Running out of New Zealand………dispatch # 6

Not in Asia then? Thankfully. A very big thanks to all for concerns expressed.   [Note 13/03/09.  The tsumami in Asia had just happened as I wrote this email]
That was a long time down under in New Zealand. Seeing family, plus attending a lady’s 50th wedding anniversary party. Dad was at her wedding in 1954, while on his travels.
Plus pushing her boundaries, trying new things. Sailing a Laser 2 (Olympic class boat). Tried out a seabiscuit (inflatable tube pulled along by a speedboat). And kneeboarding.
They do say God loves a trier. Have to say I won’t be trying the kneeboarding again. I’d probably need surgery afterwards.
And now? Still down under? Have been happily marooned (mostly) on outer islands in Fiji, including one called Robinson Crusoe. The resident cat there is called Friday.
So it’s all blue seas, sky and friendly locals?(sounds like her last package holiday)
Not when one of the islands you get stranded on overnight means sleeping in a (full) 30 – bed dorm, uncertain shower water supply, with beer cheaper than water, and unhelpful staff.
There must be some good stuff. Sitting in a hammock, sand between your toes, South Pacific ocean lapping on the shore, sky full of stars through the palms. Sleeping on the beach under the stars. Seeing a baby reef shark for the first time, out snorkelling. Well now, let me see……….
She’s definitely on Fiji time then. Am having difficulty knowing what day it is, let alone write this.
The sunshine must be a welcome change from bad weather in New Zealand. Sure is, despite the odd cyclone passing through (the Pacific, not specifically Fiji). We get the windy bits from that.
What is kava really like? (And has she been downing truckloads?) Not like orange juice anyway, like you’re told. It looks like muddy water. Feels like local anaesthetic in your mouth, nice and chilled out. Not so much buzz. (And no, not loads)
This is all totally legal? Sure is. If you wish to visit a village, it’s proper protocol to bring some for the village chief. There is also a ceremony for drinking it called sevusevu.
Unlike the bootleg beer then? Store in Nadi stop selling beer at 1pm on Saturdays. Unless you know the right people.
She must be using something else for sustenance. Fresh coconut, and nearly ripe mango in a sweet/salt liquid, are amazing. And raw Emperor fish. As I discovered after watching one of the local lads eat this same one I caught, raw, sitting in the ocean.
Polynesian dance lessons might be pushing the boundaries alright. Sure did. It’s nowhere near as easy as it looks. But I gave it a go anyway.
What does FIJI stand for? Fun In Jungle Island.
Written 21/01/05

Runnning out on the South Island……..dispatch # 5

Tell the truth. She’s gone bush, and forgotten us already. Cheeky! Actually, got a bit homesick there last week – first dose.
So why’s it taken so long? Meeting lots of interesting people.
Pah! All those hippie/beatnik types no doubt. There is those, but a surprising number of people who also just handed their notice, and got on a plane.
Are all the tales about backpacker accomodation true then? At best, the hostel is lovely, and your roomates cool. At worst, there isn’t room to swing a cat, and you want to throttle your inconsiderate roomates.
And the worst thing about travelling alone? Not having your mate to nudge and say “Hey, that’s cool”, or to have a bloody good moan to.
Surely she’s tanned and thin as a rake by now? No and no (more’s the pity). Work in progress.
What about that sunkissed babe we were promised? I’ve had snow and cold, and am permanently hungry. However, I do have some blonde highlights.
But she must be doing something right. I got asked for ID in the supermarket buying beer last week. They ask for ID in New Zealand if you look under 25.
Quote of the day. M = EA. Mishap equals excellent adventure.
Latest intrepid heroine moments? Kayaking on Doubtful Sound. Staring down seals and clambering up cliffs (we didn’t check the tide tables properly) in Kaikoura. Chasing whales in rough weather.
Oh, and the earthquake. 7.2 on the Richter scale. Managed to miss that. On a bus at the time.
National Geographic won’t be head-hunting her just yet then? Damn!
And the obligatory skydive? Er, no. Anyone fancy jumping with me?? (Thought not)
Written 08/12/04

Running out on the wildlife……………dispatch # 4

A funny thing happened on the way to Diwali. I thought she was in New Zealand? I am. Just couldn’t resist the prospect of more pani puri, and chai.
What’s Diwali anyway? The Hindu New Year – a festival of light and new beginnings.
And this funny thing? Running into Mary Leonard in the town hall in Auckland. A girl I grew up with in Bantry.
So it’s not six degrees of separation then? Not even. Ran into another guy, friend of my cousin. I served him his beer in the Anchor in 1992.
So, is she ever going to get India out of her system? (Are you sure there isn’t some fella involved?) I will. Is just taking a while. There’s the whole Pacific ocean to come. And no, no Bollywood hunk.
Wasn’t she going to do some family research or something? Hold the drum roll please.  My Kiwi mother is of Irish – English extraction.
Aww. Nothing juicy then? No Polynesian princesses, unfortunately.  But there is a tale of a murder charge, and subsequent name change.
Now for the big one. Is she going to do a bungy jump? No way.  Not on your life (or mine).
Any earthquakes? Not yet. But I have climbed Maunghawhau (Mount Eden), a volcano.
Running out on the wildlife? A weeta (large, ugly grasshopper) in my room at 2.30am, nescessitating waking my cousin out of sheer fright, is pretty wild all right.
Written 07/11/04