New Zealand: Part II, Business

After my spouse left for the airport, I got ready and then got on the bus with the students for the drive down to Rotorua. It was fun; nice bus ride. That afternoon, 2 more orientation sessions. My colleague A learned the All Blacks haka with one group of students while B and I observed an orientation session with another group, then we all went down to Blue Lake for a barbeque. It was chilly, but some students went in the water. Yikes!  Then we had dinner, drinks at the hostel, and tried to rationalize not going to the volunteer day on Saturday.

We didn’t go to the volunteer day.  B and A (colleagues from my university) and M and S (colleagues from our partner organization) went to a spa to soak in the hot springs and have massages. I didn’t want to soak in the hot springs because it was possible that I was pregnant (I’ve since found out that I’m not), so I just wandered around all morning and explored the town.

Later, S and M had meetings and A was doing his own thing, so B and I tried to do something. Actually, we tried to do several things, and struck out every time! First we wanted to go to the Kapa Haka competition which was happening right by our hotel, but we went there and it was sold out. Then we went to see about the Rotorua Museum and it cost too much. Then we decided to go to Te Puia and the lady at the hotel desk told us it was a pleasant, 20-30 minute walk. Um, no. It was a 45 minute walk along one long, boring road. Ha! We laughed about it When we got there, entry was $46, and I had to be back at the hotel in about 2 hours to call my spouse, so I took a bus back and B went in.

That night we all (read: staff and students) went to Tamaki Maori Village (basically a simulation/show of a Maori village). My favorite part was the welcome ceremony (not my video)! They warned us not to laugh, but I wouldn’t have wanted to laugh anyway– it was fierce and beautiful, but definitely not funny! The village and the show and the food were pretty good, too, but not as cool as the welcoming ceremony. The bus ride back, however, was hilarious! B and I sat together and joked about this thing that looked like a button to turn on purple lights. The party bus button! He’s like, “Go ahead, push it! No one will know!” I’m like, “Yeah, until the disco ball comes down!” Also, the bus driver was trying to get people to lead songs. We (all) sang parts of “All You Need is Love,” “The Wheels on the Bus” (to which the driver provided a real ‘honk honk honk’), “All Star,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” (while the bus driver drove round-and-round a roundabout). Hilarious!

New Zealand: Part I, Vacation

I got back last night from my 2-week trip to New Zealand. I have this weird sensation of simultaneously feeling like the trip went really fast, but that I’ve been gone forever. This always happens to me when I travel, but it’s still a strange sensation!

The first part of the trip was vacation, then work. My spouse came with me for the vacation part. Sadly, we lost 24 hours of our vacation time in NZ due to flight delays in Minneapolis and Dallas, which kind of sucked. But we ended up spending an afternoon in LA with a friend of mien who lives there, so that was okay.

On Monday morning, we arrived in Auckland at long last. We had lunch, checked in to our hotel, then caught the ferry to Devonport, a small island outside of Auckland. It was a very nice ferry ride and a nice little town. We were pretty tired, though, so we had dinner in the room and went to bed early. Tuesday we walked around the entire city of Auckland. We found this cool park where it looked like parts of demolished buildings had been used to create art (either that, or the rest of the buildings are underneath the grass at the park…?). We couldn’t find any explanation of the art at the park… I still need to google that! We also visited the Auckland Museum, which had a lot of cool Maori/Pacific Islander historical and cultural artifacts. Very cool museum! We tried to go out to dinner for Valentine’s Day, but of course everywhere was super expensive, so we just ate at the hotel.

The Cousin Saga: Part VII

Well, I am happy. My cousin is in Arkansas with her friend, and she’s planning to stay there for a month and a half, then come back and go with her boyfriend (who lives here) to Nevada to meet his mom, then possibly go back to Arkansas to work some more. So. This is good news. We don’t have to be worried now while we are on vacation, and we have a nice break this week and after the trip before she comes back. Then it sounds like she’ll just be stopping briefly in St Paul, and if she needs to stay with us for a few days, that is fine.

I want her to schedule a Job Corps interview between the time she returns from AR and heads to NV; she got the application so all she needs to do is fill it out then meet with an admissions counselor, then it takes 2-12 weeks to process her application and give her a start date. If she did the interview before going to NV and back to AR if she goes, then the application can be processed while she’s doing that and then she can hopefully start Job Corps and live on their campus after that. I wish she’d have gone to the orientation earlier so she could have had her interview before going to AR this time, but I was trying to get her to take responsibility for getting the application, which didn’t work out. It finally took me contacting them to find out she had to do the orientation first, and this was right before her planned departure to AR. I’m glad she’s in AR working right now, but I think Job Corps would still be a better option for her in the long run than working at a chicken farm for $8/hour. But she has to live on campus; she can’t stay with us long-term/indefinitely again.