On the 24th we visited this lovely French town, Akaroa since Christchurch, the closest city, is still recovering from the earthquake of a couple of years ago and is not accepting cruise ships into its port. All Akaroa’s street signs were in French, as were many of the names of the restaurants and stores. We played miniature golf at “Le Mini Golf” and took a steep and beautiful hike which afforded us fantastic views of the harbor. I collected a nice wad of wool from trees where I assume the sheep had scratched themselves. Back on the wharf I bought some beautiful paua (abalone) jewelry.
Later Christmas Eve aboard ship, our Jewish gathering for Chinese buffet and showing of “Jersey Boys” was a great success. On Christmas Day, I made three clay flutes though I don’t think any of them work very well. (On the other hand, I rarely can get a sound out of a shofar either, so the problem may be mine and not the instrument’s!) The Maori are known for getting lots of incredible sounds from their wood and clay flutes. I’d love to hear them with a shofar!
I was named for my mother’s cousin Pearl, and my Hebrew name Penina means “pearl.” I therefore made it a point to go to a workshop on pearls where I learned a lot about the topic (ask me, your pearl expert!) and then bought myself a stunning pair of earrings. Sadly, I had recently lost one of my pearl earrings given to me as a bat mitzvah gift from my dear friend Laura. (I’m sorry, Ms. L.G.) so this purchase was made to console myself.
Today we are in Wellington, New Zealand’s beautiful capital city with a beautiful waterfront and modern architecture, lots of contemporary art and sculpture all over the place, as well as a maritime and immigrant history. We took a cable car up the mountain for views and a leisurely walk through the botanical gardens. In a little Japanese garden displacing a piece of a building from Hiroshima, we learned that Wellington declared itself a nuclear-free city in 1982, two years before New Zealand as a whole declared itself nuclear-free.
By chance, we happened upon the old Jewish cemetery on our walk back down to the city, where we spent several hours in the amazing National Museum of New Zealand,Te Papa, a combination of a natural history museum, a museum of the history of New Zealand, and an art museum, all of it breathtaking.
I could have spent another 3 days there without getting bored. The Maori history and artifacts, the contemporary Maori art, an exhibit that should be at Mass MOCA in North Adams, MA by an artist named Bill Culbert, an exhibit about bringing “the other” into the fold of New Zealand (women, gays, Maori), New Zealand immigrant and contemporary refugee history, Lord of the Rings and dinosaur displays, and the giant squid all under one roof!
Back on the ship after a long, exhilarating day and off to lead services and then gather my international “flock” for Shabbat dinner, for which 37 have signed up! This has been such great fun thus far, and we still have another week before we disembark in Sydney.