Sunday, August 17, 2014

Climbing a volcano is not easy.... leaving the volcanic " stuff " that is everywhere is harder......

Rangitoto volcano is the island.................a short 30 minute ferry ride and you are dropped off at the base of the mountain. There is a small building with 4 toilets and a sign that tells you a bit about the island and after that all you see is trees, birds, lava fields , spectacular views, panting people, high pathways and guiding signs. The steps are made for people taller than 5'3" and the angle of ascent is deceiving : starting you out gently as you start your climb and then forcing you to continue at almost vertical levels. Did people give up? Did they stop at the fabulous photo opportunities and say that they had climbed the mountain? They must have , because by the time we got to the crater rim, the amount of people had been cut by at least 75%.

Were they dumb? Well , you know we each have to do what is the best for us.. I think that they missed out. But, I was one that  was a panter, sweater and almost giver-up. It was a hard climb. Of course my hiking decided that we could make the 60 minute climb in 35 , so we were really moving. Nathan is not one to follow conventionality and he didn't think that we needed that whole hour.

In hind sight, he was right. We made it and it was amazing. Not as open anymore as the crater might once have been , but 2400 years of growing vegetation will do that to a mountain. We stayed crater side for about 30 minutes and then headed to the lava caves. That was a walk down a path that was covered in protruding pieces of lava with twisting bends and steep climbing. But it was worth it as well. There was nothing that wasn't doing on Rangitoto!! I am sadden at the people that were only there to take a few photos or walk along the shore. I wanted to bring back all sorts of pieces of the lava..............but my conscience and that of Nathan's stopped me. It was ultimately harder to do than the climb.

Our descent was supposed to take 60 minutes as well ( based on the guide sign.). It was not going to take anywhere near that long, I mean we cut the ascent in half ... did we honestly think the descent would take long? Back at the ferry in about the same time it took to go, we have a little more time to explore the shore. There was a colony of people living on the island until about 50 years ago. They had acquired the land and built homes, rather nice cottages with exquisite views. The government came along and took over the island and told the folks that they had to leave. They were given 20 years to relocate. In that time, the ruling was challenged, since they had purchased the land, how could they be kicked off it? So, sovereignty was granted to extend to the children. As each family died out, the cottages were no longer in habited. I am not sure who is maintaining them because they are not falling down and decaying.

Our time has come to an end on the island of Rangitoto and we head back to the ferry. We will have about 2 hours once we get back to get cleaned up and then walk up Queen's Street to the theater. Todays production of a " Good Soul in Szechuan" starts at 4 and since we don't really know the theater or the rules , we need to be there a bit early. The play is unknown to me , but sometimes that is a good thing.

What a thought provoking story it turned out to be. The whole idea was that the Gods were looking for a good soul to validate the continuation of humans on Earth. They are led to a prostitute in Szechuan and are so impressed with her humanitarian ideas that they decide to help her get a tobacco shop. The rest of the story is the trials and tribulations of her life over the next 10 or so years. And the moral is : How do you be a good soul with the drive and need to help others when all it does is bring you trouble and then bad things happen to you?

Since the show was early , we didn't grab supper before it and so we needed to eat and fast. Not much food on the mountain and not much between coming " home" and the show. Where did we eat? There was a great place called , appropriately enough , " Taste of China". The food was incredible and the fact that we were the only Europeans in the place wasn't a deterrent at  all.  But now, I have to think about sleep and the new adventure at a local school tomorrow !

Two appropriate thoughts in closing :
He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!
What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people! It is people! It is people!

Whāia te iti kahurangi
Ki te tūohu koe, me he maunga teitei
Pursue excellence – should you stumble, let it be to a lofty mountain

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