Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hola Chicas!!

...there we go, nearly the extent of my spanish!  But despite that, still managing to eat, find places to sleep and get buses.  Thanks Tim.

Now in Bolivia, having skipped pretty speedily through Chile & Argentina.  Chile was taxing our budget a bit, & really deserved some good walking shoes.  Still, particularly liked Valparaiso; a very ramshackle multicoloured old city decorated in graffiti and mosaic.

Argentina we didn´t do justice to, stopping in a few cities and checking out some parks and squares.  Bolivia we´ve attacked more thoroughly, with a four day jeep tour through some rugged and beautiful spots.  Desert, mountains, multicoloured lakes, flamingos and salt flats.  Incredibly high altitudes, and cold nights, but worth it.  We´re now in Potosi, the highest city at 4090m.  Previously an incredibly rich silver mining site, it is now more famous for mineral mining in atrocious conditions.  We did a tour of a community mine yesterday which was...pretty horrible.  Physically taxing, dusty with pollutants and we weren´t even working in there.  Glad we did it, glad it´s over! 

Heading to Sucre soon, then north to La Paz and hopefully some good spots to chill around lakes...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Chile, jetlagged at 4am

Morning all.  Really need a coffee and some breakfast.  After a cursory torch-lit investigation of the hostel,we´ve been unable to locate kitchen looking things & settled on it being a bit early to venture out into the city again.  Blog, I´m hoping you can distract for a little while!

We arrived here yesterday at lunchtime, having left Auckland yesterday afternoon & spending 11 hours in transit.  Thus the limited grasp of time & sleep patterns.  Not much to report on Santiago yet, other than it´s definitely a city, busy, & with a proliferation of cream cake shops.  Other food options seem mainly to centre around big chunks of meat & cheese in baps, so I foresee a diet of cheese & cakes in the immediate future.  Fairly happy with that!  I´m worried about my lack of Spanish, but Tim´s getting stuck in.  My survival may depend on that a bit..

The last couple of weeks in NZ were good, if a bit hectic & emotional in places.  Tim & I got our 10 days on the road, with some awesome views of the North Island.  Good to experience stinky sulphur expiring Rotorua, with it´s surreal steaming lakes.  A National Park , Tongorua, provided some snow capped mountain views (one of which is an angle of Mordor).  Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel - limestone(?) carved rocks & walk trhoughs on a white beach - is as beautiful as we´d heard.  & some excellent Dept of Conservatin campsites, especially Uretiti(!!) & Oramure, south of the Bay of Islands on the coast were stunning.  Some great beach walks & deserved sunny spells!

Tough leaving what has become our home in Auckland.  Marco & Clara have looked after us very well, & we´re going to miss them, & our occasional surrogate baby girl Paula.  Very much.  A hurried last list of missions on Fri morning included throughing together a framed photo collection of our housemates, which I´m pleased I finally got around to doing!  But just us again now, for a couple of months.  I´m sure they´ll fly. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Soon to be travel blog again..

Hi blog.  & obviously, hi to any persistent checkers of this page!  I'll wait till I get on here again to make any promises of regular updates!

The whirlwind update of recent highlights definitely has to focus around the 10 days I had on the South Island with Katt (mid August), & the weekend we spent on Great Barrier Island with Tim just before that.  New Zealand is truly stunning, as I suspected it was.  The Barrier was lovely; very few people, windy roads between meadows/forests/mountains/beaches.  Lovely walks & beautiful views.  & the South Island was very much the same, only with more snow!  Oh, & lakes.  Gorgeous lakes with idyllic reflections of mountain ranges in them. 

If I've been anywhere I could imagine having a lovely relaxed life, it would be on the South Island of New Zealand.  Trying my hand at painting, probably keeping some chickens, & having children who could ski soon after they could walk.  & doing heaps of tramping.  (This, to us, is trekking.  Not the result of getting a bit stuck for cash or company on a Fri night)

Whilst working at the council I've met a few brits applying or intending to apply for residency here.  The main prerequisite is working in NZ for 18 months.  & it's been tempting, especially since getting out of the city.  If only New Zealand wasn't quite as far away as it's possible to be from home.  I've met people who maintain their closest relationships via Skype (which is excellent by the way, everyone should have a Skype account).  But I can't help finding something sad in that; I don't think I could handle not being able to see people face to face.  Maybe one day I'll regret not staying & keeping that option open for myself.  I suppose I could always marry a big Maori guy!

Tim finishes working next Friday, & then we have two weeks to drive around the North Island (where Auckland is) before returning the van to our flatmate Marco & flying off to Chile.  Chile, Peru, possibly elsewhere in South America & then back home via a weekend break in Amsterdam.  It will be good to get rid of the unnecessary stuff we've accumulated (ie office clothes) & get back in the backpack. 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Oh I remember now..I have a blog!

Haha, what happened to the last couple of months?!  I've been in Auckland, getting up at 7 for work, & watching the autumn slowly becoming winter.  Can't complain though, as we've been following the sun around for a good year!

Managed to get out of touch with people a bit of late, which is perhaps an inevitable result of being on the other side of the planet.  Any updates, via email or facebook or messages in bottles, greatly appreciated :)

We've covered little ground since I last wrote, but the bank balances are looking a bit healthier now.  For me, I'm half way through what's turned into a 3 month contract at Auckland Council.  I'm taking a break from phoning people who owe us rates, as we speak!  I don't mind it - my manager's pretty laid back & the atmosphere is fairly relaxed here.  I have a nice colour coded spreadsheet, & a nice collection of envelopes.

Tim's working for a chaotic insurance firm, trying to work out who should be dealing with the backlog of claims.  Following the Christchurch earthquakes, I think insurance firms all over NZ are in similar situations.  I don't fancy his job, but he doesn't seem to mind it!

I found a kickboxing class, & as a result, Frankie & Kyle.  They're an English couple, who now pretty much are our social life.  Tonight after work we're getting the ferry to Waiheke Island for Frankie's birthday weekend.  Waiheke is famous for it's vineyards, so there should be quite a lot of wine 'tasting' involved..

Tim & I have been going to kickboxing and the gym a bit, & have rectified most of the damage done by months of curry & fried rice!  I actually took one class the other day, which was a first for me.  Possibility of doing a bit more teaching..

We're starting to sort out the next moves, which should entail getting hold of a campervan and taking it around NZ for a couple of months.  That might be August/September.  Until then, a bit more work, a few mini adventures to the outskirts of Auckland, a bit more kicking of things... :)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Back to the 9-5.. of the good things about having a relatively short term job, with relatively low expectation is that no one will notice a sly half hour spent on an overdue blog!  Especially on a Friday afternoon. 

It's taken a while to get things together in Auckland.  The odd thing about it is that it looks and feels a lot like home, but with none of the normal things, like friends at pubs.  Saying that, there are weird differences, like the fact that our clocks go back this weekend, and therefore winter's coming.  (Our timing's been a bit out there!) 

The usual fun of job hunting(!) has eventually come good, after a few weeks of knocking around the house, cooking everything in sight (apart from the baby) and taking it out on Tim.  Now we both have jobs, and have quickly remembered how lucky we've been being bums full time for 5 months!

Tim's working for vodafone, taking alarmingly few telephone calls about pay-as-you-go packages.  I'm holed up in Auckland council, collecting land rates.  I know it sounds dull, but it's fine, the people are friendly & I seem to've already collected a few gold stars.  A pretty easy way to stash some funds for the next leg.

We're hoping to get hold of a camper van, do it up and head off around NZ.  The only problem is the afore-mentioned timing - we may end up doing that in the middle of winter!  Some big coats are on the 'to-buy' list.  But nevermind.  I'm looking forward to properly checking out the country, snow or no snow!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

In a nice safe NZ

Hello!!  It's 3:23pm here, and 3:23am with you!  Feels kind of strange to be about as far away as it is possible to be.  & starting to settle again in a city, if just for a few months.

Firstly though, for anyone following the news, I'm nowhere near Christchurch, and the earthquake worries.  That's the south island, and we're in Auckland, in the north.  It's been saturating the news here, & there are loads of fundraising events going on everywhere.  Wearing red & black for Christchurch is in at the moment, & as it transpires, that's what I'm doing today.  What are you wearing?!

Our brief jaunt through Brisbane also closely followed the end of their floods.  On their south bank of the river running through Brisbane, they have an artificial beach which had been completely washed away.  (Despite that, very much enjoyed the south bank, & in Londonesque style, a very cool modern art gallery.  I'll try to put up the picture of me in the universe room, surrounded my multicoloured neon 'stars'..)

Auckland, so far, seems pretty great.  The coastline around the city is really bendy, with little outcrops, penisulars & islands - I know now that this is due to it being on a volcanic spot.  A bit of geography there!  Very much looking forward to checking out the sights, maybe getting back on some beaches & there's even a cool wreck dive site, which I think is an old Greenpeace boat.

Our attention has so far been based on finding somewhere to live, so that we don't have to invest too much in staying in backpacker hostels.  Yesterday this came together, & we found a crazy commune type place full of various europeans.  There's even a baby!  It looks pretty cramped, but something about being expected to be in to have dinner with everyone, being the chef once a week, & having lots of people around is appealling to both of us.  I'm already planning some baking!

Next on the agenda is getting some jobs & a bit more of a social life.  At the moment we're getting stuck into the free events on the fringe festival programme!  Found some charity shops, a cool guy called Louie on 'couchsurfers', & a cafe that does free cake when you buy coffee, so it's all looking OK!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Citier & citier

We worked out earlier that it's only been 10days since we left Koh Tao, & Thailand.  Since then we've spent a couple of nights in Kuala Lumpar, a couple in Singapore, a couple in Brisbane & a couple in transit! 

The cities have been a bit of a shock to us (& the increasing costs of everything!  We miss India!) but at least the route we have taken has been quite a nice progression. 

Kuala Lumpar was quite an approachable place, apart from the sweltering heat!  Easy walks to China Town & Little India.  Singapore has larger versions of both..  Nice to be back within easy reach of some decent curry!  & I narrowly avoided spending too much money on some pretty chinese dresses..not the most practical backpacking attire!

We've now been in Brisbane a couple of days, & back to proper western prices.  Scary stuff.  We'll be in Fiji tomorrow, & it looks like our cash will go a bit further there..  Soon enough, hopefully, we'll be stocking up the funds a bit in NZ.  Tim's very keen to get working.. I'm still enjoying the holiday myself!  Haha, it's nice if you can get it!  After we got over the shock of Australia, we have made the most of being central.  Places here (& Singapore) look almost exactly like parts of London.  They have a great modern art gallery here!

Anyway, a few more photos to get online before I disappear again.  Sorry about the rambling - my head's a bit all over the place!