Evolution and adventures

Explaining evolution to kids is harder than you think especially when you’re riding a bakfiets at the time and they’re firing questions at you from the box in front. It started on the cycle ride home today with, “How come some kids have brown skin?”. I tried to explain that humans have evolved to have lighter or darker coloured skin depending on how much sunlight the place they originate gets. People with fairer skin are better able to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight which is useful in places with lower UV radiation as vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. While darker skin types offer more protection from the sun and are important in places with high UV radiation. Elizabeth went from that to, “That’s why we don’t live in New Zealand because New Zealand is hot and we have white skin”.

Elizabeth has obviously forgotten about Christchurch and how cold it can get there. Kids also don’t seem to have a concept of time. It’s hard to explain that although our skin colour is determined by our parents and their skin colour by their parents and so on it’s our ancestors and where they came from who determine whether we are fair or dark.

Some people spend money on cars and house renovations whereas we like to spend money on adventures. Every time we come back from a short trip or weekend away, I start dreaming about the next one. Where will we go? What will we do? I seem to live my life from one adventure to the next which isn’t such a bad thing, I don’t think. I also relive old adventures sometimes. One particularly good one we made was a short campervan trip to Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook in the South Island of New Zealand. Lake Tekapo is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We went in July 2010, two months before the start of the Christchurch earthquake sequence. Here are some photos of it (Daniel is in the first one and he’s wearing a cardigan I made for him):



This was taken from the Mount John Observatory:


Here’s our campervan:


We slept here one night with not a soul around except for us:


Elizabeth was only little:


And I didn’t have any grey hairs yet. I blame the earthquakes for those.


And the obligatory sheep pic:



      1. After the Christchurch earthquakes I didn’t want to live on the plate boundary any longer so we began searching for a new home. We wanted to live in a temperate climate, preferably somewhere English-speaking, with a University, and a city that is fairly small and compact. The logical place was somewhere in the UK and when a job came up for Ben in Aberdeen he applied. We would have been happy in most of the smaller UK cities (not London though). Aberdeen has a population of just over 200,000 which is perfect. I think I’d also like parts of Canada but only the East as I don’t want to live on the ring of fire.

  1. I only knew that people with darker skin, like your truly, come from hotter countries, from my own experience. Didn’t think much about vitamin D or UV thing. So good to know 🙂

    How easy is it to drive a campervan? I am not confident of handling them esp. on the narrow and curvy NZ roads. I often wonder why can’t these people leave at least a feet or two of margin on the both sides of the road. Forget Stat Highways, even the Auckland motorways have barricades so close to the road margin.

    Nice pics as usual.

    1. The campervan was very easy to drive. I did most of the driving on that trip iirc. If you go in winter as we did, they’re much cheaper to hire and the roads are very quiet. Although you might end up seeing snowing which could make driving more treacherous. You have to pick the right time.

  2. Your whole life sounds like an adventure. I think it is great that you and Ben seem to share such a fundamental part of your outlook. I find there’s something really special and amazing about iced mountains in the background, against a foreground of green or brown.

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