Tuesday, March 08, 2005

KAPITI ISLAND

Kapiti Island was our final day in the Fulbright program and the pre-program materials described this as a day dedicated to a kiwi style tramp. The wise among us learned early on that kiwis are sports people and outdoors people and as such they are well trained for rigorous anything including hiking. Lets not forget, the first man to successfully climb Mt. Everest, Edmund Hillary, is a New Zealander. It's in their history, their heritage and therefore it's in their blood.

Note to self: consider it words of warning when the kiwi park ranger tells you--this will be a nice tramp, a lovely day, get about yourself, good on you and give it a go, no worries. Trust me, there was nothing easy about our two-hour hike up the mountain and it was harder on anyone who was brave or hungry enough to want to eat something. Kapiti Island is a bird sanctuary--it sounds so nice, bird sanctuary, but I am now convinced "Kapiti" must be New Zealand for vulture or birds of prey. Or better yet, hungry birds of prey that will come out of nowhere at the slightest exposure of food and will swoop down, land on you, grab at you, peck at you and the second before the moment that your food reaches your mouth, these birds have snatched it out of your hands and shazam, the food is gone. I have no use for food in an environment like this but unfortunately I forgot my good governance skills and did not call for the consensus vote with my tramping mates on the pack that we'd rather starve than encourage a bird attack. I don't think we were 30 minutes into this walk when someone thought it would be a good time to pull out an unwrap a huge wedge of quiche from her backpack. You know I love the food here, but honestly, where is the line in the world when trail mix, m&ms, fig newtons and apple slices are no longer acceptable backpack food and triple cheese, spinach and sun dried tomato quiche becomes standard fare for human fuel when out in the bush? This lady takes out her quiche and in seconds we're staring in the remake of the "Birds". The fat man never showed up but it was a great opportunity for Alfred Hitchcock to walk on by.

We all survived the near bird attack and made our way to the half way mark...actually there was never any mark or posting of distance covered versus distance to go--but every single time someone walked past us we yelled or gasped--"how much further?". Finally we settled into a good pace and reach the summit--even Edmund Hillary would have been proud of us...well, maybe not. But it was a jolly good ole jaunt if I must say so myself and we even made it back down the mountain in time to catch the ferry back...we had to or somebody was going down if I had to live with those birds all night.

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