We went to the city this weekend. PB a conference to go to, so while he sat in a boring lecture room in the bowels of the hospital, on Saturday morning I enjoyed the sunshine outside in the Botanic Gardens for a bit. I did find a geocache but mostly I watched people.
Pose. Smile. Click. Pose. The Asian tourists. They seemed to be mostly in groups of parents and adult children – as far as I could tell – and by the time every possible combination of people in the group has been photographed in front of every tree, flower, and feature, that makes for an awful lot of photos, or a lot of awful photos…… but truly, they were the only ones taking photos. Well, except me. I kept wanting to tell them this isn’t really New Zealand, that a tulip here looks the same as a tulip anywhere.
The American tourists were riding around the Gardens in the ‘caterpillar’ – which looked strangely like a slightly oversized golf cart with little wagons pulled behind it – getting the guided tour. They were middle-aged couples on the whole. I guess there were some British folk in there too, but you wouldn’t hear them amongst the Americans. Listening to the driver/guide repeat the facts and tales that he’s recited probably a few hundred times by now. They probably wouldn’t know if he lost his place in his talk and was referring to completely the wrong tree. Maybe he wouldn’t notice either.
As for the European tourists, well, they were walking. Fast. With guide books or maps literally in hand. They didn’t really stop in the Botanic gardens. They were going places. The Museum perhaps. Or the Arts Centre. Maybe the Art gallery. Young couples, talking rapidly. I hope they stopped long enough to have some fun.
The locals were moving slowly, languidly, drifting about in the unexpected early summer sun. Groups of friends lazing, gossiping on the grass. One or two individuals with a book, or a coffee in hand settled on a park bench. Or families hand in hand strolling down the paths, feeding the ducks, climbing on the statues, all in no great hurry to get anywhere. After all, it’s Saturday morning and the whole weekend is ahead of us. Except, in juxtaposition, we are disturbed and interrupted from our slowness by the joggers. Racing past, checking wrists, iPods on arms, wired for sound and pulse and who-knows-what else. Panting and sweating and spoiling the slow motion of the day. But I expect they find us wanderers and strollers annoying, in their way, slowing them down from where-ever it is they have to get.
My book, with its different perspective on the world, seems to make more sense here outside, watching the world. Dogboy by Eva Hornung – about cruelty and kindness, hope and pain, love and abandonment, how the world isn’t always how we see it.
Anyway, here’s a photo from the Botanic Gardens.
And as for the cache: