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Ode to the pukeko and everything else I never knew existed

You experience a very special and rewarding sense of joy when you travel and get to see famous things like the Eiffel Tower or the pyramids of Giza. When you stand in front of a historical icon you’ve only ever read about in books or seen in movies you’re lucidly aware of the fact that you get to tick a very popular item off of your bucket list. And before you get back on the tour bus you’re already savoring the fact that for the rest of your life you can say, “Been there. Done that.” or “At least I saw Venice.” or “We’ll always have Paris.”

As triumphant as you may feel standing in front of something famous, you’re only going to spend a small portion of your vacation time actually staring at old buildings. The rest of the time you’re going to be riding in vehicles, eating at cafes, visiting shops, looking for beaches and hunting choice souvenirs. Everywhere you’ll go you’ll see tours and businesses advertised as “off the beaten track.” And inevitably you’ll get swept into doing something exotic you had no intention of doing like skydiving, bungee jumping, eating gelato, eating snake, drinking grappa, drinking kava, riding an elephant or  soaking in a mineral mud bath. In a lot of ways these are the vacation memories you’ll savor most. Thirty years from now you’re not going to say your spouse, “Man, remember the time we stood there and looked at that big, old building? Wasn’t that great?” No. You’re going to be talking about, “Remember that time you were riding on that elephant and it started humping that other elephant?”

It’s worth the money to travel and collect experiences and memories of you doing silly, exotic things. It’s even more worth the money when you stumble across something so foreign to you that you never had any idea it or anything like it ever existed. That’s an exhilarating and humbling experience worth traveling the world for.

I felt like this the first time I ate lychee; there’s this fruit that millions of people eat every day. It tastes really good, and it’s way easier to peel than an orange. How did I never know this existed? Are there millions of people out there who have never seen or heard of anything like an orange? How many other things are there out there that I never knew about?

Once you’ve visited a couple of world famous monuments or cities the world starts feeling smaller and you don’t feel so lost or isolated. You start feeling like an informed world citizen. And then someone puts an alien piece of fruit on your plate and it reminds you that you don’t know shit about shit.

I get the same feeling every time I see a pukeko, which is a big blue chicken looking bird that runs wild all over New Zealand. They hang around camp sites, and you’ll see them on the side of the motorways.  I probably see three or four pukekos a month, but if I lived in the country I’d see a lot more.

Every time I see a Pukeko I still marvel at how I spent 30 years of my life not knowing there were crazy blue chicken birds running around public parks snatching children’s lollies. Pukekos may be a pest to some people, but to me they’re a symbol of knowledge and humility….or something like that. The point is I think pukekos are totally sweet and everyone should know about them.

How did I never know about this?

Pukekos: More awesome than Ocelots.

Come to New Zealand. They’ve got big blue chicken lookin’ birds.


One Response

  1. I know what you mean. I didn’t know I didn’t know so much until I moved to NZ!

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