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Wasting Time with the Dreaded Sand Flies – Day 48
Saturday 14th May 2005
Today I learnt a very valuable lesson, but I had to learn it the hard way unfortunately. I also learnt that the rain is just as annoying here in New Zealand as it is back home in England. I hate the rain! Read on to discover the lesson that I learnt the painful way.
To begin with, I awoke to the sound of the dreaded rain. It had been raining all night and continued into the morning. I phoned to find out what I had already guessed, which was that the Helihike had been cancelled. No surprise there!
I could only waste the day away today, as there wasn’t much else I could do. I opted to drive to nearby places, and just see what I could see. Gillespies beach was the first place I drove to. I parked the car down the end of a long, narrow road to the sea, in a car park that was deserted. Again, no surprise there! But the rain had ceased for a brief spell, and it looked as though I could explore for a while before needing to return to shelter.
Along the beach were numerous rock formations, all displaying people’s names, and dates. I also lay my mark on the beach by marking out my name and the date (May 2005). It felt good, somehow, and I hoped this would stay here for many years to come. Maybe one day I could return to this beach and see my name again, it’s a nice thought. My partial smile and wandering thoughts were rudely interrupted once my eyes caught sight of the imminent rain shower headed my way.
The distance back to the car was sizeable, and I would have to head towards the incoming rain, but if I hurried I could make it. This is the point where I fail to understand my logic, and how I came to a decision that was both stupid, and incredibly stupid. I decided to carry on walking further down the beach to see what I could find, and hoped the rain would somehow miss me, maybe out of kindness. I must be mad.
Anyway, I spotted a tepee that somebody had erected and made my way there to have a look. It was made from the vast amounts of driftwood scattered about the beach, but I soon became aware of a dead seal lying next to it, and it didn’t look as though it had been dead for long. I wondered if the rough weather had knocked it against the wood and killed it last night as the sea pounded the shoreline. It was a surreal moment looking at the lifeless body, lying next to a well-made tepee, on a beach that was soon to be pelted by a rainstorm. I’m not really sure what I was feeling at this point, but I guessed now was a good time to make it back to the car. I was already too late.
The rain lashed down upon me, and there was nowhere to hide. I cursed my decision to carry on walking when I knew the rain was coming, and it comforted me little to see my name set out in rock once more as I hurriedly stumbled across the hardening sand back to the car. Once at the car, I was drenched, literally soaked to the bone. I had to laugh at myself; I looked a mess. This caused for some rapid drying off in front of the car blowers, although in all honesty, it helped only to dry my hands and face, nothing more. My next decision was to drive to Haast, or at least towards it – even though I was wet through.
This was the moment I learnt a very valuable lesson indeed. Sand flies are utter buggers! They are quite possibly the most annoying insects I have ever encountered. I was forewarned about them, but I took it with a pinch of salt. Now, I understood.
I stopped alongside the coast at a beach and opened my door. Here I sat for a while watching the sea before suddenly being aware of flies around my head. They became very persistent very quickly, so I got in the car and closed the door. Now the flies were in the car, so I opened the door and got out, hoping the flies would follow me, but I left my car door open. When I returned to the car it was swarming with these flies. I couldn’t escape them, and had to drive away with the windows open, swatting the flies as I drove, frantically waving my arms in the air to stop the buggers biting me. I must have looked a right sight to the cars coming in the opposite direction. Eventually, most had either flown away or lay dead around the car. When I arrived back at the hostel, only a few flies remained, but the car was littered with dead fly bodies. What a nightmare!
I put my coat near the fire to dry it off and watched a film in the hostel cinema – The Royal Tenenbaums – before going to bed. It has been an eventful day today, but one thing is for sure, I will never park up alongside the beach with my car door open again.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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