This is the beautiful Wharariki Beach in Golden Bay. Apparently if you go to the correct bit of the beach and look at the islands, you can see that they are, in fact, arches. We didn’t know that though until after we had been there. Never mind, guess we will just have to go back again!
Anyway, that brings me to a funny tale I want to tell. (Well, it doesn’t really, but I’m going to tell you anyway.)
We were on our way to the geocache GC1041F Windswept Wonderland. We were parked in the carpark prior to doing the walk out to the beach. I was just sitting there with the door of the van open, basking in the sun. PB was making use of the amenities (you learn to do this when you have the chance when you’re free camping – but more about that in a later post!)
This tourist (possibly French) came over and asked me a question.
“Is this where the seals are?”
Or at least that’s what I interpreted from his broken English. I actually didn’t know if there were seals there or not, having only arrived few moments before him. So I gave the universal big shrug, with my empty hands out in front of me. And just in case he understood more English than it would appear, I said “I don’t know, I’m a tourist too.”
To which he replied, “ Yes, yes, I am a tourist.” (Or something approximating that.) Which seemed to indicate that at least he knew the vocab I’d used, even if the grammar was a bit beyond him.
So I repeated my shrug and said that I didn’t know if there were any seals.
And then the conversation got really strange. Because I’m pretty sure he asked me if I’d seen the seals coming down the hill yet.
Well, I could quite confidently answer that question, so I said “No, no, no.”
Never mind that there was a cartoon playing in my head of a laconic farmer with a piece of seaweed stuck out the side of his mouth, a couple of DoC workers (park rangers) and a steely eyed heading dog , herding a flock (pod, gaggle, bunch, herd) of seals down the track and back to their pens for the night.
The improbability of being able to explain this, or the simple fact that the seals (supposing there were any) would be highly unlikely to be coming down the track – even though dusk was approaching – to the gentleman, given his lack of English skills, and my corresponding lack of French skills, occurred to me.
So I just shrugged my shoulders again. He appeared satisfied with my response, turned away and started up the track. I assume he thought that as the seals had not yet come down the track, there was some hope of his seeing them when he got up and over to the beach.
We never did see any seals on that beach – though we saw some at a distance elsewhere the following day.
I really hope the French tourist DID see his seals.
And by the way, what IS the collective noun for seals?