Published: February 28th 2007February 28th 2007
Josh Learns a Lesson
Where there is steam, there is usually hot scalding water.
Some minor issues sorted out, we picked up the new vehicle, dropped off the rental van and hit the road heading south. The Toyota Landcruiser is ideal - comfortable and blessedly quiet in comparison to the van. It is in great shape for a vehicle that is older than Josh.
Our first stop, Rotorua. On the way, we enjoyed a good bit of the countryside with some very interesting and unusual vistas. Unexpectedly, we came across hordes of cows and steers but relatively few sheep. The drive from Auckland was a little over 2 1/2 hours. On our way, Astrid "rang" a hotel with her new cell phone and got us a good rate at the Novotel.
We got into Rotorura late afternoon. I had read that visitors are overwhelmed by the smell of rotting eggs. It may have been that my socks are now a couple of days old and I am used to foul smells, but I was not overcome by the fumes. We went by a local park which just recently saw some minor volcanic activity (January 2001). There was steam, water and boiling mud coming out of the ground at several locations. Here the smell was more pronounced, but the visual was worth the minor insult to the nose.
Josh (perhaps at my suggestion) stuck his hand in a steaming pool of water underneath a couple of rocks. He learned an important lesson. Water turns to vapor at a very high temperature and putting your hand into a steaming geothermal pool is pretty much like putting your hand into a pot of boiling water. He is glad to have put this important life lesson behind him.
We went to a Maori "cultural" show and dinner. It was very authentic, with the traditional buffet, cash bar and 15% gratuity included. The Maori are known for their face tattoos and sticking their tongues out during traditional dances to intimidate their enemies. However, I gather that it didn’t have the hoped for effect with the gun toting Europeans.
One of the performers really took this to heart - his tongue was out of his mouth more than it was in. Now, I am sure that you would expect that Josh would be a little put off by the PDT (public display of tongue). However, his attentions were elsewhere. You see we were seated at a table with three retired Brits. One was an elderly woman who took a shine to Josh (looked a little like the Queen, but don't they all). She would look over at him from time to time with an endearing look. Josh was very uneasy with this attention - almost as disturbing as the Hissing Monk. He insisted that she looked at him too frequently and for just a little bit too long. It put him off his dinner. He could barely put the traditional Maori brownies and ice cream into his mouth.