Jo, Becca & I just spent a few days down in Queenstown, hence the hiatus between posts. We refused to pay the completely outrageous $50 per Gig that the pencil-skirted bandit behind the desk at the hotel demanded for a wi-fi connection. When will these people understand that connectivity is no longer a frivolous diversion for the idle rich but a basic staple of everyday existence like bread or Central Otago Pinot Noir?
If I’m honest, even with a working uplink, there would have been precious little time for blogging, preoccupied as we were with cramming as much as humanly possible into three short days. I skillfully managed to avoid most of the blood-curdling “adventures” for which Queenstown is famous for – throwing myself off mountains, bridges, out of airplanes etc. My recent brush with mortality may have changed my perspective on many things, but deep down, I’m still the same yellow, whimpering, sniveling coward I have always been, and appealing as the idea might be to call cancer’s bluff and scare myself and it to death by plummeting toward the frozen ground head first from a great altitude, my lizard brain and my bowels would never allow such wanton recklessness.
So we confined ourselves to less taxing, and altogether more enjoyable diversions, such as riding the Skyline gondolas up Ben Lomond to the lofty observation decks (taking care to stay well back from the butt-clenchingly precipitous edge of course), racing luges down the winding hillside tracks whooping and laughing in the cold mountain air, and later taking a sedate evening cruise on the gorgeous nineteenth century steamer TSS Earnslaw down lake Wakatipu to the sheep station at the foot of Walters Peak. Much more my kind of thrill seeking.
On Wednesday we hired a car and Jo drove us over the snowy Crown Ranges to Wanaka where we spent a memorable day Jet-Boating down the Cluther, across a blustery and choppy Lake Wanaka and along the winding ribbon of the into the heart of the Mt. Aspiring National Park. Ok so granted, burning 90 litres of gas and 700 bucks in four hours of high-octane madness is not exactly a sustainable or Eco-friendly means of conveyance, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and after all, I am on a schedule here. Time is of the essence.
And here’s another thing. Getting out into the macro scale of the South Island wilderness, is a highly effective way of putting our puny little human trials and tribulations into sobering context. Out here, things are operating on geological time. Our guide explains that the seemingly immutable mountains towering over us are moving and growing by a few centimeters each year, only to be eroded away again by the relentless action of ice and wind and rain. The glaciers advance and recede at a rate of a few tens of unimportant human lifetimes per kilometer. The entire landscape is breathing in slow-motion.
I imagine a film where glacial time is accelerated to a more human friendly tempo. In my movie, the mountains are rolling across the landscape like waves on the ocean, rising, falling, and colliding. Going about their blind geological business, unaware of the frantic microscopic activity boiling beneath their feet. Human lives by the billion in time-lapse, flickering momentarily into existence for a split fraction of a second, living, loving, multiplying, dying. Generation after generation, rising an falling, like a frothing yeast culture. At this frame-rate, what’s a few years of a single lifetime here or there? It doesn’t even register on the scale. Nothing is fixed. Nothing lasts. Not the mountains. Not me. It’s all just an ongoing process. An endless movement of assets and re-distribution of raw materials. I like that. It makes perfect sense.
That reminds me. Years ago when I was a student in London, I saw some graffiti at the Angel Islington tube station. It said FAITH CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS. Underneath someone had written “Faith must be a very big girl!”
Funny the things that go on under a woolly hat, in the back of a speeding boat, on a cold afternoon in Otago.