Trees, Rocks and Laundry

Rangitoto (RANG-ee-Toe-toe) island burst forth onto the New Zealand landscape in a great geological fart about 600 years ago. An eye blink in geologic time. Seen (and smelled) by local Maori villages at the time, Rangitoto is just one of the small volcanic islands that dot the Auckland north shore.

I’m sitting on what amounts to an open air bus pulled along by a tractor. The driver, Dennis, is commentating at the scenes on either side of the track. “Being a basalt volcanic island, most of the landscape is simply black basaltic rock.”

I remember this from an Hawaiian excursion. Similar landscape and commentary.

“The trees and plants here are hardy specimens, they don’t need much soil to survive.”

He’s right. There’s little topsoil I can see. I can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed to eke out an existence here.

Now, the tour has been interesting. Up until now. For the next 2 hours it’s “Off to your left, rock, off to your right, trees… See those trees? There’s rocks over there… more trees, more rock…” Et cetera, et cetera…

OK, so maybe this excursion wasn’t so good. But that’s OK, they can’t all be gangbusters. Right?

Time for me to take a day off travelling. Read, do laundry, chat up the hotel barkeep, just hang out. Even doing laundry can turn into a place to meet people.

Heather is a born and bred New Zealander. We got chatting while laundry chugged away in the background. Environmentalist. Socialist. Activist. With braces for her teeth. They’re blue. The braces, not the teeth.

“You can’t survive on one income any more,” she says. She’s letting spittle gather at the corners of he mouth. It’s probably because of her braces. “Now you need two people working full-time just to pay the mortgage. And kids now need day care. It’s not fair.”

I nodded and smiled. Remaining non-committal. Laundromat politics. Is this how social change starts? I don’t know. I’m just waiting for her to wipe her mouth.

Laundry’s done. Pack it up in the plastic bag – the bag has All Blacks logos – say my goodbyes to Heather, tell her to keep fighting for what she thinks is right.

A leisurely afternoon at the hotel. Needed it.

I have to remind myself not to hurry and rush things here. I won’t appreciate what I’m doing and where I am if I’m exhausted.

So chill. Just chill. Auckland will still be here tomorrow.

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