Im rather tired today, as I had to get out of the campbed that I was attempting to sleep on in the middle of the night, because it was swaying, yes, swaying, on the floor!!! I thought that I was going mad at first, but it really was!! I was too sleepy to realise that all that I needed to do was to move it of the rug, that was causing it to sway,as it was an uneven surface, so I told Mum to move up, and squished in next to her for the rest of the night!! (Good job that I had my trusty earplugs....hehehe)
In the morning, we went to have a little look around Russell, before we left, "little" being the operative word, as the place is so small, that we only spent about an hour looking around before we were finished!! We went into the visitors centre, and watched an audiovisual about the great Kiwi, the bird of New Zealand, and about beached Whales and rescuing them, and how Kiwis keep on getting killed by Possum and Dogs because they cant fly, and they kick of a bit of a pong....all pretty random, but very interesting none-the-less!!
I must say that Russell is a very quaint, and pretty little place- it sort of reminds me of a Cornish Villiage, but its rather too quiet for my liking!! Perhaps it gets a little more life to it in high season, I dunno!!
Its a stark contrast from how it used to be though, obviously!! I read in some book, that Charles Darwin described it a few hundred years ago as the "Hell hole of the Pacific" because at the time, the place was full of drunken sailors, whalers, and Sealers, arriving from Europe, that occupied many Grog Houses, and Brothels, and were generally a disorderly bunch!!! My!! How things do change over time, eh??
We then crossed back to the mainland via the car ferry, which only takes about 5 minutes, because the crossing is rather narrow, and headed through a place called Whangerei (sometimes pronounced "Fangerei" which can be confusing, because people say it both ways!!)and to Pahia, where we found a nice little Hostel called the Pickled Parrot, which was so named after the Parrot that used to live there...but it flew away last year....
After checking in, we drove to a place not too far away, called Makimaki, to the most famous public toilets in New Zealand.....(I know what you are thinking...."public toilets???") They were designed by the famous Swiss artist, Hundertwasser, and are typical of his style. He lived in the villiage in an isolated house with no electricity between 1975 and 2000, when he died, and became a New Zealand citizen whilst he lived here. The toilets were his final piece of work and they are actually really nice, with walls made of different coloured glass bottles set in concrete, and bid bead-like blocks used for pillars!! They are certainly unusual!!
Before we arrived at the toilets, we heard on the radio that there had been a whale stranding at a place called Marsden Point near to where we were, so we decided to go and see what was going on after finishing at the loos.
It was about 4 o clock when we arrived at the beach, which was absolutely amazing, and I kinda hoped to see some of the whales stil alive or being rescued, but we were too late, as they had been stranded in the morning, and the first thing we saw when we walked down the beach was a JCB hoisting 3 or 4 Whales out of the sand and placing them onto a big pile of Whales about 10 deep. It was actually quite shocking.
As we walked further down, we were greeted by a small crowd of people, gathered around a line of Whales that had died, all in a straight line. There was a surprising number of them. I didnt count, but there was probably about 15 still in the line. It was so sad to see. They almost looked fake, because their skin is so shiny, like plastic.
People were leaning over and stroking them, but I was scared to at first. When I touched one, it felt waxy like plastic.
There were some Mauri people there, who were leaning over the Whales and saying things to them. Of course,I thought, the Whale is sacred to them.
There were even some babies that had been washed up, too. When we got talking to one of the Biologists that was there, we found out that they were in fact Pilot Whales, (similar to Dolphins) and they had no idea why they had beached.
The JCB kept on coming and picking them up, and taking them to the pile, but before it did, I looked at a few of them. They were really beautiful, but I felt really sad when I saw that their eyes had dried out, and a lot of them were bleeding from their blow holes and mouthes. The last one I saw had started to blister under the skin, and some of its skin had started to peel off on its underside from where it had dried out. I just hoped that it happenned after they had died, but I know that it was unfortunately, probably whilst they were.
There was some comfort in the situation, though, as we learned that around half of the Whales had been successfully put back into the water, which is at least one thing. But that meant that about 70 of them were originally beached altogether!!!!
It was a bit wierd for me, because, although it was obviously awful to see all the Whales dead like that, I feel sort of lucky to have seen it, and have been able to get so close to them and see them, which I probably will never have chance to do again. Sort of once ina lifetime stuff.
It took us quite a while to get back to Pahia, and we stopped at the supermarket on the way. I was still feeling depressed about the Whales, as I would have liked to have saved one, or at least seen one of them alive, but that unfortunately wasnt the way.
When we got back to the Hostel, we made tea, BEANS ON TOAST!!! Which doesnt seem all that exciting, initially, but after 5 months of not a single solitary bean passing your lips, the humble baked variety suddenly becomes the tastiest delicacy that you have ever tasted!!!!hehe. That made me feel at least a little better, I suppose.
Before bed, I went into the communal bathroom to brush my teeth, etc, but was accosted by 2 guys, who obviously modelled themselves on dumb and dumber, (who I hopes were drunk, or else were just loony)who proceeded to have a tooth brushing competition with me ( I didnt even know I was participating until one of them told me that I had lost....) They were plainly hogging the sink, and I couldnt be bothered to wait around to watch their antics, so I didnt even bother washing the face, I just wiped it clean before climbing into bed!!!
I got a fright when one of them got confused about their whereabouts, and tried to get into our room, rather than the one that they were staying in, nextdoor!!! But it was rather funny when he said sorry in asheepish voice through the door, so I will let him off........