Saturday, August 21, 2010

Finishing up our travels.

Hi loyal and disappointed readers. As you know we are home from traveling and you as readers must feel (as do I) that the blog has some missing parts, like a middle and an ending (kind of like that fill in the blank movie). So I am going to try to fill in a few pieces of the trip and then bring this blog to a point of hibernation until our next trip. Ok stay tuned

Monday, December 14, 2009

November, December, January

So what have we been up to in the last three months? A very brief summary.

This post written by Ryan, edited by Vanessa. Says Ryan, "No one will believe I wrote this, there are too many commas."


First week of November, we left India and headed to New Zealand. We had long few days of travel. This is how I recorded it in my journal....

MONDAY Nov 9th


6:30am Woke up, packed, paid our bill, went to German Bakery to score some bread.

7:30- 8:10 Taxi ride to Margao train station.

8:10-9:30 Sat waiting for train, bought The Lost Symbol for 699Rs, talked to a couple from Canada about Bret Favre. Got on the train - we had a 1st class room with just the two of us in it.

9:30am -10:30pm Read a Vince Flynn book - the whole thing. Did not sleep a wink. Had to pee like 5 times.

10:30-11:15 Taxi from CST station to Mumbai International Airport.

11:15pm-1:00am Sat doing nothing waiting to check in.


1:00am Problems processing our visa for NZ - hopefully no problems when we land in NZ (later note: it turned out ok); bummed around the duty free shops, made fun of all the celebrities that do ads overseas.

4:20am Notice that we haven't slept yet. Boarded the plane. Spent next 3 hrs with a nice entertainment center. Finished Transformers 2, and watched GI JOE, ate some food of some kind, not sure what it was. Had about 15 min of sleep which must have been during the good part of GI JOE.

7:30-11:30am Landed in Dubai and wandered through some different duty free shops that sell the same stuff. I can't remember if I closed my eyes in this airport...I don't think so, because I found free Wi-Fi and was on Facebook with my PSP.

11:50am Took off from Dubai for our 13hr flight to Melbourne, Australia. Watched a few movies that have the violent parts taken out, also The Hurt Locker, The Proposal, 30 Rock, Food Inc., Up, Land of the Lost (I know about half of that movie was edited by the airline); fell asleep a few times. Maybe a total of 2 hrs? Not sure. I missed an important part of Food Inc., or so I am told.


1:30am Arrived in Melbourne (now this is where it gets weird, because it is mid-morning AUS time but this whole blog is related to India time), had an hour to walk around their duty free shops, mostly the same, except we saw a whole hand bag of Tim Tams that you could buy and 300% more stuffed koalas. It felt nice to move the legs, one of mine really hurt. The food on this flight has been good, not great. I am going to crash hard.

2:30am We got back on the same plane to go to Auckland. They chose to board the people who had already been on the plane first. A bunch of us passengers, maybe 20 or so, were waiting to board, when some lady decides to push her way to the front thinking she is the only one getting back on. Stuff like that makes you mad when you haven't slept very much. Watched Night at the Museum... well, most of it. I snagged 90 min or so of sleep.

6:20am 48 hrs exactly after my watch alarm had woken us up in Goa, our plane touched down in New Zealand. (How do I know? The alarm was still set.) We cleared customs fine, but next time I won't say to the customs officer, "If I hadn't kept a journal in India, I wouldn't remember what had happened while in Goa." (The customs guy had been to Goa so he was cool about it (and by cool I mean he didn't haul me in for a full cavity search (not that he would have found any drugs on, in, or any other preposition related to my body or luggage) for drugs)). It must be another one of those things you say when you haven't had much sleep.

7:30 AM (4:00pm New Zealand time) We snagged a shuttle into Auckland and checked in to the BK Hostel. We went straight to bed. I slept for 6 hrs or so, woke up and watched some TV, went out for a walk, ate a kebab, walked by a drag competition at a night club (remember, this is the middle of the day in India, but now like 2:00am in NZ; I was lucky to find food). Watched CSI Miami, went back to bed for another 6 hours. Vanessa slept the whole time, 16 hours, I think.

The next morning, ate a meat pie and caught the bus to Hamilton.


(Willing Workers On Organic Farms - OR - World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The book and the website say two different things!)

Outside of Hamilton, we WWOOFed for a couple that had a few animals - 5 chickens, 8 sheep, a gaggle of geese, and 4 cows. Our jobs consisted of feeding the animals which took all of 7 min if we fed the sheep by hand, and doing various chores in the garden and around the house. WWOOFers are expcted to work 4-6hrs a day in return for their room and board, but most of the jobs we were given only took 2-3 hrs at the most, so we were able relax a bunch. Unfortunately, it was rainning most of the time so we couldn't enjoy our free time outside. We were saved by an extensive movie collection. Spent a half day in Hamilton walking through the gardens. They had model gardens from different parts of the world... the English garden was our favorite, and the Chinese, Japanese, and Indian were spot on. But the American garden was crap. It looked (and was) like a poolside of a 1970's palm springs resort, complete with a mosaic of Marlyn Monroe.

After our stint in Hamilton, we caught the bus to Rotorua and spent one night in the town and made one fatal mistake that turned into two. First mistake was going to the Polynesian Spa. The concept is great (though a bit pricey) - go soak in thermal pools as you watch the sun set. No matter that it is full of Asians - they are everywhere, and you can get used to them. You can even excuse the small white bits that resemble peeling skin that are floating in the water (Vanessa didn't excuse them). The real mistake came when we tried to shower off the rotten egg smell of sulfur that comes with thermal pools, but it didn't leave us - it was on our skin, swim suits, towels, hair, and all of that stuff had to be packed into our bags the next morning. The second fatal mistake was that we stayed at the pools so long that by the time we cleaned up and discarded our stinky clothes at the hostel it was after 10pm, which in New Zealand means you can't get a bite to eat... anywhere (not even a kebab this time). Did I mention that we hadn't eaten in... well, it had been a long time and the smell of rotten eggs does make a man hungry, so we had to resort to the only place that served food after 10:00pm - McDonald's. I will just say we lived.

The next morning our new WWOOF host picked us up from our hostel. We didn't know what they looked like and they knew nothing about us so they told us to wave a piece of toilet paper in the air. Normally this would have been fine, I have on several occasions waved about a bit of long white paper and felt quite liberated. The problem was that our host was 20 min late so Vanessa and I were stuck waving toilet paper at every car that went by. When a car would drive up a rush of expectancy would wash over us and send us into a vigorous waving spell but when they only glanced in our direction and continued on by we would start to feel a bit foolish waving toilet paper on a stick.

We worked a lot at this WWOOF place, but we were rewarded very well... good food, amazing view overlooking lake Tarawarea, kayaks, and I even got to go sailing. We stayed for two weeks along with two German WWOOFers. There was a ton of gardening to do, and you think four people over two weeks should be able to knock out any amount of gardening, but they also decided that one corner of their house should have the moss scraped off and repainted, and then they decided to add on this other wall, and then, "Could you also paint the back of the house?" And then, "Well, just go ahead and finish the rest." So we painted their whole house.

After that, we caught a bus from Rotorua to Napier. We had not been able to find a WWOOFing host before Christmas so we were forced to just bum around hostels for the next few weeks. Napier was a town we liked... long beach walks, Spanishy art deco all around town, very nice.

From Napier we took the bus to Wellington. We only spent one night there, which was enough. It was cold, windy, and expensive. We did see that giant squid at their science museum, and allegedly Tyra Banks was in town shooting for some show (yes, I know the name of it, but refuse to say it, so there), but we didn't see her or care.

The next day we caught the ferry to the South Island. We landed in Picton, which we only spent one night in, but we could have spent longer and have been happy. They have a Dutch bakery with great bread, the hostel had Sky cable, hot tub, exercise equipment, free breakfast, and even though we didn't get to use it - a pizza oven. Just in case you ever go to Picton, stay at Tombstone Hostel.

Next stop was Nelson. Not so great, hostel didn't pick us up, and we had to walk at least half a mile with all of our gear. We didn't stay at that hostel very long, we moved to one closer to the center of town. I don't recommend staying in Nelson as long as we did, but do it if you are on your way to the Abel Tasman National Park. We only spent one day in the Abel Tasman, but if we had the gear we would have spent a week. I should explain... the Abel Tasman is a coast line that has been set aside as a reserve, no road access of any kind. People are dropped off by water taxi on a beach and picked up on another beach and brought back to your car. We were dropped off at Bark Bay and walked to Anchorage Bay; they say it is a 4 hr walk but we did it in 2:30. In any case, about 9kms. Other people are dropped off and can camp and hike for several days. What we saw was some amazing scenery - beaches that look like they are made of graham crackers, and a blue sea that makes you think you are in a tropical paradise. A very beautiful place.

From there we traveled to Kaikoura and spent Christmas there. Not the greatest hostel, but it did the job. Kaikoura is known for the whales that come in to feed, but to see them you have to take a boat or helicopter trip, which cost at least $150NZ. So we were content to walk the beaches, look at seals, and tour a lavendar farm. Christmas didn't seem the same when it is 70 degrees, light 'til 9:30, and no presents to open, but we made due by talking to family on Skype and on the phone. Christmas Eve we went to a Catholic Mass just so we could sing Christmas carols, and then left before they started drinking blood.

Caught the bus a few days later to Christchurch. Did I mention that between the curvy roads and the way the drivers drive the bus it makes a perfect opportunity to get motion sick. We managed to hold it together for this trip.

We are now in Christchurch. We saw our New Zealand friends for 30 min before they were whisked off to the airport, leaving us to care for their house, lawn, and... well, hopefully not the food in their fridge. They won't get that back. They live, like, 300 ft from the beach (will have to measure it sometime), and just over a mile or so from the grocery store. Mostly we have been relaxing, walking and running on the beach, mountain biking, surfing, and reading.

Our friends come back tomorrow, and we leave Christchurch on Friday for another WWOOF experience. We're going to a town called Hanmer Springs. Like Rotorua (mentioned above), this town is known for its thermal springs... but we visited Hanmer Springs last time we were in New Zealand, and these pools are not rife with dead skin floaties or Asians.

Will update again when we get the chance!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Catch a wave any way you can.

This is me surfing with an inflatable mat in India. Hopefully soon I will be posting some real surfing from NZ.

Ryan's Bag?

How would you define this bag?


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ryan's DSMS Post

This post is mainly for my former fellow teachers, but you regular readers may feel free to read.

While I was in New Delhi, I was missing all you DSMS people. The streets of Delhi can only be described if one was to position themselves in the middle of the 7oo building on a Friday, at the end of 6th period, when Ms. Wilson has a sub... but instead of middle schoolers, imagine a mixture of auto rickshaws, people, livestock, and what not. As I was navigating this mess I happened to see in a shop a silver scorpion, which I promptly bought and decided to carry it around the world to remind me of you teachers doing real work.

Feel free to read my other posts to see what we have been up to. We (my wife, the scorpion, and I) are in the village of Palalom, state of Goa, country India. We have been passing the days on the beach not doing much at all when into my head came the idea that the scorpion and I should start a school. Well we did, and we are calling it Ocean Springs Middle School, or OSMS.

Currently, our average daily attendance is still at 0% so we are not expecting a bonus check at next year's kick-off.

Just to get things started we had a world cafe to talk about the difference between DSMS and OSMS. We decided to organize our thoughts on a double bubble thinking map and since we were a bit short on paper we did it in the sand.

I know it s a bit hard to read, as the light of the setting sun was not helping, but these are the first things that we came up with.

First, students: we don't have any. What we do have is an abundance of cows. They roam the beaches freely. Will have to get SART after them.

Second, food: one of the things we miss is the Mexican food, which is non-existent in India. But it does seem that every restaurant serves something called "Maxican" food (not a spelling error of mine), and the sad thing is their spelling is better than the making of the food.

Third, coffee: teachers run on Starbucks, which we don't have here (can you believe it?). What we do have is Chai Tea, made fresh and hot.

Fourth, dress code: the thing that surprised me the most is that there is in fact a dress code here in Goa... you must be in some kind of local hippie garb, or swim wear. Now, I am not advocating this dress code for DSMS but I did find it interesting.

The only thing that I could find off the top of my head that the two schools have in common is massive amounts of sand. So that is where we will start.

I also figured we would use the local rules that are already in place (take special notice of the third rule in the red section, it is one I think DSMS could adopt):

This is an interdisciplinary team meeting:

Good news, we do have a CST... it dosen't stand for California State Testing, it is the Central Train Station in Mumbi:

Just thought you would like to see the view from one of potential classrooms, makes late night grading seem a bit more appealing... not much, but a bit:

Applications to OSMS can be sent to Beach Hut #4, Palolem, Goa.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day in the life.

This is how our days have been going for the last few weeks here in Palolem Goa India.

Wake up, not too early, lest say between 8:00 and 11:00?

Takes a few min to dawn our swim suits and grab beach paraphernalia for the day. On the way to the beach we stop at a German bakery, we know it is authentic German bakery because the name of the restaurant is "German Bakery"........ so it may not be authentic but it is the only place we can get pastreys and they are not bad. This is a Chi Tea that I am too lazy to rotate so turn your necks to the left.

We take our confections and eat them on the beach. As soon as we are done we take our pill, the one that keeps us from getting malaria. Several people told us that we might get head aches or hallucinate, if we used the medication but for better of worse we have felt no effects (and no malaria)

Between breakfast and 1:00PM we cycle between, sun, shade, water, riding waves, laying on the floaty, reading, sleeping...... It is crucial to switch between activities often due to the intensity of the sun. This is the view that we get when we eat on the beach.

Around 1:00 PM we stop for a sweet lime soda. We have had one (or more) every day. We are served them in a beach side restaurant overlooking the ocean. This fufills several functions, first who wouldn't want something to cool down with, second since it is made of fresh lime juice and soda water it replaces electrolytes and vitamin C.

After the refreshing drink has passed we have one of the largest choices of the day,

A) Eat a small lunch and have dinner at 8.
B) Eat a large lunch and have dinner at 9.
C) Eat a snack and have dinner at 7.
D) Fast that afternoon and go all out at 6:30.

The size of the lunch and time between the next meal and the size of that meal is directly related with the size of the meals having an inverse relationship.

All options are followed up with ice cream and walk on a moon lit beach.

After lunch we have many options, go for a walk, use the internet, nap, read a book, go back in the water... very similar to our morning options except that nap is chosen more frequently. After that we will sit on the beach for the last 3 hrs until the sun sets. This is when the sellers can be the most annoying. They come up and are very nice to you asking you where you are from, is it your first time in India..... and so on, they will talk your ear off and then try to sell you stuff, jewelry, sarongs, CD's.... what ever. The women who sell jewelry are the most annoying because they will say it is free to look but if you do and don't buy anything they will get mad at you and complain that you wasted their time. This is the one time Vanessa bought stuff. (also notice my sweet man bag).

Here are some pic of us on the beach.

This is where we are staying.

Sunset, it is like this every night.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


This is how we spend our days when we want some excitement. Not a bad life.