Oakura, Taranaki, New Zealand
Hello everyone! I am finding that my writing habits tend to change when I go from traveling constantly to being in one place for awhile. I forget to write in my journal, and I have to adjust to thinking about the details of daily life to be shared, rather than the places we've been and things we've seen that day. It is a good adjustment, it just takes some getting used to for me.
We're settling in nicely here, and adjusting to being bored occasionally. That never happens when we're on the road, but while we're here and unemployed and don't really have any projects to work on like we would at home, we have to come up with other ways to fill our time. We're watching kind of a lot of tv, which I don't really mind if it doesn't get in the way of things that actually need to be done. While I will never own a tv, watching it in a foreign country is kind of an interesting experience. We often turn it to Te Reo, the Maori language channel, just to hear the language and try to pick out words we know. And we regularly watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, which is a great show and very much in line with the work I want to do in the future. We are also finding it very interesting to watch the public service ads here, anti- drunk driving and smoking, etc. There's no beating around the bush like there is in the U.S., but ads don't hesitate to show people dying in gory accidents while talking on their cell phones, getting hit by drunk drivers, etc. One of my favorite campaigns is the "Legend" campaign. Last time I was in NZ the key slogan was "If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot. If you don't drink and drive, you're a bloody legend." This time there's one that is "If you don't let your friends drink and drive, you're a bloody good mate." I'll say.
We've made arrangements to stay on long term and pay weekly rent here, and now that we have a residential address, we wasted no time in becoming members of the library at Puke Ariki! We came home today with loads of new reading material, Matt with a stack of books on raising pigs and chickens, and me with Tracy Chevalier's latest, Remarkable Creatures, a photo encyclopedia of Maori culture called Tangata Whenua (a relatively common phrase which means "local inhabitant" or "people of the land") and Jessica Watson's recently published book True Spirit, documenting her solo and unassisted circumnavigation of the world at age 16. The library also has tons of CDs and DVDs, which do cost a little bit to check out, but first we have to figure out if my computer can accommodate media from another country.
Matt has landed a part-time job! He is teaching rock climbing at the YMCA in New Plymouth, probably only about 10 hours per week, but still a pretty cool gig. He basically walked in and asked if they had any positions open, particularly with the rock wall, and it turned out they had been looking for another instructor, and they wasted no time in getting him to work- he taught the open climb last night!
We are spending a lot of our time getting to know New Plymouth better. Yesterday we took a nice long wander through Pukekura Park, a gorgeous place with enough rhododendrons and azaleas to make us feel very much at home, and a lovely British teahouse that I may end up working at this summer. I'll keep you posted on that :) We have eaten at a couple restaurants in town so far and have definitely discovered our favorite kebab shop and spotted some places we want to try once we have an income and can truly justify the expense. We have also been very happy to discover that New Plymouth is a major cultural center, with lots going on in the way of music and entertainment, free and otherwise. We already have our eyes on a Jack Johnson show at the end of the month, and Fat Freddy's Drop is playing here in Oakura at Christmas. There is also a massive light show at Pukekura Park over the holidays.
I thought you'd all like to see where we are living, so I finally got around to some photo-documenting of the Wavehaven and some of its animal inhabitants. Here you go:
(Click to enlarge photos)
The back of the house, which is very typical of the NZ country villa style.
Birds of Taradise!
The bunkhouse where the dorm is.
The front of the house- look closely for the wetsuit rinsing station.
The front porch. I am in love with the weathered slab tables.
The sauna and glow worm trail!
Side porch and yard.
Where we eat our breakfast most days. See the Tasman Sea in the distance?
Detail of our headboard (well, all the headboards here)
The kitchen. Some of you might remember that blue and yellow is my favorite color combination. And you wonder why I like it here? :)
Living room, and Matt at the table where I am now sitting and writing this!
Matt on the front steps with Ralph and Coco.
Me and Bugcat.
Every room also has a photo of Mt. Taranaki.
Ralph looks like this all the time.
And last but not least, we finally saw a weta, New Zealand's enormous wood crickets. Rather, Matt found this one while sweeping the back porch, and alerted me to its presence in a voice that reached decibels almost out of my range of hearing. Oh well, I probably would have had the same reaction. This one is relatively small, only about 2.5 inches without the antennae.
I'll end today's blog with our other recent weird animal sighting. We were eating breakfast on the deck our second day here when I noticed movement in the field below the 'Haven. I took me a few minutes to realize what I was seeing: ostriches.