So we spent the last hour relaxing on our verandah here on the MS Maasdam. While we finished off a bottle of bubbly, courtesy of our travel agent, we had time to observe the late afternoon activity at the Port of Otago…Otago being the name of the peninsula where our ship has been docked all day. The nearest town is Port Chalmers and the big city on the peninsula is Dunedin, population about 120,000.
For such a lightly populated area, the port seems quite busy. With a backdrop of emerald green hills and a foreground of turquoise bay water, the various fork lifts and other machinery of the port carry on their activities, which seem to consist of moving brightly painted containers from one stack to another. As we watched, the stacks at one end of the dock became taller, while at the other end they became shorter.
We wonder what all this constant activity means. Where are those containers destined? Do they contain supplies for this area? Outbound material for export? There is no way to tell from our perch on Deck 9 of the Maasdam, but seeing the name Maersk on so many of the containers I wonder if that is a company in which we should invest.
Today was our first ashore after three days at sea. Yesterday we did see land…Milford Sound and another fjord, but other than those magnificent areas, our world has been the ship and the sea as far as we could see. It began to feel rather strange and maybe naive, to be ensconced on this lovely ship with all of the glamorous touches of decor and style.
There can be a complete disconnect on board ship from everything going on in the land-bound world. Yes, there is internet and each morning someone prints out a news digest which can be picked up at the front desk. If we wanted to, we could probably watch one of the cable news stations on our stateroom television. However, the atmosphere aboard discourages one from overly serious pursuits.
Not all is totally frivolous. There are lectures and such on the culture of the places we’ll visit. Many activities on this ship emphasize nature with tours, talks and films on the environment of New Zealand.
But, it is easy to just float in a bubble of contentment. To live very much in the moment…whether it is a moment of gazing at the dawn sky, or spotting a waterfall cascading down a high cliff, or reveling in the antics of the seabirds. Maybe, this is what we need once in a while…a divorce from the reality of civilization and a chance to connect with the quiet beauty of our natural world.