Saturday, October 25, 2008

October 26, 2008

The other day our ship docked in Auckland, so we are semi-officially here!  We have been sailing around New Zealand for the last few days and we very much feel at home.  It is going to be great to start our adventure for real.  Basically in each port we walk off the ship and explore on our own.  In Auckland we walked around and by the end of the day we made our own pub-crawl.  This was great because we haven’t had beer since Alaska.  We were convinced to start this journey because there was a sign on the pub’s door that commanded, “Screw the economy, have a beer”.  Immediately we were sold and with that invitation, we actually helped support the economy (two birds with one stone, win-win).

We have been to Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.  We have decided that we chose right to live in the south island because it is much more scenic and easy going (more our pace). 

Once again like good Alaskans we chose to go hiking while we were in Christchurch.  Only this time Ash actually researched where we needed to go to get to the trailhead.  Christchurch is more hilly than mountainous, but still beautiful.  Basically we knew that it would be a fairly easy day.  We had invited a couple of our crew friends along with us, but I think they forgot to consider they would be hiking with true advocates.  Ash and I realized that our friends probably weren’t in the best of shape when we started on the road to the trailhead and complaints were already heard.  Needless to say Ash and I reached the top a bit before our friends did.  The mountain we climbed is maybe 2000’, nothing to Alaska 4200’ hills.  It was a really great day and the view was nearly spectacular.  When we later saw our friends back on the ship we found out that they were very soar and we having a tough time working.  Our friend Amilton announced to us as he was walking through the atrium between shifts, “I am screwed”.  I guess he was truly soar.  Maybe next time I should consider how much hiking an individual does before such an invitation is given. 

While we have been in New Zealand for just these few brief days we have realized how unfriendly Americans are.  I know this because I judge us against the kiwis I have met.  They are continually quick to help with directions and information.  Ash and I walked into a t-shirt store and the attendant asked if we were American.  Our answer was “Yes, but were from Alaska”.  He quickly responded “That’s not America, that’s Alaska! Well Welcome to New Zealand!!”. He was very friendly and gave us sound advice to place a Canada patch on our packs so people think we’re Canadian.  This is helpful, but then people would think we’re Canadian.  I think we are just going to continue to say we’re from Alaska; it’s a good loophole. 

We reached Sydney today.  I think we are both to be off the ship, because we are anxious about beginning our new life/adventure.  I truly am going to miss being on the ship, but I know that I will be on again very soon, so it is a good consolation.    

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 12,2008

So, we have recently realized what the meaning of “free range chickens” actually means.  In the pacific islands, chickens tend to be everywhere.  Unattended, just roaming and constantly crowing.  We normally get off the ship and walk around ending up at a beach.  Ash and I decided the other day to take a break from our usual port routine by renting bicycles.  This was a steal of a deal because we got a two for one rate, fifteen bucks for the day.  Roratonga, Cook Islands has 2 roads that run parallel to the coastline.  Instead of numbering the buses they just say “clockwise” and “counter-clockwise”.  We rode the 18 miles around the island in about 2.5 hours.  We planned to stop at one of the beaches along the way for a break from riding and an escape from our fellow passengers.  Our stop was pushed forward quicker than we had intended because Ash’s bike had a flat tire. Apparently Roratonga does not believe in free phone calls, and they wanted to charge us 50c to use their phone.  Being the planners that we are neither of us had any local currency, so Ash went off to find a free phone and quickly found out there wasn’t one available, but she did find a few chickens. 

Ash: “So many chickens over there!”

Mel:  “Oh, are they in a pen?”

Ash:   “No, it’s just a field of chickens. Chickens galore… Did you see the   

chickens cross the road?”

            Uproar of laughter. 

Yes, I understand this might not be the funniest story told, but there are just seriously a ton of chickens about.

We have decided that it is good that we started our trip in Hawaii because every island after has gotten better and better.  So far we have been to the obscure places that I really didn’t believe existed, because you hear of them and never meet anyone who has actually visited.  After Hawaii we went to three French Polynesian islands, Bora Bora,  Tahiti, Morea, Samoa, and Fiji.  They were all beautiful, all similar, but all very different.  We have visited the Cook Island, Roratonga, and then today we were in Samoa.  We didn’t know that such beautiful places existed.  We understand Alaska’s beauty in its mountains and vastness, but the beauty here is seclusion and tranquility.  Today we sat on the Samoan beach listening to the water lap up on the shore, just to turn around and see what can only be described as a jungle.  The mixture of the green foliage and the sound of silence were breathtaking.  Basically now all we can say is, “Yeah, Hawaii’s alright, but Bora_Bora’s better.”

We have made our usual cruise friends, bartenders and cabin stewards.   But this trip is different to us because we have really grown to know a number of the crew and I do believe it is going to be really tough on both of us to leave our new friends.  Thirty-one days does allow a fair bit of time to learn people stories.  In addition to the bar staff we have become friends with people in the boutiques, dining room, security, and cruise staff.  One of our favorite crew members was actually on our spring break trip this last year.  He didn’t much care for us then, but I think we have won him over now.  (Girls you remember the bartender that worked with Lex?  You know, the one who usually seemed discussed we were in his bar?  Yeah, that’s him)  We have even made friends with a few of the guests.  Our favorite is a couple from Australia.  They are hilarious and they don’t question why we are here.  We usually sit with them in the evening and pick their brains on life and relationships (by relationships I mean friendships, mostly).   It is just really refreshing to see a couple (outside our families) that really enjoy the company of their partner.  We have also made friends with four ladies traveling together.  I was watching them, and I realized they are the same as me, just about 60 years older.  I have taken an interest in them and talk to them as much as I can.  They really are the cutest ladies ever (Dottie and Betty have been best friends for 50 years). 

We have realized that we are something different to each of the people that we have met.  All of their accounts may be different but all of them fairly accurate.  To the number 2, we are the crazy girls who are moving to New Zealand without a plan.  To the Bar steward in the club we are the hilarious, dancing girls.  To the bartender in the club we are the girls who have fun without caring what others think.  To the bartender in the atrium we are the girls who only talk about friendships and relationships.  To the headwaiter we are the “Ciao Bella” girls (he’s Italian).  To our waiters we are the girls who order five desserts with three cups of coffee.  To the deck hands we are the sun girls.  Basically what I am trying to say is this is the best vacation I have ever had.  Instead of a whirlwind trip like our usual vacations (which are always amazing and tons of fun) this trip we have time to play hard and recover from the evening before.  My only complaint is that thirty-one days just doesn’t seem to be long enough for vacation. 

Last US day :(

October 2, 2008

The other day was our last day in the United States. We ported in Kona, Hawaii, and once again neither Ash nor I had really done any research on the port before he headed off the ship. We tend to do things the cheapest way possible so we just figured we would get off the ship and walk to the nearest beach. After about an hour or two of wandering around trying to find a beach we realized Kona doesn’t have sandy beaches (at least where we were). It all turned out well because we tend to get distracted very easily. We had seen a sign for $2 Mai-Tai’s. Quickly we forgot about our original days plan and we sat in the sun with our liquid treasure. As we were sitting here enjoying we thought, “I haven’t had Mai Tai’s since the Pirate Ship”. I know that doesn’t make sense to most of you…

Please don’t think that we are completely lazy and only sit around pondering and wasting time (even though we are really good at pondering and wasting time). We actually accomplished a ton while sipping our many Mai-Tai’s. Kona was the last place we had cell service, so we had to make the essential phone calls to our mothers (We love you!). Basically it was a couple of hours of passing our phones back and forth talking to everyone. Thanks for calling us back.

We tend to discuss events and conversations immediately after they happen which might seem monotonous, but is actually surprisingly fulfilling. We are able to recall later much of what has occurred because of these “instant repeaters”. The other day we were discussing and laughing about how ridiculous we really are. Technically we are homeless, jobless, broke, and we don’t really own anything of value. Our address is actually Dawn Princess, Pacific Ocean. In all honesty we really shouldn’t be here, and should be seriously concerned about having no finances. The people that travel these excursions have retired from their million dollar jobs and have really put a lot of effort in life to be here. In our reality, we are completely comfortable and completely at home. We are traveling in leisure and we are 23 years old, ridiculous. I am pretty sure when we tell the story of our life to people on the ship they don’t believe us or take us seriously. In reality this shouldn’t be surprising, because there really is no rhyme or reason to this lifestyle, vagabonds shouldn’t travel lavishly. When we say our plan out loud we usually begin to laugh and start to understand their point of view to our ridiculousness. Essentially, we don’t have a plan. As of now we know we are going to be in Sydney for 10 days, and we are going to be-bop around. And from there we know we are going to be in New Zealand until next spring. We don’t know what we will be doing, but we’ll figure that out when we get there. People ask, “Do you have a job?” We just answer, “No, but we’re really not concerned because things tend to work out.” The next question usually, “Well do you at least know anyone in New Zealand?” “No, but we make friends fast, so fairly soon we will know a lot of people in New Zealand.” I am pretty impressed with us though, because we did book a hostel for the first three days we are in each country, so that’s a step in the right direction.

I think the reality is, we have figured out how to make our life work. We live dirt-cheap and stand in the grocery story debating 25c items. This allows us to cruise and see the world. Moma always said, “ The world is out there, go get it!” We live and we are blessed.

Per Charity “My name is Melody, and I do whatever the F*ck I want”.


September 30, 2008

So, you know the statement “Oh, a paper cut that’s the worst”?  Ash and I have recently recognized something worse than a paper cut.  This morning when I woke up I realize my eyes were really sore.  Well apparently when you don’t put sunscreen on your eyelids they get burned.  Today has been interesting trying to put aloe on my eyelids without actually getting aloe in my eyeball… a ton of fun actually. Ashley is having trouble with wearing her backpack because she failed to apply sunscreen on the fold of her arm and chest.  I blame the “no sun” Alaskan summer…  Well that and the fact that we are two of the whitest people ever (Sandra and Erika not included).  And by we I mean me. 

Think of a night in Vegas with really great entertainers, costumes, sound, and effects.  Well princess is about 150 times worse than that.  One of the guests was bragging about the entertainers and stated, “They even do their own hair and makeup”.   Our response was “Have you seen their hair and makeup?” of course they do their own hair and makeup.  Well last night was the best entertainment we have ever experienced on Princess.   Ash and I seemed to be the only two people dancing and singing along to the Motown entertainment.  We even admitted to being native Jamaicans.  I mean obviously have you seen my skin.  This could be due to the fact we had each consumed three Beverly Hills Iced Teas.   At the end of the show we had a picture opportunity with the guys, and they stated they saw us from the stage, oops.  Three Iced Teas sounded like a good idea until this morning when we both woke up at 3:30am completely parched and completely unable to go back to sleep, (I NEED WATER!!!)

Finally we had had enough of tossing and turning and decided to try our luck on land. Today was our first port day, Honolulu.  Well you probably know us well enough to know we really don’t plan too far in advance, so this morning we left the ship without much of an idea of how the port works. We wandered outside and were corralled into a line for a “free shuttle” to downtown.  Well it turns out this shuttle is only free when we have been held hostage and forced to go through a jewelry factory and museum.  Don’t worry we did not give in to buying anything.  Despite my best efforts I learned how jewelry casting works and that black coral is the official Hawaiian gem. 

After we had spent the morning running errands we decided we would just walk and a hike.  From our ship we could see Oahu’s most famous hike, Diamond Head.  Well like good Alaskans we headed out with no idea of a direction on how to get to the trailhead.  I think we just thought, “Well there’s the mountain we have to go up”.   After going the wrong way for about an hour we finally got to where needed to be, and found out that the trail had been closed for the night five minutes prior.  SHIT!  We figured that the ship was about 7 miles away from where we were on this mountain, and we now had to turn around and head back. 

Just as we were weighing our options for transport a woman in a trolley drove up and asked, “Do you need a ride?”  Our first thought was, “Of course we need a ride, we’re on top of a mountain.”  Keeping in mind that we are the cheapest people in history, we asked, “How much does it cost?” She was amazing and didn’t charge us for the ride back to the ship. The free trolley ride was greatly appreciated considering a cab ride would have been thirty bucks.  So here we are riding on a trolley through Honolulu, Ash looks over here shoulder and all of the sudden spot giraffes in Waikiki.   Yes, I had that thought too, “Aren’t giraffes indigenous to Africa?”  Well apparently they also live  in Waikiki Beach.

Sandra told me this evening, “Mel I don’t understand how your life works!”  I say this “Seriously, that’s why we have entitled this blog ‘Our Ridiculous Life’”.