I have been reading a book about antique maps as well as using maps a lot to travel around New Zealand this summer and to orient myself as a new arrival in Northland. I've picked up work on another bush book- Waitawheta Valley- Secret Directions to Magical Places- which is in itself a very idiosyncratic map. So... maps are on the brain. Following my book of life dream yesterday I rewrote an exhibition proposal to describe my new plan to make An Atlas of Purua- in which I will map my experience of my new home.
Then I drove into Whangarei to do a bunch of errands and spent hours driving around in pretty much total confusion, unable to make sense of my maps or the directions that I had been given, both written and verbal. In my defense I would like to say that both downtown Whangarei and its northern suburbs accomodate natural features with minimal use of straight lines, parallel lines or right angles. Unfortunately, in general these natural features are not easily visible landmarks, being rivers, streams and the harbour. I also wonder if economies with street signage and eccentricity in road markings are more likely to be putting off visitors to Whangarei than the need for a new gateway development project.
Anyway, with much deep breathing (easily accomplished during endless waits at poorly organised intersections and massive yet mysterious roadworks) I did eventually manage to do most of the things I needed to in the time available. I also decided that my Atlas of Purua might usefully include as an appendix, my own street map of Whangarei showing the few landmarks I know: the Farmers carpark (prepaid @ 60 cents an hour), Putiputi Ra (the organic and healthfood shop), Caffiene (the cafe where my friend Ash works) and of course the Warehouse where everybody gets a bargain (but my bargain CD player was so dumb I took it back the next day and got a refund and am playing music on my laptop while I figure out another solution to my need for music/need to not spend money equation).
Beyond these few places which I can generally find with a minimum of circling, backtracking and road rage, Whangarei remains a mysterious maze of low rise buildings and unmarked intersections. As an explorer in poorly charted territory I feel it is incumbent upon me to become a cartographer.