Saturday, January 5, 2013

"Technically I'm Homeless!"- John Ralphio

To understand my first couple of days here, I’ll have to go back to when we all first booked our flight for this trip. Our program was scheduled to start on January 5, and since you cross the dateline when you fly to New Zealand we would have to leave on January 3 in order to get there on time. Well as we were looking around at the flights, we found that we could save $400 if we left December 30 instead of January 3. $400 dollars! That’s $400 value sized Frosty’s people! The only catch? We are staying with host families while we are here and they wouldn’t be able to take us in until the fifth when we were originally scheduled to arrive. We booked it anyways. I told all of my friends,
“I saved $400 and all I have to do is be homeless for a couple of days!”
 (and then at this point I would laugh pretty hard at that funny thought. This is important to know to understand the irony of the situation. Is it irony? Someone recently shattered my universe by telling me almost none of the situations in the song “Ironic” are actually ironic, so now I have no idea.)

Anywho… so we show up in New Zealand after hours and hours of being in airports and airplanes. The time went by quickly because I mostly slept, but I also got to watch the new Tinkerbell movie on the in-flight TV. Totally recommend it. 

By the time we showed up we were looking pretty dang rough, we were a little disoriented having magically lost a day, and we were tired of carrying our overweight luggage everywhere. We met up with our director, Erika, and our amazing tour guide? best friend? chaperone? I’m not sure of his official role in all this, but his name is James and he is the man. We loaded up in a 9-seater van and a fancy little rental car and were on our way. We stopped for some delicious homemade strawberry ice cream, still looking and smelling like street urchins mind you, and we were back in the car to drive two hours to Whangarei where we would be staying with James’ family. 

yum, yum, yum. get in my belly.

The first thing we did when we got here was set up our “home”, which was a tent in the backyard. It’s a big nice roomy tent, but a tent nonetheless. In this tent were 8 girls, each with two huge bags of luggage, and then sleeping bags and mattresses for us all. It was hilarious. At this point we were all about ready to wipe away the grime of travel, when James tells us that the house is on a well so if we must shower then we should take very short showers. So there are the 8 of us, plus his family sharing one bathroom. We planned on going to the beach the next day, so I opted to just live in my own filth and wait to shower. What’s another day? (and by the way I’m still single. Any takers?)

home, sweet  home

Wednesday morning we woke up early and went to the beach to do some kayaking and try to keep our homeless-selves busy. It was pretty cold when the sun was behind a cloud however, so we mostly just cowered in our towels. The kayaking was beautiful, and even though I was the slowest for sure, I still managed to bust out “Just Around the Riverbend” as I rowed and felt pretty dang awesome while doing it.

Our next stop was another beach for some surf lessons! (We’re homeless, not broke. Keep that in mind.) James promised me that even if I crashed and burned every single time I would still have a blast. Well I crashed and burned every single time and I still had a blast! I am quickly learning that James is always right. Plus, I was mostly just in it for the wet suits anyways.


So after a long day in the ocean, we were all looking forward to cleaning ourselves up and finally washing our hair when James (that brilliant man) said, “Hey we can just line you up in the yard and spray you down with a hose!” Now, it should be noted that everything said in a New Zealand accent sounds much more appealing… and so that is precisely what we did. Being homeless is so fun! I really don’t know what homeless people are always complaining about… We spent the rest of the day playing cards, eating lots of food, and basically doing anything that required zero effort on our part.
We started off the next day with some morning yoga, and that was the only physical thing we managed to do before it started raining.

don't mind us...

As every homeless person knows: when the rain is out, you stay in. Thus, we had a lovely day eating junk food and watching movies. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was our day to prepare ourselves for…

Earn your keep day!

 Probably James’ favorite of our days spent with them. That tent and those yard showers don’t come cheap, let me tell you.

We spent the morning tearing down his neighbors’ old fence. The eight of us girls weakened from three nights spent sleeping on the ground was quite the work force. We were each given a job and put to work. I somehow looked capable of handling heavy machinery so I got put in charge of the weed whacking. It was terrifying.


After that fence was torn down and the weeds fully dismembered, we moved on to the avocado trees. We were given ladders, pickers, and baskets and sent out to work our magic.

well hey there!

ya want some?

it's good...

no it's not!

like a true native

dang look at all those avocados!
 Having proved ourselves useful at last, James rewarded us by taking us to Whale Bay. These are for real pictures and not postcards, so don't get confused.



New Zealand Discoveries, thus far-
-golden kiwis, ten times more delicious than normal kiwis. make that twenty, no thirty! They’re delish.
-ginger beer, peachies, and lemon and lime bitters sodas.
-rainbow buttons, the way cooler cousin of M&M’s.
-Tim tams, which I’m told is something we actually have in the states but I didn’t try them till now so I’m counting it.
-everything James’ family makes.
Garage= Car Port
Cooler= chilly bin
Swimming suit= togs
Flashlight= torch
Flip Flops= Jandals


  1. The picture of you with the weed whacker is probably the greatest picture I've ever seen of you.. And I've seen a lot of pictures of you.

    Looks like a blast!!

  2. Yes we have Tim Tams here, but I just discovered them this Christmas. They are seasonal here, only at Christmas time. So....if you feel like bringing some home with you.... ;)

  3. I am so excited that you are taking us all along on your New Zealand adventure! The Maori students I met at BYU Hawaii were my favorites. I am looking forward to each and every blog entry! Hopefully it will make me miss you less - though I doubt it.