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Gail at Te Hau Station farm with two new friends
Greetings from South Island! By now Russell will have updated you to let you know we made it here. I also read those letters and feel that perhaps you need ďthe rest of the storyĒ as it were.
Yes we left Rarotonga a while back. Yes I ran into the wall and oh the furniture and the doorway only to make it to the phone almost in time. This was after just falling asleep at 1 a.m. After sorting out all the arrangements for our pick up I was not able to sleep so stayed awake going over all the lists in my head.
Pick up and departure went fine. At the airport which is very small there is a man who plays and sings. This morning it was "Leaving on a Jet Plane" He was a fireman at the airport and in between take offs he would serenade the new comers. Once he retired he just kept right on doing it. Take off was eventful in that the attendant forgot to secure the rack of glasses and they came crashing down the aisle at Russellís feet. That alone was enough to keep me awake for the whole flight. That whole day is a bit of a blur. Once we finally got the car on the road we decided to purchase a small cooler and some groceries. Needless to say we got to Rotorua much later than I had hoped. The detour through the windy roads was in retrospect really not the best idea. Plus both boys had to fight carsickness. In driving the roads of NZ I have determined that it must be a national law that there cannot be a straight stretch of road longer that Ĺ k. I also believe that the boys may never return to NZ as their only memories will be of motion sickness. Joss spends much of his time in the car huddled under his coat, sleeping off the Dramamine. We have to stop to let them walk around and get fresh air and carry a spare bag, just in case.
After our stay in Rotorua we headed east toward Gisbourne for our farm stay at Te Hau Station. I had been in contact with Jen Meban for months and was looking forward to finally meeting her and her family. I was not disappointed. We had overshot the road to the place and had to back track a bit. After much, ah, discussion between the adults in the car we finally found the road and made it up there, greeted by the sheep along the gravel road long before we ever made it to the house. This of course was exciting for the boys but a bit unnerving for the driver (me) as the sheep would stop, turn and not move. A short honk did it.
The real welcoming committee greeted us at the house, Jen and her two boys, Alex (9) and Laurie (7). This is a working station so we didnít meet Chris until later. We made it just in time for the boys to feed bottles of milk to the baby lambs. Cam and Joss were so excited because they have one pot-bellied pig, two lambs, a calf, various chickens, a goat, cats, kittens, dogs and puppies. They loved carting around the two kittens every chance they got.
The boys with Winnie (gray paws) and D.C. (white paws) -- "Dad's Cat"
Russell with a curious companion
All four boys hit it off beautifully. We brought gifts of a Game Boy game for each new friend and they all spent a lot of time, heads down, playing Game Boy ďtogetherĒ. One wonderful thing Jen did was to arrange for our boys to visit her boyís classrooms. Just a little bigger than the school they have attended Cameron and Joss fit in with out a problem. We took them over in the afternoon, stayed a bit while they introduced themselves and then we left. The kids in Camís class kept asking him to speak French. Most of them are Maori and speak that as a first language at home. The boys all came home on the bus, a new experience for our two. When they got back they said they enjoyed it. Joss now wants to do the same thing in other countries. The boys did not want to leave.
Visiting Te Karaka school
Neighboring in the yard
Neighboring in the kitchen
This was a perfect place to rest up and enjoy the hospitality of a family who were more like friends than some one we were renting rooms from. The meals were wonderful, the wine (yep finally got it) great and the people warm. We exchanged a bit about our cultural differences, not only US to NZ but city folk to Station owners. This will certainly be the high point of NZ for me. Jen sent us off with clean clothes, fresh milk and chocolate cake. Thanks Chris and Jen oh yes Alex and Laurie too.
Today, August 2, we took the Inter island ferry to the south island. The ride was smooth but of course both boys were feeling seasick. We have allowed ourselves to have a slower pace for the South island. This will mean we donít get down to the Fiords but we need to enjoy what we see and do, not rush through it. We will take the scenic train and see the Franz Josef Glacier. Two things we decided before we left home was that the world is a big place and we will never be able to see everything in one trip and that we will always make the best of whatever comes our way.
Picnicking by the side of the road
Some observations about NZ:
It is beautiful.
No matter where we have been there are clean public restrooms. There are blue signs up along the streets that tell you were they are. We donít have to search for a fast food place or gas station to use.
School kids in the larger towns wear uniforms...At the small school the boys attended the kids donít and are happiest with shoes and socks off (yes it is winter here and yes it is cold).
Even the littlest kids play rugby.
It is a farm station tradition to send you children to boarding school between 9 &13 years old. Not everyone is always happy about that.
Gas station attendants wear company uniforms and pump
your gas and clean your windscreen.
There is such a thing as a toasted spaghetti sandwich.
Take away food is generally cheap and good.
Driving on the left gets easier with practice.
Roundabouts make sense.
Truck drivers will pull over if they are holding up traffic.
Rush hour in the rural areas means men herding sheep in the road.
Along the roads there are signs encouraging safe driving. If that doesn't get you to think perhaps all the crosses along the way where people have died in crashes will. Some are plain with just the name and date some have flowers and other decorations. Perhaps these are the most recent.
This country has an energy shortage and water problems just like California.
Everyone is willing to help if you just ask.
Cheap accommodations are clean and safe and possible, about $ 40 American for two bedrooms plus kitchen and lounge. Includes milk, tea and coffee.
As we travel south our suitcases are getting emptier. Sweatshirts, long johns, coats and mittens now are on us rather that packed. Though the days are much much warmer than expected. Perhaps we do have enough warm clothes.
Momís cooking goes a long way to battling homesickness.
We will come back.
Sunset from a car window
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