Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Come, come, Dick. Pine. Elm. Hickory, chestnut, maple. Part of our heritage is the lure of living things, the storybook of nature."

So I arrived in Kaikoura safe and sound—lovely bus ride, by the way, lots of hills and sheep and hills and trees and more sheep—to the Sunrise Lodge.  I started working (2 hours a day max! It’s the sweetest gig ever!) and it’s an amazing environment here: small enough for a family atmosphere where everybody basically knows each other, blooming flowers and the sounds of the ocean…

It’s great! 

I’m making some pretty good friends, here—a couple of guests here are long-termers, hanging out for the summer season and earning some money in town.  And repping all sorts of countries: France, Japan, Germany, to name a few.  We’re having some really interesting conversations, too.

It’s really unfortunate, though, that I have to go home: my grandfather has passed away, and I need to get back for the funeral and be with my family.  We were really close; all the same, I’m just…numb, about it.  It’s not real, yet.

The plane ticket home was ridiculously expensive, so I don’t know if I’ll have the funds to make it back to NZ this year.  We’ll see. 

The best thing I can tell myself right now is “You’re young.  There’s no time limit on travelling.  Be with your family.”


Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

Several surreal moments of the day:
  • Riding the bus to the airport at 3:00 AM with the bus driver whistling along to 50’s pop hits.  In a demented, Jeepers-Creepers sort of way.
  • Hearing a KFC blasting Mozart opera across the Christchurch City Mall.
  • Walking around the City Square and realizing it looks like what would happen if New Orleans and Marble Falls and DC’s Chinatown reproduced.
On the bright side, I am in Christchurch, and it’s a beautiful day, and I’m exhausted, but it’s been very nice to wander around and see the pretty flowers.  The Botanical Gardens are fantastic; I bonded with a lone duckling who apparently said “Forget all you guys, I’m claiming this pond in the name of Duck-hood!” and found a massive tree. 

I wanted to name it Jorge, but got the feeling that wouldn’t go down so well with the groundskeepers, so.  

And apparently Guy Fawkes day is a big deal here (I really should have figured this out sooner) and now I’m wondering if me arriving in Kaikoura tomorrow is going to make things hard for my boss. 

Ah, well.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Saliva is nature's glue." "And raisins are nature's candy!"

I went to the museum yesterday, thinking I’d scope it out and see if maybe I could volunteer there.  It’s an okay museum, if a little confusing: not only are there waaay too many artifacts in a case (which, yeah, I can see doing if you’re trying to demonstrate the diversity of material culture, but this was slightly ridiculous), something about their information plaques was just.  Off.

It was hard to put my finger on it at the time, and between thinking “Everything’s in past tense, like Maori/Polynesian culture has already happened and isn’t anymore” and wondering about how authentic traditional Maori dances are when they’re being performed in an institution for visitors (not that it’s not a valid experience, and not that performers or the audience are getting any less fulfillment from it) I’ve decided that there’s this sneaky postcolonial vibe going on there.  It was very off-putting, and disheartening to realize that even the trained professionals have a hard time recognizing their own biases.

Mr. T informed me that apparently they had a huge staff turnover recently, with some new madam curator from South Africa coming in and practically overhauling everything, and that the friends he has that work there are unhappy with the changes she’s made. 

So0000…I don’t think I want to work there.  Not to mention the fact that they’re not hiring, and they don’t accept volunteers.


I’m going to Christchurch tomorrow, then on to Kaikoura.  Hopefully the boss-peoples will let me stay a while; if not, I’ll work on some applications to be an apple-picker.  I could make up to $180 NZD a day! Wouldn’t that be sweet? BA-DUM-CHA.

PS—Korean barbecue=the best ever and it is absolutely a crime against all that is good that I have never eaten at one before.

That is all. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"You look like a bird who's swallowed a plate."

Had kind of a burst of writing inspiration this morning.  Ah, Stumbleupon, how I love thee~

Also quite looking forward to seeing Christchurch and the East coast of the South Island.  And whales!  Dolphins!  Mountains!  Seafood!  And vino!

Wandered around Auckland Uni with Mr. T last night—it’s a wonderful campus, and if I were still an undergrad I would be all atwitter about studying here.

And, I have a confession: I am the tightest wad that ever wadded.  Seriously, I’m not even interested in doing all the fun things here that cost mega-amounts of money (they’re not actually that expensive, I’m just cheap).  I want a job..!

So, no Sky City.  No ferries to the beach, I don’t think, and no busses to the hills outside Auckland, because getting to Kaikoura’s already making me bite my knuckles.  

Besides, I’m having the most fun wandering around.  I think I’ll go to the Rock Shop soon and beg to be let onto one of their keyboards…

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Don't dip your oar in this sordid sea, Dick. You might be besmirched."


I am hardcore excited, because it’s now one of my favorite months. :DD

The best part?  IT’S SPRING HERE. 

It’s a Spring-y November.  And this wonderful country’s preoccupation with keeping up with the Joneses (…or rather, the Northern Hemisphere) means that it’s pumpkin-time everywhere.  

With no added winter!  No bracing winds, no sleet, no need to dress in three layers before braving the outside.  Glorious!

(So now I can have my pumpkin soup and have my sunshine, too!)


I’m reading like I haven’t read in years, now, and it’s a beautiful feeling.  All this freedom means I’m being a little rebel, too, and reading about 6 books at a time:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Art of War
Water for Elephants
How to Analyze People on Sight (although it’s so arrogant and ethnocentric and laughable I can’t quite take it anymore)
Paradise Lost
My Man Jeeves


Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Travel is highly educational, Sir." "I cannot do with any more education, Jeeves. I was full up years ago!"

Kind of a sleepy Sunday.  Really, really cold here (like, 50ยบ F cold) so I’m off to buy a sweatshirt and some thermal leggings. 

Wish I hadn’t left all my winter stuff at home.  D:

On the plus side, my clothes are fitting a lot looser now!  I’m guessing I lost about 3-5 pounds already, just walking around—the hills are killer, and I’m walking around for at least 3 hours a day, if not more. (That, and I’m only eating 2-3 meals a day—shut up, I see that look on your face, I’m trying to save money, and I haven’t really been that hungry, so.  There.)

Oh, oh!  And a job!  I have one!  It’s very exciting.  The whole transportation side of it, not so much.  But I get to spend a day in Christchurch, which is a plus.

If it only weren’t so bloody cold!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

"So you're a magician?" "You could call me that, but if I reach behind your ear, it will not be a quarter I pull out, BUT YOUR VERY SOUL!"

Sooooo…yesterday was pretty sweet.  I wandered down what locals call K-road, which is apparently, like, what passes for the red-light district in Auckland (whatever, Kiwis—you’re practically PG compared to NYC.  Or DC) and down another street, and ended up in the West Park.  It’s this gorgeous hilly forest where dogs run around playing and hardcore joggers pant up and down the tracks, and it’s green and perfect and like a secret, and I just.

I love it.  To pieces. <3

It doesn’t hurt that I made a friend there—a guy whom I shall refer to as Mr. T (though he’s, like, the complete inverse of the real one). He’s a student at Auckland U, a native, and so in-the-know about the city..!  We spent about six hours just walking around and talking, and:
  • He bought me a beer.  A delicious, Australian beer.  Me and my light-weight self were pretty happy about this development.
  • We sat in this renovated overpass-building thing and chatted about life.  And old buildings.  And sea gulls.
  • We walked around K-road (and he attempted to apologize for what he called the “shady stores” and I laughed in his face.  Their level of sketchiness was comparable to, like, JC Penney’s magazines under a 13-year-old’s bed.)
  • We saw Thai joint called Joy Bong.  I do not lie. (And I did not giggle like a 7th grader, no sir.)
  • We ate at this awesome Korean restaurant—I had bibimbop!—and mused about the popularity of boybands.  Then he paid, AGAIN, and walked away while I was trying to figure out this stupid currency to pay him back. (Note to self: Owe Mr. T lunch.)
  • We walked down Queens Street and saw the Diwali preparations going up. Festival of Lights! Indian food! Fresh chrysanthemums! Yay!
  • We wandered around Borders (and giggled at this scraggly old man completely absorbed in a book in the romance section) and drank a cup of tea and chatted some more. 
  • AND RUFUS WAINWRIGHT IS PLAYING AT THE CIVIC HERE ON SUNDAY. I THINK IT’S A MORAL IMPERATIVE I GET TICKETS. (I mean, I’ve only seen him once and I love him and it’s, like, fate that I got here when he was here. Seriously, what are the odds?)
  • And then some random stranger came up to Mr. T on the street and gave him a free ticket to see Leonard Cohen. Which he then tried to pass off on me, and I was like, hell no, you’ve bought me dinner and a beer and now you’re trying to give me more things? NO. 
  • And then he walked me home. :D
Chivalry isn’t dead!!

And now to continue the trend and make another friend!

Extra random conversation of the day:

Weird magician dude: Over here, German girl, would you like to see some magic?
Me: (Uh, what?)  No, thank you!
Weird magician dude:  No?  Ah, yes, I’m sober now, she says.  Your hands are in your pockets, too, I didn’t notice.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency..."

Breakfast was sub-par, but coffee was excellent.  I think I was meant to live European-style.  They’re the only ones who make their coffee as I like it—strong and bitter enough to make you grow chest hair. :D

I’m a little embarrassed, but I slept for 13 hours last night.  Didn’t even eat dinner, just curled up in bed and conked out.  Feeling pretty good today, though!

Got to the library (and what a place! Free wifi! Books! Cute Kiwi boys!) in time to use the internet before everyone snatched up the bandwidth, and am looking at job ads online.  Some really good ones right now—very exciting!

Later I’m going to pick up a pre-paid phone and deposit some money in my new checking account.  Maybe go see about a tax number.  Definitely going to hit up the Museum and see if they’re hiring or want some free labor or something.  (Maybe I should make up a “Will do museum work for free” sign). :DD

Thursday, October 28, 2010

"Culture? What's that?"

So I’m here.  In Auckland.

…It’s gray.  And humid.  And all the hills remind me of the Texas hill country, but greener.

But the architecture is like this mesh of Asian and European, and the cross-walks have these Nintendo sounds to make you cross the street (yes, like Frogger), and you absolutely have to look in both ways before you cross the street.  Because the drivers are INSANE and will MOW YOU DOWN.

The cognitive dissonance is staggering, and I’m pretty sure being so tired isn’t helping.

That being said, I’ve already found myself assimilating: I have consistently said “fri-tah-tah” instead of “fri-ta-ta”.  Go me!

Other things I’m not doing so well on: mistakenly hearing $300 instead of $30, saying stupid things, putting my stuff in the completely wrong room AND MAKING THE BED then having to go back and take them off, getting over jet lag, saying more stupid things, making friends with my Taiwanese roommate.

Taiwanese roommate is sweet as can be, loves cute things (just like I do!), and has a Moroccan boyfriend that she met in a casino.  She has also apparently decided to take me under her wing, because she was here alone for two weeks and hated it and doesn’t want me to go through the same thing.

Language barriers aren’t helping, though I keep telling myself it’s good experience.  “You’re putting all those intercultural communications classes to good use!” (Though, really, I think what helps the most is that we both want to make friends.)

Good things today: free upgrade to 2-bed room, cute boys that I’ve been flirting with—

Okay, tangent time, but, but, is it, like, a moral imperative that the boys in NZ be ten times hotter than the ones in the states?  Because I have yet to see one that isn’t aesthetically pleasing.

Seriously.  I sat and made goo-goo eyes at some cute Kiwi boy sitting across from me in LAX last night for about 3 hours.  And he made them right back (though, honestly, it could have been that he fell asleep with his eyes open).

Okay, more good things: opened a bank account, am making friends, flirting with more cute boys, and I GET TO SLEEP IN A BED TONIGHT. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"His dense molecular structure will make him strong."

6 hours before lift-off.  My brain has been fried since, like, two days ago:

Mom: Not a quadruple bypass, but a quintuple!
Me: Holy shit, how much is that?
Mom: ...5.  (My daughter, the Greek minor).

Then today:

Me: The doors still locked?
Mom:  Nooo...I'm in the waiting room. (My daughter, college graduate--and yet to learn how to open a door). 

Whatever, I'm stressed, I'm tired, and I just.  Don't have time for intelligence. 

Kiwi-land, here I come!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"From now on, I'm Professor...Incorrigible! ...Professor Inscrutable? Professor Indomitable. Professor Indo-China!"


So I'm sure both my blog name and web address are completely baffling, so here's a little story to celebrate new beginnings and all that:

There once was a little girl who liked to swim in piles of autumn leaves and eat guacamole and play in the mud.  One day, when her family was visiting for Christmas, her uncle saw her playing by herself.  He asked her what she was doing, and she responded, "Making stew-pot-tea," and offered him a taste.

He declined.

But the story lived on, shared frequently amongst her relatives, until she grew to be an adult--at which point the story made it back to her (who only had memories of making mud pies with twigs and juniper berries, and never this stew-pot-tea business).  She was embarrassed, and slightly proud of her creative faculties at 4-or-5-or-6, and therewith created this blog.

Seriously, it's such a bizarre combination of nouns, I doubt anyone would forget it.  Thus:

TADA! Have a picture (that made me laugh like the nerd I am):

funny puns-Transformers

PS--this blog is intended for travel purposes, not reminiscing about childhood memories, but if it slips in here and there, so be it.  Cheers!