Intelligence from great people
I am on the move again. After four days in Browns Bay I have today started the last leg of the New Zealand Tour. I will ride all the way to Cape Reinga, the northmost point of the north island and then go back to Browns Bay for a a few more days and for the sailing course before to move away from New Zealand and onto Australia.
This first riding day was a bit not descriptive with a few good photo opportunity but mostly with the typical north island terrain that includes a great deal of ups and downs.
As the riding was relatively uneventful I will let the few pictures that I took do the talking on the day and instead give you a little update on the week end and all the extraordinarily interesting people I met.
So, it all started on Saturday. Adam and Arantxa are trying to buy a property here in Aucland and Arantxa had lined up three properties for Adam to see. I accompanied him as Arantxa was taking the girls next door to a birthday party of Ara and Leandro’s daughter.
When we came home Arantxa was in the house chatting with Pedro and Paola, a couple of Colombians that were also there with their children for the party. Ara and Leandro did join us later on and the seven of us spent the whole of the afternoon talking. Ara and Leandro are from Buenos Aires, so I took the opportunity to enquire about their opinion of going to cycle tour in Argentina. It was rather alarming with both of them telling me to avoid it, Leandro went as far as saying that the general election next year might lead to riots and even civil war.
This was bad news, Argentina has been high up on my horison for a long time. I’ll need to do more research and identify the trouble spots. There is an inflation of blog of people that have successfully travelled through Argentina, though to be honest, all talk about cycling to Patagonia and to La Tierra del Fuego, perhaps down there it’s quieter.
The bad news from Leandro were however counterbalanced by the extremely positive reports I was getting from Pedro about cycling in Colombia.
He gave me some tips on places to go and things to to do, he told me that there is no problem for the savvy traveller, using common sense is sufficient to not end up in trouble.
He however said to avoid Venezuela like the plague and to be very careful in Equador. Peru and Bolivia are ok and there is little to see in Paraguay.
As Colombia is just above the Equator and has both jungle and non jungle terrain I think it’s a place that might catch my planning sooner that I had forecast.
The rather enjoyable Saturday was ended with the five of us going out for dinner in a South African restaurant where, no prizes for guessing, I had a lovely steak.
Sunday started very relaxed, with no property to view Arantxa left just before lunch for another kid birthday party. Adam and I spent the morning just relaxing and chatting and then joined Arantxa at the party in the afternoon.
The party was organised by Sarai, a lovely Basque woman I met on the previous Wednesday when we stopped don the way home from having been to a house auction. Together with a large number of children the party also had all the relative parents and I spent the afternoon talking to several of them and in the process acquiring more information on future cycle trips.
Some gems were acquired talking with a couple that had just moved here from South Africa from whom a got a run down of the best times to go to South Africa, the safest places to go and the best scenic routes to take.
After most of the people had left we stayed behind and ended up having dinner, and I, having quite a bit of red wine. With the people diminishing and the children entertaining each other, I had an opportunity to chat with Ben, Sarai’s husband,
Ben is a surgeon and he told me about his time in Christchurch four years ago. He was working the day the earthquake stroke and he ended up working a 43 hours shift receiving and intervening on most of the victims of the quake.
His description of the hours after the quake are a very shocking, but at the same time he said that he had a great satisfaction when, six months after the quake, he saw a chap being interviewed on tv that had come into the hospital on the day in a terminal condition and that they managed to save and nurse back to health.
I am not sure if we talked about it with Sarai and Ben or with the other the day before but we did discuss the amazing speed at which it is possible to link up with people and make friends in New Zealand. We could not come up with a valid explanation but I think it has a lot to do with the security of the place and the attitude of the people that live here, both indigenous and migrants, coming to the place with an open mind and with few of the hangups that plague the older nations of the first world.