Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

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Alex: Falafel & adventure

October 17, 2011

I had an enlightening experience yesterday, which coincided with my first experience with falafel. I suspect they were unrelated, but no one will ever know.

I love walking. I do it a lot. It started with my wonderful dog Maddie. When we got her, I was still in the midst of borderline exercise bulimia, and I walked her twice a day, for at least half an hour each time. Often on weekends I would spend literally the entire morning walking. I got used to it, and I’ve been walking ever since.

Since I’ve been in Auckland (and often trapped in Auckland) I’ve walked a lot to explore the city. While I love walking, seeing the city and catching up on my podcasts, this has always seemed to me like a consolation to a real adventure.

Yesterday I sat down at a kebab restaurant on Parnell here in Auckland. I had been walking for four hours or so, looking for this greenstone shop that I always manage to lose. I sat down at this place and ordered falafel, which I had never had (not a lot of middle-eastern cuisine in the upper Midwest), and a thought occurred to me. I am in another country, on a fairly unfamiliar road, eating at a restaurant I’ve never even noticed before. I’m thousands of miles and an entire ocean away from the place where I’ve spent my entire life, a place I had never left before. Not a person on the planet who knows my name knows where I am. This is the definition of adventure.

Adventures don’t require hiking over mountains or swimming in oceans or driving hundreds of miles. They just require a wild spirit and a willingness to experience all that life has to offer.

On a much less philosophical level, I learned a little something about myself that day (other than that I’m not terribly impressed with falafel). Travel, like most things, requires acclimation. I’ve never traveled before this year. Not really, anyway. Family vacations once or twice, but nothing on the scale of this New Zealand adventure. This is my first adventure, maybe it’s okay to take it easy.

There will be plenty more adventure.

The road beneath my feet.

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Alex: Day of adventure

July 22, 2011

This is part of the historical post series. The day of adventure was Friday the 8th of July. It’s been a while, so excuse me if I gloss over a few details (not that you’ll know, since you weren’t there).

First, you should know that going in to this day I was fully expecting not to enjoy myself. This was somewhere around day four or five of living on two days worth of clothing, and I was getting quite sick of it. Not only that, but I was getting a little exhausted from my constant strained attempts at socialization with my group-mates who were practically still strangers.

The morning of my day of adventure, I picked up my vouchers and was told to pack an extra set of clothes because I would be ogo-ing, and I would get wet. This did not put me in the best of moods. I had so far not been able to enjoy the hot pool at our hostel because I didn’t have any sort of swim suit. I only had the one pair of shorts I wore on the plane and the one pair of jeans I had packed, so the idea of soaking fully one half of my leg-covering clothing was not appealing, but I did it anyway.

The morning began at the Agrodome with the “world famous” (I had never heard of it before) Agrodome Sheep Show. There were a ton of different kinds of sheep. Kate and Mayu (the two girls who were also in my group) got volunteered to milk a cow, and I (against my will) ended up feeding some sort of infant of the sheep or goat family.

After that was the Ogo. An ogo is big inflatable ball, probably ten feet in diameter, with a hollow center in which a person or persons sit and roll down a hill on a predetermined course. In our case the ogo was filled with pleasantly warm water. This doesn’t sound thrilling or terrifying at all I know, but I assure that it is both of those things. It’s a bit like being on a roller-coaster where you cannot see where you are going, it’s all one big fall, and about half way through you start to do flips inside of the car. Exhilarating indeed.

Next we went to Skyline where we took a gondola chair lift up to the top of this mountain that formed the edge of the Rotorua caldera. We took a break to have lunch at this fantastic buffet that had a breathtaking view of Rotorua. After lunch we did a bunch of luge rides down the side of the mountain on these sort of gravity-powered go-carts on this paved path. Also fairly exhilarating.

Finally we had to rush off to Te Puia, which is sort of a touristy highlights center with an active geyser and a Marae and all sorts of stuff. The carvings alone in this place were worth the trip. It was here that I was part of my first (of at least three so far) powhiri, which is a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony of sorts. The group of us then watched a Maori musical performance that was pretty entertaining. One of the performers was glaring at me for an entire song, so I refused to break his eye contact until the song had ended. Not sure why that was significant but it stuck out in my mind.

All of the performers, by the way, had brilliantly done, but clearly quite fake, facial moko. I appreciate the effort, but it did make me feel a little pandered to, a feeling that had been slowly growing, and continued to grow as I spent time in Rotorua. It is a wonderful place to visit, but it is very clearly a tourist town. Something like seventy percent of its population works in the tourism industry, so there is a lot of pandering going on.

After the performance the three of us met up with a guided tour of the rest of the facility. We saw the boiling mud pools and the active geyser, although we did not have time to wait for it to erupt. The tour group made an initial pass through the kiwi sanctuary where they have a mating pair of kiwi. This sanctuary is mostly dark and they don’t allow photography because the birds are nocturnal and they don’t want to risk someone accidentally leaving a flash on, because it disorients the birds. While the tour as a whole was unsuccessful in kiwispotting, the trio of us returned after the end of the tour and saw one of the kiwi strutting back and forth in front of the exhibit glass. More on kiwis in a later post, this one is already running a bit long.

That Friday ended with good ol’ fish and chips, a few good beers and an unexpected level of satisfaction.
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Haley: Huckleberry Finn

November 21, 2010

So I wake up after sleeping in… oh wait no I didn’t sleep in because three churches that surround my house BLARE their wonderful off-beat music in the mornings as if competing to prove whose love for god is greater… You ALL WIN!!!! gahhh.

So yes I wake up knowing that today is definitely a day I am going to the beach because it is HOT as hell by 9 a.m. and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Conveniently my friend Katie had the same-idea. So rather than going to the convenient Pirates Beach, we decide to go to a beach further up the coast—a beach that requires 3 different matatu rides, and a total brain diffusion!

We get on our last matatu that we have to take in order to reach Mombasa Beach and 20 minutes later we are the only ones on it.
[ “Do they know where we’re going?”
] “Yeah… Mombasa Beach! We told them twice…..” (matatu stops…. driver turns around)
]”Sooo…. where are you going?”
[ “(sigh…Katie and I in unison) Mombasa beach…”
] “Ohhh… we passed it”— of course you did. So thankfully they turn around and take us there… well no actually they take us to a place they THINK is “there”.

Katie and I get off the Matatu and are on a rocky road, surrounded by unfinished buildings and palms trees. So we just start walking and come across tons of lavish hotels. “Screw it,” we said. “lets just walking into one of these hotels to cut to the beach!” So that’s exactly what we did. Only when we got to the hotel, the man at the desk told us we had to be staying at the Hotel in order to get to the beach… yes, absolutely HAD to be staying there in order to use the stairs for the beach. “… BUT since you’re here why not?”

So we walk into this hotel snickering over what just happened and as we hit the beach side we are just struck by AWE. We just walked into a honeymooners catalog. The most unbelievable hotels on the most amazing beaches and here two 20 year olds come toddling in laughing over the retired men wearing speedos. SUCCESS! We just walked and walked and kept on walking around these rocks/cliff to find even more beautiful scenery where now we are SURE that this isn’t real. Maybe things like Inception are real? Because places like this just are NOT real… We keep on walking further away from the busy beach and are suddenly ALL by ourselves on this never ending beach of white sand, NO seaweed, and a playfull ocean. There’s one shady shack open serving drinks (which we of course don’t hesitate to buy a coke from).

While we were just sitting on the beach wrapping our heads around the fact that “we’re in Africa… on the Beach… in November” (it never gets old), this guy, Abu, comes up to us asking if we would take his picture with his i-phone. After awkwardly talking to him for a couple of minutes, we discovered he is a student in Mombasa about our age, and he had nothing to do. Well he couldn’t be happier to linger around and talk to two foreigners, and we couldn’t find it any funnier. We are CONVINCED that this kid is some “Prince A-boo-boo” because he is of some middle eastern decsent (we think); he’s a native of Mombasa and-YET he does not know Swahili very well (that’s just unheard of); He goes horseback riding on the beach all the time; He keep on saying he lives where all the Indians do (whatever that means); He is obsessed with his I-phone; He’s going to school to try and steer away from the “family business” (perhaps the throne?); He continued to ask if we needed or wanted anything (in a sincere, not creepy way); Offered to drive us home, which was completely out of the way; And well, it made for a funnier time assuming all of this.

Katie and I go jump into the water to rinse the sand off (which is instantly replaced with salt) and seriously it was like swimming in bath water. The water is so blue and oil-leak free, and it took not even 10 meters for us to reach swimmable depth. It is one of my favorite places in the world. When we would look to shore we notice Abu kept re-arranging our stuff and just sat there waving at us every time we would look back. We couldn’t help but laugh at his kind-awkwardness. When we went back to shore we realized that he wasn’t rearranging our stuff—he was just moving it because the tide was coming in. I look at Katie and tell her we have to leave NOW!
] ” (?) Why?”
[ “… because we have to get to the rocks befor the tide does!”

So we grabbed our stuff, said our goodbyes to Abu, and started trucking our way back up north. We got to the first cliff as the water did too. We start climbing these rocks now laughing at how crazy of a day this has been. We also discovered that the rocks were crawling with Crabs! We ran from the rocks trying to make our way to the next cliff when these men came by on a boat shouting at us that we need to climb the stairs and take the road rather than stay beach-side trying to beat the tide.

We climb these hidden stairs that took us to this lavish hotel FULL of retired eurpeans and honeymooners, tables with nice tablecloths, more pools than needed, a club blaring American music, and a fancy lawn display. So we go back down the stairs to the, what now looks like an “Angry” sea and had to climb the rocks and shuffle our way across the cliff while carrying our stuff on our heads. The water would come up crashing against us at times throwing you off balance. If you fell you were pretty much screwed because your camera, phone, AND ipod was going in the water WITH you, and flipflops do no justice for balancing. As Katie was walking her flip flop fell off into the sea
[ “hahahaha that’s a goner… ahhhhhh we’ll just get you a new one!”
] “NOOOOO!!!!! (throws me her bag and jumps in)”
[ “ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!! You’re going to DIE over a FLIP FLOP!?”
she climbs back up the rocks after rescuing a distraught flip-flop smiling…..

As I take a step my flip flop falls off over the edge… and without hesitation Katie now stands holding my stuff as I plunge in after my Old-Navy trademark. We miraculously defeated the Indian Ocean.

What a day, what a life, what a world. This is only a small story of MANY that us MSID students have accumulated while being in our internship phase. Every day that I have lived in Mombasa, I have learned or experienced something new. I wish I could have a video camera rolling at all times, because there is just SO much in life that passes us by. I am living the life of a modern day Huckleberry Finn with excitement, exploration, defeat, troubles, struggles, but most of all… discovery. It is never a dull moment while living out of your element, and I can honestly tell you that there is no way to FULLY explain or even display these experiences without having experiencing them yourself. So I truly hope, that the chance you get to try something new… do it. Don’t even hesitate… Jump from the rocks into the ocean to catch your golden flip-flop….

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