It’s been a long time since I posted here, but as I am about to embark on a two and half month trip to New Zealand (and a short stint in Australia) I thought this would be the ideal place to keep people updated on my adventures. (more…)
I have always liked the idea of living with less. Packing for this trip was a good exercise in "what do I really need?" I wanted this pack to ideally be something I could live out of for years if I needed to. Paring down is an interesting process. Here is what I ended up with (more or less – little things keep being added and subtracted as my departure date gets closer). (more…)
Almost everything I need to do before the trip is crossed off my list. I left computer issues until the end. The sound on my little laptop still isn’t working. The good news is I have learned a lot about installing programs in Linux. (more…)
It’s almost midnight and I am sitting on my little couch in an almost emptied room. I still think I am bringing too much, but I don’t want to leave anything behind. The biggest difference from my last trips is all the communications equipment I have. Little laptop, cell phone, iPod. All three not necessary but also helpful in a way I don’t want to give up. (more…)
It’s 3:20am my time, 5:30pm Seoul time. This airport looks so much like JFK, it is kind of eerie. The first part of the trip went so smoothly, it’s almost strange. I got to JFK at 10am, for my 12:50pm flight. I didn’t wait in line to check-in. I didn’t wait in line to go through security. It was all over in about 15 minutes. Having only got about 5 hours sleep the night before, I fell asleep fairly easily on the plane. (more…)
I am sitting at the “chill out lounge” of Base ACB – a backpackers hostel – on Queen Street even though I am not staying here tonight. Or tomorrow night, for that matter. If you were in town and not staying here either, it might be a good place to just go relax, pay for some internet and maybe meet a cute young guy with a gelled up fauxhawk. (more…)
So much has happened in the past few days. I will have to take more time to compose a post later this evening.
I am now the proud ownder of a white 1994 Mitsubishi Magna Sedan. Manual! The engine purrs, almost no rust. Good tires. All for $1600 NSD (which translates to roughly $900 USD). I talked him down from $1650. hahahahaha. But I think it was a good deal. So far, at least. I will let you know if adventurous mishaps begin (more…)
This morning I woke up to a rainy and chilly morning. I got online, checked messages and chatted with people before heading off to check the surf. I figured I might skip it today since the report didn’t sound great and my arms were a bit sore from the day before. Man, I get out of shape fast. When I got down to the beach, though, it looked like a good day for me. The swells were smaller, and though still messy, looked catchable and not too difficult to get out. So I went back up to the lodge and picked up the board and my stuff.
I got out past the whitewater closer to Lion Rock after maybe 10 minutes of paddling. Sat a while, watched some waves pass. There were about 4 other people in the water near me, and more coming out at a steady slow pace. When I finally caught a wave, my hair (so long now!) was whipped over my eyes and I was so disoriented I couldn’t do anything but ride in on my stomach. I tried paddling back out for a short while, realized I was exhuasted and headed back in.
I went back up to the lodge to grab a hair band. Returned and watched the surfers a while, hoping to regain energy and strength to try again. I fell asleep on the beach next to my board, waking up at noon. I guess today wasn’t the day either.
When I got back to Bobbie and Julia’s, I found a letter on my bed in the campervan. Such an amazing and unexpected surprise! I opened it up and read it with a cup of tea and leftovers from Emma’s party. It made me cry, I was so happy and excited to get this sort of contact from home. Hi Kerry, Rick, Silas and Camille! Can you hear me!!! Your letter made my day. Thank you so so much.
I jumped in my car and headed north to Cascade Falls to see the Kauri trees. A nice little 45 minute walk through the forest and next to a creek. I was sort of rushed because I needed to be back to the lodge by 3pm to help with the gardening again. Yesterday we spent most of the time cutting and hauling away flax stalks. Then I sat and repotted little Carex seedlings from off one of the paths. Bobbie had devised a new way to repot them using toilet paper rolls. Once replanted in them, the roll will decompose. She was very excited with this, admittedly, ingenuous idea. Another plant I learned about was the Potukawa, or the New Zealand christmas three. There are seven on their property. Around Christmas, this evergreen tree blooms into red flowers comprised of a bunch of needle-like stamens.
The road out to Piha is narrow and windy. But I am definitely getting the hang of driving on the left side and shifting with my left hand. Sitting in the garden now waiting for Bobbie to arrive and put me to work. A cup of Irish tea (thanks Clio!) and some cheese and crackers. Down on the beach yesterday I walked up to two young guys next to a rented campervan to say hi and see if they were going out surfing. Turns out they were German tourists who had to return their van that morning. They had two big boxes of leftover food they wanted to give away to someone. I was the lucky recipient! Tea, coffee, cheese, marmalade, three boxes of cereal, eggs, sugar, salt, spices, can of tuna fish, can of diced tomatoes, some onions, vegetable bouillon cubes, paper towels. Such a great score.
Still working on post about days in Auckland. Will get that up soon.
The first thing I immediately picked up here was saying “Yeah yeah”. Very catchy. I met a young woman named Emma (pronounced EEma by her) and I think she was the one who gave me this first linguistic gift. I have a feeling I will be annoying you guys with this one when I return back to the States. Watch out for it.
Kiwis also end lots of sentences with “eh?” just like the Canadians. I don’t think I will pick that one up, since I am already immune to it. “Good on you” means “good for you”. And I have already earned a couple of those. Oh, and “chocker” means full.
My name is pronounced something like this: beeyeth.
All the municipal signs, etc., here have the Maori translation printed on them as well. Very cool. Imagine if we had the local native american language printed on our garbage cans, street signs and tourist information posts. The indigenous culture here is very visible, it seems to me. Or at least seems like it in comparison to America.
There are only two things in New Zealand that will hurt or possibly kill you: the katipo spider and the white-tailed spider. She told me this the first day as she was cutting New Zealand Flax stalks and I was hauling them away. White-tailed spiders like to live down near the base of the flax trees. The white-tailed is not aggressive, and the bite won’t necessarily kill you. You will be put on antibiotics right away and the resulting infection may be nasty.
After working a while in the hot sun, she remembered something. “Oh yeah there is something else that can kill you in New Zealand….Americans driving on the wrong side of the road!”
I saw my first white-tailed today as I was weeding along the road at the edge of her property. My main task for the day was getting out as much Wandering Jew as possible. If Woody Allen was around, he would most certainly accuse me of anti-semitism. I was also pulling out a few different variety of weeds along the way. After two hours of intense work, Bobbie let me off early. Back to the beach to watch the waves!
It was about 6:45pm as I got down to the beach. A stunning 2 minute walk away. So perfect. The sun sets straight over the waves, so its very hard to look straight out at the surfers. Luckily there are rocks to either side of the beach that you can crawl out on and watch looking in a northerly or southerly direction. Last night the waves were barrelling and the setting sun lit them up from behind into this beautiful light aquamarine color. You can see any objects in the ocean (like these large brown seaweed-like stalks) cascading up and over the falls. The waves were mostly closing out, which means all breaking over at once instead of along a line from once side to the other. Closing out is not good because you can’t surf it.
Tonight there were probably around 8 people outside catching the good waves and a handful of people inside trying to learn to stand up in the crumbing whitewater. People were catching some good rides. I would’ve gone out if I wasn’t still so tired. I watched from the rocks to the south of the beach, near “Camel Rock” as two girls paddled out on shortboards. Jealous jealous.
Across the waves is Lion Rock. An amazing, towering massive rock formation. It was called Te Piha by the Maori and was at one time a Pa, or fortified palace. It is considered a sacred site to the Maori. I saw the lion in it all at once yesterday when the sun hit it perfectly. It faces out to the ocean and even has haunches in the back.
Here is an old image I found online, since I can’t upload my own right now:
I hope tomorrow morning I have more energy and the arms aren’t too sore. The past two days have been all about paddling practice. I would like to catch a wave and ride it tomorrow.
Oh! I forgot. This morning as I walked out onto the beach around 9am, there was a rainbow over Camel Rock. Camel rock is more obvious, as it has two big humps.