Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mama Buna teaches us how to count

No, we are not back in Fiji, but I wanted to teach you guys how to count in Fijian. In kindergarten we learn how to count in all different languages. So, for the first time ever, here is Mama Buna (her real name is Anareta which is the Fijian version of Annette which is Mate's real name) teaching us how to count in Fijian!
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Friday, February 26, 2010

McLaren Falls





There are lots of waterfalls in New Zealand. The other day, Shawn and I went to one called McLaren Falls. It was not a very big waterfall but it was quite pretty. There was also a big lake there that had trees from all over the world around it. They had aspen trees from Colorado and cypress trees from Louisiana. It made me feel close to home even though I am far away! We also got to feed the ducks and swans which is always fun. A swan began to chase me (why do I seem to always get chased by animals) to get to my bread and I had to climb up on a picnic table!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Black Water Rafting









Wow! Yesterday Shawn and I drove to Waitomo, New Zealand on the western coast to see the gloworms. Gloworms are basically maggots in caves the produce a light in their bellies which is a mixture of their saliva and waste. So basically what you are looking at is spit and poop and it is beautiful! We had a guide and first we rappelled down into a huge cave. Then we walked through the water upstream to get our tubes. Then we floated down the river in tubes (still inside the dark cave) and we saw gloworms all around us. It was so beautiful…it looked like we were floating in the stars. Once we reached the end of the cave, we had to walk back…we crawled through tight spaces and had to walk on steep rock cliffs. We even got to jump off of some of those rock cliffs! To get back up to the top of the cave, we had to rock climb. It was so much fun! Later that night, we went night hiking through the bush (forest) and through some caves to see the gloworms on our own. Shawn and I got chased by a wild animal (I have a video explaining that which I will try to post soon! Videos take about 3 hours to upload here !)

Coromandel Penninsula






There is a legend in New Zealand that goes like this:
The Maori tribe (the original inhabitants of New Zealand) lived on the South Island. Their leader one day was out fishing and caught the North Island using the South Island as his canoe. His brothers got hungry though and began to munch on the top of the island. That is how the north island came to be and why the north island has so may pieces carved away creating different islands and penninsulas!

The northeastern penninsula is called the Coromandel Penninsula and it is absolutely beautiful. On our way back from Hot Water Beach, we drove along the coast. We went by Cook's Beach which is where English explorer Captain Cook landed when he discovered New Zealand. As we made our way down the coast, we went through many small villages and saw lots of cows. A long time ago sheep were big in New Zealand being their number one industry (how the country makes money). There used to be about 70 million sheep here. Now there are about 40 million (still a lot, huh!) but the main industry now is dairy.

Hot Water Beach



As most of you know, I do not like to camp. I do not like setting up tents, sleeping on the ground, and I especially don't like to share a bathroom. Well, guess what. Shawn and I drove up to an area in northeastern New Zealand and we camped. It actually wasn't that bad (i did not take a shower though!) We went to an area called Hot Water Beach and it was so cool. The pictures are on my camera (the smooshed one) but I will tell you about it anyway. During low tide (when the water from the ocean is out away from the beach) we dug a big hole in the sand. Since New Zealand was formed by volcanoes, there is still some thermal (hot) activity under the ground. In this spot it is very hot and very close to the surface. So we dug a hole to where the underground water was and it was so hot! We then sat it in and watched the sunset! Our seawall (the wall that we made of sand to protect our hole from waves that came up too close) collasped right before we left so we got really cold from the ocean! Some of the holes we dug in the beginning were so hot that we couldn't even put our feet in. It was so neat! The next day we went out to a different beach and we got to see dolphins. They were awesome....flipping and dancing in the waves. We also hiked to a beach called Cathedral Cove (the pictures are also on my camera). There were a lot of rock formations in the water that we leanrned were formed when caves collapse.

Mate's Blog

My best friend Mate has started a blog while I am away. She is researching the areas where I am going and cooking meals from each country. She is posting pictures and recipes so if you would like to try some out, here it is!
www.matewithoutmate.blogspot.com

Kia Ora (hello) from New Zealand





We arrived to New Zealand exhausted. Our flight was late at night and when we arrived at the Auckland airport, we could barely keep our eyes open. New Zealand is in the same time zone as Fiji but it is farther south. We had to go through customs which is normal when you enter a country to make sure that you are not bringing in anything that you are not supposed to. Meat, fruit, and vegetables are things not usually allowed. In New Zealand, you also cannot bring in honey, shells, sand, flowers, or mud. They even check your shoes and they have dogs that sniff around for other things. The dog started barking at the lady in front of us and when they checked her bag, she had 3 flowers from Fiji. They made her throw them away! We stayed in Auckland for a couple of days which is the biggest city in New Zealand. That doesn't mean much though...the entire country of New Zealand only has 4 million people living on it. We have that many people living in Colorado which is only one state of our entire country! Auckland is called the City of Sails because of all of the sailboats there. They even have a big sailing tournament every year called the America's Cup. It has been going on for a long time but New Zealand didn't win it until 2002 (the USA wins a lot!) The other interesting think about New Zealand is that is is part of the Commonwealth (the British Empire). That means that they still follow certain guidelines set forth by the queen (or king) of England. They are an independent country and have their own leader (a prime minister named John Key)but they also follow some rules of England. Those of you who were in my class know that we fought a war...the Revolutionary War...to become independent from England and after that war we said that we would no longer follow any of their rules so we are not part of the Commonwealth!

Kava Time





The villages of Fiji are very strict. Women must wear long skirts and men even often wear a long skirt called a suva. They go to church every Sunday even if the church is on a different island entirely. That means that they have to take a boat to church. They also do not allow any alcohol in the villages. Fijians though drink a beverage called Kava (every evening except Sunday). It is mixed in a bowl and looks like muddy water. It is a combination of water and kava root (that has been crushed into a fine powder) that is mixed by hand. It is served in smaller Kava bowls and before drinking, you must clap your hands together once. After drinking, you must clap 3 times. Shawn and I tried Kava and I thought that it tasted how it looked...like brown muddy water. It also makes your lips tingle!

Snorkeling Failure








As most of you know, I can’t snorkel. That doesn’t stop me from trying though. The first day that we landed on Turtle Island, Shawn and I were taken out snorkeling. We had masks, snorkels, fins, and a local guy named Vorro took us out on the boat. Shawn and I both jumped in and Shawn swam off calmly looking at all of the colorful fish, coral, and sea plants that are underwater. I fell in, splashed around, scared everything away, tried to breathe through the snorkel, failed, and had to come up for air. Somehow, as I was coming up for air, I dropped my snorkel down to the bottom of the ocean. It was quite an embarrassing first impression to make on our new friend Vorro and then Shawn had to risk his life and swim to the bottom of the sea floor to retrieve it. Needless to say, I did not snorkel again.

***I had wonderful pictures of Shawn snorkeling, me trying to snorkel and the wonderful Pacific Ocean of Fiji. Unfortunately my camera was run over by a car and has died. The good news is that my memory card still works, but I can’t put the pictures on the computer yet to show you all the great pictures that I have taken so far. Luckily Shawn had a few pictures and now I am taking pictures with his camera to put on here! For now, you'll just have to enjoy some non-snorkeling Fiji pictures!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lovo, Meke, and Songs

In Fiji, a Meke is a traditional dance done for a party. Men and women wear grass skirts or long dresses and dance. A lovo is an underground oven used for cooking food. Traditionally at a lovo, people sing and dance and enjoy good food. If you ever go to Hawaii (part of our country but also in the Pacific Ocean like Fiji) you may go to a luau. A lovo is similar to a Hawaiian luau. Shawn loved all of the meat that was cooked. I enjoyed the cooked pumpkin, a taro which is a root that tastes similar to potato. Another pastime in Fiji is singing. We were able to enjoy some songs written by Sailasa (the chef on the island) and his trio. They play the guitars and sing songs in their local Fijian language.
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Bula Bula (that means hello) from Fiji

Bula and sorry for the delay in blogging. We have not had wireless Internet for a while but we are safe and sound and having an outstanding time. I am going to post a lot now so you can see what we have been doing so far...then hopefully I can post more regularly after this. Figi was outstanding! We flew first class so we got to sit in the front of the plane, we had lots of room, and they fed us a lot. It was awesome! We landed in Nadi (pronounced Nandi) 2 days after we left the states becuase it was a 10 hour flight and we crossed the International Dateline. So basically we are already in tomorrow over here. After landing, we went to another airport and hopped on a seaplane to Turtle Island which to us was paradise! SOme great things that I learned about Fiji are: Fiji is made up of over 320 islands (no one knows for sure how many)...that means if you went to one island a day, it would take almost a year to see them all. People from Fiji are some of the nicest people in the world. Fijians used to be cannibals a long time ago (that means that they ate people) The language of the government is English but most people also speak Fijian and their local village language (that's 3 languages!) Alot of people from India live in Fiji so they eat a lot of Inidan food (yum!)
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The wheels are up....

We left our house today around 1 and went to the airport. Shawn and I were pretty nervous all morning trying to make sure everything was taken care of. The nerves, atop our excitement over the SAINTS winning, made for an interesting morning. Mysti took us to the airport (thanks Mysti!) and took a cute picture of us before she left but I put my camera cord in my checked bag so I can't upload a picture! The flight to LAX was easy and now we wait 4 hours before the 10 hour flight to Nadi! We won't have Internet access at Turtle Island but I will hopefully be able to post a quick something when we land in Nadi. Then I will share all about Turtle Island (Tina just told me that it is one of the most romantic places on earth!) when we get to New Zealand. The trip is actually happening! I miss everyone!

Monday, February 8, 2010

THE SAINTS WON THE SUPERBOWL!

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The trip started in Miami...





So in week 6 of the season, Shawn and I decided to postpone our trip around the world just in case the SAINTS went to the Superbowl. We though that leaving after Superbowl Sunday would be best so that we would not be leaving the South Pacific for the 1 and 32 chance that the SAINTS went to the Superbowl. People thought we were foolish to delay our trip, but on January 24, 2010 the SAINTS beat the Vikings in the NFC Championship which sent them to their first ever Superbowl. So me, along with 7 members of my family, dressed in our best SAINTS garb and headed to Miami to watch the underdog SAINTS take on the "unstoppable" Colts. It was a Christmas present from my dad and I am so glad that I had my family there to watch the game with me. I even got to talk to my mom after key plays from the stadium. We yelled, we cheered (some more loudly than others), we tried to engage Colts fans in a little rivalry (they said they are too refined to cheer), we cried (even me) and on February 7, 2010, the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 proving to the world that they are THE BEST FOOTBALL TEAM IN THE WORLD! It was the happiest day of my life! Next stop: Fiji!