Tuesday, July 31, 2012

And I am talking about the weather, again

Gratefully, after the painful experience of paying my most annoying parking ticket last week, I have had a shockingly quite and all be it wet and rainy boring old week. I am skeptically told that the worse of the winter weather is behind us. Despite this, the forecast for the foreseeable future is precipitation. I have actually just given up on planning and am trying not notice the constantly changing and unpredictable weather in New Zealand. In colorful and sunny Colorado we claim that we can have four seasons in one day. New Zealand can seriously have four seasons before morning tea.
Over the weekend I offered my babysitting services, took a friend out for her birthday, and then didn't even leave the house on Sunday. It was pouring rain all day, and I took the opportunity to catch up on reading, researching (travel mostly), and enjoying a relaxing day- which I sadly find harder said then done.
What is most on my mind this week is my glorious four day weekend coming up. A mate and I are flying to Wellington to enjoy some seriously wet and windy weather and hopefully a little break away from children. She is one of those "let's just wing it" sort of people and I can't be bothered to make a bunch of plans so we will just have to see what we get to and how we make that happen. I am trying to take this in graceful stride, but it is extremely difficult exercise in faith, patience, and relaxing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Epic Fail

As part of my initiative to appreciate the new and exciting by planning fun events, a friend and I made plans weeks ago to see the new Batman movie opening weekend. A long, rainy weekend inside with children made me even more excited to get out Friday night. I stopped over at her house and chatted with her host family and some friends and before we knew it, it was time to go to the movie down in Mission Bay. So  without having dinner (I thought I'd just grab something later) we drove down, grabbed a quick pint at our favorite Belgian Beer Cafe and went into the very long, and somewhat disappointing movie (I just thought there were too many things going on and in a few places it lost that something special the first two had but I am getting off track here). Since I am often in bed hours before 11pm I had completely forgotten that everything - restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations - close before 10pm so no dinner for me. As we were walking up Patteson Ave I slowly realized that we must have passed the car since we had passed all the cars on the road and were heading into a large residential area. We decided to walk back and try again. My friend pointed out some cars in the distance asking if they were mine, which they obviously were not. After walking up and down the street again it was clear that somehow the car had moved itself without my key, but with my phone in it. They didn't cover what do in this sort of situation in my au pair orientation.

Mission Bay is small and there is really only one police HQ in the CBD and I didn't have my phone and we were a good half hour walk to my friends house and..... where is my (host family's) car!?! A few awkward and embarrassing phone calls later (her host family, my host family, the tow hotline) I had discovered that the car had been towed because apparently I had parked in front of a drive way. I would contest this but somehow had forgotten to take the necessary photographic evidence of my car after I parked it. A cab ride down to the CBD, a signature, and proof of my license, along with the 111 dollar and 50 cent ticket, to be paid within 28 days or they will send a nasty letter, and I had the car back. All in all, not the highlight of my life, but an experience none the less. I have to say its pretty funny now, and was actually pretty funny at the time since it seems just so impossible and ridiculous to have lost my car and my phone in a foreign town, in a foreign country, in the middle of the night when I hadn't even eaten dinner!

Things like tickets, and awkward phone calls, and skipped meals just happen in life and even more so in travel. I am dedicated to continuing my travels, probably to farther, well wait, I can't really go farther away, but at least more exotic places, where I don't speak the language and things like this are just going to happen, and having the right attitude will hopefully keep me from losing anything too important. I promptly paid my ticket and moved on, taking a good story and maybe a little more life experience with me.

Saturday and Sunday contained more rain, a jog to Cox's Bay, heaps of reading under my down comforter, a little babysitting, and few pointed jokes from the family. All is well in paradise.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Best Half Birthday Ever

 This weekend I celebrated my half birthday and it was the best ever, and that's saying something! I don't particularly care that I am over twelve years old, by like a decade, as you probably know, I still believe in celebrating half birthdays. This is probably because this small celebration in the middle of the year has always held fond and warm memories of travel, friends, family, and desert, of course!
  Considering I know this is not a normal tradition and being so far from home, I had low expectations for this years celebrations. My favorite and most appreciated half birthday gift was that that my host family went away for the weekend, leaving me alone at home for 2.5 days - a glorious and quite occasion. I am not saying I don't love the sound of pattering feet and the crying of hungry mouths, but....
  Being at home or anywhere really, when you are truly by yourself and have no obligations to work or to anyone else gives a type of peace and revitalization like no other. I have been missing this and will be trying to incorporate, appreciate and find more of this time.
  To take the stakes up a little higher, a girlfriend and I made appointments for a manicure and pedicure - such luxuries here, where a bottle of nail polish is twenty-five dollars, that we have not granted ourselves these once standard enjoyments since arriving. Then, we dolled ourselves up and went out to the Viaduct (a bar/restaurant district on the wharf next to the CBD) and treated ourselves to a degustation at Kermadec, an award winning seafood restaurant. It is easily in the top five greatest meals I have ever had.
  Saturday I was able to spend almost the entire day in my trackies and still included a work-out, walk around the park, mussels for dinner, and movie. Today was similar, expect that I got dressed and went out for a movie and mussels with a friend at our favorite Belgium Beer Cafe.
  To make it all perfect I received cards or emails from multiple family members at home and a hand made card my "Kiwi Granna" - Andrew's mum! These small tokens make the Pacific Ocean seem not quite so big.
  The last couple of weeks, well actually this entire experience has been the most challenging endeavor of my life - and the most rewarding, personally developing, perspective changing, and clarifying. I have a greater appreciation for everyone and everything in my life. What is even more exciting, if that is possible, is that my view of the world has broadened in unimaginable ways. I have been spending almost all of my free time either doing or planing adventures and any remaining time is spent in reverie of what next year could hold. I surprise myself every week with completely new ambitions I didn't know I had and ways of accomplishing them I never thought were possible. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tiritiri Matangi

Silver Fern
I have just crawled out of my sweatpants after a week of being sick as. This however didn't stop me from going on an day adventure last Saturday. The weather was absolutely perfect and I couldn't pass up a day in the sun on an island, well a smaller island.
Tiritiri Matangi is a small island about and hour and a quarter north of Auckland by ferry. It has been a bird sanctuary since the 1980s and is a host of preserved fauna, flora, and native and endangered bird species. The ferry leaves the warf at 930am and drops you off for a day of nature and hiking with a 1530 return. We packed our hiking bags and as usual expected a more arduous trek than we received. So as not to spoil tradition the we hiked the entire outskirts of the 220-hectare island in half the expected time, leaving plenty of time to lay in the grass and enjoy the views. It was truly paradise.

Sadly the rest of my week really has been in a pretty pathetic state. I will hopefully be back to a descent condition for my half birthday celebrations and a peacefully weekend alone.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Making plans and trying first

My routines for better or worse are pretty set these days. Life is full of new things, but they don't stick out as much as they used to. When I don't notice and appreciate these newfangled gifts whether they be words, foods, experiences, whatever, I find that I often become bored and apathetic for no reason other than I am not striving not to... so I am working on seeing the "new and firsts."
I tried black pudding (google it if you don't know - I don't want to explain) for the first time last weekend. It was served with a potato and parmesan cake with a delicious hollandaise. I wouldn't say it was my favorite thing, but also wouldn't steer away from it on a menu if it looked good again.
  It doesn't seem possible that I am almost half way through my year - I still have so much to see and do!! As I consider how much time I have left and the growing list of places and things to do I am realizing I have to get planning. I am going back to Wellington the first weekend of August and Coromandel in September, possibly Tongariro Crossing again (with a few more stops added) in late Spring, and Milford Sound in the Summer. That still leaves the East Coast and almost all of the South Island to be explored. The planning does make the experiences more exciting and helps me get through those days where there is more screaming and crying than I care to share. Still no plans for next year, though I highly doubt I will be back home for long (whenever that may be), before jet setting off somewhere else. The travel bug has said to be contagious and along with about half a dozen colds, I seem to have caught it since I arriving here.