The opening lines of that song were playing in my head, perhaps influenced by the few tracks from Paul Simon’s Graceland that were played on a loop at the motel restaurant last night.
For the first time since arriving in New Zealand two weeks ago, I was alone. Properly alone, not in a different room to Lyn and Malcolm, not a short distance away visiting the city.
After breakfast at Otorohanga in a lovely café we found yesterday we parted company, they to drive back to Auckland, I to wait for the train to Wellington and my friend Nadine.
They have been great hosts, and my head is spinning with the images of the places we have been. I get the chance to catch up with them again at the very end of my holiday before I fly out of Auckland and begin the long journey home. So a new chapter of my holiday began. It felt exciting. I was rather enjoying sitting on a bench on the empty platform, watching the occasional long freight train trundle by, alone with my thoughts.
Another passenger appeared and got the same treatment, then suddenly we were overwhelmed when a group of twenty, part of a coach tour, walked onto the platform with their tour leader. This larger audience commanded his attention, he told them his name was Bill Miller and he had been the town’s taxi driver until he retired a couple of years ago. He was a nice man, a man with a good heart, and I felt some of the group were less than polite to him. I was glad when one woman thanked him profusely and genuinely. And then the train arrived. Bill lifted my bag and handed it to the guard, I checked in with the train manager and was directed to my seat.
The train was shorter than I had expected and very comfortable. I loved the observation carriage. Quite apart from being a great place to watch the scenery, it gives you a chance to blow the cobwebs away, and as I was in a rear carriage, a bit of exercise walking up and down the train. I went backwards and forwards throughout the journey, through drizzle, low cloud and bright sunshine. We crossed viaducts, saw distant mountains topped with snow, cows, sheep, goats and horses. I missed the carrot sculpture at Ohakune, but saw the gum boot one at Taihape.
At my seat I was able to charge my phone, but there was no internet. Instead headphones were supplied so passengers could listen to occasional bursts of commentary along the route.
After the Raurimu Spiral, which I enjoyed from the observation carriage, many passengers, including the twenty coach tour people, left the train. Some of the passengers were people travelling for work, but I got the impression most of us were on holiday. There were people from Japan, from India, quite a number from the US, Germans and a lot of Australians.
As the hours rolled by the train began to empty. A bird of prey flew over the observation carriage. The last big views were if the Pacific, then the carriage was closed before two long tunnels, so I saw Wellington harbour for the first time through the train window.