Good on ya! Wow -- so much more to say this time than the highlights
as we have been working on a farm in Australia for almost a week now
(more on that later). Going from the very damp climate of NZ to the
hot and dry climate of Australia (they are in the middle of their
worst drought in 100 years. It's very sad, they're killing thousands
of sheep a day due to no food available for them) has been quite a
change. All in all -- we're doing great! Thanks for all your support.
Some highlights...NZ portion to the tune of "Rocky Mountain High" and
the Oz portion to be accompanied by Men at Work's "I Come From a Land
Down Under" played continuously on a loop.
First...to close out NZ
--We had a chance to take a much better look at the glow worms in Te
Anau. Amazing -- hundreds of small green lights on the ceiling of
these massive and intricate, damp caves. The worms produce the
illuminescence (sp?) to lure insects towards them to eat. It truly
looks like staring at the constellations in the sky.
--We took a mellow cruise of Milford Sound, one of the most famous
and picturesque places in NZ. While we prefer to explore things on
our own, the area was remarkable with sharp peaks descending into the
cool water (and, of course, waterfalls EVERYWHERE).
--In Dunedin, we took a tour of the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. It
would be shallow to say this was the highlight of the trip...so I
won't, but chocolate samples sure do give this tour an edge. Although
we saw no Oompa-Loompas, we hear that there are still many living and
working in Dunedin's chocolate factory. We saw candy being produced
and Jim even had to wear a hair net over his face (due to his silly
beard...which has since been shaven).
--The radio stations in NZ are interesting. They seem to play under
the format "Music". I'd like to write ads for them: "Do you like
Music? Well, we play Music!" One minute it's Destiny's Child and the
next it's an old Rod Stewart tune. It's like listening to a mix tape
from an eclectic friend.
--In Omaru, we joined a tour to see the yellow-eyed penguins, the
rarest penguin in the world (about 4000 alive). With our guide (who
has spent the past 22 years with the 40+ penguins in this area and
may or may not be able to speak about anything else, but sure knew a
TON about these penguins) we were able to sit a few feet away and
watch them care for their eggs and baby penguins. Breathtaking and
--While taking a 3 hour hike near Lake Tekapo (glorious turquoise
lake) we had drizzle, sleet, rain, heavy winds, sunshine, hail and
SNOW. It was like living in a documentary on 'Weather'.
--Our final stop was in Christchurch (the biggest city in South
Island and oh-so-subtly named. We looked but we didn't see the cities
of "BuddhaTemple", "AbrahamSynagogue" or "MohammedMosque".) We
cleaned up "Puggy" and prepared to turn her in. It was tough to see
her go (and tougher to wait and see what the charge will be for the
dent in the back). Godspeed Puggy -- thanks for taking care of us.
--We arrived in Sydney which is an amazing but massive city of 4
million people (only 20 million folks in all of Australia). We
enjoyed walking everywhere and exploring this beautiful port city.
Although the drought has left brown grass everywhere, even the golf
courses, it's a nice place with great gardens and wonderful harbors.
We were particulary taken by the thousands of bats we saw. There is
something about a tree filled with sleeping bats to make you want to
walk quietly. Maybe it's too many Anne Rice books, but it just seems
like they'll wake up hungry and go for your jugular.
--We spent a couple of days in the nearby Blue Mountains. The
seemingly billions of eucalyptus trees give off an oil that gets
trapped in the moist air and makes the area seem blue. It's a
beautiful place to hike around. (Although we're a bit more cautious
now that we're in Aus. NZ has no snakes and almost no spiders, while
Australia has all sorts of interesting creepy crawlies). In this
area, they recently found a tree (Morelli) that they thought was
extinct millions of years ago. Somehow, a patch survived and they
figured out what it was by matching it to a fossil of a dinosaur
stepping on this tree. Remarkable.
--Back on the Farm...there is an amazing program called WWOOF
(Willing Workers on Organic Farms) that allows travelers to work on
organic farms in exchange for room and board. There are hundreds of
farms with different specialities around Australia (and the world).
So far, our experience here has been truly amazing. It has been about
so much more than planting seeds and watering crops, but feeling the
connectedness of it all. We've eaten delicious fresh food and learned
so much about taking care of land and ourselves. Our hosts have been
a delight and the experience has been powerful.
In the past week, here are some things we've done (or do daily):
-Plant corn, pick string beans, water plants, learn about
permaculture and organic farming, feed cows and a calf from a bottle,
dig up garlic, swim in a dam, go to a dairy and get fresh milk, pick
onions, mulch, prepare compost heaps, watch the full moon rise and
sing songs, pick tomatoes, learn the Aboriginal intstrument
didjeridoo, chop down banana trees, plant banana trees, shovel
manure, feed chickens, collect chicken eggs, move hay with a
pitchfork, cook, paint signs for the little produce stand, clean and
braid garlic strands, go to the beach, plant herbs and have
fascinating talks about life, love and produce.
Sorry for the long list, but it's been a real eye-opening experience.
We'll probably go to a few other farms as we extend our Australian
portion of our trip. ;)
Life is good, even if there are roughly a dozen flies on our face at
any given time and cow manure under our fingernails -- it's been a
treat. Sending much love back home.
-Farmer Jen and Farmer Jim