Archive for December, 2012

My Month in New Zealand

After we left our last host we went to the house of a lady who agreed to host us for the night in Matamata. There is a website called couchsurfing.com where people with a spare room or couch let travelers stay at there house. This is what we did to find the lady in Matamata. When we got to her house we knocked on the door, waited five minutes, then knocked again. After that we waited a couple more minutes and called her. No answer. We decided to walk the mile into town with all of our bags to eat lunch and wait to see if she ever called us back. She never did. That left us with two options. We could either walk a couple more miles with all of our stuff or blow some extra money to stay at the local motel. I told Liza that as her Christmas present I’d pay for us to stay in this motel. The next day we went to the place where the filmed Hobbiton. Liza was so excited! At our last farm we booked a nice-ish hotel in Wellington for Christmas so we had to figure out the best way to get there by the 24th. The Couch Surfing website also has a ride share service where people with a car drive people who need a ride so they can split the gas prices. The best we found  was a ride from Taupo, two hours south of Matamata, to Wellington. This left the problem of getting to Taupo. The bus in Ecuador would have cost $2. In New Zealand it costs $30 each for 2 hours on the bus. The only affordable option was to hitchhike to the free campsite in Taupo. I was dreading it at the time, but it sounds kind of cool in retrospect. We made it alright, and the campsite was located on a beautiful river. We stayed there for a couple of days until we met with the girls that we were riding with to Wellington. We spent a night in Wanganui camping before going to Wellington. Wanganui was on the beach so we watched the sunset over the ocean which was very nice. The girls we rode with were air heads so they spent a lot of time driving around lost. I wasn’t in any hurry, but we wound up spending way more on gas than we had to. In New Zealand things are very expensive, not just compared to Ecuador, but by Minnesota standards as well. We are blowing through money way more quickly than we hoped. We’ve begun discussing some alternative solutions. We found some vineyards looking for  work so tomorrow we have to call and ask about that. We need to turn in our visa applications in Wellington and pick them up here in about two or three weeks so we’re also thinking about heading to India as soon as we get our visas. This means our three options at this point are to work for 8 weeks and head to India with a TON of money, change our flight and work for 3 weeks to make a bit of extra money, or change the flight and WWOOF for the three weeks. It all depends on how the work on the vineyard sounds and if they’d hire us. We also have a big Lord of the Rings tour around Wellington that Liza is very excited about on the 27th. I was stressing earlier, but it’s beginning to sound like everything’s going to work out!

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Do You Ever Feel Like You’re Being Followed?

Do You Ever Feel Like You're Being Followed?

3 Continents, same little blue jellyfish

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Spoiler Alert!

Today is tomorrow in New Zealand so that means it’s the 22nd today. December 21, 2012 happened… the world just wasn’t destroyed. I probably shouldn’t have bought that $1200 steak the other night.

A New Zealand Sunset

A New Zealand Sunset

My Week as a Vegetarian (So Far)

On Tuesday of last week we left our first host to head a bit further south. We were planning on taking the bus, but while we were waiting at the bus stop a car, going the opposite direction, slams on the breaks, does a u-turn, and asks if we need a ride. While I was still thinking about how stupid it would be to accept the ride and beginning to say, “No thank you,” Liza says, “Sure!” and hops in the car. The lady was very nice and asked if we wanted to stop for lunch or needed to go shopping or anything. She actually seemed a bit a little overly spontaneous. She dropped us off at the train station and stuck to her word not to kill or rob us. We’re now staying on a property that the host recently bought and wants to eventually grow most of his own food on. That means that there are a ton of fun big projects to do. I cut down my first tree today and that was really fun! For my birthday/Christmas my mom gave me an “Action Camera” that straps onto your head, helmet, or a bike handle. I rigged it up to the chainsaw hoping to get some awesome footage, but what I got instead was shaky and not that interesting. These hosts are everything we could have asked for! They are very friendly, seem interested in our lives, and drove us to the theater two days ago so we could see the Hobbit before it came out in the US. They are vegetarian, though. I think the biggest problem with vegetarian food is calling it, “vegetarian food.” They have made sure we are not going hungry! Everything we’ve eaten has been delicious and filling. I was nervous about eating vegetarian sandwiches that weren’t PB&J’s, but they make their own bread and I put avocado, butter, cheddar cheese, and mushroom on mine, and its delicious! Tuesday we’re leaving here and heading for Matamata, home of the Shire so I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!Image

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Our First WWOOFing Experience

So we just finished our first WWOOFing experience. WWOOFing, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is where you go to a farm to work with the owner to learn about organic agriculture in return for food and a place to sleep. We had a mixed experience. The people were very friendly and they had two young boys who were very fun. The accommodation was comfortable, and we stayed in a little cabin on their pond. The one thing that bothered me a bit was that nothing we did was considered farming. We weeded the whole of their property, cleaned the windows, prepared a Christmas ham, and planted 50 trees just so they didn’t have to look at the shed that their neighbor was building. The other thing was that we weren’t working with them. It was more like we were working for them. They didn’t really participate much in the outdoors work. Also, they didn’t have sweets. This is an actual thing I heard the dad tell his 5-year-old son: “Sam, if you finish your dinner you can have a bit of cucumber salad.” What kind of world is that where a 5-year-old is looking forward to cucumbers? Liza almost died without her constant sugar in take. All in all, though, we had fun. They were, as I said, very nice, and they took us to a Christmas parade and to the beach. We’re at our second farm now and it seems great so far. I’m sure I’ll find something here to complain about, too, and when I do I’ll keep you updated.

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