Sunday, January 11, 2009


Yeah, I've been in the Coromandel Peninsula area for 9 days or so recently, camping with some of my family's friends at Fletcher Bay, and later at Waikawau Bay. It was quite an interesting trip, with 3-hour walks, rock-hopping, wave bodysurfing, and a whole lot of bug bites. It started out with a 4-hour drive through Thames, Coromandel (the town), as well as driving over many a precarious edge road. I brought 9 books with me to read over the trip, and I went through 8 of them by the time the trip ended. But anyway...

I might as well tell you about Christmas first. When I woke up on Christmas morning, nothing was really different at first. The other kids were awake, and we were all impatient to open our gifts. Jonty was quoting lines from Kung POW! Enter the Fist, as usual, Bella was singing a High School Musical 3 song, and Asher was talking about the birds and other natural features we would find in the Coromandel area. When Chrissy and David got up, we began opening the presents each of us got. From my host family I got a Chocolate Orange (Terry's, just like at home! W00t! My Chocolate Orange Christmas Spree continues!), a nice 250g bar of Black Forest Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate (chocolate biscuit[cookie] pieces, and chewy cherry jelly-ish things, not sure how to describe them), and a black shirt that showed a globe with nothing on it except a ridiculously oversized New Zealand. From everyone back home I got a nice chunk of cash, which the day after I spent on getting some summer clothes. I then after the camping trip got some sandals (W00t for breaking the NZ fashion frenzy of jandals[flip-flops] for the sake of comfort and running ability! =D). But anyway, we then went to my host family's (grand)mother's rest home (or whatever the PC way to say it is, I'm not completely sure), and attended a short Christmas service. I also got a box of Favourites (a collection of Cadbury mini-bars) from Rona (the name of the Cook's [grand]mother) as well as a $30 Whitcoull's gift card (Whitcoull's is just like Barnes and Noble, a bookstore with various notebooks and games as well).

Later, we went to the house of our friends Susan and Tony (the people we were going camping with) and had a GIANT lunch, because apparently that's the traditional Kiwi thing to do on Christmas. I also condemned the unicycle for being so ridiculously hard to keep your balance on, played some petanque (in which I epically failed. Petanque for people who don't know what it is, is a sport kinda like bocce, but you use metal balls on a special court, and you have to throw them in a distinctive manner that will take too long to explain), and later barely won at croquet. But we weren't done yet! We then went to Chrissy's cousin Jenny's (or Jenni, I never saw the spelling) house. After I watched a bit of Home Alone 2, I noticed 2 guys outside on the porch, who were named Ed and Paul. They were shooting an air rifle at something I couldn't see. I went out after a bit of internal controversy over what to do, and found that they were taking turns firing at 3 beer/mineral water bottles on a fence. I noticed they had another rifle, and asked if I could also give it a shot. They were perfectly fine with it, and we made a nice cultural mix of things. An American student and 2 British guys were sitting in New Zealand firing Spanish air rifles with Australian pellets at German beer bottles emptied of contents brewed in Mexico. I ended up scoring 7 hits out of the...I don't know, a moderately large amount of shots fired. The 7th shot actually knocked one over and shattered it. Nifty, eh? Anyway, that's how Christmas went for me.

The day after was a big packing day, as well as a shopping day for me (and you all know how much I love shopping!!! That's right, I don't). I got some shirts, shorts, socks, 2 scoops of green tea ice cream, and a book called Dewey (a great book about a library cat in Spencer, Iowa. It's really awesome and if you've read Marley and Me, you will probably like Dewey too. Man, I sound like a bad book critic). But other than that, not much happened.

This trip was a big vacation that was being planned for a while, and it started 2 days after Christmas. We planned to stay with 2 of my host parents' friends for about two-thirds of the trip. After the somewhat grueling 4 hour drive (with the last hour being over complete gravel roads on the edge of mountains, combined with having to edge past drivers going in the other direction), we finally arrived at Fletcher Bay. Asher and I set up our tent, a canvas pentagonal thing that is hot in the day and cool in the evening. I then started an 3X7R3M3 R34D1N6 FR3N2Y!!! (For those of you that have a hard time reading 13375p33k, it says EXTREME READING FRENZY)

..So that's how the first day ended. I read a lot of one of my books, ate dinner, tried to get some people together to play Hearts, failed, and went to sleep after a while. On the first real day, we walked a 3-hour walk to a nearby bay called Stony Bay. There was a stream there which we swam in...until we found there were eels in there. Ugh... On the way back, Jonty finally actually managed to clearly explain to me the rules of test (5 day), one day international, and 20-20 cricket. Next day, Asher's birthday. And to go with it, we had perfect weather!!!...for plants. It was rainy, and occasionally gusty, probably one big gust every 2 minutes. The rain persisted throughout the entire day, while we were eating molasses cookies that I made beforehand (about 90 of 'em), lemon cake, and pavlova.

The next day, we actually did have good weather. We went to some other bay that I can't remember the name of. But, we did take a shorter walk, while I got to listen to Bella and Jonty keep asking if they could open the bag of Rashuns (since you guys don't have that back home, they're cheese-and-bacon snacks kinda like puffed Cheetos). We saw a smaller beach area, where there was a random pole there, probably from some old rail thing that involved a winch that was found farther up the hill. We went up a hill (or large hill, whatever you wish to call it, or even a small hill if you're in a big mountainous area) and saw a nice view of the ocean. However, Asher and I saw that we could go farther by going down and up a slightly steep area with a large slanted drop to either side (it was nice and wide, don't worry). So, Asher and I went to that while Jonty went down one of the steep sides using the bajilliion flax plants as handholds. Later, I climbed down that steep slope using a different method, mainly just not slipping on gravel and making sure I was standing on nice grassy tufts that worked well as footholds. Yeah, we saw a rocky beach, ate some chocolate, ate some Rashuns, ate some apples, and headed back. HOWEVER!!! I went back a different method than everyone else. I climbed back up that hill, while everyone else jumped across rocks to get back to where we were. I got back about a half-hour before everyone else. So I got to wait! Fun, eh?

Yeah, on New Year's Eve, Asher, Jonty and I decided we would climb across rocks to another beach that we passed by on our very first walk. So we headed out. We climbed a bit, and after a while I found myself going a slightly different route...mainly edging across a 4-5m gap over the water on a small ledge of rocks with grassy ground right below it. Just my luck, the rocks crumble, and I slip. I attempted to brace myself with anything at hand, and I caused a small rockfall before I managed to stop. Unlucky for me, a rather large rock fell right on my hand. It didn't hurt for some reason, though it seemed the rock punctured my hand somewhat deeply. I saw that it went straight through my skin and hit something hard, possibly bone. I think that because when I looked in the puncture, I could see my vein perfectly. Yet, it wasn't bleeding, so luckily it didn't hit it. I showed it to Asher and Jonty, and they didn't think much of it since they have had much more serious wounds before. I was a bit nervous however, since I don't experience things like that often, and I was a bit worried. The puncture wasn't very wide, maybe a centimeter at the widest point (and much thinner at other areas), but I had never had a puncture so deep I saw my own vein. Anyway, we finished the rock climbing, got to the beach where I ate some Crispy Noodles (an awesome snack that they really should have in America), and we walked back to our camp.

In the evening, I played some cricket with other kids around the campground, and later, closer to the evening I heard a surprisingly quiet amount of noise. That's not to say it was silent, not even close, but it wasn't nearly as loud as say, Pittsburgh on First Night. Though, since First Night has much, much more people, that's understandable. Everyone except David, Jonty and me just went to sleep early, but we stayed up until midnight, and at midnight, nothing really new happened. A firework or two went off, but that's about it. With that, we went to sleep.

New Year's Day, we pack up to head somewhere else. We say bye to Susan and Tony who are going home, and after driving through Colville (where I got a nice pack of gum, something I always do since I'm sort of a chewing gum addict. Don't worry, the gum I get is sugarfree), we arrive at Waikawau Bay. Stuff happens, I swim in the bay a bit (probably the best of the bays since it has good waves to bodysurf on), we walk up a hill again, and we sleep. Next day, walk, swim, rockhop, lather, rinse, repeat, etc., whatever other "repeat the previous day" statements you can think of, except this time we walked to Little bay, where we did just about the usual things. Day after, drive to some other bay that I also can't remember the name of, perform usual activities. That night, walk a bit in an area that is a Kiwi zone, don't hear anything, head back, play cards, sleep.

Final day. Pack up, and begin CATHEDRAL COVE!!! Now what's that you may ask? Well, if you've seen Prince Caspian (which I haven't, I haven't even read the book), than one scene or something takes place there. Yeah. We walked to Stingray bay, where everyone saw a bunch of fish, a jellyfish or two, and of course, stingrays. But when we got to Cathedral Cove, I swam out to a rock with Asher, and we saw a GIANT jellyfish. It turns out that the jellyfish we saw were the biggest species ever or something close to that. And man, it was pretty creepy since there were like 7 differently sized jellyfish all around those rocks. But yeah, after we got back, we headed home. When we got home, I went to check my e-mails and such, and voila! I couldn't. Someone had gotten a virus onto the computer, though we don't know who. There were some people taking care of the cats, and it was probably accidental. Though, I am still writing this from a neighbor's computer, since we still haven't gotten ours back yet, a week after we sent it to a tech place. I think I might have been able to take care of it, but I wasn't really sure. It's a good thing I didn't, because it turns out there were more viruses on it than food items named after sports players/teams. In other words, a lot of viruses.

Yeah, that's my post for this while, and now I'm back into filler episodes. I'm most likely going to be switching families somewhat soon, since the Cooks have found a house, and it'll be hard for me to go about my usual school stuff while in the process of moving. Or something like that anyway. But I'm not worried. Anyway, thanks for reading!


Mom said...

Wow, Andy; that's quite a post! You really make your experiences come alive -- especially all the eating of chocolate :-).

What a unique way to spend the holidays, eh? The camping, reading, exploring and tramping sounds like a blast. I just read an article about Dewey; the librarian who owned Dewey has a new cat named Page.

Another family; another move?! Yikes...keep us posted, and thanks for sharing!

Love, Mom

Bogdaddy said...

I think it sounds like you had a wonderful holiday. All of the places you mentioned are on Google Earth and have wonderful pictures of the things you saw.

Glad you had a good time and we miss you very very much.

Let me know if there is anything that you need that you can't get.

What an adventure!
Dad and Shirlee

Anonymous said...

wish i could have done some of the things you did that trip sounds like it must have been amazing! eat more chocolate...

Anonymous said...

hey there andy i have set up a blog if you wish to see it... just click my name yup

Ellie said...

Hey Andy,

I made a really close friend in Italy that was an exchange student there from New Zealand and she mentioned the tradition of camping over the holidays. I'm glad that you got to experience it and it sounds like it was fun. My friend (Kylie) taught me a bunch of Kiwi slang, and I wonder if it is the same where you are as it is in Auckland. Have you heard any slang there that is different from here?