A Travellerspoint blog

Memories

overcast 53 °F

I wish I could remember everything. Honestly, I think if I was tested, I would have just a slightly above average memory. But still, I feel inadequate to remember all the perfect details of this trip we've been on.

This isn’t a new feeling. I’ve felt this way since day one. I wish I could remember every single thing that’s happened: every thought process, every person, every emotion and every mental note made. If there was a way I could somehow put a recorder into my brain so that all images, videos and thoughts would be saved, I would do it. And the recorder would be even better if it could somehow capture not only those things, but everything else that comes with the human experience. If it could record all of that, too, that would be awesome.

I have moments where I’m afraid of forgetting something that happened. I’m anxious that I won’t remember something important - or something not important, even. These 15-weeks have been absolutely amazing and life changing. And I want to be able to remember it all in 5, 10, 30, 60 years. But I know I can't.

I’ve done my best to keep a daily journal of what we’ve done each day, the people we've met, the places we've seen, the arguments David and I have had, the victories we’ve shared, and how all of that made me feel. I hope I will be able to reread the currently-132 pages and be transported back to each experience.

It’s an anxious feeling - to feel this need to constantly document everything. But this feeling is only present because of how awesome this trip and our experiences have been. Had they been mediocre, I wouldn't feel this constant need to document and remember.

It’s things even like this moment. I’m sitting on a bus driving from Dublin to Cork and thinking about how even in a few days, I will want to remember exactly how I felt: anxious, tired, excited to see the Blarney Stone, sad at the thought of going home. This moment will mean something to me in only a few days because it means something to me now. And I want desperately to remember every second of it.

RANDOM THINGS WE WANT TO REMEMBER:

  • Gingernut cookies to dip in English Breakfast tea
  • how a taxi driver in Thailand dropped us at the wrong place
  • Honey Kiki the cat knocking off my earplugs repeatedly like a game at Hye's house in London
  • the first time I saw hieroglyphics - in the desert around the Sakkara pyramids
  • meeting two UGA students in our hostel in Kaikoura, NZ (one was from Catersville of all places)
  • being separated only by glass from the works of Leonardo Da Vinchi, Michaelangelo and Bethtoveen at the British Library
  • the antique elevators in our building in Cairo
  • how a shopkeeper got us drunk in the Christian Quarter in Old Jerusalem - and might have tried to cop a feel >.<
  • Balinese man in the airport that took $50 from us
  • generosity of the London couple who offered us their home - and how snotty their daughter sounded when she turned us away
  • excitement of the crew in Kaikoura when we spotted a blue whale
  • having an Egyptian man yell at us in our taxi, "do you not trust me? do you not like Egyptians? f*** you! go home!"
  • how wide the Legong dancers eyes were in Bali
  • how much love we felt from Solo at Botaira when he gave us a lobster dinner for free
  • the vibrancy of the paint on some of the hieroglyphics that were 4000 years old
  • details of the mosaics on Wat Arun
  • the word David yelled jumping from Nevis
  • the first time I saw a turkish toilet - Bali airport
  • British tour guide telling us how he thinks being shouted at in German is the scariest language to be shouted in
  • our surprise to a $56 movie ticket in Bangkok and how we made him refund the card
  • watching the UEFA cup at Standige Vertretung in Berlin
  • talking to the gardener at the Garden of Gethsemane
  • how amazing the wine was in paris - oh and the chocolate and food and coffee and everything else
  • Megan's kindness to offer us a bed in Hokitika, NZ when our couchsurfing host didn't show - and how when she finally did show, she cornered us on her porch and told us that calling people was how they get in touch with one another in New Zealand. Well, we use smoke signals in the US, lady
  • the massiveness of the Eiffel Tower
  • making David ride a camel
  • meeting two UGA girls in a bar in Berlin and then partying with them until 7am
  • two Austrian boys who claimed Coors was the best beer in the world - really dude? you're basically German and you tell me Coors is the best beer in the world?
  • how the Sphinx was much smaller than the Pyramids and our surprise
  • the let down we felt in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • sleeping in the Istanbul airport during a 4 hour layover to London
  • colors of the sunsets in Fiji
  • the one baby seal we saw at Milford Sound and how our guide was so surprised since babies are never there
  • my surprise when I saw how much Fox Glacier had retreated since 2010
  • being bitten by, not one, but two monkeys in Bali
  • Andrew, our Australian friend we met in Fiji, saying, "That's YOU guys???" when we mentioned the UGA men's swim team's harlem shake video
  • how much I hate the tube in London
  • South Korean we met on the train to Chiang Mai who gave us some perspective on life
  • the angry train manager who yelled at me to wake up at 7am on the way to Bangkok from Chiang Mai
  • Our guide, Shereif's (who is an Egyptologist in Cairo) theory on which pharaoh Moses escaped from
  • the wave of sadness we felt when we left Hye's house in London
  • how bad Simba sounds with a British accent
  • being literally pushed by a small Chinese woman in Versailles
  • our first friends made in Fiji, Travis and Samantha
  • having to make Ryan repeat himself when he said "tube" because I heard "cheap" #britishaccent
  • Stefani in New Zealand who told us she lived most of her life ashamed to be German
  • being short of my nose pressed against the glass from a mummy in the Egyptian Museum and talking to him like he might talk back

and there are so many more... for another post

Posted by smweaver24 02:48 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Memories

overcast 53 °F

I wish I could remember everything. Honestly, I think if I was tested, I would have just a slightly above average memory. But still, I feel inadequate to remember all the perfect details of this trip we've been on.

This isn’t a new feeling. I’ve felt this way since day one. I wish I could remember every single thing that’s happened: every thought process, every person, every emotion and every mental note made. If there was a way I could somehow put a recorder into my brain so that all images, videos and thoughts would be saved, I would do it. And the recorder would be even better if it could somehow capture not only those things, but everything else that comes with the human experience. If it could record all of that, too, that would be awesome.

I have moments where I’m afraid of forgetting something that happened. I’m anxious that I won’t remember something important - or something not important, even. These 15-weeks have been absolutely amazing and life changing. And I want to be able to remember it all in 5, 10, 30, 60 years. But I know I can't.

I’ve done my best to keep a daily journal of what we’ve done each day, the people we've met, the places we've seen, the arguments David and I have had, the victories we’ve shared, and how all of that made me feel. I hope I will be able to reread the currently-132 pages and be transported back to each experience.

It’s an anxious feeling - to feel this need to constantly document everything. But this feeling is only present because of how awesome this trip and our experiences have been. Had they been mediocre, I wouldn't feel this constant need to document and remember.

It’s things even like this moment. I’m sitting on a bus driving from Dublin to Cork and thinking about how even in a few days, I will want to remember exactly how I felt: anxious, tired, excited to see the Blarney Stone, sad at the thought of going home. This moment will mean something to me in only a few days because it means something to me now. And I want desperately to remember every second of it.

RANDOM THINGS WE WANT TO REMEMBER:

  • Gingernut cookies to dip in English Breakfast tea
  • how a taxi driver in Thailand dropped us at the wrong place
  • Honey Kiki the cat knocking off my earplugs repeatedly like a game at Hye's house in London
  • the first time I saw hieroglyphics - in the desert around the Sakkara pyramids
  • meeting two UGA students in our hostel in Kaikoura, NZ (one was from Catersville of all places)
  • being separated only by glass from the works of Leonardo Da Vinchi, Michaelangelo and Bethtoveen at the British Library
  • the antique elevators in our building in Cairo
  • how a shopkeeper got us drunk in the Christian Quarter in Old Jerusalem - and might have tried to cop a feel >.<
  • Balinese man in the airport that took $50 from us
  • generosity of the London couple who offered us their home - and how snotty their daughter sounded when she turned us away
  • excitement of the crew in Kaikoura when we spotted a blue whale
  • having an Egyptian man yell at us in our taxi, "do you not trust me? do you not like Egyptians? f*** you! go home!"
  • how wide the Legong dancers eyes were in Bali
  • how much love we felt from Solo at Botaira when he gave us a lobster dinner for free
  • the vibrancy of the paint on some of the hieroglyphics that were 4000 years old
  • details of the mosaics on Wat Arun
  • the word David yelled jumping from Nevis
  • the first time I saw a turkish toilet - Bali airport
  • British tour guide telling us how he thinks being shouted at in German is the scariest language to be shouted in
  • our surprise to a $56 movie ticket in Bangkok and how we made him refund the card
  • watching the UEFA cup at Standige Vertretung in Berlin
  • talking to the gardener at the Garden of Gethsemane
  • how amazing the wine was in paris - oh and the chocolate and food and coffee and everything else
  • Megan's kindness to offer us a bed in Hokitika, NZ when our couchsurfing host didn't show - and how when she finally did show, she cornered us on her porch and told us that calling people was how they get in touch with one another in New Zealand. Well, we use smoke signals in the US, lady
  • the massiveness of the Eiffel Tower
  • making David ride a camel
  • meeting two UGA girls in a bar in Berlin and then partying with them until 7am
  • two Austrian boys who claimed Coors was the best beer in the world - really dude? you're basically German and you tell me Coors is the best beer in the world?
  • how the Sphinx was much smaller than the Pyramids and our surprise
  • the let down we felt in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
  • sleeping in the Istanbul airport during a 4 hour layover to London
  • colors of the sunsets in Fiji
  • the one baby seal we saw at Milford Sound and how our guide was so surprised since babies are never there
  • my surprise when I saw how much Fox Glacier had retreated since 2010
  • being bitten by, not one, but two monkeys in Bali
  • Andrew, our Australian friend we met in Fiji, saying, "That's YOU guys???" when we mentioned the UGA men's swim team's harlem shake video
  • how much I hate the tube in London
  • South Korean we met on the train to Chiang Mai who gave us some perspective on life
  • the angry train manager who yelled at me to wake up at 7am on the way to Bangkok from Chiang Mai
  • Our guide, Shereif's (who is an Egyptologist in Cairo) theory on which pharaoh Moses escaped from
  • the wave of sadness we felt when we left Hye's house in London
  • how bad Simba sounds with a British accent
  • being literally pushed by a small Chinese woman in Versailles
  • our first friends made in Fiji, Travis and Samantha
  • having to make Ryan repeat himself when he said "tube" because I heard "cheap" #britishaccent
  • Stefani in New Zealand who told us she lived most of her life ashamed to be German
  • being short of my nose pressed against the glass from a mummy in the Egyptian Museum and talking to him like he might talk back

and there are so many more... for another post

Posted by smweaver24 02:48 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Oh, well hello wall. How are you?

rain 50 °F

We’ve hit a wall. Or at least, I know I have. I’m tired. My brain is tired. And I don’t have much desire to do or see anything.

We’ve been to Fiji, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, Egypt and Israel – all in 8 weeks. And we visited Bali, Thailand, Egypt and Israel just in 3 weeks. It’s a lot of moving, a lot of thinking, a lot of decision making. You just get tired.

Before we left home, I had so many people tell me, “Enjoy your vacation!” I didn’t care to explain this to these people. They meant well by their wishes. But this isn’t a vacation. It’s a 4-month lifestyle change.

We make more decisions a day than we did at home. Home lends itself to a routine. This is no routine. Every day is different. Every country is different. Every custom, every culture, and every people is different.

We bend, we grow, we adapt. We change our minds and our plans every few minutes or every few hours. We live out of our backpacks and our daypacks. We pack and repack these packs. We search for places to do laundry. Sometimes, we don’t do laundry. We shower on occasion. We sleep in rooms with other people or just in rooms that aren’t ours. We calculate and recalculate our daily and weekly budget and take a deep breath when we’re reminded a new paycheck isn’t coming in.

It’s just not a vacation.

Now, please don’t take this to be complaining. It’s certainly not meant to be a complaint. It’s only meant to explain that this trip, and any trip of this kind where you’re moving from place to place, is a lifestyle change – not a vacation. It’s wonderful and exciting and exhilarating and absolutely incredible. But it’s just not a vacation.

Thankfully, I read about this life-style change and this wall-hitting phenomenon before I left home. Travel bloggers warned us that we would get wouldn’. They said we wouldn’t want to see all the wonderful things we left home to see. We wouldn’t want to make a decision. We may only want to sleep. We might plan to rest for 3 days and end up staying two weeks.

But most importantly for me, these bloggers informed us that this feeling is okay. In fact, this feeling should be expected because it’s normal, acceptable - and again, it’s okay.

I remember reading these warnings thinking, “That makes a lot of sense. I bet it will happen at some point.” I’m glad I was warned. This feeling wasn’t something I would have anticipated on my own. And because I was warned, I only feel small amounts of guilt and anxiety. We did, after all, leave home and are in the process of spending all of our money to do and see things. So, had I not been warned, I’m sure guilt and angst would be shouting at me,” Run, Sharon, run!” in a Forrest Gump style plea to see and do everything there is to see and do.

But since I know somewhere in my heart that this feeling is normal, acceptable and okay, I think I’ll put my small amounts of guilt and angst aside, take a nap, and go outside to frolic whenever I feel like it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Details of this wall and its Nothings…

Staying in isn’t always bad. We’ve had a wonderful time with David’s cousin, AnnaKate, and her friends at Cambridge. What have we done? A lot of nothing. And it’s been glorious.

We’ve drank tea, we’ve drank wine, we’ve caught up on American television (um, I am so addicted to New Girl), we’ve washed our clothes, we’ve taken naps, we’ve eaten peanut butter mailed to AnnaKate by her parents (because apparently PB is not as good here as it is at home), we’ve welcomed numerous gifts including hair conditioner and soap (toiletries I had just ran out of and would have had to buy otherwise), we’ve told stories, and we’ve done a lot of other things that equate to a whole lot of nothing.

An example of Nothing:

Yesterday, David and I decided to no longer (completely) mooch off of AnnaKate. So we paid for a guest room in the dormitory. After sleeping until 11:00 am, showering, and eating AnnaKate’s food, we left her room at 1:00 pm for our guest room across the quad. Then I took a nap - and woke up at 6:00 pm. We took AnnaKate to dinner at 6:30 pm. Then, we sat around with her friends Jemima and Rob drinking cheap wine until 10:15 pm. We retired to our own room, watched two episodes of The Big Bang Theory from AnnaKate’s collection of DVDs and easily fell asleep by 11:30 pm.

Nothing. A whole lot of Nothing – with a capital N.

We’ve seen very little of Cambridge. We’ve turned down AnnaKate’s offers to visit the colleges. It’s always raining and seeing these things means doing something. David and I have ventured into London only once to see our friend Ryan. I haven’t even taken the time to update my personal journal (a seemingly easy thing, but I’m behind from the last day of Thailand and some days in between). My mind just can’t handle it.

In fact, writing this post could be the most productive thing I’ve done in the past five days. Well, perhaps it’s tied with washing our clothes. That was doing Something.

Soon though, we will do lots of Somethings. We will leave Cambridge and venture into London. We’ll go to the museums and see the touristy things. We’ll even order a meat pie and drink a British beer. Then, perhaps we’ll venture into some other country or countries in Europe.

Maybe I’m slowing finding my way around the wall - because these thoughts sound more exciting than they did two days ago. But I won’t scramble too hard to find my way around. I’ll find the way soon. But, until soon happens and I feel like doing Somethings, I’ll gladly continue with these Nothings.

Note: A special thank you to AnnaKate. She took us in late notice after we were dumped in the airport with no place to go. She’s fed us, given us tea, downloaded TV shows, and talked with us for hours. Her and her friends have been delightful and have made our days of Nothings fun and bright despite the lack of sunshine and the surplus of rain.

Posted by smweaver24 10:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (8)

Pretty Meets Trashy

sunny 95 °F

I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts.

It’s based on a book about a woman trying to find herself traveling to three different countries, and Bali is one of them. I only saw the movie once, but I remember thinking *queue whispery, magical voice* Baaaaaliiiii! And it was with such magical thoughts I entered the country. But to be honest, my lasting impression about Bali will be that Bali is filthy. That’s putting it blunt, and it’s putting it simple. Don’t get me wrong. I think the country has physical features to make it beautiful: volcanoes, mountains, coastline, and reefs to snorkel over. I just don’t think I was anticipating the filth. There’s trash everywhere and a consistent stink of incense (which on it’s own is a good thing) mixed with rubbish and shit (but mixed with other things, isn’t the best thing I’ve ever smelled). And please, just Google “Balinese toilet.” Just do it.

So, with that introduction, we actually had a great time in Bali! (Hey, a place can be dirty and still be fun!). Our first night was spent in Ubud with our couchsurfing host, Made (pronounced Mah-day) in his traditional Balinese home which includes a temple in the middle of three buildings that house all family members including parents and siblings and those siblings’ children. It also houses, a monkey who doesn’t like women *sheesh* and a rooster – who crows – at 4:00 in the morning – veeeerrrry loudly.

Made_with_his_monkey.jpg
Made with his monkey

Made took us to his community’s temple ceremony that night where we participated in a Hindu blessing and were sprinkled with holy water. We burned incense and put flowers in our hair. We listened to Balinese Hindu music performed live and watched Legong dancing performed by 10-12 year old girls who have mastered every rigid movement with their bodies and every distrustful look with their eyes. It was absolutely magical. Magical to be there - to witness it - in person - right in front of us.

Legong_dancing.jpg
Legong dancing at the ceremony in Made's community temple

  • **Side note: I thought about this experience for a moment while sitting in front of the stage cross-legged. I know people who would be scared by it. Who would say that somehow I was doing something sinful as a Christian to be a part of this ceremony. But you know what? The thing that this ceremony did most for me was make me grateful. Grateful, that my God is accessible at all times and in any place. Even that place. I don’t have to make sacrifices, I don’t have to dance, I don’t have to visit a temple or go to a church – for my God, to be present. [/float]

Ready_for_..du_ceremony.jpg
Ready for our first Hindu ceremony. Note the background. Made is also a wood carver :)

The next four days were spent traveling to Tulamben and then Amed, both in east Bali. We traveled with a French couple, Lydie and Arnaud, and they were awesome travel buddies. Arnaud seems to be the adventure seeker of the two, with Lydie more down to earth and relaxed. It was a nice compliment to David and myself. And it was nice to have some company who could agree that Bali was maybe somewhat filthy. it sounds trivial, but I mention this because I tried to deny the filth at first thinking that somehow, if Bali truly were filthy, it would ruin our good time. But I found out, a country can be dirty and still be fun.

In_Amed_wi.._and_Arnaud.jpg
Us with Lydie and Arnaud swimming in Amed

David and I snorkeled in Tulamben and tried to find the USS shipwreck that is close to shore. We didn’t find it. When the water got deeper and visibility was lost, we decided to go back. The main reason being that the man who rented the equipment to us told us not to worry if I saw a shark around the shipwreck. “Just don’t make any sudden movements, and you’ll be fine.” WHAT??? I like the ability to make sudden movements. Just saying. Plus, this comes from the staff member was smoking while fiddling with the oxygen tank. Umm…what?

Two days later, we snorkeled in Amed over a Japanese shipwreck that we did find! It’s much closer to shore with great visibility, and we have amazing panoramic shots of the mountains from the water thanks to David’s patience.

Panarama_o..e_shipwreck.jpg
Panoramic shot of the mountains from above the Japanese shipwreck

We rode scooters around the coastline of Amed and took in amazing views all while reapplying sunscreen more times than I can count.

Us_not_dying_on_a_scooter.jpg
Us not dying on a scooter. I might have been super nervous about this considering David is afraid of motorcycles. But as you can tell, we survived :)

After Amed, we returned to Ubud sans Lydie and Arnaud for two more nights. We went to the monkey forest and watched the monkies play with each other and against each other. I watched a mother monkey hold the tail of her baby as it tried to get away. She held on as it tried to run forward but the baby only went side to side. The mother seemed amused.

Ha.jpg
Mother teasing baby

We watched the monkies clean each other, swing in trees, chase people and climb up people as if they were trees. I had one monkey climb on me and just sit a while. David had one jump all fours onto his back. He thought at first I had hit him on the back like a that-a-boy hit before he realized he had a monkey on his shoulder.

Surprise_.jpg
Surprise!

I had a few other monkeys climb on me. And yes, one monkey bit me at the park and another bit me at our hotel. No, I do not have rabies and no, I’m not worried because it didn’t break the skin. The first bite was no worse than a child’s bite and the second only left a bruise on my hand. After the latter though, David decided no more monkeys on Sharon.

Second_bite_count_on_film.jpg
David caught the second bite on camera. My face!

Ouch.jpg
Um, not comfortable. But only a small bruise was left.

We walked around the shops in Ubud and bartered for a sundress. We ate at a restaurant called Dian that was cheaper than others we had seen, had huge portions (most portions in Bali are pretty small), and was just absolutely delicious. The most common meals on the menus are Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng, and they are both really yummy (I will miss the food, actually).

Nasi_Campu..Nasi_Goreng.jpg
David, Nasi Campur and Nasi Goreng :)

We rested, took in some sun, read a book and just enjoyed our time together. It was lovely. In fact, I’m finding that the most fun we’re having, is with each other. The experiences are awesome, but I wouldn’t want to do this trip alone. I’m glad I have David to share it with. He’s fun, he’s goofy, and he’s becoming a little spontaneous out in this big world.

The trip itself? It's still pretty unbelievable. We’re still reminding each other, “Hey, guess what? We’re in Bali!”

:::MORE PICTURES:::

I_was_also_groped.jpg
Here you can see, I was also groped by a monkey. Literally, right down my tank top.

Japenese_shipwreck.jpg
Japanese shipwreck in Amed

Just_one_e..es_of_trash.jpg
Just one example of the trash. I saw children playing with pieces of cardboard like a Frisbee here. This example, however, is nothing compared to some places we saw with piles and piles of trash.

You_see_th..n_every_day.jpg
You see these designs in the bird baths often. They're always different and designed by hand.

Offering_m..and_flowers.jpg
These are the offerings you see everywhere. People place them in front of their homes, on top of stairs, outside the shops, etc. It's made out of coconut leaves and flowers usually accompanied by an incense stick burning on top.

And for those of you who didn’t Google it: you’re welcome

For_those_.._re_welcome.jpg
Made's toilet...

Posted by smweaver24 00:37 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

This is Hard And That Tramp Was a Bitch

So, keeping a blog up-to-date when you’re traveling is hard. I knew that it would be. You ask yourself if you should rest/sleep, be social and talk to people or write. You never really consider not going out to do something over writing. But I enjoy updating people and documenting my visit for others and myself. So that explains that.

This post is a summary of sorts – things we’ve done and seen and what it’s like in New Zealand’s south island.

First of all, everything is beautiful. It really does look like Frodo is hiding somewhere in the mountains. There are breathtaking landscapes and every drive is an adventure of its own. There’s a lookout at every turn because the views are just incredible, and I’m convinced I came up with a money-making idea when I proposed to David photography lessons from moving vehicles. Many times it looks like you’re looking at a green screen or maybe an oil canvas painting of a place far away. I was convinced I could push over the painting that was the mountains in Queenstown and the glacial lake at Hooker Valley.

It’s also cold, but I use “cold’ loosely considering it’s not really. When we first arrived it was similar to Georgia’s late autumn with a warm sun and a cold (not cool) breeze. Then sometime between putting on my shorts in Te Anau and opening my door in Queenstown, it turned to Georgia’s mid-winter. I don’t mind winter. But I desperately missed my black puffy jacket that I opted not to bring due to size (and the fact I would have only used it in NZ) and my cute boots that go much better with a pair of skinny jeans than do Chacos or Merrells.

All the kiwis says “yeah.” And not the “yeah,” you just read in your head that sounded like an American yeah. It’s a kiwi “yeah” that sounds quite nasally (btw, kiwi’s add “quite” to phrases quite a lot), and sounds like a sped up version of “yee” + “ah” = yeah. When you say something everyone says, “Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” and sometimes they even continue with the yeahs while you talk. David and I both have picked this up for ourselves.

Now for a ramble:

The moon is upside here; people drive on the left side of the road and the right side of the car; a shopping cart (or if you’re in the “south” south, a buggy) is a trundler; houses do not have insulation nor do they have central heating and air (also why I tended to always be cold); they use a lot of British spellings that include superfluous U's like “colour” and “flavor” and a strange S every now and then like in “organise.”

There’s lots of 90s music everywhere; almost every small town has a Lion’s Club and a Rotary Club; deer farming is common, and I realized this after I stopped and looked at all the deer who didn’t run away in their (actually too short) fence; dairy farming is taking over sheep farming, and having said this sheep and cows are everywhere! The sheep to people ratio is 7:1 and most of the cows look like they belong in a Chick-fil-A commercial all white and black and perfect.

Gas is called “petrol” and it’s super expensive at around $7+ USD per gallon (it took us a while to work out the math from liter to gallon and then the exchange rate); having something “to-go” is called “takeaway;” there are no free refills anywhere including McDonalds (yes, we ate at McDonalds – strange because we don’t eat it at home – stranger that it was actually really good – and strangest that the restaurant was clean and the people were nice --- we found out later that NZ is very strict as to what goes into any of their fast food meat products); everywhere has tons of locally owned cafes and those are what people go to for lunch – not restaurants; there is British tea everywhere and it’s amazing; coffee culture is picking up as well but the tea tradition was brought over by the British; fish and chip shops (also brought over by the British) are on every street corner and are owned by Asian families who offer fish and chips (aka fries, we did not know this), burgers and chips, and a slew of Chinese food.

Now that the ramble is out of the way:

David and I had a fantastic time. We jumped out of a cable car for a 8 second free fall at the world’s third largest bungy jump (Nevis); we swam with dusky dolphins and saw a blue whale (the largest mammal/thing that has ever existed! They grow up to 27meters/88.5ft long!); we saw an albatross (10ft wingspans!); we stayed at Hogwarts (hostel with the name in Dunedin – yes, I have pictures); took a cruise through Milford Sound; was accosted by a Kea; got face to face with a Kiwi; fed eels; hiked a glacier (Fox Glacier); and took some “sort of” restricted paths along a glacial pond at Mt. Cook and the Pancake Rocks in Punakaki.

We did a good bit of hiking or as kiwi’s call it: “tramping.” We tramped Hooker Valley (named for the botanist but yes saying, “We tramped Hooker Valley” doesn’t sound nice); some of the coastal track at Abel Tasman; a short tramp to Humboldt Falls; Fox Glacier (previously mentioned); and lastly, the St. Arnaud Ridge Trek. And that tramp was a bitch.

It’s 12.4km/7.7miles and 3 hours of straight up and 3 hours of straight down for a whopping short 6 hour day hike. I thought about my sister Crystal, her husband Drew, and her friend Nevena who all hiked the Appalachian Trail. And then I thought, “Why?” Then I thought, “How??” No amount of explanation will actually be able to explain to me why and how you hike for 6 months at a time. But perhaps, I can understand all the walking if the company (David, obviously) is wonderful, the conversation is intelligent, the exercise is invigorating (well, only up until a certain point on this tramp anyway) and the view is amazing. This tramp leads you to the top of a ridge to a point called The Parachute Rocks. You walk up to look over Lake Rotoiti and Mt. Robert, over the entire town and even over into other towns. The clouds cast angelic lighting on some places and rain over others. It's actually, quite majestic.

There's much more to say. But much less time. Now, we find ourselves in an airport about to start country hopping: Bali, Thailand, Egypt and Israel - all in three weeks. Our New Zealand adventure has come to an end after 3.5 weeks. It’s sad – but it’s happy. I never thought I would be able to get back to New Zealand, but I did – and with my best friend. I would say, I’m a wee bit blessed.

Posted by smweaver24 10:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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