March 31, 2011

and we try again!

As many of you know, Luke and I were all set to hit the road this week. We were all packed up, went grocery shopping, and got all the supplies we would need. Then Luke went and brought the car in to get its WoF (Warrant of Fitness) which basically checks the safety of the car ie seatbelts, windshield wipers, all the different fluids in the engine, and unfortunately for us, engine exhaust. It is illegal to drive a car if you do not have a current wof. So basically we were stuck with a car we couldn't drive and we were meant to leave the next day!

Obviously we couldn't leave the following day, so we called up our landlord and luckily we were able to stay a few extra days. In that time we have been able to buy a new car, get our old car on Trademe (like ebay) and have some very interested buyers! So fingers crossed we will have our car sold on Friday and be on the road on Saturday morning. I even put my bike on Trademe since we had the time and have sold it for more than I bought it for! Things are looking up!

In anticipation of our departure we have started cleaning and packing. I think we're ready...

March 19, 2011

Memorial Day

What an interesting two days its been! On Thursday at work there was quite a buzz. Camera people lining the sidewalk, Media tents and satellites set up all along the grass, and inside a usually casual working environment was filled with clacking heels and made up faces. No need to ask why, everyone knew Prince William was going to be making an appearance at the Emergency Centre that day. I'd be lying if I wasn't excited like a giddy school girl, and once he arrived even the guys were giddy school girls. It was like seeing a celebrity, but better.

He was there of course for the Memorial Service at Hagley Park that was going to be happening the next day. Luke and I went there, pulling ourselves out of bed after celebrating St Paddy's day the night before. First they showed a video of unseen images of the central city. It was pretty sobering to see all the damage that had occured. It has been so dangerous up until now to enter the city center that these images were never allowed to be shot in the first place. Then the mayor spoke, Prince William Spoke, and the Prime Minister spoke as well as a few other religious figureheads. In between were some different performances helping to lighten the mood. It was capped off by a video that brought most of the park to tears - showing all the help that has been given since the earthquake, all of the volunteers, search and rescue teams, police and firemen and women. It just made me realize what we have been apart of and been through, something much bigger than I can ever really comprehend.

Once it was over we walked over to the stage to see who we could see. First we saw the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard and we were both a bit star struck. Then we saw on one of the video screens that Prince William was here so we walked around to where we thought he was and we got nice and close, only a few people behind the people who were shaking his hands.

The day was topped off when the Prime Minister of New Zealand walked around and Luke and I met and shook his hand. Luke of course had to have banter with the Prime Minister's wife, after John Key mentioned he liked Luke's Crusaders jersey he was wearing, making a comment that he must not get this much attention at home! She agreed he didn't.

March 13, 2011

Wild Food Festival

The festival was definitely a different experience! We drove over in the morning through some clouds in Arthur's Pass and just as we got to the Westland sign the sun started to come out for us. By the time we got to Hokitika it was sunny and warm. We did a tour of all of the vendors first then headed straight for the Whitebait fritters to coat our stomachs with something real before we got onto the more serious stuff.

Kiwi's love anything on a slice of white bread...

Once we had something in our stomachs we decided to be semi-safe at first and had escargot in garlic butter which pleasantly delicious! Then we had some grilled Crocodile and Kangaroo. Crocodile was amazing. They had this spicy rub on it that gave it a lemony kick. It's a white meat, compared the to the darker and richer (and chewier) Kangaroo. That also had a spicy rub on it, but for me the crocodile was the clear winner.

As we built up our courage we went for the scorpion. I can put that one on my checklist and move on. It was cooked in Chili and garlic and when I took a bite (after you remove the hard to digest stinger) the body explodes in your mouth and fills it with this hot chili taste. then it leaves behind the rest of the scorpion for you to chew and chew and chew.

Luke was bold and went for the grasshopper satay next which was basically a piece of bread, peanut sauce and a grasshopper on top (a dead one). He reported that it tasted mostly of the bread and peanut sauce with a little crunch added in.

The live grasshoppers were enough to put me off from that stand for a while! So we moved onto the Huhu grubs. Huhu grubs are a Maori delicacy and up until the moment I took my first bite, I was told they taste just like peanut butter. We shared a pickled one. And it didn't taste like peanut butter. Actually, it wasn't so bad... if you didn't look at the inside once you took a bite! In hindsight it probably would have been better to take it all in one bite because the skin was tough to bite through but I still did it!

One of the last 'wild' foods I tried was back over with the grasshoppers. I had a chocolate covered beetle that would have been fine if there wasn't a beetle underneath the chocolate. The chocolate tasted great. So great in fact that I ate all the chocolate and then realized that underneath it were legs and wings and the rest of a beetle!

Ok so we ate some weird and gross things, but it was so much fun. Even if most of that fun came from seeing Luke's reaction to the weird things he was eating! There was live music and lots of people came dressed up in silly costumes. And now I can say I've eaten bugs (whether or not thats an accomplishment I don't know).

March 11, 2011

2 More Weeks

I have today off (a Friday) because they don't want people working at the Emergency Center more than 4 days at a time for fear that people will get too stressed (I think?). Anyway I am using it to start to prepare to leave. We have decided that we will leave at the end of the month and begin our travelling of the South Island while its still warm-ish. After sleeping in, I got up and started clearing out all the papers and other oddities we have collected (hoarded) since September that I know we won't be needing. Receipts, brochures, envelopes from mail we've gotten, and about 30 copies of our resumes that we printed out when we first got here and used one of each. So that has lightened the load a little bit.

Now I'm sitting at my desk, partially watching the live stats of the Babson lacrosse game (yes, I can say has been) and planning our trip. We'll go straight west and see the Glaciers (Fox and Franz Josef) and then slowly head to Queenstown, Wanaka, Milford Sound and then to Stewart Island for Easter Weekend. From there who knows! We'd like to end up in Nelson for a while before we go up north for the World Cup. It's the warmest place on the South Island and it sees the most sun in New Zealand! That's all we needed to hear!

Tomorrow we're off to Hokitika (tika like tick tock, not like tiki bar) to the Wild Food Festival to try some strange and probably disgusting things. Some of the foods on the list are Grasshoppers, Cow's Udder, Huhu Grubs, and Horse Semen. There are things that actually sound good though like lamb, goats cheese (goats milkshake I'm not so sure..), venison and whitebate. I'll be sure to take lots of photos and let you know what was tasty and what did not taste just like chicken.

I'll make up for no photo today by posting extra of the food festival.

March 03, 2011

Finally got out of the house

So I have been complaining all week to Luke about how I feel like a caged animal (I know that sounds shocking, me complain?). I don't have my bike or my sneakers because they are both still in the parking lot at work. I felt like I had no way of getting anywhere while Luke has been at work. Today I finally stopped complaining (for a little while) about it and decided to walk to the mall today. It is about a half an hour walk and it is such a nice day so I was obviously sweating by the time I got there. But I was able to get some replacement sneakers that match my flourescent nails and I got some groceries as well.

While I was walking there I saw that people were already fixing the roads that have cracked and made gaping holes. I'm pretty impressed. Usually in New York or Boston or Michigan (or any other place I've been) you see one person working and 3 people standing around having a smoke, but those 3 people standing around here were actually doing work! By the time I walked back about an hour later they had already patched up that side of the road and were onto another hole!

I feel like I should include a picture in every post so that you have something to look at:

This is a photo of the port hills that Luke and I took a few months ago on a hike. This side of the city took a big hit after the earthquake. To the east in Sumner and Lyttleton people were evacuated from their homes as rock face fell in every direction. Because of the earthquake scientists have reported that the hills are now actually half a meter (1.5 feet) higher than they were before the earthquake. Just a little fact for you...

In other news I got a text today from my boss asking for me and others to go to work tomorrow (not in our building, but at the center they have set up for the earthquake) to call building owners whose buildings are going to be demolished by the Council. It will be interesting and also break my addiction to the real housewives of beverly hills. We'll see how it goes!

March 01, 2011

Post Earthquake Christchurch

Photo of Christchurch's Cathedral in Cathedral Square, once nearly twice its new height.

It's been a week since the big 6.3 earthquake that took down more than half of the city I have lived in and loved for the last 6 months. They have shut the city for what they're saying will be 'several' months, whatever that means. I figured while I sit at home trying to find things to do I would start blogging about our travels as well as make a place where everyone who is interested can see that we are in fact safe!

Luke went back to work on Monday and I am sort of on call at the moment to see if they need me to enter data for the building inspections that they are doing at my job. So I watch episodes of the real housewives of Beverly Hills and pay $8.50 for the cheapest nail polish at the corner store (OPI costs $25 here!! ABSURD!) to paint my nails pepto bismol pink.

But in all seriousness, we are safe, our house is safe and if we aren't lucky enough with that we have all of our power and water back on. So thank you everyone who has sent messages and concerns thank you!!