Friday, November 21, 2008

In Queenstown

It is funny to think that we have been here just under two weeks, because it seems like forever.  Ashley has a job as wait staff at a local restaurant/bar in town called Winnies, if you want to check out the site .   I am still waiting to hear back if I have the bartender position at the same restaurant, but things tend to work out so hopefully it will work out soon.  With our new jobs we have started our more permanent residence here, and I definitely feel at home in Queenstown.  We have done a bit of hiking around our town, and we are started planning overnight trips.  We will probably start taking these trips within a few weeks, and then I think our idea of New Zealand will be more mentally solidified. 

I have just been talking with one of my housemates, Henry, and I was reminded how fortunate I am.  We are sitting of the deck of our home listening to music, drinking tea, and watching the clouds.  I am more accustomed to the scenery than he is (Brazilian) but still I feel so blessed to be apart of this town.  The clouds are high, with patches of blue, and the birds are chirping.  In this cloudy day there is so much hope.  The view from our house is nearly unbeatable.  We have the mountains, the city, and the lake.  I am sitting listening to my new friends speak Portuguese.   Usually if I can’t understand a language I assume that I am the topic of discussion.  Vain I know, but it is still the game I play.   This theory is usually thwarted because I pick up proper nouns like “work holiday”, “visa”, “Christchurch”, etc.  Anyway, I have recently realized sometimes I am more comfortable being around other world citizens than being around Americans.  It is really fun to be able to learn the secrets of another culture.  How they view work, fun, friendships, and relationships.  I am often stunned on how black and white issues to me are not black and white in every culture.  Even though I may be a bit concerned of what I have learned, I am grateful to be apart of the knowledge/beliefs shared.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Queenstown, New Zealand

November 11, 2008 

We flew from Sydney last week to Queenstown, New Zealand.  We have been busy (well sort of) looking for jobs and places to live.  We started our trip by staying at a local hostel.  In this stay we realized that there are loopholes to paying rent.   If we were fortunate enough we would be able clean for accommodation.  We had ruled this out because the manager basically told us no.  We found out that she had changed her mind (typical female I guess) when we were abruptly woken up at 8am asking if we were still interested.  Long story short we are living at the Hippo Lodge in Queenstown.  We have 5 roommates, four boys and one other girl.  They are all really great and easy going.  Mostly they all enjoy hiking, camping, and biking.  I think we’ll all get along fine.  It feels a lot like being in college, other than we don’t have to feel bad about not doing our homework.  We sit around most of the day talking, drinking tea, reading, and sleeping.  We work at a minimum 3 days a week, and that covers 3 days of accommodation.  This is great because basically our biggest expense is paid for, by a couple hours of work.  So right now all I need is a part time job to keep busy.  This will hopefully take up a bit of my free time and will pay for all of the things one is meant to do in the adventure capital of the world. 

The job Ash and I want most is to work at an outdoor company called Outdoor Sports.  This seems to be the best option because this will be a great way to find out where to go in these great outdoors.  I think that we might be easy ins though, because we played up the Alaska card.  Also to our advantage we were wearing our Arcteryx clothing and this was definitely noticed by the in store manager; the main reason is the store is looking to hire females (luckily we are correct gender).  If you remember please keep us in your prayers, because we would really like to work there.  

We have basically just been playing up the fact that we don’t have jobs, so we have been “tramping” about (hiking) and seeing as much of the mountains as we can.  It is funny how similar to home it is, but I have random moments when I have the realization “Sh*t I’m in New Zealand”.  It is just amazing!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Day in Manley


November 1, 2008

During the last few days of our cruise we were quite sad, but really ready to be on to our next adventure.  If we would have had enough money I am sure that we would have extended our stay on the Dawn Princess and sailed around Australia for the next 28 days.   During the last two days of our cruise we truly felt at home on the ship.  I don’t necessarily think we were so comfortable because of the duration of our cruise; I think we were comfortable because we lived what we like to call “Alaska Days”.  On our Second to last day sailing, we did a bit of scenic cruising through Fjord Land in New Zealand.  This was so much like being in Alaska, very majestic.  The mountains and waterfalls towered over our ship and really put into perspective how small we are.  Ash and I got up early- 9ish, and we bundled up- sweatshirts, hats, and mittens.  From the deck we just sat on the lounge chairs sipping our coffee watching the mountains drift by.  We didn’t appreciate how funny this might seem to non-Alaskans, until we looked around and noticed our fellow passengers were taking snap shots of us with our coffee and mittens. 

On our last day we packed and took our time saying good-bye to our temporary home and ship friends.  After packing we decided we needed to break, so we traveled up seven flights of stairs to the open deck and sipped Alaskan Summer Ale.  Three beers is always a great idea.  We revealed our quirkiness to a new bartender beginning up our last night with loads of giggles.  Our friends informed us of some things they observed of us.   The three that stick out most to me are the following.

Impression of Ash , “Hahaha, my name is Ashley, and in five minutes I will be Yelling.” (He was our bartender.)

About our dancing and overall demeanor, “It is refreshing to see people having fun, and not being concerned with what others are thinking.”

Our role on the ship, “You are the queens of the Ship.”

All are funny to think about, because all these things we knew, but it is interesting that others observe this as well.  I forget that in my people watching we are probably being watched as well. 

It’s strange to think that we have been in Sydney for a week.  We have walked about and seen the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens, the Red Light District, China Town, Paddington and the Beach.  We have three more days here to finish up all of our sightseeing, but I am certain we have seen Sydney to best of our ability and to the best of our budget.  So far the highlight of our trip has been a three-day camping/hiking trip to the Blue Mountains.  Luckily we have our camping gear with us because we love to be outside.  We only ran into minimal people on the trail, and minimal difficulties camping. 

We walked from Mount Victoria, through the Blue Gum Forrest, Down Govetts Leap Brook, to Bridal Veil Falls (said like Buddy the Elf).   We both climbed under one of the waterfalls and Ash braved the second on her own; it is an awesome thing to bathe under a waterfall.  After our first day hiking we camped near a river so we decided to bathe and wash/rinse our clothes out.  This was great because the water is much warmer than Alaska’s 34* water.  Basically we were in a canyon for 2 days and had to hike out.  It is so different hiking out of a canyon, because the hike up is seriously 90*.  Luckily someone had been there before us and had etched out these handy-dandy stairs (the stair-master’s got nothing on us, but my quads are a bit soar).  The canyon at its highest is probably 2500’ but it is so impressive we you look straight up and only see a wall of rock.  We had great weather and very little rain during the night.  The only slight scare we had was we ran out of water.  Don’t worry it ends well.  At the end of the summer we bought a Steripen, so eventually we found some relatively clean water and sterilized it.  So far we haven’t had any digestion problems, so I think the water was clean.  It couldn’t have been planned better, so thank you for your prayers we are safe.  

Fjord Land, NZ Cruise

Dunedin, NZ Cruise