Friday, 2 March 2018

Microblog 4 - Samoa

Samoa was a wee bit stressful from the beginning. A cyclone hit on Friday night just after Aric had arrived.  I got a phone call from him on Saturday morning,

me: "hey babe, how are you, enjoying Samoa?"
Aric: "didn't you see the news? There was a big cyclone and we got hit and I had to be emergency evacuated at 3 in the morning because the hotel had flooded"
me: "oh, that wasn't what I was expecting you to say!"

He was fine but a bit shaken, an emergency night time wade through a neck high river in PJs will do that to you!  Luckily there were no reported deaths and the weekend stayed fairly dry but stormy, allowing the flood waters to recede and the Samoans to get back on their feet.

It was a bit up in the air as to whether I would be going out there, however Air NZ hadn't cancelled the flight and my insurance would only cover me if they did, so I went anyways, preferring to spend my time in a cyclone hit country with my boyfriend than be at work.   But it was fine - I was very impressed when I arrived. Apart from a few downed trees in the forests, and the odd fale roof on the ground, the Samoans had been very industrious and cleaned up very quickly, you could barely tell a cyclone had whizzed by a few days earlier.

I wouldn't recommend Samoa in rainy season - 1) cyclones, but 2) the humidity is unbearable!!! Everything was hot and sticky.  Even if you got into the pool or the sea, it was bathwater temperature - not gunna lie, I did struggle a bit!!!

Aric had to work Thursday and Friday so on the first day I went into Apia, the main town, and wandered round.  There isn't too much to see and the heat was making me feel a bit ill, as well as the constant cat calling i was subject to.  I haven't been cat called in a very long time and it did shake me up a bit which surprised me, but it also made me appreciate New Zealand that little bit more as I haven't been cat called in my entire 2 years there.  I met Aric for lunch after wandering round for 2 hours, then headed back to the hotel to melt into the pool with my book.  We were staying in a really fancy hotel courtesy of his work, so I sat in a shady spot in the pool and chilled out for a few hours until he got back.

That evening we'd been invited for dinner at his colleague's house, so we got in a cab and drove up the hill where we were greeted by his colleague and his wife, and an amazing food spread.  They were really nice and his wife was Japanese and had cooked some delicious food which I couldn't stop talking about the next day.

The following day I decided to be ridiculously lazy and had a pool day.  I think I did a little kayak in the bay next to the hotel but apart from that I sat down on a sun lounger and didn't move until Aric came back from work. That evening I had one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life....

We went to a cultural show dinner, and I got picked out to do a dance competition with the performers. I tried to refuse but they (and Aric) were quite I had to do it.  I am pretty sure I was as red as a beetroot and I hated every second but I had to smile the entire time so as not to look grumpy. We had to learn some dance moved in front of everyone (anyone who knows me knows I am TERRIBLE at dancing) and then compete with other members of the audience.   My dance partner was jumping and doing all sorts in front of me whilst I stood there awkwardly swaying my hips as I was too embarrassed to do anything else, wishing the ground would swallow me up.  Cringe. 

We got a taxi home and all the taxi drivers are super chatty and friendly, but they all want your business to drive you round the island seeing the sights.  Our driver offered his services but we politely declined, saying we'd hired a car tomorrow.  We asked him if he recommended any spots on the island and he replied 'no' and didn't talk to us the rest of the trip home.

The following day we picked up our car, a little Rav 4 - as we pulled into the car rental place there was a smashed up Rav 4 on the forecourt, luckily not ours! But it did make us change our mind about buying car insurance.

We drove to Piula Cave pools, a nice refreshing freshwater pool next to the sea.  You pay $5WST each to get in, we stayed for about 20 minutes as we had lots to go and see.   Outside of the pools there was a BBQ so we treated ourselves to a very cheap and yummy lunch.

We then headed to Te Sua trench which I was most excited by - a huge hole in the ground filled with sea water.  You have to climb down this rickety old ladder to get to the bottom - not going to lie I was a bit scared, however looking at photos from a couple of years ago it looks like they've made lots of improvements to the ladder!! We swam about in the watering hole for an hour or so - the waves wash in and out but you don't notice it until suddenly the water all seems to start draining from the hole and you flow out with it, but you can't see where the water is coming from or going to - it's a bit of a weird experience.  We did take some photos on the GoPro but they didn't come out very well at all sadly.

We carried on driving and stopped off at some pretty waterfalls, then went to head to a beach on the south but the road was blocked with a huge landslide from the cyclone, so we headed back and checked into our hotel. 

I got pretty drunk and then felt ill because it was so hot. Not a good idea.

The following day we kayaked at the hotel for a bit then headed out to the Giant Clam Observatory - a lot of things shut down on Sundays in Samoa as it's a day of rest, but our hotel assured us this would be open.  Spoiler alert - it wasn't. As we'd driven an hour to get there, we weren't to be defeated and ended up at a resort nearby where we could swim and eat food.  No giant clams though unfortunately. Did see an awesome blue starfish, luminous blue fish and a black and white sea snake though. OH OH OH and they also had a tiny tiny kitten who fit in the palm of my hand and made me happy for the rest of the day.

Monday was our last day, so we checked out of the hotel and drove to Apia, stopping at Robert Louis Stevenson's house on the way back - the gardens are beautiful.  There is a summit walk you can do there but the cyclone has blown trees into the path.   We wandered about Apia for a bit, Aric bought another island print shirt, then we headed for a resort near the airport  - turns out we were the only ones there so we swam and played scrabble and ate chips until it was time to get on the plane and fly home.

All in all it was a nice break but I was almost glad to get back to New Zealand to get away from the humidity!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Microblog 3 - Jan 18

Have been crazy busy since being back home. Happily reunited with my love, we have been busy with lots of social and not so social activities.  I introduced Aric to silo cinema (an outdoor cinema in Auckland where they project onto an old silo). We watched ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ which was very good but I was tired from the flight still and fell asleep half way through.  The following day we hosted a games night at Aric’s with some of his colleagues  which was a lot of fun.  Games are such good ice breakers. Then on Sunday we bought some plants in an attempt to be more green fingered, went to a photography exhibition in the museum, had a picnic in the park with Amy, Colin and Sam and then went to the Cakes and Ladders board game cafĂ© to play a game called Carcasonne which was fun.

Following Thursday was Franzi’s birthday so we did this thing called ‘Taste of Colour’ which was so much fun – a) because I haven’t seen my friends for over a month and b) because it was a painting class.  We painted the Eiffel Tower which was very hard and amusing watching people’s concentrating faces as they painted (or tried at least!) straight lines.  Seeing as 8 of us who went all live in houses together we now have 2 houses filled with paintings of the Eiffel Tower haha. 

The next weekend was a public holiday so Aric and I went away camping up to Doutbless Bay, an area neither of us had been to before. It was nice but I think there’s just as nice beaches only an hour away from Auckland so you don’t need to travel so far.  Northland I find a bit dull to be honest compared to the rest of New Zealand – it’s not as pretty or as many things to do. We went up to Cape Reinga which was awesome, and tried to kayak but the onshore wind was too much and it didn’t make it pleasant so we gave up. We stopped off at Matapouri 'mermaid pools' which have been on my bucket list for AGES and I am happy we finally made it there. It's essentially this huge rock pool on the side of a cliff and it's beautiful - a pretty climb and descent to it too. 

Then this weekend we had ANOTHER long weekend with Waitangi Day on the Tuesday, so I booked Monday off.  Aric’s parents were in town, so I got to meet the ‘finlaws’ who are bloody awesome. We went for a brilliant dinner on Thursday eve at Woodpecker Hill in Parnell which is very good food, then Friday Aric did a BBQ at his house with some of his friends, Saturday we went to Tawharanui and Matakana markets, and Sunday we drove down to Mt Maunganui where Aric had hired a bach (holiday home) for us and his parents.  I have had a large dose of them but I have enjoyed every minute – they’re so easy to get along with and very funny.

Aric has now gone to Samoa so I have a weekend without him finally (haha I joke – I already miss him) so taking his parents to the airport tomorrow morning, hopefully going on a hike tomorrow if the weather isn’t terrible and going to have a life admin Sunday. Then I join Aric in Samoa on Wednesday – I am very excited!! This will be the first time I have left NZ in over 2 years for as holiday (I don’t count the UK as a holiday). However I looked at the weather and it currently says thunderstorms and 100% chance of rain every day. Boo. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Microblog 2

Oh man. I'm terrible at this blogging lark. Let me start with a Facebook status I wrote summing up 2017:

For me when i think of 2017 I think of uncertainty, instability, injuries and not the greatest mental health (I went a bit weird when I turned 30). But I just had to scroll through my timeline to check on something and it reminded me that 2017 was also about a LOT of love and support (that sometimes came from the most unexpected of places), adventures, surprise and not surprise visits, new friends and additions to the clan. I love my UK and kiwi family and wish we could all be together all the time and not separated by time zones and lots of water.  I hope 2018 will be more stable, filled with even more love and less injuries - this is my hope for both me and the world. Haha. Happy New Year peeps.

And an update on previous entries:

We survived the swim! 1h30 which is super slow and the winner did it in 36mins. Mad. But I didn't do it to win, I did it to do it and I was proud of myself. I didn't freak out- Dan being there calmed me down and at the beginning 2 people needed rescuing by lifeguards which a bit evily, made me feel better.

I'm back home for 3 weeks. Well in fact I'm nearly back in New Zealand as I only have a few days to go. It's had me all weirded out emotionally. I was my usual grumpy self at Christmas - I wonder when I'll get over my hatred of this time of year.  I burst into tears when mum showed me my stuff I had left behind - it felt like I had left in a rush and expected to come back but never did. It was odd.  I've spent the 3 weeks clearing out my stuff - I've got rid of a lot of things but it's been hard to part with some things...I've kept my prized fridge magnet collection and one day I'll send for it! I've been catching up with friends too.  I've managed to see most people but some people it's only been a lunch here or a dinner there which is sad - I'd have loved to have spent more time with everyone.  I have been to a wedding, Surrey and Oxford and Paris and London and the Peak District but I still feel like I could have done more with my time here. It was lovely to catch up with work people too - though my old boss is very sad I want to stay in New Zealand.  It's amazing that 90% of the staff were the same too.  Says a lot for the company.  Annoyingly after Paris the lack of sleep and walking about in the cold caught up with me and I was in bed for 2 days with a cold.  I can't wait for the next time I'm back in the UK- life admin will have been done so I can bring Aric and it will be more of a holiday than this was. Plus hopefully we will come in nicer weather. It's crazy how much it affects my mood - today was gorgeous and sunny and I was all "I love England!" But the rest of the time it's been dark and grey and brown and I've hated it.  
New Years was spent at a friend of Sepha's - people had split into pre arranged teams and hours, and chosen a country that turns midnight for their selected hour.  Then each hour the team who's hour it was dressed in somethijf delayed to that country, and served food and drinks from that country.  I didn't have any time to prepare so joined in with Brad and Sepha for Russia and we served moscow mules and salmon blinis and told a Russian folklore tale.  It was fun.  Also oddly despite fpinf to sleep at 2am I  a room shared with 4 others and a booming party going on downstairs this was the night I slept the best since landing. I've had bad jetlag and haven't slept properly since being here. 

I'm looking forward to going back to New Zealand but also feeling sad.  I'm looking forward to seeing Aric and the weather and getting back into the swing on things, and having my room back.  But catching up with friends and family here has made me miss them dearly and I'm sad I won't see everyone until God knows when.  The comforting thing is everyone is the same as I left them - their lives may have changed but their personalities remain the same and I know they're friends for life.