Saturday, March 7, 2009

since we last talked...

Ok, we have been criminally negligent in updating this blog, but we have good excuses! :)

As Petra mentioned, we were over in New Zealand for Christmas and the wedding of her cousin Chris to the lovely Claire. We had a great time doing weddingy things and exploring the area around New Plymouth, with black sand beaches and very Shire-worthy green rolling pasture lands and the very conical and iconic Mt. Taranaki looming above it all. Are you sure Tolkein never visited here?

From New Years through near the end of January, my mom (Lilli) and twin sister (Lisa) visited! While Petra had to return to work, I had all the time in the world, so I stayed on in New Zealand and they met me there. We traveled by ferry from Wellington on the North Island across the Cook Straight and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton on the South Island. The ferry ride was gorgeous, with albatrosses and cliffs and mountains and really strong wind to entertain us along the way. But the best part was the incomparable glow of being with my two most beloved people in the whole wide world again after a year's absence. We did a lot of hugging and grinning.

We stayed in a little tiny town called Marahau at the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park on the northern tip of the South Island, at a funny hostel in which we slept in tents pitched on the lawn. We hiked, kayaked, waded in the shallow of the funny tidal bay, drank Tui beer, and had a great time. It was gorgeous.

Then we made our way back to Melbourne (bumping into my lovely fellow Smithie Kate Carson at the Picton ferry terminal, randomly and delightfully), where I attempted to show Lisa and Ma all of the delights of the state of Victoria in less than two weeks. We did pretty well: a picnic with Petra's family, day markets and night markets of the city, the Port Phillip Bay waterfront, the campus of Melbourne Uni (where I had studied this past year), the rain forests in the Dandenongs (where there were myriad wild parrots and we spied the elusive lyrebird), the harsh dry rocky Grampians (where there were wild kangaroos right outside the hostel!), Great Ocean Road (with teal water, stunning cliffs, and wild koalas galore), and a whole lot more. As she was working, Petra could only join us in the evenings. It stayed generally cool for Australian standards, so Ma and Lisa didn't melt too badly. I was very, very, very sad to see them go. But I'm glad they came when they did, since some of those areas have since been obliterated by the bushfires.

The day they left, I started a training course in which I became certified to teach English as a second/foreign language. The course was SO MUCH fun, and I've become very excited about the possibilities for this line of work for me, even if only temporarily.

My plan was to then have a few weeks vacation to myself, see a bit more of Australia before we leave (notably, Sydney and the Red Center, neither of which I've seen yet), but instead I was struck down by the respiratory gods with a really awful pneumonia. In the dead of the dry, hot summer. Go figure. But that had me stuck in the hospital and then in strict bed rest with all of the medicines under the sun and daily doctor's visits for just over a month all told. So I didn't get to have much fun with my vacation. After being released from the hospital's care, I slowly worked on getting my energy back -- it's amazing how quickly muscles atrophy, and the bushfires that burned nearby filling the city with heavy smoke and the 115+ degree heat did not help in my recuperation -- but I can now happily go about my day again and run errands and the like with no problem. I'm cured! :)

Since then, hustled to pack up our apartment, said goodbye to all our dear new friends, and sent Petra off to Bangkok (where she is now) to case the place out and find us an apartment. I've put myself into my Bangkok job search full tilt, looking for work teaching English to little Thai kids, and have a few promising interviews lined up for two days after I arrive. There seem to be a profusion of good apartments and good jobs available, so we're psyched.

I leave for Bangkok in a few hours time, so from tomorrow to a year from now we'll be reporting from Bangkok! Pretty exciting!

Oh, and there was an earthquake here yesterday. 4.7 Richter scale. Just to keep things interesting. :) Occasionally, I wish I had a boring life.