13. On the 22-nd of July I arrived in Wellington again. I knew the railway station with the
deposit and the restaurant full of smoking and card-playing Maoris. I took a little pause, and
then I went to a restaurant from where I saw the Beehive, the building of the parliament.
The waitress asked how I was, and where did I come from. She was a second generation "dutch
kiwi", but didn't speak a single word Dutch. She couldn't even pronounce her name, Daalkamp.
You have to pronounce "Darl" (like in "darling"), but she said "Dell". At sunset, I drank chocolate
in a lonely lunchroom in the long lonesome shopping street, and put up at the middle class hotel
where I had been before. Next morning, I got the classical English breakfast: coffee and bread,
eggs and fruit, served by a portly butler.
About eleven o'clock, I began climbing the long hill up to Victoria University. It was a steep hill with many tens of stone steps. From above, one has a beatiful view on the city and the harbour. I asked a student the way, and we had a little talk. I told her that I was here to give a lecture.
Professor Nonweiler was not yet there. His secretary gave me his telephone number. When I called him he was still in bed. I didn't wait long, for he turned out to be quick and accurate enough. He has curly hair and his clothes are careless, yet correct. He speaks quickly but clearly, while filling his pipe. He talks about this and that and confirms our agreements by the way.
We went to lunch together. He introduced me to professor Goldbladt, a young man with a beard and long curly hair. I talked with him about the subject of my thesis. I also met a young mathematician who had a hardness of hearing. Later on, he would introduce me to the audience of my lecture. In the afternoon I talked with mrs Sharleen Forbes, a statistician, about my hardness of hearing. I told her that I cannot understand the Dutch television plays. But talking with one person at a time is not a problem. She could verify that while we were talking. She introduced me to the Correspondence School, where she was employed part-time. They are working there in one large hall, at little desks separated by boards made of three-ply wood. Later on, I applied from the Netherlands to a combined job with the Correspondence School and the University. You know that I was not far from getting the job. The only impediment was that I lived with my family in the Netherlands, and there was a New-Zealander who had the mimimum qualifications. In such a case, they could not convince the Immigration authorities that they needed a stranger
Professor Goldtbladt picked up his car and brought me to the Travellodge Hotel, where they had booked a room for me. It was half-way down the hill, and everybody could cook there his own meal. There was a young man from Fiji standing there, stirring herbs and spice in a kettle of rice.
14. Next day, I talked at several places in the city with several authorities:
the education department, the health department (where there was a need of statisticians),
the state services (where there was a want of informaticians), and the Polytechnic.
You walk in, you tell your story, you walk out again. That doesn't make headway.
Fortunately, the weather was beautiful.
The young man at the Polytechnic who is spokesman for mathematics, said without joking that my pronunciation of English was quite correct. They also say that all local maths teachers get a job. Therefore I subscribed to the Education Gazette. You know that I applied for a teacher's job in two towns far from the big cities. From both towns I received a little message that mr This or mrs That had taken up the job, and thank you very much for the interest.
At the embassy I met the substitute of mr Knottenbelt. He said that Dutchmen don't need a work permit, because there is an agreement between the Netherlands and New Zealand. But nobody knows this settlement. I went back to the university and, on my way, I saw the student with whom I had talked the day before. I said that I was going to the lecture-room right now.
The lecture was good, but not as good as in Palmerston North. There were fifteen listeners, most of them gave evidence that they understood the lecture very well. Thereafter, professor Nonweiler reimbursed the hotel expenses. I thanked him for intoducing me to the authorities with whom I had an interview the day before. I said goodbye to a remarkable man. In a country like New Zealand, where will-power and perseverance are in higher esteem than culture and subtlety, a French type like Nonweiler is rare enough.
15. I tied a label at my trunk and carried my trunk to the desk of the bus station.
I bought a ticket and sat down in an easy chair in the touringcar. The weather was good.
I was glad to make an interesting trip to Rotorua. We came past Palmerston North and Taihape on
our way to the North. I forgot what Taihape looks like. But during the afternoon we arrived
on the central plateau of the Northern Island. There was snow along the road. I saw a lonesome
little airport and wondered who should be obliged to come here. I saw several mountain tops,
among which Mount Ruapehu, and the lake of Taupo. It was almost evening when we arrived in the
sulfur city, Rotorua.
From the bus, I had seen smoke coming out of the soil at several places, and now I grubbed with my fingers in the warm sand. The odour of sulfur was everywhere. I sauntered with my handbag through the straight streets of the town.
My trunk had not been brought to Rotorua. I inquired after it with the Rail-Road Services, and the Maori officer said that the trunk would certainly come within a couple of days. I went to eat in a Wimpy restaurant, planning to take a look for my trunk the next day.
Where could I sleep? It was late already, so I entered a police office to ask for an address. A group of loud Maoris came out of the door where I went in. A policeman brought me to the Spa Tourist Hotel next the buses of the Rail-Road Services. A friendly hostess booked me and showed me my room and her polynesian bath. This bath was a hole in the soil with a roof above it, filled with hot ground water. I stepped in the bath immediately, and stayed there a quarter of an hour.
Next morning I thought I needed clean underwear. The trunk had not yet arrived. So I stepped into a shop and bought socks and underwear. Nobody will ever know what the shopgirl thought about it. I didn't ask.
Thereafter I bought a ticket for a day's trip with the touring car. "Where are you from?", asked the driver, who was in a very good humour. It was a beautiful sunny day. We went past geysers and crater-lakes, and saw the "buried village", where the vulcano Tarawera made its victims with burning lava in 1886 .
The boiling, simmering mud that is bubbling up at many places, is still making victims: a short time ago, a man jumped into the mud to save his little dog, and both perished. The Maori people are using the puddles to cook their food in it.
16. In the Spa Tourist Hotel, there were staying two English ladies who recently had arrived
from Singapore where they had been working as maths teachers for five years.
In Auckland, they had been in hotel Ivanhoe like me, and they found that the hotel was awful.
Furthermore, there were the following guests: an Australian bus driver who had been born in
Italy and gave his mother in Italy a telephone call every week, two girls who were chewing
gum all day and were not interested in anything nor understandable anyhow, and last but not least
the wife of an Australian seaman, who had promised to pick her up within a few weeks to bring
her back to Australia.
The Italian told me about the roughness of the South Africans, among which he had been working for several years. He explained that the Boers had big families. Seventy percent of the South Africans speak African. But the English became dominant because they had a stronger home-country in Europe. The Australians are unsympathetic to him as well.
We visited the Maori museum together. There we saw wonderful woodcutting products (gruesome masks with put out tongues). The Maoris fought very bravely against the white men in two Maori wars. These wars begun when they understood that the white men were fooling them. The land is holy for the Maori, because land is related with the history of the clan. When the white men bought land from the Maoris, they didn't say that the sold land was henceforth unaccessible for the Maori people.
I will never forget the Maori performances which I saw that evening. The restrained force of the men with their long sticks, the welcome songs of the women in their canoes, the ceremonies with the put out tongues. I thought I was in the lost paradise.
17. Next day, I did my wash in the laundrette. Thereafter, I took the bus to nearby Ngongotaha.
My goal was the home of the Vleeschhouwer family, which was situated outside the village.
I asked the way and walked the last part of the trip. I saw a horse that stood in the meadow with
a horse-cloth, while steam came off his body.
A carrier took me with him in his car for the very last meters.
Mrs Vleeschhouwer gave me a lunch an showed me her new-born little lambs. Her husband is an owner of sheep. He always wears the chequered sheep cap, even at home. Mr Vleeschhouwer told me that New Zealand is not a paradise, and that taxes are very high. I made photographs for grandma Vleeschhouwer in the Netherlands.
Mrs Vleeschhouwer brought me to Fairy Springs. I saw the rare national walking bird kiwi in a dark hutch. There were fighting and jumping trouts, silver ferns (the ferns on the coins), and a diving duck that can dive as low as three meters below the water-level. Thereafter, I took the bus back to Rotorua.
That evening, I went out for dinner together with the wife of the sailor. She is a vivid middle-aged lady. After dinner, we went to another Maori concert. This one was not as good, but more convivial. A tall, energetic Maori lady told about the arrival of her clan in Rotorua, "the second lake", a hundred years ago.
Next day, I called the Timmer family, who were living next the lake of Rotorua. Mister Timmer came to pick me up at the door of the Spa Tourist Hotel. He told about his emigration, thirty years ago. The beginning had been difficult, but he did better and better, and now he had two houses and three cars, two caravans and a boat, etcetera. He has a beautiful bungalow and a large piece of land, a dear wife and two sporting kids. The son is a waterski champion, and that is important in New Zealand. The girl and the woman are still speaking Dutch, but the man and the boy are Dutch kiwis with no mother tongue. I gave them a book with Dutch songs. It was very convivial. Mister Timmer gave me a letter for his sister, one of our neighbours in Eindhoven. It was time to go home. He took me back to Rotorua.
There I talked a bit with my Italian friend. He said that he had once seen a very good dancing performance in Hongkong, but he was the only attendant. Success is not always a good measure for quality.
18.In the morning of July 29-th, I stepped into the bus to Tauranga. It was clear, fresh
and sunny weather. Along the road there were meadows with orange trees and wild roses.
In Tauranga I did my trunk in "safe deposit", but I didn't get a reçu. After a bit of hesitating, I picked it up again. I could take it away unseen, for there was no guard at all.
There is a palm beach in Tauranga, at the Bay of Plenty. There is a little wooden platform for to climb into a little ferry boat, and this boat goes at certain hours to Mount Manganui. Our neighbours in Eindhoven had told about it, so I decided to go there. Mount Manganui is a hill on a little peninsula. There are sheep and wild rabbits. It was already darkening, and I thought I was alone. But after walking half the way to the top, I met Mike Heisinger. It was like meeting Jesus, and I thought that I had travelled all the way to the other end of the world to meet Him here. But at second sight, he turned out to be an American young man with a Dutch father, and he was travelling through the world to gain life experience.
On the ferry boat back to Tauranga I met an old woman teacher, who said to me: "It must be delicious to live in Holland: skating, hot chocolate, and a sound climate!" I was thinking about her words for quite a while.
I booked in the Masonic Hotel, and had breakfast there next morning with a dog called "Theo" (like my brother who lives in Southern France). He was fond of my sandwiches with egg. Thereafter, I walked to Tauranga Boys College. I talked with the headmaster. He attentively listened to my explanations, and then warned me never to apply for "regraded vacancies" (for such a vacancy there is already a suitable candidate), but only for "actual vacancies". He showed me all sport medals and lists of honour of the school, and we lunched together in the lounge. And that was the end of this story.
I looked around in the modern Tauranga shopping center. It is something like our shopping center Kastelenplein in Eindhoven's south-end. After that, I stepped into the bus and travelled through the Tauraki Plains on the headway to Auckland. I will say the exotic names of the places we passed: te Puna, Katikati, Waihi Beach, Ngatea, Pukekohe, Papakura, Manukau, Papatoetoe, Otahuhu, Mount Wellington, Ellerslie, Penrose, Greenlane, Market Road, Khyber Pass, Wellesley Street. Have you got them? We went very slowly, because the driver stopped every now and then to deliver a post packet somewhere and have a chat with somebody.
19. Back in Auckland, I went to Aspen Lodge, not far from Downtown. I had to pay fourteen
dollar for a night. I paid for seven nights ahead. "You look lost", said the hotel owner.
A just emigrated family from the Netherlands was staying in the same hotel. They had three children who made a lot of noise. The man said he could do "every work", but this was likely to be exaggerated. They had had some miserable weeks, because of very bad housing.
I went to mr Korstenhorst again, the Dutch consul. He said that I could emigrate anyway, with a bit of courage and a lot of money. The job would come when I was here. But we have not much money, so we cannot emigrate before long.
In the seven days before my depart from New Zealand, I wanted to study the cost of survival. The City Mission at Karangahape Road sells jackets for ten dollar. Famous and disreputable are the flee markets and garage sales. A dirty appartment costs fortyfive dollar, a reasonable one costs twice as much. For the last week I had myself put on rations of water and currant-buns, to feel how it felt. Why did I think about "Ivanhoe" all the time?
I maintained this diet for two days, then I met in Aspen Lodge an old comrade, the Italian from Rotorua. Later on, the two English teachers came also in the hotel. Aspen Lodge is a sister-enterprise of Spa Tourist Hotel, and we all had followed the advice of our hostess in Rotorua to stay in Auckland in Aspen Lodge, before stepping into the airplane to leave New Zealand.
The Italian and I visited the Museum of Transport and Technology, where we saw among other things a space cabin that had landed in the ocean near New Zealand. Thereafter we went to the Zoo, where the parrot was calling "Hello, darling, another cup of tea?" all the time. Another day, we happened to come into a rebuilt pioneer village. We descended from the viaduct in Grey Lynn, and came past an old churchyard where some of these pioneers have been buried. When the dead would have ears to hear, they could hear the traffic raging above them.
We ate some Italian food together, in a lunchroom, and in the evening fried potatoes in a Mac Donald's, but we forgot to ask each other our addresses outside New Zealand.
There are many Japanese sailors walking around here. In the hotel I met a just married couple who would travel to the Southern Alps to ski.
At Karangahape Road there is the Auckland Girls Grammar School. On the day before my depart from New Zealand, I stepped in that school to see the maths books. They were dull books with lessons. It seemed that the teachers were afraid of me, and the headmistress was very short and "to the point". Did I look tired? But the students in her blue uniforms were laughing and they looked at me without fear.
Thus the time passed away. I walked along the Lion's Breweries where there was an unbelievable stench of beer. I saw the Chinese acupuncturist at the top of Queen Street, and the Kindergarten in the same neighbourhood. I walked through Albert Park for the last time.
Was my journey a success? Now I knew that I wished to live here, and which possibilities there were.
Finally I stepped into the airplane bound for Singapore. I was determined to once see New Zealand again.
20. The airplane flew to Singapore. At the airport I asked for a hotel. Majestic Hotel
was the cheapest. I asked the bus driver to warn me when we passed Majestic, but he brought me
to the terminal. Then a taxi carried me to Geylang Road. The cab driver said there was a
better hotel in Geylang Road, but of course he got a reward from the hotel owner.
Thus I came to Keng Low. The Chinese slept there in the corridor in pairs of beds, every second bed above the first. But I got a splendid room with a bath, a ventilator, and mirrors at the ceiling. I had to pay fifty Singapore dollars a night, not much more than fifty guildens, and that was cheaper than hotel Equatorial, where I had stayed five weeks ago. Alas, the ventilator made a terrible noise.
The next morning, I got up early to make a walk. I had to set the hostess at ease, for she thought that I was fleeing. I had to take care that I did not pass for a drugs dealer, for the police shoot drugs dealers.
A couple of hours later on, I asked the hostess coffee and a breakfast, but I got only coffee and a soft-boiled egg in a glass. But the friendliness with which she was at my service, made much good. Meanwhile, the corridor was full of schoolgirls cleaning their teeth.
Two cats were singing a serenade. Everywhere in the neighbourhood there were altars with incense. At the streetcorners, people were stirring in little pans, and making their toilet without any privacy.
Everything is very clean here. When you throw a little piece of paper on the street, you can get a penalty of ten dollars. You must have your hair cut short, or else you are everywhere the last to be served. At least, those are the instructions from the government.
In a little shop I bought the little tin double-deck buses for our children. It turned out later on that they were very happy with these toys. Thereafter, I went to the botanic gardens, and enjoyed the view of black swans in a pond. I was sitting there on a little terrace with the swans in front of me, the coffee next me on a table, the sun above, and behind me the waitresses with their eternal smiles.
In the evening I had a chat with two little boys, about ten years of age. They speak better English than their parents. I asked them what they knew about the Netherlands. Their answer was that they knew Johan Cruijff, that queen Juliana was the richest woman in the world, and that Amsterdam is the mafia center of the drugs world. They brought me to the roof of a flat, to watch the National Celebration fireworks together.
21. When the last day of my long journey had come, I trudged with my trunk in the direction
of Bedok Shopping Center. The style is there half eastern, half western, with normal prices.
I didn't expect that in this country of extremes. I drank a glass of Cola and took the bus to
Changi Airport. There I sat down next the fountain to watch the travellers.
Again, the airplane took off, and I was flying above the clouds. Two Indonesian ladies were sitting in the chairs next me, a mother and her daughter. They were on their way to a pen friend in Winschoten.
In Bahrein I finally felt how tired I was, but two English ladies were energetically playing cards. An emir with three veiled harem ladies and two spoiled children was waiting too.
The flight had no end. But suddenly everything went very fast. The last-but-one bus stop was Paris. After that there was a quick dinner. The stewardesses ran around to give everyone a meal. Back in the Netherlands, when I picked up my trunk from the running belt, you all were waving at me behind the glass windows and the railings.
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click here for an Dutch version of my travel account