Friday, March 22, 2013
Fare Well Wellington
I a sitting in a commuter plane over Christchurch on my way to Wellington which is a stopover on my way to Auckland from where tonight I fly back to Los Angeles.
Wellington is the home of my friends to whom, in my last post, I wrote an apology for insensitive behavior. I have subsequently spoken to them and received an apology. For me, the recent days have been beset with emotional turmoil and, although exonerated, I know that the friendship, like a beautiful vase dropped to the floor and shattered and then hastily glued back together, will always feel flawed and damaged.
Over two days last week, these people drove me around showed me most of the important sites of New Zealand's capital during which time I asked incessantly my hosts questions about geography, history, politics, health care. and demographics, all of which were patiently answered.
Since I hadn't read about the city in my guide books, I was surprised when my first glimpse of Wellington showed,a clean, bright metropolis lying up against and upon steep verdant hills, which surrounded a large aquamarine-colored bay. Many of the residential houses were either bayfront or commanded stellar views The scenery of the towering green rocky cragged mountains of The Hobbit was to be found elsewhere. Nonetheless, here was a hint of its grandeur and the magic. That fairy tale world lay just offshore on the South Island which was visible across Cook Strait The downtown was peaceful, yet clearly economically robust, and offered an unusual and sometimes humorous juxtaposition of both modern and historic buildings. This was most poignantly demonstrated by a peculiar building called the Beehive sitting next to a stately late 19th century stone parliament building with its manicured green lawns and accompanied flower gardens. While taking photos of the spot, teenage girls from a nearby parochial school, dressed in neatly ironed dark uniforms and walking in groups of twos and threes, passed by me. I listened to their indistinct chatter and laughter and watched their wholesome intelligent expressions. The scene felt serene and almost picture book. It was as if the rough-edged world of so many inner cities I have toured was missing. Absent was turbulence, noise, litter, and artifice. It was another reflection of the relaxed environment I had experienced on my travels here, of a people living on a large Polynesian island, separated by amazing distances over water, whose positive character I have attempted to capture in previous posts.
I am now in the departure lounge of the Auckland airport and have only minutes before I my flight is called. I say good-bye now and wonder as usual about the place my adventure has taken me. I ask myself whether I will ever return. There are countries and people and historic sites I have not seen and wish to experience before I die. Yet, somehow New Zealand lures me. It speaks more to my love of the mountains, the sea, and the rivers more than any place I've been. It is a "Call of the Wild" to my essence frrom the South. It is carried on a soft and gentle wind. It draws me nearer and soothes me as I am about to leave.