That’s a good head, Nick.

September 9, 2008

I’m writing this from the top floor of the Waikanae Motel in Gisborne, New Zealand. North Island. East Cape. Chardonnay  Capital of NZ. Nearby Wainui is the best surfing beach on this side of the North Island.

If I raise my eyes from my computer, I can see the ocean through the sliding glass door that leads to a small balcony. The water is visible not because the motel is situated right on the beach but because the rich prick across the street was kind enough to buy two lots and build a tennis court on one side, thus allowing for my view. I really must shake his hand one day.

I can also see Young Nick’s Head which, despite the rude connotation, is actually an outcrop of land. Not any old outcrop, mind you, but a HISTORICAL one. It is, in fact, the very first chunk of New Zealand dirt ever seen by a European. The abovementioned Nick Young was a member of Capt. James Cook’s crew and was either the only one in the crow’s nest that particular day, or had the sharpest eyes. All credit to Nicky Boy because no one remembers the second white person to see New Zealand.

(There is a statue of both Nick and Capt. Cook within walking distance of my motel. Alas, the second person to yell “Land Ho!” is once again notable by his absence.)

Gisborne also claims to be the first city to see the light of day, a fact played up to the max as the downtown clock tower’s mechanism struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000. Note that I said first CITY, because there is a collection of nondescript islands lying to the east that, technically, are treated to the initial rays of morn, but they do not possess the PR department necessary to steal any of Gisborne’s thunder.

Viking Woman and I lived in Gisborne for a number of years earlier in the century. Actually, we waited in Gisborne. Waited for 21 months for the owners of Big Tree Hideaway B&B to return so we could hand back the keys. Waited for Viking Woman’s US contract to take effect.

At one point, I even waited while Viking Woman remained in Gisborne, where she also waited, only a day ahead of me. That was during the time I returned to Canada to drum impatient fingers while Brown Girls was being published.

I wrote that book in Gisborne, mulling plot points during my daily walk along Wainui Beach, one of the most stunningly beautiful non-tropical beaches it’s ever been pleasure to trod.

I’m back in Gisborne because Viking Woman has two days of work here and I’ve tagged along to keep her company and to get out of the house before I become a total hermit. Waikanae Beach is just across the street but, because people tend to frown on those who scale their fences and tromp across their tennis courts, I will actually have to walk to the corner, turn right and go another 50 feet before I can leave footprints in the sand.

Maybe I’ll mull my next book while I do that. Or, better yet, my next blog entry.


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