Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

So 2010 is nearly over, and 2011 is nearly upon us. Well, at least upon those of us who are currently in New Zealand, one of the first (if not the first) country in the world to welcome the New Year. It is 11:13pm and a group of drunk(ish) teenagers are walking down the street outside with a guitar, singing a very broken version of “American Pie”... similar to the commotion of barking dogs and squealing tyres that I was treated to last night, but with a whole lot less swearing.

I am absolutely stuffed from the dinner Fay and I made, although it was more the dessert than the dinner that caused the stuffed feeling. We made breaded chicken tenders and battered potatoes for the main course, I made a salad for the side, and for dessert we had strawberries and whipped cream, cream puffs, and brandy snaps filled with (you guessed it) whipped cream. I think I have eaten about five brandy snaps, and while they are decidedly delicious, my stomach feels like a balloon inflated just past its limit. Methinks breakfast tomorrow will be something nice and light!

I didn’t start the day off with light food, either - I made another omelette (it didn’t fall apart as spectacularly as the one last night: in fact, if I hadn’t overstuffed it, this one would have behaved itself and worked). Nevertheless, if I end up staying somewhere with a supply of eggs, I can add “omelette” to my list of potential meal options.

Today doesn’t just mark the end of 2010 for me; it also marks the end of my stay in Napier, and the beginning of my wandering, vagabondish ways again. Tomorrow morning at 7:45am I board a bus for Wellington, and by 6:25pm at night I will be on the Interislander ferry heading for Picton. A long day of traveling, and everything I need for the next few months I will be carrying on my back... I’m leaving my blue suitcase behind here at Fay and Frank’s, along with a substantial number of my clothes. I have two reasons for doing so: a) it’s summer, I don’t need to carry around three hoodies, and b) I have a 60-litre hiking backpack, its space is finite, and I definitely need to bring my tent, sleeping bag, and food. I’m going to miss the creature comforts of staying in one place for an extended period of time; something of a routine, getting to know my surroundings, and perhaps most of all, the glorious luxury of having a room to myself where no one is snoring!

This morning when Frank and I went out shopping the supermarket was a hive of activity, as everyone rushed out to buy things for their New Year’s Eve parties tonight. My left elbow is also less than happy with me; playing my usual trick of unlocking my car door by snaking my skinny arm down the gap between the window and doorframe, I got my elbow wedged inbetween the two and couldn't get it back out without a struggle! I suppose it serves me right.

I think I’m going to go take a walk out to Marine Parade now (it’s 11:30pm); apparently fireworks are going to be set off at midnight. I’ll be back...


It’s now 12:48am. Happy New Year! I exited the house, trying to be as quiet as possible (Frank and Fay were already in bed), and made my way down Nash Street to Nuffield Avenue, then out onto Ellison Street and Marine Parade. A large searchlight was making passes across the sky, reflecting off a few low-lying clouds, and extending out toward the Eastern shore of the Pacific Ocean along Napier’s beachfront, as if searching for the rapidly approaching New Year. When I got to Marine Parade I could see bonfires dotted along the beach, where groups sat huddled around the flickering orange light, some singing, many drinking (apparently the public liquor ban is only enforced in densely populated areas...). I settled down off the path on the pebbly beach stones with the dull roar of the crashing waves on my right, and checked my watch... 11:58pm.

I don’t know exactly when the New Year began; my watch is several seconds fast, and the waves drowned out any noise from the bandshell and town that would have given me hints (apparently Mayor Barbara Arnott rang the Veronica Bell just before midnight). My watch read “12:01am” when fireworks started to detonate from the beach close to the bandshell. I’ve never watched fireworks from that far away; while sometimes breathtaking in their beauty, illuminating the skies and the sea in a shimmering glow, I was more intrigued by the sound/sight discrepancy; I heard the noise of the fireworks several seconds after I saw their explosion. Knowing that sound travels at 343 m/s at STP, my Mus 401C Acoustics brain kicked into action, and I calculated I was about 1.2km away from the source of the fireworks. That's when I knew it was time to go home to bed... but then again, how typical of me, ringing in the New Year with math equations!

Anyway, it is now almost 1am, and I must get some sleep. Happy New Year / Ngā mihi o te Tau Hou from New Zealand, everyone!


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