later afternoon after feeding all day out at sea, and then at each end of the beach they make a several hundred yard trek up the cliffs to sleep for the night and care for their young. And, sure enough…
It was fascinating watching them walk up the cliffs, waddling when the path was even, and then hopping to get over rocks. These are very rare penguins, the yellow-eyed, or hoiho penguins (there are three species of penguins which reside in New Zealand).
This is Sandfly Beach, as the sun is beginning to set behind us. It’s about a mile long, and the penguins above were photographed at the very far end of the beach (which is still in sunshine). It was a beautiful clear day, with tempartures in the mid teens (50s), and winds about 20mph. Down on the beach, watching the sets of waves crash, was quite a sight.
On the hike back up, through meadows and pastures, you can’t help but enjoy the other creatures more commonly seen.
And one last look into the pasture as the sun sets.
Then I tuck my Subaru in for the night, and watch rugby (called football here) because there is NOTHING ELSE on.