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Saturday, June 26, 2010

What Lies Beneath

May 2-7, 2010
Kokonga, Central Otago
Two nights in a Dunedin hostel filled in the time between Crazy Americans in Waikouaiti and the next wwoofing host, Potato David, in Kokonga.
That Sunday night was supposed to be an early bedtime in the backpackers, but 6 new chatty roommates had other ideas. The night prior was a big party night for Aerin & I, as the ‘big’ night in Dunedin is best had on Saturdays. Sometime Saturday night/Sunday morning I strolled into my hostel after lots of dancing, drinking, and a late night snack, and checked the clock: 2:25am, not too bad. A nice sleep until 9:45am gave me nearly a full night’s rest, or so I thought. The next afternoon I met a friend for picnicking in the Dunedin Botanical Gardens, and an excerpt of our conversation follows:

Jessie:       I got home just before 2:30am, not too bad. How about you?
Mikenna:     What?? Umm, Jessie, that’s not possible… I left you at 3:30am to walk home.
Jessie:       Are you sure? Is your cell phone set to the right time zone?
Mikenna:     Yes, I’m sure. I walked into my place at exactly 3:59am; I remember looking at the clock on the wall.
Jessie:       Uh oh, um…. (pause, pause, more pause…) Oh no! I read the clock wrong!! I switched the big and little hands!… It was actually 5:10am!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fairy dust and Pixie sticks

April 27-30, 2010
One day while wwoofing with The Pringle’s (native vegetation folks) we had a big day out attending a Native Tree replanting at a nearby beach, where Aerin & I would meet our next wwoofing hosts, AKA the “Crazy Americans”. My skepticism was high, particularly considering wwoofing is an ‘exchange,’ primarily between two cultures, so what kind of exchange would be had with an American couple? “Surely not much…” Boy was I ever wrong!!

In wee Waikouaiti, New Zealand (1-hour north of Dunedin) I sat in the living room of an outrageously strange American couple's home pondering how and why I was looking into a crystal ball.  I equally wondered why there were mini table and chairs sitting on top of cupboards and bookcases? When I say strange, I mean it to the N-th degree. Fairies, tarot cards, pagan ceremonies, crystal balls... the works! Perhaps some of this is standard fare for you, but truly I was baffled. Let’s just say, there was indeed a ‘cultural exchange’ that occurred! Through many odd conversations with the wife, whose locks were dyed bright orange, I learned that there was “a place for the fairies” in every room of the house, which explained the mini furnishings and d├ęcor scattered on top of cabinets and cupboards.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Long Beach... a long way from California!

April 19-26, 2010

After five great days of hiking, marvel, beauty, partying, and fun times in Queenstown, I should have known disappointment could only follow. There was some difficulty finding the next wwoofing host, and we quickly realized that many farms and homestays were leaning up their operations for the approaching winter months. Success prevailed though, and with bus ticket bought and luggage loaded, there was a quick email check before shooting off for Invercargill:  New Zealand’s southern most city. Bad news was revealed 3 minutes prior to leaving: our new hosts backed out.
The trip started off with a powder keg bang, and continued down a dreary path. All in all this city, one which I could do without visiting again, greeted us with 80 kph wind, gray skies, rain showers, and just overall depressed gloom. By making the best of the situation, we found a gardening-for-accommodation exchange at a hostel in an insalubrious neighborhood, which turned out to be much more rewarding that originally anticipated. Taming a neglected and wild garden into something respectable can be highly satisfying, so we gave it all we had for 2.5 days!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Adrenaline's Playground

April 14-18, 2010

After a week of wwoofing work, Aerin & I were ready for a vacation! ;) We were off for some traveling, pure tourist style. We left the north of the North Island for the south of the South Island (each island is about the length of Florida) en route to Queenstown, New Zealand’s Adventure Capital of the Country. This tiny town of less than 15,000 permanent residents is guidebook listed as: “Surrounded by the soaring indigo heights of the Remarkables (mountain ranges), crowned by Coronet Peak, and framed by the meandering coves of Lake Wakatipu, it’s little wonder than Queenstown is a show-off. The town wears its ‘Global Adventure Capital’ badge proudly, and most visitors take the time to do crazy things they’ve never done before.”

The plane ride in was the first stop on the adventure circuit. The plane flies extremely low between two mountain ranges, leaving only a minor gap, and our flight was blessed with an abundance of crosswinds! First attempt? Whole failure as we jetted quickly past the tiny town searching out another landing route. Circled, descended, and I started getting worried about when I felt the plane rocking from side to side, up and down, I’m catching air. I tighten my seatbelt, grab onto the armrests.