Auckland Island déjà vu

50° 43 minutes South 166° 10 minutes East


Bark of the Rata tree

I have experienced the strangest of things, a full nights sleep. The bed was dead still. It neither pitched nor rolled nor yawed and there was no underlying bass thud of the engines to pound my brain into submission.

There is now only three sleeps to go. We spend all day today somewhere in the Auckland Islands and will have Christmas anchored in another sheltered fjord, of which there is no shortage provided the weather is coming from the right direction.

These are the frustrating days. Coming home is always like that. There is always a point in a holiday where you stop going away and start coming home. It is not the half way point, or the point where you change direction, it is a psychological point where the holiday is over and you are now travelling home. On my 1988-90 world trip it kicked in in Perth. I had flown there from London via two weeks in Zimbabwe. I thought I’d stay in Perth for a few days, since I hadn’t been there before, but this was a mistake. The journey home started in Perth and the days spent there were frustrating delays. On the 2001 family world tour the kids started coming home when we left London. For them, the intervening days in Canada and the USA fell into this ‘frustrating delays’ category to the extent that Belinda must have been the only 11-year-old on the planet that didn’t enjoy a trip to Disneyland.

For me, I started coming home on 15 December. The day we found out we were not going to get to Mawson’s Hut. (This failure now apparently publicised in national newspapers.) Every day since has psychologically been a step closer to home, but touring west along the ice edge for a day only to return west the next day has fallen firmly into the frustrating delays category.  Waiting for Santa at the Auckland Islands, ditto.

Sometimes external factors exacerbate the situation. Word came through last night that Christchurch had been hit by two more earthquakes.  Some of the staff with friends and family in the area had that helpless feeling of being so close and yet so far away.

Today will no doubt bring another Zodiac tour of the fjords. The fjords here are very much like the fjords in Norway. That is, interesting for the first hour. Today should bring the joy of a landing, a real landing, with both feet on solid ground at once and possibly even moving one in front of the other in a pedestrian fashion.

But even the joy of a walk on dry land can’t overcome the feeling that it is another frustrating delay in getting home. Another orbit of Alpha Centauri, before we head for Earth.


Sea lion in the Rata forest

The Zodiac tour went ahead and we finally got to tread upon the earth. We landed on a rocky beach and trekked (tramped?) through the thick rata forest to a small lake (Hinemoa) at the end of a glacial moraine. The forest was magical and had Peter Jackson been here when scouting for locations for Lord of the Rings, he would have really blown the budget. Deep into the forest we encountered a large seal guarding the track. After the 20th or so person walked past he started to get the shits and would lunge at people as they walked past.

Once at the lake we stayed just long enough, or in my case, not long enough. I took a few photos and filmed Rodney’s contribution to the music video and went it was done it was time to go. I didn’t really get a chance to stop and ‘feel the serenity’.

One mitigating factor was that Geoff had decided to stay on the ship, so the bushwalk wasn’t being constantly interrupted by loud, inane and inappropriate comments. Geoff’s approach to humour is if you don’t get a laugh the first time, repeat it louder and see if anyone laughs. If still unsuccessful, try a third time just for luck.

After lunch there was another (non-landing) Zodiac tour. I stayed on board and finished my Opus. Although it was good to do this, I missed out on seeing an amazing sea cave. It was big enough to hold all of the Zodiacs and once inside they cut the engines and listened to the echoes of the waves. The Francophones spontaneous burst into song (clearly someone dropped a hat) and it was quite a magical experience. It is a shame I missed it.


Rata branches

I managed to finish the video and it premiered tonight after dinner. The audience clapped all the way through the credits and then demanded an immediate re-screening. My cabin-mate Ira didn’t attend the screening. He was a bit funny about the whole thing. I originally asked him to help and he simply said he didn’t do video. He didn’t participate in any of the individual shots and even when everyone went to the monkey deck for the group shot, he didn’t go. I don’t quite understand his attitude. Even if you weren’t really interested you would turn up just to be polite. But he is a bit strange all round. Often I talk to him and he just ignores me. I think he might be partly deaf, but if you were, you would probably take some step to stop people thinking you were rude. Oh well, I don’t have to have anything to do with him after Tuesday morning. It is getting late I have copied the movie to about to USB sticks and I think I’ll go to bed.



Comments are closed