Monday, January 18, 2010

Ocean kayaking with Perception and Squirt

It was the only sunny day of three when we arrived at a Maori-run backpackers on the Eastern Cape, scenically located on the shoreline in a tiny bay but a touch chaotic in organisation and lay-out. The extended family owned this house and 2,000 acres of foreshore and inland bush. When we arrived we were confronted by a scene of butchery - a pig had been brought in from the hinterland - and similar scenes were enacted each day as the fishing boat returned (launched by the tractor in the centre of the picture) and the catch was cleaned and filleted. The rest of us, non-participants, were the beneficiaries of the surplus, as it was not allowed to be sold. So one night we had what they call crayfish (large rock lobster) and another fillet of Red Snapper.

Our own expedition along the coast (among rocks rather than in the open ocean, I have to admit) was tame by comparison but a small adventure nonetheless. We could have chosen "Escapee" or "Drift" but we found ourselves afloat on "Perception" and "Squirt" (the suitability of the names I'll leave for others to decide) and we navigated through the rocks and down narrow channels, sometimes having to turn back, sometimes unexpectedly finding a North-West Passage through to the next bay. No catch to bring home to be filleted but many eyefuls of small planktonic creatures drifting in the clear apparently viscous waters.

I'll get no sympathy when I report that the rest of the weather was drizzly, rainy and generally miserable. It was, nonetheless - but the small glimpse of a Maori family and a little bit of their life at the interface between their culture and the "pakeha" one was illuminating and made the 3-day stay out on the fringes well worthwhile.


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