Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The Other Side

I started my pilgrimage in Christchurch, after randomly bumping into Mark (mate from Fraser Island) and picking up my ridiculously cheap relo car to Auckland (5 kiwibucks a day!). I started the engine much later than planned, which meant flooring the gas all the way to Picton to get in time for the ferry to the North island. I did get there in time, after lots of speeding and crazy overtakings on winding coastal roads, but for the record the ABS kicked in just two times and I only bumped the car once (and, ahem, later sort of repaired it).

I enjoyed the ferry, probably the most scenic ferry crossing ever, just as they advertise. Really windy though. Too short anyway, I felt sorry when we arrived. As a sidenote, on the boat I met one of the guys who worked animating Gollum in the LOTR trilogy, a really cool geek I'll have to look up in the credits one day.

I stopped in Wellington as I arrived for a few hours to get supplies, fuel and information. I pinpointed the Other Side on Google Maps, noted down the exact GPS coordinates and familiarised with the map of the area. Later walked through the backpacker district in W and fell in love with the atmosphere. Gotta come back someday, I thought as I zoomed out of town.

I didn't want to spend the night anywhere fancy, just somewhere in Nowhereland, but ended up in this uber-cool place with palm trees and free showers, which enabled me to start the following day clean, happy and ready to rumble.

The GPS I rented for an extra $5 a day proved to be essential for negotiating the labyrinth of secondary roads dotted with nothing but farms. The drive was quite long, and I looked at the Distance To Destination on the GPS every 5km. I felt the wonderful thrill of anticipation.

Finally made it to the point where the roads became too secondary for Navman to bother having them mapped. There I discovered that Google Maps was wrong: there was nothing at all where a gravel road was supposed to be. So I stalked the area for a while and found a no doubt somehow private dirt track that went up a hill. I hesitated not and slowly drove up it. From up the hill I could make out approximately where the point I was looking for was, some 2km away. I surveyed the area and it quickly became evident that I wouldn't be getting much closer. Not on unmapped dirt tracks, being, as it was, 7pm, with the clouds rolling in and the rain getting stronger.

So, This Was It. The endpoint of my pilgrimage. My destination. The End.

I Made It. This was There, or rather, Here. The Other Side of the World. The Antipode. Almost as far away as the surface of the Earth would ever allow me to get from where I've been living for the last 17 years. The place where I would pop my head out after digging over 12700km in a straight line and brushing off the lava.

I sat and mused for a while, taking in the view and the bellows from the cows in the valley, while thinking I Made It, I Am Here... and now what?

At this point a big herd of sheep avalanched into the scene, closely followed by 3 dogs and a shepherd riding an offroad quad bike.

He stopped and we chatted for a while. Where are you from, he asked at one point.

I grinned a big grin, swung my arm in a big arc, solemnly thrust my finger downwards, and said "there". I was so happy.

I explained my mission to him. He listened politely, with the expression of someone who, while not having a clue, is observing a particularly abstract piece of modern art involving colorful vaginas.

His house was a few hundred metres away. So we're neighbours of a sort, I said. Yeah, the farthest sort there is, he said. Good point. He was, though, happy to learn that Madrid, Spain lays exactly on the other side of this hilly, sheepy planet.

I was extatic to learn that on this side of the world, my neighbour shepherd herds his sheep every day through a valley flooded by mist among golden hilltops.


maw said...

Hey, what about that? So, there IS an antipode after all...This is fair enough.'Cause
'What goes up must come down'
And even bears went over mountains
To see what they could see

MakurA said...

Que wapo! Que wapo! Que wapo!!!!

Arrrghhh!! Como mola!

Juer, es que me flipa la idea de que hayas estado en la otra punta del mundo literalmente! Arghhhhhh, que molón!!!!

Uff, se me empiezan a pasar teorías conspiratorias y rollos tipo Matrix por la cabeza si lo pienso mucho rato, pero si no me rallo demasiado, la cosa resulta cojonudamente genial! =D

En fin, que debo seguir espameando y leyendo, pero he flipado con la experiencia. Muy way tío, te lo has currado un webo!

PS. "jipqmv" significa "Hippy que me ve" es como "MQMF", pero en fino =P