Friday, July 23, 2010

I Explore

St. Augustine wrote, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." I find myself doing a lot of reading here, both in the Augustinian and literal senses. My Modernist Fiction class provides most of the literal meaning. As far as I have gathered, Modernist means the writings of early-mid 20th-century Irishmen such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Brian O'Nolan. We are reading 16 novels this semester, which in combination with my other literature class and a metaphysics course means a lot of time by the window with a book. Courses are structured much differently here than at my home university, with only one or two assignments during the semester followed by a large and important final. It puts a lot of pressure on the end of the semester, I am sure.

The figurative reading is a bit more exciting to write about. I've been trying to get an idea of what people do for fun and pleasure here in New Zealand, and I'll give you a roughly chronological account of my adventures.

First, Dunedin is home to a Cadbury chocolate factory, and one of the sweets manufactured here is the jaffa, which is a candy-coated chocolate ball. Dunedin is also home to the steepest street in the world, Baldwin Street, which is about a half-hour walk from my flat.

Baldwin St. inclines at 19 degrees.

As you can see in the above picture, there's quite a crowd here at Baldwin Street. What could this have to do with jaffas? Well, every year Cadbury dumps 50,000 jaffas down this street in order to see which will reach the bottom first! You may buy a jaffa ticket, and if the jaffa with your number on it reaches the bottom first, you win fabulous prizes like groceries and gasoline. Apparently the first year they did this there were no nets, and the chocolate balls caused thousands of dollars of damage as they pelted houses and cars. They use nets now.

The gutters filled with jaffas.

The announcer tells us to not eat the jaffas, but nearly everyone has a sack in which to stuff the choicest chocolate projectiles. I am sure that jaffas may be found all over this neighborhood for the next several months.

After the race A few friends and I went to the Otago museum, where we such much impressive Maori craft and the below skeleton of a fin whale, the second largest animal on Earth.

This youngster was only 55 feet when it died. Adults reach 85 feet in length!

One of the kiwi hosts in our flat, Jethro is basically our personal adventure guide. He knows how to do a lot of cool stuff, and he takes us to lots of cool places.

Here is Jethro rock climbing.

Here is Jethro spinning fire.

You get the idea. Thanks to him I have seen a lot of this part of New Zealand, rock climbed outdoors for the first time, attended several fire jams (fire spinning get-togethers), danced salsa (kinda), saw sea lions up close, and more. It was at Sandfly Bay that we saw the sea lions, 18 at our count. I also learned that they like to fight and roar at each other a lot. You want to give them space.

Cute, huh?

Nearby is another amazing locale: Lovers' Leap. This vista must be seen in person. Sheep dot the landscape about this natural bridge, and the ocean is vast, like a second sky rippling with life and hidden energy.

Nature is pretty amazing.

Tomorrow (well, today) we are going to participate in a global project: Life In a Day. You may check out the official description here: "". Basically, Ridley Scott asks the people of the world to show him what we are all about, so we will spend tomorrow doing cool stuff and filming it. Included on our list are beach acrobatics, castles, shaving my flatmate, fire spinning, and absinthe. The sunrise is also on our list, which means that I need to wake up in four hours. Given that fact, I'll end this entry here.

Check back for more adventures!


  1. Which Joyce novel are you reading? 16 novels, that's pretty ambitious of them. I'm sure you'll pull it off just fine though.

    The Life in a Day project sounds pretty cool - let us know how it goes!

    How many jaffas did you eat? :P

  2. We're reading Portrait of the Artist. Have you read it? I will definitely post about the Life project, but I'll need a few days:). It was great, though. Have you read The Third Policeman by Brian O'Nolan? It's my favorite so far.

  3. I haven't read either of those. Joyce kind of scares me, after hearing all about Ulysses from Peter.