Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nelson & Thanksgiving

JP and I live in Nelson. Here’s a picture of where we are on the map.

…and the weather forecast we had yesterday… 
Now we mentioned before that we’d come through Nelson already – and had to leave because we didn’t like our host. That brought us to Takaka – which is further West than Motueka (on the map). Then we spent some time backpacking in the Abel Tasman National Park, which is on the West side of the NW tip on the map. But after that we returned to Nelson again. We hoped to stay with and work for one of the places that had accepted us before – when we chose to go to Rainbow Valley – but absolutely every last one of them had WWOOFERs staying with them already.

But Nelson was where we wanted to be. We knew that from the first time we read about it in our travel book. We knew that with more certainty the first time we stepped foot in Nelson and had a look around.
And now that we’d returned again, we knew it even more.
There were farms on the North Island and further down South that needed WWOOFERs – just no one in Nelson – but we decided we were gonna wait this time until we found a place.
Nelson just seemed like our ideal place. It has a great little city feel. It’s not too big – you see the same faces again and again each day – and it’s not too small either. It’s nestled between the mountains and a beautiful bay, with the Able Tasman stretched out on one end, and the Marlboro Sounds on the other.  The town is adorable. There are a lot of Christians living here. And there are a lot of nearby outdoor activities.
Also… Nelson gets the most sun out of all the cities in New Zealand – fact.
We just had a good feeling about this place. :)

Haha… so this is a video that our friend Laura showed us. One of the kids in her theatre class made this. Now don’t you get a good feeling about Nelson too? :)

Now when we arrived we could have paid to stay in a backpacker’s hostel again, but the weather was incredible and ….we had begun to feel the urgency of our dwindling funds – so we decided to rough it. Now our mothers may not have been all too crazy about the idea.. but we had a car and each other and had spent our previous nights in a small tent - and we figured that if neither of us minded, then why not just stay in the car for a while?
We’d found an adorable park to stay by - with restrooms we could use - and we'd wake up to the sounds of children playing in the park with their parents. We'd dress in the restroom, come back out looking just as good as we would otherwise, and we'd walk into town for the day - TO THE LIBRARY - free internet - WHOO! then we'd walk back to the park when the library closed, pull out our portable stove, hook up our 2 person hammock between some trees, and relax. :) it was fun!

So we spent the whole of 3 days that way - emailing tons of WWOOFing hosts and applying for jobs - and it wasn't too bad. And walking through Nelson everyday, we were in love with the place. Finally we got a positive response back from Noa and Karl Parker on Thursday morning. They could take us for 1 week starting Saturday. awesome.  

Well, that Thursday also happened to be Thanksgiving. Sleeping in your car in a town where you don't know anybody isn't so bad, but on Thanksgiving, it can make a person pretty sad and homesick. And sadness and homesickness can be a pretty good motivator to change one's circumstances. So that morning I set out. JP went to the library to discover the good news from the Parkers, and I went to Nelson's iSite. What would we do without iSites?

I felt very silly when I got to the front of the line and asked the nice man if he knew of anywhere in town that would be holding an American Thanksgiving. He didn't seem too surprised by my question though - he must get all sorts of questions - and he earnestly tried to help. But after searching and asking around for a while, he'd found nothing - which is really what I'd expected. But in a last attempt of being helpful, he suggested that I try out walking a couple of blocks to the Nelson English Centre. He said that there are a couple of Americans working there and they might possibly know of something.

I think that's where I would normally have stopped and given up, but I though, "Meh.. why not?" I found the English Centre and met Marlene at the front desk. Marlene is an American woman from Minnesota - but I never would have guessed it because she grew up in a Polish community and does NOT sound American at all. But she was sooooooooo nice. Her and I talked for a while and she went back to her desk to see if the "Nelson American Society" was holding an event. Much to her dismay, they were not. And then she said, "Oh... well... you seem very nice, and normal, and can't guarantee anything, but I'll talk to my co-worker, Laura, who is also American to see if you might be able to have dinner with us." So she took my number and said she'd call at 12:30. 

Well.. it all worked out and that evening we showed up and Laura, and her partner, Luke's, house, where we met a wonderful combination of British and Kiwi folks. Laura's from Illinois and Luke's from Manchester, England. They met teaching English in South Korea and now have a sweet little 2 year old boy, Elijah - more often known as "Batman" or the velociraptor. 
We had the funnest time at their house that night. Laura and Luke are in a theatre group in town and we spent a lot of time talking with their friends Doug and Charlie - also from the group. It was actually a pretty traditional Thanksgiving dinner (besides the fact that we had chicken, not turkey) and JP and I got to introduce it to everyone. Except for Marlene and Laura, this was every one else's very first Thanksgiving dinner. So we had to share with them the original story of Thanksgiving and the meaning that it holds to us today. And everyone went around and shared what they were thankful for :)
And we had cranberry sauce
and candied yams
and green bean casserole
and we just had the best time getting to know everyone.
Laura and Luke, when they found out that we'd been sleeping in our car, insisted that we stay in their spare bedroom and forbade us from ever doing such a thing again.
And we set a date for the 4 of us to get together the next week to explore Cable Bay.

JP and I slept hard in that bed. 

The following Tuesday there was an interesting article in the newspaper.
Turns out that Charlie is one of the editor's for the local paper.... :)

...If you can't actually read this, I don't blame you... it's a blurry picture.
It reads:

"We were glad to see the holiday sharing spirit in full swing last week when two homesick American newlyweds felt the need to celebrate Thanksgiving.
       Jonathan and Ashley Post went to the most logical place to find out if Nelson was holding any celebrations - Nelson's i-SITE. Staff there directed the couple to the English Language Centre, where, to their delight, they met Laura Irish, and American who teaches at the school. Laura thought a last minute Thanksgiving was exactly what was needed, so she organized two large chickens (turkeys aren't in season) and a pile of Nelson friends to sit around the dining room table and share the American tradition. Let's see more of this, we say.
      The Posts are also looking for work so they can extend their stay in our fair city. If you have anything going, let us know."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Belated Post. 11/19-11/22

Tramping the Tasman.

After our lovely experience at Simon and Carol’s house in Rainbow Valley, Ashley and I we’re still trying to scrounge up some places for our next wwoofing house. But since we we’re already in Golden Bay and since Golden Bay is home to the glorious Abel Tasman National Park, we thought it would be perfectly appropriate for us to embark on a multi-day tramp! (Our first as a married couple and Ashley’s longest ever!)

So we went to the I-site in Takaka (pronounced like ‘tAc-uh-kuh’, not ‘te-kaka’.  I hope that makes sense… we still have to think twice before saying it J) and booked our 4 day/3 night hike along the Coastal Track.  There were a few different options for hikes, but the Coastal Track sounded the most appealing.  As it happens, tramping in Abel Tasman isn’t cheap.  To book a site for a tent was $12.5 per person per night, which is better than the $30 or $35 per person per night that the Huts cost* (we passed by the 5 or 6 huts as we were hiking, and they were surprisingly nice, but not worth $35 a night). And since we were booking a one-way trip, we had to purchase bus fare to get us to the trailhead as well.

*Sometimes I forget to keep in mind the exchange rate from NZD to USD (which is currently bout .77NZD to one USD) but it’s actually nice, because we save more money that way J

After booking the trip and grocery shopping (purchasing some much needed items like: a pot, eating utensils, and Tupperware bowls), we spent our last night in sand fly heaven: Rainbow Valley.  With an early departure the next morning, we were on the bus driving to the trailhead. We met a nice girl named Claire on the bus, and we ended up hiking with her for the first 4 miles.  I can’t remember where she was from, but I’ll let you know later once Ashley gets back from her Yoga class.  (She’s from Ireland)

The hike was b-e-a-utiful. It was unlike any multi-day hike I had ever done, traversing amazing beaches and surprisingly high views of the surrounding country.  We would do about 8 miles a day (usually a little more because we would take all the scenic routes) and about a mile of that was walking on beaches or tide-sensitive estuaries.  The beaches we’re almost always picture-perfect and bathed in golden sun.  We went swimming twice (except Ashley didn’t go the first time, despite my articulate beseeching) and the water was quite pleasant.  I would say it was probably about slightly-uncomfortable-swimming-pool temperature.

We stayed the first night in Totaranui, which was a huge campground with road access and a huge beach.  The part of the campground reserved for Coastal Track hikers had room for a whopping 80 tents, and yet we were the only campers that night! Unfortunately, the sand flies knew we were the only ones staying the night, so they threw a big party right next to our campsite.   Right after we had set up camp, we went swimming in the cool water (or more accurately, I went swimming) to wash all the sweat and smell off after a long day’s hike.

I was worried when we first signed up to do the hike, that since it’s one of New Zealand’s most traveled trails it would seem too public and not enough like we were actually backpacking.  In some senses, this was true.  Water taps and bathrooms were in every campsite, and trails were ridiculously well groomed.  But to our fortune, there really weren’t that many people on the track.  We mostly ran into people either during a low tide crossing or in big campsites.  But other than that, we had a pretty people-free hike J. We did meet some sweet Christian girls though  (one from British Columbia and one from Idaho).  Apparently about 150,000 people do the hike every year...

The next night we camped in a much smaller site, room only for 20 tents, and it rained on us all night.  Fortunately I remembered to put our packs under the rain-fly before going to bed, but UNfortunately the water pooled under the tent and soaked my pack J.  Later the next day we were able to dry out a bunch of our gear while we lounged on a subtropical sandbar waiting to cross the beach at low tide.  Behind the sandbar we floated out to the ocean down this sweet little channel that was about 3-4 feet deep and had a remarkably fast current.

Other highlights: we missed the bus going back to our car, so we had to do a 2-part hitch hike (first time for both of us) and we met a nice kid and a nice but kinda weird hippie couple.

 just leaving!

 first cool view

sweet coastline... not many looked like this, most were filled with golden sand

hikin' on the beach! 

 holes in rocks

 our lonely tent :/

 long tidal crossing

 It's a trap!

 elizabethan sheep

 bustin' out the old Whisper-liteTM
 child's pose

 rainy tidal crossing, waiting for the low tide.

 sweet bridge