Mountaineering on Mangra

Today I was planning to clean up the kitchen in the house I was staying, with the intent of making cinnamon rollls at the end of the day.

After realizing we were out of butter, I hopped in the car with the owner of the house, and we popped out to the grocery store down the street. While we were there, we realized that we had missed an appointment to pick up a girl from the airport.

We were about…two hours late. AAAAH!!!

To start on making up for the really terrible communication, we took her out to Mangre Mountain, where we wandered around for a couple of hours.

Mangre Mountain

It was awesome. It was an old Maori fortress, and there were areas where the ground was covered in sea shells that had been crushed into the earth. Apparently the Maori would bring up shellfish and then the shells stayed in the fortress.

Sea Shells in the Ground

There were huge pits in the ground from where the tubers, called Kumara (I think?) would be stored for winter months that were marked by stones in the ground.

Kumara pit

It was windy and bright and beautiful.


(Then we got back in the car, we went to the house, and made cinnamon rolls. OM NOM NOM)


Entry To Auckland

Customs was a bit more harrowing then I would have ideally preferred, mostly because sometimes I do that things where someone asks a question and then I respond with “Oh, yeah! No. No.”

This is unhelpful, especially to well-meaning Customs officers, who got to make one mark on my customs form, and then have to scribble it out to make a different mark.

Which then gets me pinged as “In Need of Special Treatment”, so I get to go down the long, empty line that’s protected from view on both sides by black linen curtains, just pushing along with my cart of luggage, really, really hoping that I haven’t managed to get myself into BIIIIG trouble.

I didn’t get into big trouble. Or any kind of trouble at all really. My paperwork just needed an extra stamp, apparently. All was well.

So then I wander out into the Pick Up/Arrival gallery, and I was about to get in line to purchase a phone, to call my host in Auckland, when the man that I was staying with popped up out of nowhere, barefoot, and then whisked me off to a tour of One Tree Hill (which is relevant to the U2 song, but *not* the terrible television show).

Life is awesome.


Time Lost

I know that I am most likely in a very rare minority of people when I express my opinion of airports.

I love airports.

I love long flights. You get stuck next to someone for an obscene amount of time, and you have nothing to do but befriend them.

It’s like getting stuck in a less-claustraphobia-inducing elevator.

Really, there’s something magical about seeing two women in line to go through customs exchanging business cards so they can keep in touch.

The not so great thing about my long flight is that I actually managed to skip Thursday.

I rather like Thursdays. They usually involve lots of friends and good times and hanging out. Additionally, I’m not sure how I feel about getting an entire day ripped from my life. I know it was probably in the small print somewhere,  but it wasn’t what I signed up for.

Or something like that.

A Tale with Two Songs

Today, I am leaving my country for new adventures in the southern hemisphere. I get to sit on a plane for 19 hours and cross the international dateline.

I woke up this morning and I had two songs stuck in my head. As they both seem pointedly applicable to my situation, I thought I would share them with you.

The first is a time-honored classic:

The second is a new twist on an old favourite:


Cheers! I’m off!

Keys to…anything?

I have reached a point in my life where…I have no keys.

It’s really quite disconcerting to the rhythm of my life.

Usually, when I’m heading out the door, I do a quick pocket check. I always bring three things: “Keys, Phone, Wallet!”. It’s just a self-check to make sure that I’m not forgetting anything too dreadfully important. Like how to start my car, pay for things or contact people. Pretty standard, basic stuff.

I’ve been travelling for a while now, so my keyring has been steadily shrinking. It used to carry all sorts of things – house key, car key, key to my bike lock, key to my parent’s house.

I moved away – there went the need for a house key, for a bike lock. Smaller key ring.

I’m moving out of the country – certainly no reason to drag an old key to the family home to a different country. Smaller key ring.

I sold my car. I left the key on the ring.

Now I have no keys. I go out the door, do the pocket check, and then am struck with how odd it is. I have nothing to open and nothing to lock away.

I think that’s a good way to move forward.

Some Dreams Are Not Prophecies

I had a dream last night that I was in Spokane with a group of people from my high school and it was that vaguely awful kind of awkward of spending time with people that you aren’t really friends with.

I spend a good deal of time searching through my backpack for my plane ticket. When I found it, I realized that my flight wasn’t leaving from Spokane.

It was leaving from Walla Walla and I did not have a car and I did not have enough time to get there before the plane took off, to say nothing of getting through security.

Still, I had to try. This flight is the only plan I’ve got. There is no backup, no plan B.

I could only take what I had with me, that I could carry and fit with me. I ended up ditching 3/4 of my stuff and sticking my thumb out on the side of the highway. A friendly, heavyset man with a half-moon mustache picked me up. He was willing to drive me straight to the airport, after he heard my story.

We got on the road and I woke up. It was highly disconcerting.

I have decided, however, that this dream happened like a sacrifice. I had to go through all of the awful of having everything fall apart, in my head, so I could simply wake up and make absolutely none of those mistakes, and have none of those things happen *outside* my head.
I am okay with this.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

It took 26 hours on two trains, and 4 hours on a bus, and about ten minutes in a car with my wonderful uncle.

Now I’m surrounded by amazing art, and incredible artists.

We talked of life and travel and education. I was fed amazing food (though, after 30 hours of hopping from train to train to bus, pretty much anything that didn’t come wrapped in plastic is a pure and beautiful, rapturous experience).

I get to sleep in a real bed before heading onto the “plane” portion of my journey.

Following Tradition

Yesterday started as a day of travel – I am continually, endlessly struck by just how pretty the world is. Everywhere I go, it’s just absolutely beautiful.

Seriously. This world is *awesome*.

I found myself in a different city by mid-afternoon, where I got the delightful chance to follow my own personal tradition of being fed things I can’t pronounce by my wonderful friends who eat far more interesting foods than I do.

It’s at the same time one of the most amazing experiences I get to have and also one of the most frustrating. I am given truly fantastic food, and virtually no tools of ever being able to find it again.

It follows a pretty standard format. One of my friends says “What do you mean you’ve never had _________?!?!?!?!”

To which I respond something like “I don’t know. They don’t have that in my town/I’ve never hear of that before/What language is that?”

Then I am dragged into whichever food-selling place that has sparked this outrage, and fed something incredible, which I will pretty much never be able to remember, much less pronounce.


Sometimes I despair at the sheer amount of work it would take to ever turn me in to someone “cultured”.