A Travellerspoint blog

August 2008

crosswalk olympians

street theatre's easier than you think


when i learned that the drama paper i'd enrolled in this semester at uni auckland was going to include a street theatre project, i was apprehensive. and our haphazard, short rehearsal process did little to calm my fears -- although i usually left rehearsals strangely exhilarated, even a little excited.

and then we performed them.

the first piece happened in the quad. the group, decked out in lab coats, cleared a grassy section, expelling a pair of students eating lunch at a picnic table. they moved the tables, staked out the area, and threaded the stakes with caution tape. after they hung a sign that read "PIGEON ERADICATION IN PROGRESS" they proceeded to spray the area thoroughly with liquid from a container clearly marked corrosive. they took notes and samples, and sprinkled bait (bread crumbs from a bag) on the ground. when some pigeons actually appeared, they lured them closer with bait and sprayed them with their corrosive liquid.

a man looking on: "what the fuck did those pigeons ever do to those fucking nerds?" pause. "that's what's wrong with this fucking country."

then one of the scientists began to act odd. he tried to peck up bits of bait. he tried to flap his wings. the other scientists' eyes widened in terror. he came at them. they flurried and fled, scattering through the quad. a bit animal farm at the end of it.

i missed the second piece while helping the pigeon eradicators clean up, but it had something to do with a cult.

the third piece took place in albert park. we sat on benches around the empty fountain. a woman in a tall wig (think marge simpson hair, only neon pink) led a troupe of four girls in flowered bathing caps and striped suits down the path. they halted at her whistle and she placed her giant yellow bag on a bench, producing a boombox that she placed on the edge of the fountain. some fifties era music played from it. the girls got into formation and dove into the fountain. there, dead serious and supremely committed, they executed a synchronized swimming routine that lasted for a good five minutes. when they climbed out, their pink-haired coach gave them each towels. (remember the fountain was empty.)

my group was last. we headed down to the queen street crossing in front of the whitcoulls -- it's a big, crowded crossing with animated walk/don't walk signs that feature loud beeping and strolling green or frozen red men. our three athletes, representing france, nigeria, and new zealand, stripped off their track suits to reveal their spandex unitards and numbers while rebecca (the olympic official) and i (the coach) set the props. kayleigh looked particularly stellar in a hot pink unitard over a fatsuit.

when we were prepped, we waited for a crossing light while the olympians continued to warm up. at the light, rebecca and i ran out into the crossing, a ribbon stretched between us: diagonal crossing first. rebecca blew her whistle to start the race and the three athletes sprinted through the ribbon.

from the next corner we had a relay race, the next slow-motion, the next a hurdles race (involving crates!) and the last, an egg-and-spoon race. the fat olympian dropped her egg.

our medal ceremony was last, and i think a picture will speak louder than words:


i'm off camera, throwing the confetti.

and verdict? it was awesome. so much fun. it makes me want to do street theatre all of the time. we got countless stares. some guy stopped us to take our picture. we were being cheered on from various corners. we also had a donut thrown at nigeria and we got called fags and fairies, but that's part of the fun, too.

Posted by ctamler 23:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged events Comments (0)

new zealand slang

i'm beached as, bro

overcast 16 °C

for anyone who is curious about what new zealanders sound like, and to hear a bit of nz slang:

i guess you could also watch flight of the conchords...but that would take effort eh?

Posted by ctamler 15:27 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

putting down roots in aotearoa

rain 12 °C

last sunday, sarah and i volunteered to plant trees on motutapu, a relatively old island connected to the relatively young island of rangitoto (the volcanic one we'd visited weeks before). motutapu used to be a thickly forested island, but the maori deserted it when rangitoto started to appear out of the ocean about 600 years ago, and (more recently) the europeans burnt down the forest to make farmland. only a few ancient trees survived.

now there is a major reforestation project on the island. they hold the current guinness record for most trees planted in one session -- i forget the exact figure, but it's over 5,000, planted by 200-some volunteers. our group, about a quarter of the size, dampened by hours of rain, managed only about 1,200 -- pretty decent, still, i'd have to say.

one group (sarah and me included) went planting in the morning, when the rain was heaviest. we braved it for a couple of hours, taking turns digging and planting the tiny seedlings and a sapling or two. one thing about kiwis, they're used to being shat on by weather with how variable it always is here. so they were staunchly cheerful in the face of the steady wet and cold, and jollily cautioned everyone not to get hypothermia (they were being serious, of course).

we headed down to the shed for lunch, looking a bit like this:


...and while the afternoon group went out to plant, we got a treat: in better conditions we'd all have planted all day, but because of the rain we got to dry off a bit and then keep warm with a hike. i didn't bring my camera, but soon regretted it. we got to see what the fruits of our efforts will look like not long from now. a grove planted five years ago boasted trees taller than me; a grove planted ten or fifteen years past was really beginning to look like a forest.

where we emerged, a road divided the replanted chunk from an unplanted one, and we saw the stark contrast, the empty and sterile farmland dotted by mournful and curious cattle, and the thick, drooping leaves of trees and ferns, birdsong, life renewing itself.

they use seeds from within a 100-meter radius only, and this summer are carrying out a massive pest destruction project to rid the island of its feral cats and stoats and porcupines and so on, so that they can introduce native birds when it's clean.

we were fucking cold and wet by the time the ferry came to take us home. but the end-of-the-day sizzle was hot, the company good, and libby, gael's friend, gave us some fudge cake. and we left some trees for new zealand to remember us by.

Posted by ctamler 23:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

rotorua, taupo, hell's gate, left-sided driving

adventures in adventuring

View Studying in Auckland on ctamler's travel map.

i am a thrill-seeker now, if you didn't know. i jumped out of an airplane last weekend (which was incredible)


-- and, what is probably more dangerous, i drove. probably for a total of 6 hours or so...now before you scoff please take a moment to remember that in this country they drive on the left side of the road. driving here is like learning to drive all over again -- especially because the controls are on opposite sides too...turn signal on the RIGHT. it's practically inconceivable. it's a damn good thing they don't switch gas and brakes (the only thing they don't switch...), otherwise accidents would definitely occur.

anyway, i was a rockstar, although every time i made a turn i had to keep telling myself "think left think left think left."

the left-side-driving thing has another interesting effect: people walk on the lefthand side of the sidewalk/other walkways here. so i am always running into people. but of course, the few times i remember to stay to the left as a walker, i inevitably come across other people who are for some reason staying to the right -- rebels? americans? idiots? who knows. walking here is hard.

my friend thomas fell into a river over the weekend when we were in rotorua. another friend zach jumped across it, and thomas wanted to do it too, but he jumped short of the bank by about a foot and fell in instead. it made me think of christina because my first reaction was to laugh hysterically at him as i'm sure she would have done too. let's face it, it was hilarious.

i saw a live kiwi bird for the first time, and one thing you should know about kiwis is they are much bigger than you think they will be from pictures. like the size of small dogs.

thomas, kirstin, zach, fabian and i went to hell's gate: a geothermal reserve near rotorua.


it takes its name from one of its thermal pools, christened by george bernard shaw, who named a lot of the other things there too. like "the infants," a spread of bubbling pools that reminded him of children at play. or "sodom and gomorra." at the end we got to carve little plaques. i love free souvenirs.

Posted by ctamler 15:26 Archived in New Zealand Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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