In brief 🩲
- Journal: Volcanoes are safe, honest
- Practical: Create a map, testudo your time
- Read: Catalogues of LOLs return
From the journal 📖
Omid is a 6 foot 4 Iranian man with well-groomed hair who kicks the standing bag at our taekwondo gym so hard it tumbles away end over end into the distance. He’s our new instructor, and although he’s only been in New Zealand for around a month, his English has improved a bunch.
Sometimes, though, we unwittingly guide the conversation into uncharted territory, with specialist vocabulary that Omid hasn’t yet mastered. I used to live in Japan, and I remember this predicament well: the conversation in Japanese would be trucking along just fine, and I’d at the very least be following the drift, but then someone would start talking about politics, or science, or some domain with words that had no reason thus far to appear on my vocab study list.
My wife Vic and I were chatting to Omid after a recent training session, and Omid mentioned that he was about to travel to Taupō with friends. To get to Taupō, you travel through the Desert Road. I’m not sure that it even is a desert, technically, but Vic started to provide some geographical rationale as to why we call it a desert. There was a huge eruption thousands of years ago; the flora of the area was burned or coated with ash; and high winds coming off the surrounding mountains have prevented the area from returning to its former state ever since.
Omid had a smile on his face I understood well, because I have smiled that smile many times. Politely listening but not following. Vic and I did, however, manage to get across the visual image that this was not your classical desert.
“It’s not all sand and sun,” I said.
“So, not like Dubai,” Omid said.
We could have stopped there, at a point of clarity, but we forged on.
Vic returned to explaining that Lake Taupō was formed by a gigantic eruption.
“What is ‘eruption’?” asked Omid.
We talked about a mountain exploding, lava, heat. Omid understood the reference eventually, but maybe we’d laid it on a bit thick.
“Is it... safe?” asked Omid, perhaps wondering whether he was about to venture into some forsaken geothermal hellscape.
“Yes, it’s safe,” we laughed.
Omid was relieved to hear this, and surprised to hear that there were no snakes in the desert, nor in fact any snakes anywhere in New Zealand.
“I don’t like snakes. Or sharks,” Omid said.