Gizzie, I miss ya.

September 11, 2008

I spent two days in Gisborne, New Zealand, this week. While Viking Woman worked, I wandered the streets, drinking in familiar sights.

We lived in Gisborne for about three years earlier this century. It was our first home in New Zealand.

It’s where we learned the country’s history and tradition, how to pronounce Maori place names (Whakatane = Fa-ka-tanny not Wha-ka-tanny. Or Fuk-a-tanny if you want to shock your granny), and translate Kiwisms (away with the fairies? Box of birds? Sparrow’s fart? Hoons? Larrikans? Squiz?). It’s where we first tasted pavlova and feijoas. It’s where I fell in love with Minny on Shortland Street, only to have her character written out the second I was truly hooked on this classic soap opera.

Gisborne is isolated. Park the train across the section of track that crosses the airport runway (one of only two airports in the world where this occurs), close the port, put barricades across two roads, and you can party in the Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand and surf Wainui Beach while the rest of the world merrily skips to Hell, basket in hand.

Gisborne feels like a city. Or at least a big town. Napier, where we now live, feels like a destination. It lives for tourists. It thrives on their greenbacks, Canuck bucks, euros, Oz dollars. It yearns for yens.

Napier does not feel cosy, not the way Gisborne did. Part of the problem is the proliferation of cafes. There are some streets where, literally, every second store front is offering a caffeine fix and a muffin. I love coffee, but there really can be too much of a good thing and we have the proof.

I mean, there’s only so many varieties of hot milk an espresso machine can produce. After awhile, all lattes start to look alike. As they should, I suppose. And, prepared with even a minimum of expertise, they all taste the same as well. Where’s the adventure in that? Boredom does not equal comfort.

When a city treats its locals as if it’s constantly looking over their shoulders for the first sign of the cruise ship season, then it stops feeling like home.

I have included a few images of Gisborne for your viewing pleasure. Yer welcome.


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