Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Day 2 - Whakatane to Tauranga

I got up at eight, or was it 8.30. Who cares? After all I'm on holiday. My body said that it could sleep for another 12 hours. But I didn't have another 12 hours, coz we had to check out at 10. So I drag myself out of bed and have tea and the fried eggs and toast which M has so kindly made for me. Anyway, my protesting body is moving in slow-motion but by 9.50 we're all packed and checked out. I had signed up to go to the While Island, an active volcano, a long distance into the sea. It would have involved a 2-hour boat ride, then 2 hours on the island and 2 hours for the return trio, but weather conditions do not permit the trip :((( We decide to take a walk along the Whakatane River which runs alongside the motel and spend the good part of the next 45 mins sauntering along the placidly flowing river. We see a Boat Club and stand and watch youngsters being coached in rowing. Then we go to the Town Hall coz M is keen to see some Craft Fair that's going on there. End up spending heaps of money quite unnecessarily. :((( Then, we head off for the mouth of the river where it meets the sea. Great views. There is a statue of a woman built atop a little hilltop in the waters. The Woman of the Sea I think she is called and there is some local legend about her bringing the first weka (boat) that the Maori came in safely ashore. Then we head out of Whakatane.

The drive to Tauranga is very picturesque, For a long stretch, the road runs along the sea and as always the surrounding countryside is green, clean and fresh. Cattle, sheep and horses graze in the fields and houses rise occasionally among them. We pass little towns with sweet names like Pengakawa, Maniatutu and Te Puke. About an hour later we reach Tauranga. Which is a seaside city too but has an estuarine look, therefore to get the city we have to drive over bridges that span over the bays. Very beautiful.

We are checked into the motel by Marilyn. Marilyn is a curious contrast to Magdalene of yesterday. While Magdalene was very friendly and a bit short of information, Marilyn is very matter-of-fact and businesslike and has lots of information to offer. Not that I'm complaining :))) The room is cosy and comfortable and has a little mineral-water pool outside in an enclosed area. We have lunch and then I decide to take a little nap. Must say, it proves a little difficult at first since I'm not used to sleeping in the afternoon, but soon my body winds down and I nap for a while and then wake up and lie in the soft bed just letting my mind float. That is one of the joys of being on holiday, I can give that tyrant, the clock, a massive ignore. The person who divided the day into hours, minutes and seconds must have been an unhappy person indeed. Why would one want to measure one's life in little time chunks? And now the malaise is so deep-rooted that we let our lives be dictated by a mechanical device with hands that move unceasingly. Sigh !!! Even by four my body and mind are reluctant to get vertical so I remain prone in bed, just being lazy :))).

After a while I get up, have a cup of tea and we head out for sightseeing. First stop is the beach. This one is a surfers' beach coz the waves come in in long big curls and sure enough there are a lot of surfers in the water riding the waves. I walk along leisurely taking loads of pictures. The beach, the sea, the sky and the skyline are so beautiful, I feel the photos will not do justice to the breathtaking beauty. The sound of the crashing waves is music to my jaded ears. there is such an air of timelessness about the ocean. Heaving and crashing on the fine sand, pulled by the moon, the interconnectedness of all things becomes evident. After the sun's gone down over the hills, it turns a bit chilly and head back to the car and drive to Mt.Manganui. It looks more like a hillock to me after coming from mountainous Wellington :)) We find an Indian restaurant and order some takeaway including some fih and chicken. I don't know why but I have this sudden desire to eat some meat :( While we're waiting for the food to be ready we drive out to the harbour area, where the ships are docked and where little sailboats dot the calm waters of the bay, looking very pretty and very Meditteranean.

We reach the motel and I start eating only to feel disappointed and crappy. The meat does not taste as good as I had imagined it to be and I am feeling crappy that I broke my long held resolve. Anyway, to make myself feel better, I climb into the hot-water pool.

Aaaaaahhhh!!! My body and mind immediately relax and let out a long exhalation. The water is bore-welled straight from under the earth :))) and has a sulphuric smell to it. It feels hot and urgent against my skin and the aches and pains in my body begin to throb. I hope that by the time I get out, they'll be all gone :) The inlet that lets the water in is directly behind my back and it gives a pleasant vibration on my back as the mild current hits my body. I just lie there eyes closed and soak it all in. Little by little my body releases its tensions and little by little the sky above darkens. The rain that had started earlier has now stopped and through the gaps in the clouds I see the stars come out. My body just floats in the water disregarding gravity, it's amazing. After a long time, I climb out of the pool and take a shower. When I finish, I am so relaxed that I feel like I'm drunk. I climb into bed and try to sleep, but sleep comes slowly, and when it finally comes it enfolds me in its warm embrace.