Something was said in a Zoom call on Christmas day. It was a relative far away in Cornwall who said he was jealous. Not of our sunshine or our day filled with meals outdoors and play at the beach. He was simply jealous of our Covid free status. The virus permeates everything in 2020.
We played, we joined up and we rejoiced our fortune this Christmas. We saw lights, sang carols at the top of our voices, visited Santa Clause in a busy department store and gave food parcels to charities struggling to keep up with new demand. Covid has left so many more unemployed in her wake. We’ve enjoyed our freedom to the full, and yet there’s not one of us who’s without a niggly feeling that a break in the border could be around the corner.
We’re doing everything New Zealanders are supposed to be doing right now. We’ve flown to the other end of the country. We’ve started our road trip and we’ll visit friends in far flung places. An adventure on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks is planned. And yes there’s a bottle of hand sanitiser somewhere in my suitcase and I’m trying to remember to use the Covid tracer app. But mostly we’re just on holiday.
Dunedin is where our journey begins. Built on the rush for gold in the 1860’s Dunedin is quite unlike any other New Zealand City, except perhaps the historically rich Oamaru. It’s not just the historic Edwardian and Victorian buildings, but the collection of them all forming ornate streetscapes, magnificent cathedrals, and the orderly street grid perfectly designed to cast visitors’ eyes toward the hills beyond. It’s a sleeping city when the students leave for summer, and yet they leave their mark. The niche record stores, funky street art and underground music scene belong very much to a university city.
Tomorrow we leave the city limits to explore the Otago Peninsula; home to some of the world’s rarest seabirds, penguins and plentiful fur seals. Apparently the surf is pretty good on the right day too. I think if I was in the midst of another lockdown I’d be terribly jealous too. Let’s hope it’s short-lived.