Monday, July 7, 2014

Entry 3: New Zealand

19 April 2014

"On the way to the hostel in Fox Glacier, we were informed that there was no power in the town. So much for Good Friday celebrations! Or so we thought....We had lights and hot water because there was a generator, but they were shutting it off at 10 pm until 7:30 am the next day. Incidentally, we were leaving at 7:30 am, which meant scavenging for our stuff with our uncharged iPhones and iTouches the next morning. Adventure after adventure...In my experience, adventures always involve rain.

Since it was Good Friday on top of the lack of power for the next 5 days, hardly any restaurants were open, and the public kitchens at the hostel were asked to be used sparingly to conserve fuel. My dinner ended up being left over "chips" (fries) from lunch, which were cold and soft, and a small box of cherry tomatoes. I also purchased nuts, 4 apples, and some crackers for later, for emergencies, and for breakfast.

Later we heard there was a grocery shop down the road that was still selling alcohol. The partying was back on! I shared a bottle of Chardonny (it was the cheapest bottle at $ NZ 11.50) and some OJ to mix with it because we didn't expect it to be very good without something sweet to mix with it. Yesterday marked the first official time I participated in a drinking game. I had once before partaken in drinking games, but I substituted alcohol with water. I didn't want to subject myself to under aged drinking no matter how popular a past time that is with my age group. We played Kings with a German deck of cards Flo brought with him. It didn't include numbers 2 through 5, and U was the equivalent of a Jack, and O was the equivalent of a Queen. I had never seen cards like those before, and I regret forgetting to put my deck of cards on my list of items to pack. It's normally second nature for me to add them to my backpack when I travel. We also played a game called "Asaloogi (I think that's how you would spell it), but this game was where everyone had to go through numbers up to however many we decided to go through at the beginning, but every time we got all the way through a round, a number would have a rule added to it. For example, two numbers may have been swapped so when a person got to 3, they had to say 7, and when they got to 7 they said three, or a number was now a noise, and the rules go on!

My favorite moment was probably when I drew an Ace from the deck, which meant the person to the left of me chose two people while I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I had to make them do something together without the knowledge of who the two people were. Since, the majority of us where American, I took a chance and requested that person A and B stand up and sing the Star Spangled Banner! We got it on video! It was Ally and Taylor who later had to do something together again, which was kiss Lefty, our bus driver, on the check without him knowing what they were about to do.

This actually happened after lights out. It didn't stop people from continuing the games. Some others even joined in or watched. A girl (I later learned her name is Lauren) started to rub my hair (which at the time was still fuzzy short from my shave). I once again became subject to heavy petting, though few of them knew the story behind why my hair was that short. They complimented me on how soft my hair was.

I went to bed 20 past 10, blindly making my way back to the bedroom I shared with 5 other girls. Before I left, I finished my drink after being subject to someone else picking an Ace from the deck. I got chosen as subject A, with Millie as subject B. We had to mix our drinks and both down half. It wasn't as gross as I thought it would be, but the concoction was a mixture of beer and my Chardonny plus OJ. They cheered me on. I don't know if I enjoyed being subjected to that sort of behavior or not. I had mixed feelings. It's nice to bet the center of attention sometimes, but not for those reasons. I didn't have that much in the glass to drink or else I would have refused and walked away entirely. I can proudly stay that I still have not experienced a hangover! My streak has continued!"

The last part said,"Sorry for the bad writing. I am not adept at 'bus-writing.'"

I am Home!

It's official! I have been home for a week. You know what the first difference I noticed because of a mistake I made multiple times out of a habit I had picked up abroad? The toilets. Why does travel always end up with differences in toilets. I remember when I told my dad this he made an interesting observation: out of all his international travels, the one thing that was always different in every country was their plumbing!

You know how home doesn't  sound or smell like home anymore, and certain things become the norm like when I lived in the dorms, I would get used to hearing the train or the bell tower? Well, I got used to higher toilets, so about three times since I got home, when I tried sitting on the toilet I misgauged how far I had to plop my butt and ended up practically falling onto the seat. It always comes to the small stuff that you don't think about in daily life that happen to be the most noticed when you return to a life you haven't been a part of in some time.

The other things that happened was the shock of the heat. I thought I was prepared for it, yet no one can fully prepare for going from 55 F (13 C) with rain and wind to 94 F (34 C) with humidity. It was so uncomfortable on my final stretch from Dallas, Texas to Raleigh, North Carolina, because I started out with five layers of shirts and sweaters, plus a scarf and gloves, to two layers of shirts with the desire to shed my one layer but the knowledge that I would want it once I got on the final flight. Even though its there, and its an obvious statement, I feel like I am more aware of how somewhere in the world it's hot while in another it's cold.

That last flight I had an ironic interaction with a man named George. I ended up making the earlier flight, so I didn't know where I was sitting. It was supposed to get there 2 hours before my initial planned flight, but because the aircraft had mechanical errors, they had to find a new one, and I ended up only getting home 45 minutes before I was supposed to. I still savored that one hour of not traveling anymore. Long story short, it was a little fated, because I had a long and pleasant talk with a graduate in Chemical Engineering who now managed a polymer corporation's accounting. I got his card, and it really did feel like destiny. Connections and networking seem much more pleasant and potentially lucrative when they crop up in unplanned situations because everyone is more relaxed, since it isn't a business or interview setting. I also learned his son works for a nuclear company in Charlotte. And the small world gets even smaller!

Another small world coincidence that I did not get to confirm about my earlier flight was that I am pretty sure there was a student I recognized from NCSU on the flight with me. All I can recall is that he may have been the guy who filmed for special events like the sports events.

I am trying to be proactive about my health since I got home. And yesterday, I was lucky. It was a rare, beautiful day in tolerable heat here in Raleigh. My dad and I didn't take it for granted. We went for a 15 mile bike ride down the Raleigh Greenway! Though, when he told me we were biking to the Greenway too, I balked because I had assumed we were going to put the bikes in our car and drive over there. The Greenway isn't that far away from our home, but one of the ways to get there is Old Falls of the News, which is a very narrow road in some areas. Oh, but the breeze coming down that hill made me feel like I was a few speeds away from letting go of my bike and flying! It's such an intense rush to bike down those types of hills. I wasn't crazy; I used my brakes to steady my pace, especially since the cars drove pretty close to us.

The day before, I had been helping my sister move into a new apartment, so after that bike ride, my arms hurt from lifting heavy furniture, and my legs barely carried me up the stairs to my room after that bike ride. I think the worst, though, were my shoulders. The only comfortable position I could find was laying on my stomach while stroking the cat sitting beside me. My mom said my face looked so red. I didn't even dare look in the mirror. That night was bath night. I rarely take a bath, but I deserved a little extra TLC.

Today, even with all the exercise and activity I have been doing for the past few days, I felt like going out with my Mom for her nightly power walk. She couldn't walk as fast as I wanted to, so she gave her blessing to allow me to go ahead. I jogged when I could and walked when I couldn't.

I have so much more to tell you all. I have other separate posts I want to make, but those will be on past events. In the mean time and last but not least, I have been taking a sociology class, and the reading I had been doing while I was helping my sister this past weekend was about inequality and capitalism. I had to do an assignment where I spent some time trying out a game called "Spent" on the internet. It was based on testing if I could survive 30 days as one of the working poor by giving me real life situations and giving me the choice of where my money was going to go. It was a frightening experience, and after what happened at my sister's apartment when we discovered the washer wasn't working. I realized my sister now fits under the category of the working poor, because the only job she could find out of college was a paid internship. She can barely get by, and then this issue with the washer crops up. Ugh! I won't go into details, because that's her story to tell, and not mine. Today is such a difficult time to get a good, steady job. And my readings about the USA being very capitalistic doesn't improve my hopes for the future of the American economy.

Even though this summer class requires me to keep pace with the readings and assignments without the incentive of attending an actual class (it's a distance education class), I am learning a lot, and very intrigued by the readings. I just wish there weren't so many in such a small window of time.

Like I said, I have more stories I want to tell, but this post is long enough as is. Ta Ta For Now!