Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kia Ora!

Kia Ora and greetings from Wellington! Apologies for the lack of blog in recent times, internet is expensive here compared to Oz and there's a severe lack of free wifi! More importantly I've been busy trying to find a job, in the last couple days I resorted to applying for waitress jobs, kitchen porter and hot dog stands (the idea of standing serving hot dogs on my own between the hours of 7 pm and 5 am though just didn't appeal to me and I wasn't too sure whether it was a safe job!) As luck would have I finally got my first 2 days teaching yesterday and today in the school around the corner from where we live , a very handy 5 minute walk! That was not for want of trying as I have dropped my CV into almost every school in Wellington wider area. Have another day set up for Friday in a secondary school (some glorified babysitting for the art teacher , hopefully the girls won't be too much trouble!) and just got call setting up 5 more days over the next 2 weeks so fingers crossed I might just make enough to pay back all the money I had to pay to register to teach here!

The primary school I was in the other day is amazingly resourced,they even have a swimming pool! There are about 5 classes of each class level and classes are mixed ages. I was teaching the equivalent of senior infants and 1st class with some kids who weren't on this planet at all but the majority lovely and very respectful. The day started with roll call which proved a little tricky as I couldn't pronounce half their names (very multicultural area!) and then I couldn't stop giggling to myself at their accents when they say 'yes' , if you haven't been to Kiwiland yes here sounds like 'yis'. And deck sounds like 'dick' so when we were doing 'd' words later in the day this also provided some entertainment!

Five minutes into the day one of the boys came up to me and told me that he had a rip in his shorts. He was kindof holding his hand over his crotch soI presumed this was the general area of the rip. However, when I asked him to show me the rip, thinking it would be tiny and just normal over exaggeration by a child I couldn't have been more mistaken! The whole front of his shorts had ripped right down form the top button to half way down his leg and the poor kid didn't have any boxers on underneath. As it was a warm day he didn't have a jumper either so that wasn't an option as a cover up. Trying to think of a solution on the spot and only seeing painting shirts I sat him down covering the ripped area by the desk and sent 2 kids to the office to ask for a phonecall home. Luckily they came back with a spare pair of shorts and the crisis was averted! Phew!

So the day went on and I found my way around, found out that NZ are way ahead of us (well the majority of the kids anyway) in reading and writing and maths. The worksheets I gave them were eaten up in minutes so I had to resource to teaching them some songs from home and doing some musical aerobics! They seemed to enjoy this although there were a few words lost in translation as they couldn't pick up on my accent at times and vice versa! There is no such thing as a text book in this classroom so inventing was the task of the day!

Soon enough a random woman, very large and Maori looking appeared into the room mid song and sat herself down at the front of the room. I gave her a nod mid jumping around action song and hoped she would let me know why she was here as I had no idea! So we finished up the song and soon enough found out she was here for the daily Maori lesson. So I sat down with the kids and tried to pick up some of it. Colours was the lesson for today and I can safely say I think it is the hardest language I've ever tried to learn ! But I have promised myself to pick up at least the basics (kia ora covers most pleasantries!) and an action song to bring home to teach at home - we'll see how that pans out! I may have to resort to the Haka!

The day went on smoothly enough and by the end of it I was happy to be coming back the next day. Soon enough I got most of their names and the second day went ok, although they tested the waters a bit more noise wise, all in all though a nice class and a great school to teach in.

Getting back to our current location , we now rent a room in a house in Lyall Bay, a 7 minute drive from Wellington city centre, 50 m from the beach (with surf) and a 2 minute drive to the airport. Thanks to Nathan (Adam's business partner , from NZ) we were put up very kindly by some of his friends for a couple of nights in Porirua when we first arrived into Wellington. He then put us in contact with another mutual friend of Nathans who happened to have a room for rent and that is where we live now!
We have 2 flatmates, Jarrod (who owns the house) and another guy Damian whose 2 kids come over one night during the week and at the weekend so we also have kid company and girls to do our hair a.k.a make our hair frizzy , put on our make-up (very haphazordly!) , make beaded jewellery with and bake with! They are great guys, very easy to get on with and we also have a fab dog here Mufassa (not sure how that's spelt!) , a beautiful Ridgeback.

So how did we end up in Wellington? Well , after a few days of job hunting in Auckland we quickly realised we didn't really like Auckland, it was just a little bit too big and city like for us . Although it does have some beautiful parts. So after much thought and looking at maps and job adverts and getting some advice from Nathan we decided the best thing to do was to rent a campervan (more a spacewagon with a convertible bed, mini chiller bin and gas stove) and do a bit of touring until I heard back form a few jobs. So off we went to Jucy rentals and now we are the proud renters of 'Ken' the Kiwi until we drop him off in Christchurch on March 9th when Mum and Dad fly in.

So off we headed up to the Coramandel Peninsula, the rain lashed down, the wind blew and as we rolled up and over hills the scenery looked very like home! Free camping is not as available in NZ as Oz and we really didn't want to pay for a campsite when we were independent. So after driving a few laps of the bay where we planned to stay I eventually interrupted some families meal outside their large campervan set up and asked them if the field in which they were camping was private property. Unfortunately for us it was, but fortunately their neighbour Rob and his huge campervan / trailer thing happened to be off his site for the night so they told us he wouldnt mind if we parked up there for the night! So we parked as far into the corner of the field / space of green grass that we could and did our first change in Ken and headed into town for dinner and a beverage. We decided when it was raining we would be allowed eat out rather than cooking in the rain!

We headed for the liveliest looking bar in town which promised a live band at 9pm. We ordered pub grub and waited for the show to begin. Slowly the bar started filling up and soon enough the band arrived and things kicked off. For the first half hour it was sort of reminiscent of a wedding at the Cullenmore hotel and we thought about heading back to Ken for an early night. However, things suddenly livened up and the band turned out to be amazing. The world and its mother arrived and within the hour the dance floor was heaving. We got chatting to a lovely family of siblings and their other halves from Auckland who were down at their holiday house (or bach as they call it) for the weekend. Soon we were all best friends on the dance floor and numbers were exchanged and a plan had been made to come over to theirs the next day and hang out. We had also managed to set up some very hard to get tickets for the upcoming Sevens in Wellington the following weekend. So after a very funny random night out we trotted back to Ken pleased with oursleves for making some real NZ friends and not hanging out in Irish bars like most backpackers do.

Next day we found our way to the beach they were at, but not before we visited Hot Water Beach. This beach is famous for guess what? Hot water!! Very practical in their naming of stuff in the Southern Hemisphere! So the thing to do here is rent a spade, join the hoards of people already digging and dig until you find hot water, Dig a hole big enough to lie in and then immerse yourself in hot water, letting the cool water from the incoming tide cool your watering hole down if needed! Sounds simple , but we got there at rush hour and all the 'hotspots' had been taken. We dug and dug , but only fond very luke warm water so eventually we tried to steal some hot water form another group by 'accidently' knocking down their adjoining sand wall and letting the hot water from their pool flow into ours! Ingenious! Soon enough we were lying in bliss and watching other people shiver as they tried in vain to find hot water while the rain came down around us. Some of the hot pools dug were so hot nobody could touch them , steam was literally pumping out of them and they were bubbling, a mad phenomenon!

So on from Hot Water Beach we went to Hahei and spent the night parked up in our new friends' driveway where we met the rest of the 3 families all staying there. The parents were all mental and the household (converted 3 car garages with bunkbeds and matresses everywhere) was reminiscent of the Brady Bunch! The night took off with the parents playing the spoons , learning some Irish dancing ,drinking a lot of wine and subsequently conking out in front of the TV while the kids watched the finals of the Australian Open!

We arranged to meet up with them in Wellington on the Friday night where we would park up at their cousins house and go to the Sevens on Saturday. The ext day we set off in Ken , in the rain - again and headed for Rotorua. We arrived in late that night and illegally parked ourselves up at the lakeside were officially no overnight camping is supposed to happen. But we really son't consider sleeping in a fancy car camping so we thought it'd be ok. Doors locked, teeth and toilets catered for in the public bathroom onsite we settled down into our convertible bed and awoke bright and early the next morning to the first fishermen. We whipped up some scrambled egg in the back and then it was off into town to explore.

Found ourselves a cheap campsite near the centre of town and got a little bit excited about the fact that we knew we could have a proper hot shower tonight, cook more than a one pot wonder meal out the back of the van and do some laundry!! Wow , three wonderful things in the life of a backpacker!Rotorua is truly beautiful, although a little bit smelly because of the natural thermal pools and sulphur. It has the most pristine blue and green lakes I've ever seen and fantastic runs, mountain bike tracks and kayaking. It also has zorbing!!

I hear you ask - what is zorbing?? Well, basically you throw yourself head first into a big plastic ball (both of us) , someone pours some water in with you , closes you in and then pushes you off the ramp so you go rolling down a big grassy hill! Absolutely hilarious , although only lasts 30 seconds, but a very funny and slippery 30 seconds!! We also experienced the mud baths here in an old hospital that was similar looking to Newcastle Hospital and to be honest a bit creepy inside. But the bath was good and worked wonders for bringing impurities to the surface - don't think I ever had as many spots even as a teenager as I did after that mud treatment!!

The next day we went off int he most comfortable hiace-like van ever on a tour of the town and local tourist attractions. The seats were like giant armchairs . We had a Dutch guide who was married to a Maori so she was able to give us a load of info on Maori culture and even brought us to her husband's village which was really cool as no other tourists other than on this tour go there. Our day also included a trip to a natural geyser, a traditional show where the Haka amongst other dances were performed and a traditional Hangi lunch where the food is cooked in the ground in the natural hot springs. Corn on the cob is lowered in in netting bags and comes out perfectly cooked 2 minutes later! Very economical and eco friendly cooking!

Next day we moved onto Taupo where we caught up on some internetting, toured the lake and ended up driving 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere to find an 'official' free campsite. We drove out of the town looking for the famous 'Clement's Clearing' and eventually after 45 minutes up forest paths, over gravel hills and by shooting ranges we found the official campsite ( literally a clearing of green grass'!! So with only a possum for company we locked the doors, closed the curtains and prayed we'd be safe seeming as we had no phone signal and we hadn't seen any sign of life for quite a distance! Fortunately all was safe and we woke up the next morning, drove 45 mins back into town and cooked brekkie overlooking the lake - beautiful!!

It was time for some more of the famous NZ adrenelin rush stuff so we headed for Taupo extreme bungy swing! Not really having any desire to jump off a 47 m ledge only attached to a piece of elastic by my ankles we decided to go for the tandem 43 metre extreme bungy swing. Basically we were harnessed together and dangled out over the edge of a gorge. Then the women strapping us in and checking 3 times that we were correctly harnessed in asked us if we'd like a surprise let go or a count down. I said surprise, Jo hesitated on the count down option so as we were mid discussing it she just pulled the string - surprise it was!! We were both speechless for the first 10 seconds as we dropped into oblivion our breaths were literally taken away from us. Then the screaming and laughter began! Unfortunately our video is too long to post on the blog , but anyone who wants to see it can see it when we get back! That afternoon we moved on from Taupo and headed for Wellington, stopping at a random free shower along the way that we accessed by asking for a key in the local petrol station (this country is hilarious!)

The Sevens was quite an experience, turns out most people go for the costume party and not to watch the Rugby! We joined in with their costume trend which was a spin on the local beer 'Tui' and their advertising campaign. Basically we had phrases on our front and then on the back 'Yeah Right'. For example, 'Married with kids by 30', 'I'm here for the rugby', 'Juice please, hold the vodka', 'My Life plans worked out so far' Getting the idea??? !!! The day started early and the train ride to the stadium was like being in a moving costume party with raucous singing and chanting! Basically it was mad day out, quite an experience.

So after spending 2 nights parked up at their cousins' house we then headed to Porirua but not before we met the other half of the family, spent a day at their pool, met the parents, got some teaching contact numbers and promised to call them if we stuck for somewhere to stay and to visit them again when back in Auckland. Another lovely family that we have been fortunate enough to meet along the way. Now I think we are back up to date!!

Nz , like Oz is full of fit people! Nobody simply eats lunch on their lunch break. No, here it is the norm to go running or powerwalking if pregnant! Everybody is active, cyclists and runners are everywhere, all day long. So to get into the vibe we have been surfing on the beach by our house and we try to go running as much as possible, however the novelty of having an oven has meant a lot of baking too which kindof counteracts the exercise vibe!! But, we are trying! Last Sunday I did my first Open Water Swim here , although a disappointing personal time (I'll blame it on the lack of training!) it was fun to be back in race mode and part of the Tri scene. I chose the swim option as I didn't have a bike organised, but hope to get one organised for at least one race before I leave NZ. The conditions are beautiful here and things kick off early! Transition opened at 6am and I was parked up and warming up on a beautiful coastal run with some slight drizzle by 6.30 getting ready for a 7.30 start! Mad the whole full tri was over just after 9.30am! Saw some amazing young athletes in action who I'm sure will one day be winning Olympic medals for NZ. The opportunities for the children here in sport are unbelievable and quite a few of the secondary schools have their own triathlon clubs . Anyway don't want to bore the non-triathletes so I'l move on form that!

Next on the exercise regime is a half marathon on Sunday! Jo and myslef had planned ot do this together , half of half each as a team JEvans thing, but we messed up the entry a bit and looks like I may have to run the whole thing now. As I haven't been training for this distance this will be interesting and may involve some run some, walk some moments! We will keep you posted on what happens! Went to Yoga last night, was 2 minutes late and when I walked in they were all sitting on their mats cross legged chanting. As luck would have it the only available mats were right up front! As a newcomer to Yoga I was hoping I could have hung out at the back and nobody would really notice I was there and particularly fail to notice that I was stiff as a board and unable to get into most of the positions. However, this didn't happen, instead i was totally on view up front pretending to chant and look like I knew what I was doing! Suddenly we were up on our feet and doing what I think are technically called 'variations' , we had to do 20 of these and each time they got faster. Needless to day I looked very funny as I pulled my leg into the positions it was supposed to be in with my hands while all the other yoga bufffs gracefully slid into downward dogs and sprinter positions and so on! I think the highlight of my yoga experience was when we had to balance by placing our knees on our elbows, I was doing very well until my stiff calves and tight achilles let me down and over my head I went face first onto the floor in front of the instructor giving all those behind me a lovely view of my 'by the day getting barer thin on the bum one pair of leggings that have been with me the whole trip'!! Nice!! So a little red in the face, hopefully they all thought it was from exertion I lay down for the final deep relaxation part of the class and drifted off into dreamland - I love this part of yoga!!

Anyway am off to bed now as I have a days work in an all girls secondary school tomorrow supervising the art teacher's classes. Have to go find something 'arty yet cool' to wear now so the teenagers think I'm trendy and hopefully won't give me a hard time!! Ciao for now, love to all xo

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010