Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 6 & 7 Sunday and Monday

Feb 24 
We actually got on our plane(!!) on Feb 25th, then crossed the date line,  so Isaac's birthday was shortlived for us.  We were able to do a one sided video chat to tell him Happy Birthday.  Ammon tried to show us his belly button.  On the plane, a 4.5 hour flight starting at 1:30 in the morning, a baby cried most of the time.  Plus being uncomfortable, there wasn't really any sleep.  
Landed in Auckland and took off for Christchurch at sunrise.  
TV's had multiple choice questions.  Nice to pass the time, but most were NZ themed.
They seem to be much more relaxed about security.  Didn't ever have to take my shoes off.  Declared food (granola bars etc and an opened jar of peanut butter) and we cruised right on through.  
Our camper van place picked us up quick.  The guy working in the office was pretty much a dink.  No personality at all.  Rushed us through everything and shoved us out the door.  Didn't even say hello and welcome.  Just started with, "you need to sign these papers."  
So we had requested a large van type camper, but he said it had been in an accident so "upgraded" us to a 5 berth, meaning a big one.  Stick shift.  Surprisingly, Justin has handled the left hand shifting well.  
We drove to New World grocery store to buy food supplies for the next few days.  I withheld buying pineapple lumps in Cook Islands and joyously grabbed the biggest bag they had.  
I loved carousing the aisles looking at all the different foods.  Justin, not as much as I.  Bought an artisan bread that had cheese, ham, and pineapple.  Delicious.  Chicken flavored chips;  also quite good.  Food here is also outrageous.  The dollar converts to .89.  And paper plates!  Like $4 for 10!  I didn't want to wash dishes; oh well. 
So I haven't mentioned this thus far but it's having a major impact on this trip, but I've been having the worst yeast infection I've ever had in my life.  I mean tears.  I can hardly walk.  So we found a clinic open on a Sunday.  We first talked with a pharmacist that was beyond helpful.  She recommended another clinic that was about $100 cheaper and even printed a map for us.  
Long story short, I got a script so hopefully things will be looking up in the next day or so.  I'm going to have to miss so much and I've got so many emotions: frustration, anger,  sadness, etc.  Sorry Justin.  Not the trip we planned. 
 We ate at a Chinese restaurant.  We got Sarah  don't remember the name- chicken which was new for us and was yummy.  
Took us ages to find a laundrette.  Streets aren't always marked well.  You have to buy a "key" to use their facilities, then you add money to it.  It was $4 a load so we washed everything together, and $4 to dry.  It was fast though.  Washed and dried in an hour.  
By now it's 9pm and dusk.  We're in a foreign country and tired beyond words.  Drove towards Arthur's Pass about an hour and finally found a field to park by.  We slept like logs.  Brrrrr in the morning!  
Look what someone threw by our camper in the morning!  I love it!!!  A newspaper.
A quick banana to get us on our way, and we were off.  
View driving.
Right now parked at Castle Hill. 
 (Justin took all the Castle Rock pictures.)
Justin is climbing about.  I guess part of "The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe" was filmed here.  The fog burned off so I can see the beautiful grouping of rocks, but resting my body.  I hate not being up there but saving for a cave exploration later today.  My back is getting so super itchy. 
NZ chocolate is the best.
 Justin loves their chocolate/caramel/marshmallow bar called Pinky.
 Yeah right, like we'd see the elusive kiwi bird.
 There were TONS of one lane bridges.  They freaked Justin out at first.  But by the end of the trip, he was taking them in stride.  Round-a-bouts are another story.  He hated those.
 Ramen with lots of different seasonings.  This one was YUCKY.
 I love Justin.  He pronounced this phonetically:  sachet.  Not sa-shay.  
We next drove to Cave Stream.  It's an unguided limestone cave exploration that goes all the way through, you don't have to retrace your steps.  We read a couple travel guides so knew what to expect.  We donned our nerdy water shoes and took off. 
 Right from the get go, you are in water over your waist.   I had Justin carry me for the first deep place, but gave up after that (except for one scary place).  No bats, although one book said eels and giant cave spiders, neither of which we saw.  The hike is all in water, and cold water at that.  You soon get used to it.  The water shoes were perfect.  They gripped just right to the rocks. 
 After about 30 minutes, I started feeling nervous and done.  There were many small, massively gushing falls to maneuver up.  
At the very end of the cave is a larger fall, maybe 10 feet, but there are metal rungs to climb up, and a chain to help get past the last bit, crawling on your knees.  We did it!  
Retrospect:   super fun.  I love exploring and this was exploring at its finest.  
Next, in Arthur's Pass, we stopped at the DOC (equivilant to our ranger stations) to ask for a map of trails ($2 no thanks).  Did you know kiwi birds have their nostrils on the END of their nose?  And there are FIVE species?  We saw our first kea bird here. 
Possums are plentiful and hated.  There is a great Thomson story about a possum from the 80's trip.
We tried to electronically sign our papers for the house, but justin's phone didn't seem to work, so we walked to a backpackers place and used their honor system computers.   Both of us were able to sign. WAHOOOOOO!  Huge moment!  
We started to hike Devil's Punchbowl, but I wasn't up for steep hiking yet.  I was able to see the falls from afar, spectacular.  I walked back to check the tide schedule at the backpackers hostel to see Pancake Rocks, which is best seen at high tide.  Around 4pm tomorrow.  The beach forest is lovely. 
 Later...Justin got back to the camper much sooner than I had anticipated.  I left a note for him, but didn't think to leave the camper unlocked.  He got back and couldn't find me, so panicked and went on the two trails there looking for me.  
In the mean time, I got back to the camper and was contentedly playing Jelly Defense .  Up walks Justin in a sweat.  Oops. 
                                 I have the worst look on my face.  I promise I was happy! 
 Driving on.  It seems like that's all we're doing.  Went off on a scenic bypass to look for a place to park for the night.  
I thought these cows were funny looking.  They all had one white stripe in their middles, like Oreos.
Our headlights are crooked or something; they are terrible and are driving Justin crazy.  We ended up parking next to a train track and a cow field.  Those cows don't sleep, I tell you what. 
 About 4am, a car passed and honked.  So rude.  I guess there are many locals that hate freedom campers.  
Finally able to sleeps couple more hours.  

Day 5 Friday

Next morning, Justin went directly to the car rental office to get our car back, and I walked over to the AirNZ office.  I got us all arranged and paid for, an additional $400.  They usually forfeit but let us make a change.  Also, the lady at the rental office told Justin we could return the car tonight because we missed our flight.  
We went into Avarua to check our email and to call our motor home rental agency.  Another email from Jon, our realtor.  The buyers countered our offer and there was another showing the same day from people who were coming for their second time.  Jon talked with their realtor and he seemed to think they'd be putting in an offer.  Cool.  
We paid $5 for an international calling card (about five minutes worth), and called the RV place.  They had wondered what happened to us, but no worries.  Yeah!  (There is 20 foot wild bamboo out my door right now.)  We bought two meat pies and raspberry Vaiora for our brunch and bought Ammon a tshirt.  
We tried to do a hike, but it looked to be grown over. 
 Happened with another one around the island too.  
So we went to snorkel again at Fruits of Rarotonga.  It's a long way out there to the reef but fantastic things to behold.  Justin picked up a broken open clam shell and dozens of colorful tropical fish came to nibble on it.  My mask leaks just a tiny bit around the nose so I had to empty it out about every three minutes.  Annoying to say the least.  
We drove to a beach that had fresh water to rinse off.  
Ate another ice cream at Wigmore's then drove to town to check our email again because Jon requested us to.  Yep.  There was an offer put in by another buyer.  Wahoo!  This time yielding double what the first buyers counter offered.  Nice to have two interested parties.  And the second buyers have a later closing date and didn't ask for all these extras.  Justin and I did little kiss.  
We were tired so looked for a quiet road to take a nap on and parked by the Raemaru trek.  Justin wanted to check it out.  He has now been gone about 20 minutes when he said he was going to look around the corner to see if the brush was more cut back.  I'm starting to freak out.  I keep hearing something and I think it's a coconut falling.  And my girlie mind immediately goes to horrible things that could have happened to him.  He probably couldn't stop seeing what was around the next corner and then the next, but it's very hot in here and I'm imagining it getting dark, going to look for him in a thick jungle, then having to get help, police, search party.  
Here he is all sweaty and I mean sweaty and breathing hard.  
He took me to see just what was so inspiring for him to keep going. 
 Indeed it was a track worthy.  After a 10 minute steady slight incline through thick jungle and slippery mud and roots, he showed me a vista overlooking a section of the island.  Breathtaking.  On the way down I slipped on the mud and landed on the same knee I fell on the other day in the ocean.  Ouch.  
We stopped to watch the sunset on the beach and I was able to talk with a lady that had been out in the low tide with a bucket, to see what she had.   Lots of squishy things and shells.
  She seemed pleased with her finds and nice to share what they were and how they are eaten.  She was too shy for a photo, but got one of her boys.  
Sunset beginning.

This has to be the most breathtaking sunset I've seen in my LIFE.  It just kept getting better and better.