Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Like Edinburgh, but the opposite

I'm in Dunedin, a city which is beautiful in some respects but not famous, which is the main reason I like it. It has an otherworldly here-not-there-ness about it. It was settled mostly by Scots, and in fact Dunedin is a Gaelic way of saying Edinburgh. The hills resemble Scottish hills, but they are on the southern end of the South Island of New Zealand, on the opposite side of the world from Scotland, farther south, in fact, than I've ever been. As I walk to the Salvation Army this afternoon in search of a lamp, with every step I'll be farther south than I've ever been.

I spent a week in Wellington (on the North Island) where I rode the cable car and went to the planetarium and had Thanksgiving dinner with three kiwis and a transplanted P.E.Islander. Then I spent a week travelling the South Island where I visited a beach that popped like rice krispies, walked on a glacier, and bathed in sulfurous hot springs. The plan here, in Dunedin, is too settle in for three weeks and read and write in my yellow room on the top of a hill, with the sheaves of flax and the fireplace and the mismatched scarlet carpet. Communications will therefore be minimised.

In lieu of florid descriptions of flora or turgid descriptions of turf, here are just a few of the great southern-hemisphere Scrabble words I've collected in my notebook during my travels. I'll do my best to define them in future installments. I haven't so far looked them up in any dictionaries, so the floor is open to challenges.

7 letters: BILTONG. BETTONG. JANDALS. Some good Q words: QUOKKA. QUAGGA. QUOLL. QUERN. Some good W words: WETA. WEKA. WOMA. Words to make from other words: RORT (on "ort"). NEVE (on "eve"). PADYMELON (on "melon"). Some other words with high-scoring letters: JUDDER. KEA. SKUA. JABIRU. SANZA. And some others I just liked: THAR. BACH. SERAC. BILBY. GENET. SHAMBOLIC.

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