A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: KiwiChocoTrip

Mission Impossible & Back to the Future

Yes, it's a double episode this time :)

"So when are you coming to Belgium??" our friend Pawan asked us at the start of August. We had laughingly dismissed his silly question. However, Pawan seems to have a secret pact with the universe and somehow always gets his way. Exactly one week before departure we finally managed to get our tickets, Scott doing late nights to work on our new home (which is starting to look pretty awesome!) and me selling Jade and cleaning and packing all our stuff while Scott went to Auckland for a wedding. Picking him up at the airport, we drove straight down to Christchurch.

I had kindly requested my mum to pick up my friend Leona from the airport and to make sure my room was liveable so she would be able to stay the night. Miraculously, every single flight left perfectly on time and so unknowingly, my mum came to fetch us. At first, totally missing my wave and smile -looking for a taller, blonder specimen- but later holding us in her arms, with tears in her eyes. Yes, it was a good one, as far as surprises go!

After an initial hello -and some Belgian chips of course- we journeyed off to Sint-Niklaas where we were to organise this year's edition of Festival Paradiso - a nostalgic funfair festival. The only issue was: the fair bailed on us one week before date. We worked from morning till night and just one week later our Paradiso Family members arrived. We had turned it into a nostalgic street theatre festival with two modern fair attractions. The council was grateful we hadn't run away screaming and we kind of made the impossible happen. Mission accomplished! (See pictures)

The following month was filled with friends- and family visits. 'A month should be more than enough' we had thought while buying our tickets. We will know better next time...
The visit to the family in England didn't quite work out the way we had planned with the car breaking down just as we got across the puddle. A hectic few days for my parents followed, trying to organise a replacement car, get the old one repaired, hotels...
Besides that, my dear friend Maiken from Denmark came over to visit, Scott and I went over to Amsterdam to meet with a bunch of Paradiso friends (funny how my life and acquaintances turned out so very different than what I had imagined for myself 10 years ago!), I met some of my Belgian friends, ran some errands, stayed at Alex' and Hannelore's place and went to the necessary Belgian beer festival, we had a meeting regarding Paradiso 2017, and BOOM! it was over.

Though we had clearly seen our trip to Belgium as a visit, feeling the excitement of the continuation of our journey here in NZ, the acceptance of the departure was not easy. Having had about 3 hours sleep, I couldn't help feeling miserable on the first plane. At first the memories and feelings of familiar places came as a surprise -not having had them around for a year-, but soon I got attached to being 'home' again, leaving me feeling nostalgic and confused.
I had seen Belgium from a different perspective, having been away for some time. People seemed to be so distant and closed, I had to learn to not say hello to people in the streets (which I soon did after feeling like a crazy person due to the looks I had received on different occasions). Also, the population density seemed to be so astonishingly high compared to NZ (which it is) and it seemed hilarious that I could speak Flemish with people (even though I felt like a stupid little child, unable to fully express myself at first).
But as mentioned, you soon get used to the way things are, especially if it's home. And my dear friends at Plukrijp, my family and other friends I met certainly didn't make it easy for me to leave.

In any case, the day before we left I had really fancied Pad Thai, though being a real Belgian, I had requested home-made chips for dinner (I have never had chips so many times in one month in my life! But at least it might last me for the next year... Mmmh, who am I kidding?!).
But anyway, I fell asleep during my melancholy and at our first stop in Vienna we decided to watch one of our 4 remaining episodes of Game of Thrones. I then checked the monitor only to notice our connection flight to Shanghai was cancelled... Holy moly... We made our way to the information desk where more and more people started accumulating. Just imagine a 300-400 people flight, all waiting in the line, the confusion and worry were tangible. It must have taken around 10 to 15 minutes per person to rebook the flights, so we were so incredibly lucky to have noticed the matter early on. We got back to our cosy spot to watch GOT, this time with a packet of crisps and different flight tickets in our bags (see pic).
After having had our dinner by courtesy of Austrian airlines (we had received lunch and dinner vouchers, woohoo!) and returning to the gate for our flight to Bangkok at around 11 at night, there were still people standing in line to rebook their tickets. They had been standing there from 1 pm...
So flying to Bangkok, I knew what my breakfast (or lunch/dinner? What time is it?? Who am I?!) was going to be... We devoured our Pad Thai and will be careful what we wish for next time ;)

Anyway, after a door-to-door 50 hour journey we arrived back where we started one and a half month before, surprisingly without any jetlag (we just slept whenever we could) and spent the next two days with Scott's family. From there we drove back down to Oamaru to Robyn's church house where we had been in March and April doing our Permaculture course. It's good to be here, at our home away from home, getting back on our feet and feeling so welcome.
We're planning on making a deck in front of the house so Robyn can get around more easily, while also getting our van prepared for the continuation of our journey in a couple of weeks. In excitement I will be waiting for the answer to my application for a partnership visa during this time to -hopefully- be able to stay here the coming 10 months...

New pictures are up, and more to come soon :)

With love



Posted by KiwiChocoTrip 01:05 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Sometimes you just know

Trust your intuition...

Have you ever had a strong intuition? Just a gut feeling? It happened to me yesterday night, while driving home in the dark. "Be careful!" it said, so I drove slower than normal. Two headlights were heading toward me but only when they were real close did I realise they were on my side of the road, coming straight at me. Time just slowed waaaay down; I have no idea how fast I was going (you're allowed 70km down that road), nor what was going on in the mind of the ghost driver... I managed to pull over and beeped loudly, and simply got the same in return. Then I just drove on, praying that Scott wouldn't come across the same insane situation, only to fully realise some seconds later what had really happened: my mind started to become active again after being fully present for just a short while (I'm reading the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, those of you who have read it will know what I'm talking about; and those who haven't have some homework to do ;) ) and I started shaking and my heart started pounding. Yeah, intuition, it's an interesting thing...

Anyway, another birthday came and went. However, this time I was a 'winter child'. It was a cold winter day indeed, yet sunny as always and filled with love and excitement.
Yes, Scottie put together a wonderful day: first he made us delicious vegan pancakes for breakfast and after that we made our way to Queenstown to do the 'Canyon Swing'. For those who haven't seen it yet, Scott assembled a video with the footage made with a set of GoPro's during the swing on my facebook. We had some finger-licking sushi and went to relax in the swimming pools afterwards. Then we went for some delicious Indian dinner and had a chilled night at home with some amazing beers and just the two of us.

I must say I am much enjoying having time for ourselves and each other and a little break from the constant moving around. Despite the frequent inquiries, no, we don't get lonely. We meet some people here and there which we want to spend time with but otherwise we're just using the time for the stuff we want to do. My job hours did improve a little but are still not what I had hoped them to be. I realised that I just need to accept it for what it is and enjoy having the time to cook and keep the house clean so Scott and I can enjoy the time we do have together (as I work weekends and am off when he works).

About my work, well, next time someone tells me there are just women in the potential future workplace, I think I will run away screaming; It's a messy business. I should have known: I had a strong intuition the first time I stepped foot in the door... The romantic idea of working in a coffee shop got the better of me though, and fair enough, it's a cute place. Oh well, I have been able to learn from it, but also shan't be sad to say goodbye to this back-stabbing, judgemental, power hungry work 'ethic'. I try to just stay present and positive, looking into people's eyes and attempting to make a connection when I'm not drawn into the stress of the busyness of the place or allowed myself to be smacked back down by some nasty comment.

Anyway, more news: with pain in our hearts we sold Jade - which was much easier than expected, and we can even continue driving her till we leave as the guy who bought her will start travelling the same day we leave and wants to keep it on our lawn and for it to be used! Ha! Pretty sweet deal indeed!

Of course, we also bought a new van, George! It's been in the back of our minds for a while and we've been looking out for the right one, which has now finally come to us. Scott is getting very busy with finding all materials for insulation and building the bed and cupboards and the idea is to get it certified as self-contained, which would give us more freedom in camping later and less worries about getting fined as well. It's soo exciting to see the progress and know how much added comfort it will bring to be able to sit up on the bed and have sufficient storage space without having to put our stuff away like a jigsaw puzzle.

Meanwhile, Winter is finally coming, and with it... Well, the cold (yeah, we've been watching Game of Thrones in our spare time...) and it has taken a while, but we're having some seriously cold nights now, blowing little clouds in our living room in the morning, not wanting to leave the bed or the fire, but also stunning scenery of snow-capped mountains... Have a look at the picture gallery or feel free to use your imagination (it really is ridiculously beautiful here).

With love, always

Posted by KiwiChocoTrip 03:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Preparing for hibernation

A change of season in nature and in our traveling lives

Suddenly life seems to go much slower, and yet much faster. Slower because being back in the working life, nothing much really happens; not enough to inspire me to write and tell you about anyway. But faster too, as you're constantly busy going about working, eating and sleeping without many appointed breaks for reflection...

Anyway, YES, I did get the job at the coffee shop in Arrowtown! It's a lovely, hugely busy place serving delicious coffee and award winning -obscenely good- sticky buns. However, at the moment it's very quiet: Summer and the beautiful autumn (with its indescribably colourful beauty -see pictures!) have passed, while the ski season has not yet arrived. Although I also got a job at a café/bistro in Frankton to fill in some extra hours, I still don't have much to do right now. Hopefully June will bring snow and tourists!

Did I mention how we got to live in the wonderful little house we're at in Arrowtown by the way? (Many people are looking for accommodation here during the ski season, so prices are ridiculously high and accommodation often of poor quality and very scarce.) Well, Robyn (the HelpX host) had the great idea of calling automotive garages and asking whether they know anybody who has a spare room. The first one she called had a woman pick up the phone who said "Well actually, my granddad is going away for the winter and we were getting a little worried about the house being empty all that time; let me talk to him." A few weeks later we moved into the cosy house and both had a job.

We are happy to finally settle down for a while after travelling for some time. It's pretty nice having a warm place to stay during the winter (with a big stove!) and be able to do things such as read, make jewellery and puzzles, watch all the permaculture videos we have on the hard drive, oh and did I mention I'm a professional crocheter now too? I make beanies for the local wool shop, after supplying all my immediate surroundings with woolly hats and still having too much time on my hands.
Yesterday I made feta cheese as well (with the recipe Robyn taught me), with goat milk provided by a friend of a friend from Te Anau (a couple of hours away). I called them to let them know I'd be interested, and lo and behold: just a couple of weeks later they needed to come to Queenstown for their daughter's driving license. It's so crazy how things just miraculously work out some times! They will be coming over next week for the 3rd time, while they normally hardly ever come this way...

However, jumping back in time, before we moved into the house, Lydia, Scott and I went on one more tramp called the Gillespie Track. It combines the lush rain forest with the stunning alpine views. Not too hard, only 4 days long, it was a great track. Though, we are very happy to have survived a couple of scarily dangerous river crossings. When the water comes up to your knees, it's fine, thighs is still fine, but when the raging water comes up to your waist, it's properly dangerous. With a huge bolder in front of me, not being able to move round it upstream and Scott on my side downstream, I could not move. Getting colder and colder and legs starting to wobble, I panicked. Realising there was no other way than forward (once you're in the middle going back is just as bad -if not worse than- going forward), we took small steps together and finally made it to the other side. Feeling the power of water first hand, knowing that one wrong move might result in being swept away and possibly drowning made a lasting impression.
The three of us finished the tramp off in style when Lydia and Scott suggested going swimming once we were alive and well (and dirty and smelly) on the safe side of the last river. We bathed and were just enjoying the warm sun on our naked skin when the jet boat on its way to pick up the less brave (or more sensible?) ones who had ordered a ride from the hut we slept in back to the car park, avoiding the river crossings, whizzed by. I guess that was a sight the jet boat driver won't forget easily! -and nor will the fisherman's wife who noticed her husband regularly peaking over to Lydia's beautiful skin. Scottie ostentatiously bended over to look for his underpants which appeared very deep down in his bag... I guess that'll teach him!

Finally getting ready for a winter (after 12 months of warmth), I send you all warm thoughts (which I guess you guys won't be needing with the Spring and impending Summer ;)

With loads of love
From Tanya

Posted by KiwiChocoTrip 20:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The permaculture adventure

Getting down to business with opting out of big-business

The time spent at the Lumsden Hotel was both rejuvenating and relaxing. Our drive to help and get things done properly seemed highly appreciated, bringing about a pleasant satisfaction in us.

Moving to our next -and current- HelpX host, then, was not entirely untroubled: as we drove along the highway we noticed that the car was wobbling once again. Having just had our CV joints replaced, we were perplexed when the wobble continued to worsen, even as Scott slowed down to 50 km/h. Suddenly a great bang took us by surprise, only to find our back tyre completely ripped. As we were very low on oil, I hitched a ride into the next town (where we were heading - to get oil) to get some while Scottie changed the tyre.

Finally, we arrived at the church converted into a home late that evening, welcomed by Robyn, our new host, with a delicious bowl of mushroom soup. Since then, we have been learning all about Permaculture, an alternative to our unsustainable consumer-capitalist way of life. One thing led to the next and suddenly we are the guinea pigs for future -paying- students of a Permaculture Design course. That basically entails learning how to put the permaculture principles into practice by designing the garden of a house in such a way that nature will just work for you without you needing to do much more than harvesting your food. Some smart designing can save you from needing to weed, water the garden, using chemical fertilizers and harmful herbicides and insecticides, and on top of that it enables you to be far more productive on your piece of land. You save money, are independent from big food corporations, eat poison-free, live in harmony with nature... it just makes so much sense!

On top of that, we have been learning how to make cheese (feta, ricotta, haloumi , mozzarella, blue vein and cheddar), how to preserve, how to make jams and chutneys, nachos, the magic of propagating plants and trees and so much more. It has truly been a fascinating and productive month, currently being topped off by the merry visit of our dear Lydia to New Zealand. Driving over to pick her up I needed to take care to make the curves, as my mind was busy with reality checks that yes, I am in New Zealand, and yes, I am going to pick up our darling Lydia.
Leaving our wonderful host soon, I look forward to tramping and making our way up the west coast together, after which Scott and I have decided to take a break from traveling and get a job.

As I mentioned some time ago, our trip has continued in a serendipitous fashion which we have curiously got used to, but still baffles us when we stop and take a moment to reflect. Even though Robyn didn't really want any volunteers, for some reason she still said yes. We then found out that people we had met at Kiwiburn (with similar interests) had been here for a month recently. Then, while inventing a new type of income for Robyn -perfectly timed-, we received just the information we needed to start dreaming of future possibilities. Later, Scott's friend sent him a link for a job in a signage shop in Queenstown (he sent his CV and had the job by that evening) and having spent a good portion of our savings, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. After all, Queenstown was the place where upon arrival the first thing I said was: "I wouldn't mind staying and working here for a while".
I guess the universe heard me: as from the end of April we shall be living in Arrowtown, a beautiful little town just outside of Queenstown, where I am currently applying for jobs. Keeping my fingers crossed, I will soon go for an interview at a café/bakery where they make all jams, chutneys and buns in-house, after having sent a spontaneous application to the place I would most like to work at.

Finding a place to live has proven easier said than done, but with the various possible avenues we currently have, we're pretty confident to obtain a room/studio soon. That will thus keep us occupied till about September, when it will start to warm up again and we will head North again...

However, for the moment, the little mischievous juvenile cat who thinks he's a big black panther is keeping us on our toes with his constant entertainment and naughtyness (I have never seen a cat with that much energy!) and after the initial fear of my first two major earth quakes, I am now slightly excited to feel another (the ones here in Oamaru are not catastrophical as they can be in Christchurch).

Till next time!
Happy thoughts ;)


Posted by KiwiChocoTrip 19:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Hippies, Heights and Hindrances

A story about moving one's boundaries and facing an array of challenges.

Soo, it's been a while... We've been busy! Allow me to explain what we've been up to :)

After a couple of weeks of living at a friend's place (with the Polydactyl cat - see pictures!) while Scott was doing some building jobs, we finally left Wanganui and made our way to a wonderful HelpX project in little Marton. Milking the goats and making cheese, getting to know the kids and cooking, it was a short but sweet visit. Definitely a place we want to go back to later!

Then, of course, it was finally time for the long anticipated Kiwiburn adventure! Based on the principles of burning man (such as gift-economy: no money is involved what so ever, people just share food, drinks, music..., participation, consent...) this kiwi-version was totally different than any other festival we've been to before. A happy, friendly, colourful bunch of people, mostly in their 20'ies and 30'ies, having a whale of a time dancing, going to workshops such as (acro-)yoga, meditation or poi, drinking, having a sauna, chilling, chatting, listening to talks about earth building, communities or love, sharing food, meeting new friends, and being whoever they want to be (even if just for 5 days). Set on a beautiful location by the river, with a set max of a cosy 1500 people and some epic nights burning the art installations and dancing (naked) around the fire, we had a blast.

After the festival-adventure it was time for some action and we made it all the way from Picton to Queenstown in one day, stopping only to shop, eat, view the seal colony, and pack our bags for the tramp up the Rees track and over the heights of the Cascade Saddle.
We finally made it to the start of the walk at 3:30 am and joined Scott's friends in the hut who made it there before us the next day. What followed was a trek with stunning views over the mountains and glaciers and seeing Keas up close. However, we were lucky to have such fantastic weather, as multiple fatalities have occured on that saddle due to its steepness and slipperiness when weather conditions are less favourable. It was a brutal, but beautiful trek.

Unfortunately, after this adventure our dear car broke down with two broken CV joints. We got towed to a garage where it would take at least a couple of days to be repaired. Thankfully, we had already planned our next tramp and could get a ride with Scott's friends, so we left our Jade behind and on we went to Te Anau to start the Pyke Crossing and the Holliford Track.

Gosh, if I had known what it was going to be like, I'm pretty sure I would not have attempted this hike... It was one challenge after another, resembling some kind of test we had to pass, comprising of climbing, crawling and paddling our way through the edge of the lake - driving us to dispair, the black swamp - which is exactly what it sounds like, swarms of sandflies any time you stood still for more than 2 seconds (with an extra addition of mosquitoes in the toilet of Big Bay Hut; a toilet visit turned you into a self-molesting maniac, slapping yourself anywhere your skin was bare), a treasure hunt for the orange markers marking out the 'track' through dense bush, disappearing where landslides had occured or due to fog-issues, one extremely long haul on the 3rd day for which people generally camp between the 2 huts but which we wanted to get through in one day, aaand -after all that great weather (I'm sure you can guess!): yeah, a storm. It chucked it down, for days, turning trickling creeks into raging rivers, incredibly scary to cross, and plunging the tracks into an identity crisis on whether to be a path or a waterfall...

In any case, Scottie enjoyed putting his foraging knowledge into practice by picking Supplejack berries for breakfast and -shoots (which we fried like asparagus) for dinner. One evening after another, we felt particularly proud of ourselves, having reached the hut alive and well and having delt with obstacles effectively pulling us out of our comfort zone. Moreover, the beauty of the Fiordland rain forest is truly charming, and seeing it in its natural state of wetness was moist but amazing. I regret only having pictures of the sunny, easy start of the track but when frustrated, tired (and wet), and confronted with yet another nearly impassable section of the trek, "Let's take a picture!" is not the first thing on your mind :)

Well anyway, we got to the end -drenched- with a bruised tail bone, legs full of cuts and scratches from the flax and sharp grasses, and many an itchy bite reminding us of our persistant little black companions, but I believe we successfully completed the test. Madeleine, a kind kiwi lady we met in one of the huts, offered us to stay the night at her place in Te Anau to have a warm shower and a well-deserved rest.
It's magical how a hot shower, being warm and dry, having so much food and being able to simply make a coffee or a cup of tea can make you feel after an adventure of the like.

The following day we were miraculously able to get a ride back into Queenstown with her friend who was heading that way and thus picked up our vehicle and rapidly needed to think of a new plan of action.
We found a HelpX project run by a permactulture teacher (living in an earth ship!) willing to teach us about earth building, food conserving, cheese making, gardening and so on, to start on the 28th and decided to go and help at a hotel due to open in about 10 days in tiny Lumsden (near Queenstown) till then, of which we heard from some guys on the Holliford.

We're glad to finally find a little peace and the opportunity to get ourselves together, sort out a plan, our e-mails, our paua collection which we want to turn into jewelry with the help of the silver thread from Thailand, and it's simply pretty sweet to be living in a hotel ;)

To end with, there's obviously one last challenge that we must face, being together nearly 24/7. Frequent sharings and me-time are helpful, however being together so intensely also has the big advantage of being confronted with your shadows frequently, thus enabling us to grow on a personal level.

I'd love to hear more from you guys and what you're up to, so if you feel like sending me a message, please don't hesitate to do so!

Sending so much love and big hugs to all of you,
From Scott and Tanya

Posted by KiwiChocoTrip 23:46 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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