Now it’s my turn to tell everyone about my adventures at school in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, where I spent term one at Mount Maunganui Intermediate! Read more
Posts from the ‘New Zealand’ Category
In Mount Maunganui, I go to Mount Maunganui Primary School (MMPS). I’m here for the first term of their school year. Because the seasons are reversed here, it was late summer in February when we started, while it was mid-winter at home. I am in year four, what my friends back home would call “third grade.” Read more
In my early hiking days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with my high school boyfriend’s family, I thought you had to climb up something for the hike to be worthwhile. But I’ve come a long way since then, and when Vance came back from walking around Mt Ruapehu and reported it as interesting, rugged and blessedly quiet after the madness of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, I was intrigued. Though I had my chance going solo a few weeks ago on the Lake Waikaremoana Track, I was jonesing for something a little more challenging and thought the 5 night, 66km route might fit the bill. There may have been a touch of “anything you can do I can do better,” but also I was restless. With the weather less settled the kids have been particularly hard to budge on the weekends, and knowing that the time of less comfortable travel is coming we’ve let them indulge in graphic novel reading on the couch. I, however, wasn’t quite ready to move on without one more hike to get New Zealand well and truly out of my system…for now. Read more
There hasn’t been a lot to report around here lately, absorbed as we’ve been by our low key routine; school lunches, kids to school, a little housework but not much for this teacup sized place, a few groceries, a walk on the beach. Our only after school activity is Della’s Tuesday afternoon surf class and if all after school activities included an hour where you could sit on a gorgeous beach for an hour reading, looking up every once in a while to watch your daughter catch waves, I wouldn’t be so crabby about driving to them. I’ve been cooking a lot, but keeping it simple because ingredient mix ups continue to plague me- I cannot find unsweetened chocolate to make the chocolate buttercream of my cravings, or white marshmallows for a batch of rice crispy treats (the bags always, insistently, contain white and pink both) Thai basil for my favorite stir fry and even a request for a chuck steak for this simple recipe left the butcher scratching his head (I need a translator app for cuts of meat apparently.) I have been taking advantage of our quiet after school window to get the kids more involved in the kitchen, chopping cucumbers, mixing up apple crisp topping, stirring the sauce for homemade macaroni and cheese, our most important ancestral recipe. The kids for their part are happy with the slow pace; an after dinner bike ride around the neighborhood or frisbee on the beach is plenty far afield for my homebodies.
In the week after we moved to our second house in Mt Maunganui I got so very comfortable in my new routine- packing lunches, maybe running an errand or two, maybe taking a walk up the Mount or on the beach, definitely having a gin and tonic (made with the artisanal tonic syrup we picked up at the Hawkes Bay farmer’s market) while making dinner and listening to NPR online- that I was a wee bit grumbly when it was time to pack my backpack and head out on the 4 day/3 night Lake Waikaremoana Track all by myself.
There are so many flavors and ways to organize a big chunk of time abroad, we were dizzy with the possibilities when we started planning. It was fascinating to read how other people had done it (in books) or were doing it in real time (via blogs) so we followed the progress of several families rattling around the world and shamelessly gleaned ideas and tips. A contact through my daughter’s summer camp led us to the Demers, in the midst of ten months of travel with their three daughters and, maybe because of their similar ages, reading their entries made our own upcoming travels feel much more real for Della. She watched for their updates eagerly. We were astonished when we saw they were stopping for a school term in, of all places, Mt Maunganui, New Zealand.
Before a trip I read a lot and plan a lot, but I try not to get too jacked up on anticipation. For me it’s best to try and stay open and let the trip unfold as it will, which is HARD because I love to make plans, book hotels, jigsaw together activities and meals. But I’ve had a few experiences where I planned trips after being inspired by travel articles and found myself trying to recreate someone else’s trip- that was bound to be disappointing (particularly because travel writers always seem to have glamorous friends who throw great parties in the beautiful places they are writing about and I most definitely do not.) There was a time I was giddy with anticipation over swimming with dolphins in the Bay of Plenty, anticipating my son’s delight seeing his favorite animal, but all we saw after three hours motoring around was an albatross. There was food poisoning during an expensive and long looked-forward-to getaway to Harbor Island in the Bahamas, and restaurants closed for renovations or a staff barbecue when I was all keyed up to try the signature dish. The lightbulb moment came one December when we spotted a cheap fare to Rome and just went, six days later, minimal planning, off season, bad weather guaranteed and loved it. The winter food! The charming holiday decorations! The empty museums! All of it made even more delightful because we had so few expectations. So now my happy medium is to plan the basics (flights, beds, transportation) do my research, bookmark activities or restaurants and then stop and put it out of my mind completely until I am there.