Monday, October 17, 2011

Eureka, and other water

Now that the All Blacks have trounced the Wallabies, who've succumbed to the Eden Park hoo-doo once again - the choke's on them! - the focus has turned back to real news and proper English words.

Progress has been made on the Rena, with salvors (another new word we've been introduced to) on board the nerve-wrackingly, and noisily, shuddering wreck, and the fuel oil is being removed using an Archimedes screw - because it's of the consistency of Marmite, and can't be pumped without being heated, which is impossible in these circumstances. It's a long, slow process and there's more weather on the way to interrupt it, and we've been told there will still be a spill when the ship, as it must, works free of the reef.

Hard work by many hands has cleared some of the sandy beaches, but there's still a lot of oil amongst the rocks, and fears of what will happen to the wetlands have led to a pre-emptive strike, trying to capture as many dear little NZ dotterels as possible. There are only 1700 of them in the world. That means abandoning their eggs, and having to wrestle with the new problem of looking after them till it's safe to return them to their territory - whenever that might be. And soon the godwits, and the lower-profile but equally doughty red knots, will be arriving from the Yukon and other incredibly distant places. Sigh.

Meantime, Thailand is disappearing under flood water making its way downstream to Bangkok, lying either side of the Chao Phraya River, which is both immensely wide and amazingly busy with boats and ferries constantly buzzing along it. One thing all tourists do when they visit is to take a long-tailed boat cruise through the khlongs, or canals, that wind like back streets through areas where people live in often fairly rickety wooden houses on stilts. They wash, fish and get about, in the water: it's part of daily life there, but they're very vulnerable to it, and any rise in height or increase in the current is going to make things extremely difficult, as well as threatening many fabulous and ancient temples. Tch, haven't we already had enough floods this year?

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