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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Catching the Wind

               February 3rd. Being woken up by some drunken and wild hostile roommates at 6am isn’t fun, but it happens when you’re traveling cheap in New Zealand. Afterwards I had no choice but to shower and have breakfast. At 7:30am we drove for 2 hours to a remote harbor in Russell. I was euphoric to see that we would be sailing a world class racing sailboat to an island for some lunch and a swim, and when I say sail, I mean sail. We got to pull up the main sail, control the jib and we got to steer the boat. I also finally mastered the bowline knot, which I have been having trouble with every day since my 5 years of sailing camp.
We had lunch “on the Barbie” and kayaked to an island with wild sheep. Not surprisingly, there was poop everywhere, but the view more than made up for the smell. We played a little rugby on the hillside and kayaked back, but not before idiotically trying to herd sheep until they were irritated enough to chase us off the island.
When we arrived back at the sailboat we were awed by the appearance of 5 wild dolphins playing with the crewmates. After carefully approaching them we were able to swim alongside the dolphins while they happily danced through the water. After watching them fade into the sunset, throwing their bodies over waves, we were forced to board the ship home.
Back on shore we roamed around town and found a Thai restaurant, which was a must for dinner. Afterwards, we picked up some gelato and crawled home for our hostile in exhaustion. The group was a bit bored at that point, but we found a game of twister that we amused ourselves with for at least an hour. I suspect they would’ve left without playing, but as I wasn’t allowed to go out to the bars they made an effort to keep me entertained and involved.
So they’ve left an hour ago, and I am here in the hostile writing my blog. I don’t mind what so ever. It’s like living the adventure over again, but sharing the experience with the world. It’s invaluable to alleviate myself of all my memories and reflect on how this experience is affecting me. So far it’s hard to notice any difference in my knowledge or maturity, but I will notify you all when I finally come to realize it. Thanks again to all my followers and to those of you who have commented on my blog.

Through Skys and Caves

               After 3 connections and 4 flights, I have finally arrived in New Zealand. Immediately after the flight I met Elise, one of my instructors. She’s kind, funny, and very laidback. As soon as I jumped in the car she told me “Since your 17 you’re not gonna be drinking or going out at night, so look forward to long nights of Uno with me.” I was fine with not drinking or going out, but Uno’s not my thing.
                We drove to the Sky Lounge, a small budget motel, and there I met all my group members. There’s Jade, Caitie, Dave, David, Olivia, Ben, Andrew, Brian, Arianna, Claire and Erik (another counselor). I was a little anxious to meet everyone because they are 19+. I soon found out, however, that they are all awesome. Not one person is an outsider, so I’ve come to the conclusion that only enjoyable people embark on these journeys. Our last 4 hours was spent chillaxing, having dinner, and watching I Love You Man in order to wind down. Before I went to bed I experienced my first pang of homesickness, but I composed myself quickly, reminding myself of what the next few months would bring, which helped calm me down.
                This morning I had no thought of home, which was good, because I realized I had overcome my anxiety. After breakfast we packed up the van and drove to Auckland. I was surprised to see that the city holds many aspects of New York; it even had a china town. We were lead to an enormous tower in china town, and we were surprised to learn that the instructors brought us there to free fall off a 192 meter platform protruding from the tower! I ran to get suited up and we were soon climbing up 192 meters worth of stairs, which is definitely part of the fun. When I got to the top I immediately looked down. When I realized what I was about to do, I almost threw up, but of course being the youngest I was pressured into going first. So they hooked me up to a cable and told me to just jump. I mustered up all my courage and dove through the air towards a target that I could’ve covered with my pinky. It was the most exhilarating and exciting experience of my life (so far). Just when I thought I would smack into the ground, the cable attached to me made me slow down and I floated lightly to the ground.
                After that exhilarating experience we toured Auckland and learned its history, which is quite extensive. For lunch we ate at a kebab stand, which was another new experience. Apparently kebabs are wraps with meat, veggies, humus, and hot chili. I thought they would be assorted foods on sticks, but apparently that’s the American shish-kebabs.
                From there we drove for 3 hours to Paihia, a town found on the Bay of Islands. To wrap up the day, all the guys and I took a 20 minute swim to a small island where we wandered through a cave and leisurely skipped rocks. Back at the hostile we jumped in the hot tub and crashed in our beds. A perfect first day in my book.
                Thanks you to all the followers who have signed up, and thanks so much for the comments, keep them coming! Love to hear feedback. I am definitely going to be putting up pictures, so no worries for those of you who were eager to see some. I’ll post as soon as possible as I have no internet today.