After 5 hours of driving, very often on those twisting mountain roads, I arrived at Haast. It is not a town but four small clusters of motels and support services. It is located at the base of the mountains, quiet and serene. The mountains seem to be wearing the clouds as if they put them on for warmth and cover. The calm tonight is a dramatic contrast to the loud and raucous good times coming from three different spaces in the motel area last evening, the bar (cheering on a Rugby team), the inside of the restaurant with a room full of folks all talking more loudly than I knew was possible, the deck had a large group of women in costumes of some sort who had the time of their lives, far exceeding in volume both the bar and the restaurant. There were cars driving up regularly to the liquor store (bottle store) in the same building, often producing young people in need of something to drink.
Tonight there are only the sounds of birds, singing insects, the occasional dog barking in the distance. The bar and restaurant in the complex was quiet and relaxed. A grilled fish dinner and a pint of Stoneleigh Black beer was a relaxing treat. I have now discovered the black flies of great renown in this area, or more to the point, they have discovered me. The Deep Woods Off will soon come out.
Certainly part of the reason that it seems more peaceful tonight is that I have been able to make the connection with the folks at the motel in Nelson, who did find the charger for my camera. The will send it by Courier tomorrow, allowing the chance that it will arrive in time for my first four day hike. Even if it isn’t there until the second hike, I have the battery currently in the camera (still showing almost a full charge after the last two days of pictures) and one backup that has a full charge. Assuming the delivery to the Backpackers’ Homestay in Te Anau goes as planned, I should have the charger at least for the last five weeks of this adventure.
This morning I attended a Worship Service at an Anglican Church in Greymouth. I have noticed that when I ask about churches, there seems to be little awareness of them. There seems to me to be a much stronger secular culture with church having less of a presence. My little bit of experience here is not enough to generalize. The Maori Spirituality seems to have a great deal of respect. The usher this morning showed me the new prayer book that includes Maori, Tonga and Fiji translations in it.
Vicar Marge happens to be from the USA. She is from California, lived in Tulsa and was a Chemist then. She is married to the Assistant Vicar, who, I think, preceded her at the parish. I am not sure about that, but she mentioned that in the ceremony led by the Bishop when she took over the position, her now husband proposed to her (on one knee), making a reference to the Bishop’s activity including a ring – then producing the Engagement Ring. They both had been single until then, she in her fifties and her husband in his sixties. The congregation applauded when it happened and she said yes.
The service was a combination of contemporary, a bit of traditional, done with a nod to the Pentecostal style of worship. I was able to sing much of the music and appreciated receiving the Sacrament. After the night before, I felt a special need for Christian Community.
By the way, I spent a few moments talking with a German tourist (Physician) here at the complex this evening. It was a pleasant conversation, with a few connections. I was able to use my only sentence in German, telling him that my Mother was born in Germany in a town that is now in Poland. We had both been in Cambridge at King’s College Chapel (at different times), he at a conference of Physicians. I was there with a Choir from the Seminary, singing in the chapel.
I had best call this post to a halt. At the moment I am planning to publish this post and the one I wrote last evening – the evening I still hope to be the least enjoyable of the trip.