Te Papa

On Wednesday I got to visit my first embassy. It was just as governmenty as you could imagine, but with a lot more security. Embassies are not really the glowing palaces I thought they would be as a high schooler but this one was especially ugly, looking more like a razor wire protected, run down postoffice. I had to leave my cell phone at the front gate and then hand over my passport to a marine shielded behind bullet proof glass at the entry. I was then guided down sterile white hallways with flickering florescent lights, past hallways straight out of the seventies. Despite its less than welcoming appearance, the diplomat I got to meet was lovely and talked to me for about an hour, sealing it in my head that if he had time to meet with a random backpacking American on a Wednesday afternoon, than the foreign service was just like every other government job. Except this man got to spend years in Mexico, China, Mongolia and Papa New Guinea, got to learn different languages at every post, and I was interrupting his work setting up an event to get the New Zealand ambassador up close and personal with some New Zealand wildlife. I will definitely be taking the foreign service officer exam before I leave New Zealand.

I was able to navigate the bus system to the embassy but couldn’t figure it out on the way back so Alex met me at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. New Zealand’s European history is pretty small. It didn’t become an English colony until 1840. It’s native history is relatively small as well because it was one of the last masses of land settled by humans. This coupled with its lack of predators like snakes and rodents made for some unique wildlife. Despite most people I know quickly associating New Zealand with Australia, it’s wildlife is just about as opposite as could be. In Australia everything can kill you. New Zealand has like one poisonous spider. And zero snakes. ZERO snakes. What a wonderful world. So most of Te Papa was dedicated to their animal populations.

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And the ceiling was dedicated to the awesome sea life that surrounds this country. Whale ribs as big as buses and even a giant squid caught near Antarctica. This is the only intact squid on display in the world.
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In case this also made you angry like it did me, I watched the documentary. Kiwi fisherman in Antarctica have agreements with scientists that any new finds will be used for research. On completely random chance, when they brought up their line, this behemoth was on the end of it with the fish they were trying to catch in her mouth. They have no idea why she didn’t just let go but apparently once these squids reach the surface they don’t have long to live anyways so they froze her and got her to the lab. So they didn’t really just kill her. If it that makes you feel better 🙂

After the museum we wandered around the harbor again and got to see a spectacular sunset over the city. For an hour or so the city wasn’t windy or rainy or cold. It was just amazing.

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I truly hope this was not the last time I set foot in this city, but if it is, I think its one of those places that kind of sticks with you.

by Tracey


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