Thursday, August 27, 2009

Most banal conversation I've overheard at Kits Pool

"You want to get some wine?"
"How bout a bottle of sherry, we'll get a bottle of sherry."
"You like red wine? I'll tell her to get some red wine too"
further grunt
"Have you had Bollinger? We got a bottle. It was $450."

"Oh you buy it?"
"Yeah we bought it, man I was pissed."
"That Bollinger's good s*&t. Real bubbly."

This conversation went on in exactly the same fashion for the entire seven minutes I lasted lying next to them in the glorious sunshine. At one point I discretely cocked one eye to ascertain who the culprit - obnoxiously disturbing my much anticipated post-swim sunbathe - was.

Not too many surprises - approximate age 45, tanned to within an inch of his life, and clearly not overestimating his alcohol consumption. I couldn't see the grunter as Mr Bollinger was pool-side in his very own deck chair.

Resisting the urge to declare the voice in my head shouting, "Get a life!", I picked up my towel and left.

On the way home I guzzled some old fashioned H2O. My mother would have been proud.

Mrs R

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Galapagos musings...

I find myself confined to indoor-activities on account of my foot still troubling me. Fortunately the rain continues to pour steadily and so I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. Besides this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our 8 day cruise around the Galapagos Islands. Things began rather unexpectedly...

After our first lunch onboard Yate Fragata I was feeling both relieved and optimistic about avoiding seasickness (unfortunately this would later prove to be misguided optimism). We were moving at quite a clip, and the boat was easily cutting through the calm water.

Having decided to venture out to the stern for some fresh air and sunshine we were immediately captivated by a gory scene.

Below us were two young men we hadn't been introduced to. They were butchering a goat. It was clear this was an action they had performed many times as they moved with the assuredness and ease of the practiced. Though carrying some extra flesh themselves, they were strong and I believed them when they described the difficulty of the hunt due to rough terrain.

As they hacked away at the goat there was often a moment of pause when they would look to see whether one of the many black frigate birds swarming above had been able to catch one of the bloody bones which they lobbed out over the water.

Alas, for the birds there was no feast as they were unable to do little more than create a dramatic silhouette against the brilliantly blue sky. I wondered at the daring of these birds which lacking the ability to swim, nevertheless attempted to snatch the heavy bones in their hooked bills. To time it wrongly and dip their wings in the water would have meant certain death.

Instead the bones and blood dropped into our wake.

It's interesting that despite being an UNESCO world heritage site, introduced animals such as feral goats continue to be allowed to represent a threat to native animals and species. The locals were able to convince the National Park Board not to undertake pest eradication programmes on some of the populated islands in order to preserve stocks of introduced wild animals for food.

But of course one of the main threats to the Galapagos must be the impact of tourism as described in recent news articles (see for example).

Sir David Attenborough's view that tourists are a "necessary evil", providing income to the islanders and funding for conservation efforts makes me feel a little better about being a contributor to this human impact. As does the knowledge that this was (and rightly so), a once in a lifetime trip.

So guilt subsiding at least for the moment, here are a few favourite photos. I hope you enjoy them.

Mrs R

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Promotional Blog

Straight up we love Vancouver. I'm thinking I should get a job as a tourism rep. It is an easy place to sell. Here's why:

Right now I'm at the Vancouver Public Library (Kitsilano branch). It's air-conditioned (word to the Napier Library air conditioning is essential). I'm on the internet, the connection is fast, and more importantly I get 60 minutes for free. Magazines, DVDs, CDs and books are ALL free to loan. This place is a haven for time-rich cash-poor tourists!!!

The 137m Kitsilano Pool (seriously, almost 3x the length of an Olympic distance pool) is a swimmers dream, especially if you're training for a long distance triathlon. At first we were skeptical about the lack of lane ropes and apparent lack of any lanes. There are two black lines on the bottom of the pool about two metres apart. You swim up on the right (there are arrows) and people pass on the inside. It works. A month pass is Canadian $40.

Check it. That same monthly pool pass also gets you entry into the community gym. Great equipment (both cardio and weights).

Cherries. Blueberries. We have been having a cup of blueberries EACH with our breakfast cereal. Discovering the 99c fresh produce bargain bin at our local green grocers is possibly the best thing that has happened to us since arriving. Generally there is an abundance of healthful foods. It's like the Hawke's Bay on heat. Wellington's Dixon Street Deli on speed.

I mentioned the BC heatwave a post ago. It has been over 25 degrees all week. No rain. And currently there is just the lightest breeze outside keeping you happily chilled.

One aspect of Vancouver that has concerned me is the frequency with which we see people walking the streets clutching an over-sized beverage. Typically branded Starbucks. The basketballish looking teenagers I can understand, they're probably hungry 99% of the day. It's the teeny tiny folk that throw me. I've seen women clasping onto a cup that is the length of their forearm. Having observed such feats closely my preliminary conclusion is that the over-sized beverage is actually a fashion accessory and arm strengthening device rolled into one.

Another phenomenon is the "celebrity-like" condition of the mothers at the pool. Imagine a world where everyone has flat rock-hard abs, sculptured arms and legs and a general glow... oh and wearing a string bikini. That is Kits Pool. I mentioned this to a local and my source informs me that Kits Beach is the 3rd sexiest beach in the world. Fact.

The beach is right next door to the pool so it stands to reason there is a fair bit of local hottie currency between the two. And it's not just the ladies, we've noted a fair amount of buff male bods too.

Hmmm... on that note I'm thinking a pre-lunch gym visit is in order,

Mrs R