Thursday, May 25, 2006

Glowworm caves of Waitomo

Woke up to my watch alarm at 0900, turns out those curtains really keep the light out. Took a shower in 25 second intervals as the conservation measures in place only allowed for that long every time I pushed the button. So I ended up spinning around a lot and punching the button as I did so. We're not sure of the checkout time, so we stopped by the desk and ask. 1000, about 15 minutes from now. So we went back upstairs, grabbed our bags, and checked out.

We knew there was a Denny's on the way to the car rental, so we went there for breakfast. It was, by far, the hippest Denny's Ive even been in. The decor was like something you'd find in a popular club on a Saturday night, with a techno soundtrack to match. I think they did turn it off while we were eating, but it was blaring loud enough when we walked in for us to question if this was the Denny's we were were looking for.

After breakfast we got our rental car. Right-hand drive Echo hatchback. A good, small car for us to learn how to drive absolutely counter to everything we're used to. I was behind the wheel first as we navigated our way down a busy street only to hit heavy traffic on the highways. Kept mixing up my wipers and my turn signal. No problem shifting, and just a little hesitation before any merging or intersection. Roundabouts are fun, but tricky when you want to/are used to them going the other way. We drove down to Waitomo to see the caves and take a boat tour under their star attraction: glow worms.

The cave was pitch black except for these worms on the ceiling that glowed a neon green. They put out enough light to see by, and their reflections on the subterranean river that we were floating on danced and flowed like fireflies in summer.The whole boarding the boat in a cave made me think my high school mythology and the ride across the River Styx. Another cave had been found with a pack of wild dogs in its entrance (the Maori word for dog is 'Kuri'). I think that might work for a pet name too.
It's been raining since we arrived in NZ and that didn't change as we headed across the North Island to our hostel (Treks Rotorua Backpackers) in Rotorua. The sun set on our way, so when we got to a section of road that was unmarked, you can imagine our displeasure when we saw a sign saying "paving in progress." we were driving on unfinished, unmarked road at night in the rain with oncoming traffic in the lane that we're used to being in. And the windshield wipers blurred our view when other headlights hit the windshield. We found our way to the hostel fairly easily, checked in, and headed our for some food.

At least in our area, there seem to be more restaurants than any other store. And they all seem to be specialized, like Thai, Indian, Greek, Turkish, or some theme like Stonegrilled meat. We ate at Zambique where Kacey had an ostrich steak and I had a lam salad with falafel. The waitress seemed really confused when I offered her a tip. I later realized that was because they don't really tip here. We walked around town a little more before going back to the hostel to check email and plan for tomorrow. I'm still worn out from the plane ride, so I pretty much hit the bed and was out until morning.

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