dinsdag 11 augustus 2015

November in New Zealand - or: our last month in Wanaka

Hello lovely readers! Below you'll find November's travelogue, covering the last month Mark and I spent in Wanaka. Meaning: the last post that might be slightly boring to read - and even a teensy bit negative at times...apologies for that! Just trying to stay close to the truth, instead of showing a polished reality. And don't worry, there are some promising foretastes of what's about to come included as well!

Click here for the automatically translated Dutch version of this blogpost.


Mark did something very special today: he went looking for gold(!), together with John (Mark’s colleague), who has serious plans with a patch of land somewhere close to Wanaka. Today's work consisted mostly of taking samples, to see whether the concentration of gold is high enough. At a lot of places the question is not really if the gold is there (because it is), but if there’s a sufficient amount to make mining actually profitable. After John’s and Mark’s first ‘prospect’, it seems like this might be the case. Promising results, but it needs to be investigated further. It’s all very interesting and also quite complicated, very geological and exactly Mark's cup of tea. John knows quite a bit of geology and his father has been mining gold for years, so he can tell Mark plenty about it. In the meantime I kept busy making curtains and tea towels for in the van, and I went for a run. Gotta stay fit!

Don't you just love these cozy curtains? Made from an old bed sheet, scored
at Wastebusters of course!


It was a bit of a messy - but productive day today. I had to do 3 massages, and in between we went shopping at Wastebusters to get some stuff for the van. We spent a total of $70 for pretty much all the bed linen (including blankets, pillows, covers...everything really!), all the kitchenware and cutlery and some extra clothes for Mark. Isn't that incredible? I really love Wastebusters, I wish they had a place like that in every single town. Their motto ‘Repair – Reuse – Recycle’ is very environmental friendly too; an inspiring counter-reaction against modern consumerism.
It was raining cats and dogs, so we went for an indoor climb at Basecamp afterwards and had a good work-out. Life with “granny” still doesn't go very smoothly; luckily she left today for a 2-day trip out of town.

If you’ve read our previous post, you might remember that our granny-housemate is quite a typical lady… She’s very precise; everything needs to be done her way really. She has a habit of constantly intervening, pointing out how (or how often) I need to do our laundry, telling us to keep the windows open or closed in our bedroom, prohibiting us from using the dishwasher because in her opinion the dishes won’t get clean enough, etc. Mark and I are trying to politely follow up her rules where we can, but we’re really starting to feel like we have to tip-toe around the house. It’s a bit worse for me, since I’m home more often than Mark…frequently together with granny, and I’m not really feeling relaxed at those moments. Weird, because we are paying rent to live here, really. It feels a bit like we’re expected to behave like guests instead of tenants!


With granny’s help (she deserves credit for this!) Mark found a car mechanic/electrician who is more than willing to help us out with the electrics in the van (just because he enjoys doing it!) and who might have a secondary car battery for us. Amazing! More good news is that the concentration of gold in the samples Mark and John took last weekend is indeed pretty high. They will probably go for a second prospect soon, to take more samples and investigate the area further.
The weather is pretty bad at the moment (still lots of rain), but perfect for working on the curtains, pillows and macramé plant hangers for in the van - if you're going to live like a hippy, better make sure you do it right huh?! Meanwhile I'm doing massages, stayed busy with housekeeping (washing out all our thrifted linen), did some skyping with my bestie, ánd we sneakily already orientated ourselves a little bit on what we possibly want to do after NZ...

The macrame plant hangers...


The weather is getting better, thankfully. Yesterday at the end of the afternoon I went running to Mark's work (6,5km) to admire the latest progress on the house, which is turning out very nicely.
We drove home together where I took a shower and dressed up for work. I had to do just one massage, after which we had a barbecue with Elena and Quentin (my Spanish massage colleague and her boyfriend) and their French friends Marc and Emily. Quentin insisted on calling Marc and Emily ‘the possum family’, because they love New Zealand’s (expensive!) possum knitwear so much that they can’t stop buying it, haha! Silly French people… We all went to the resort again where Elena and Quentin lived for the past season, even though they left the place last week. They said nobody would check on us and it would be totally fine, which turned out to be true. We had a great meal together, sharing some good travel stories as usual. After they left Mark and I went for a dip in the hotpool, a perfect ending to a lovely night. Quentin and Elena had left Wanaka last weekend and made a trip to Mt. Cook National Park, but came back today to pick up some stuff and organize a couple of things. They're leaving again now towards Milford Sound, but will be back agáin in a few days. Having ordered a new solar panel for their van to be delivered at our address they have no choice really, but actually we just think they like Wanaka too much. Which makes sense, because it’s an awesome place :) 

Mark, standing on the roof of the house he helps building. Just look at the
view it has, on Lake Wanaka and the mountains...isn't that insane?!

Today was a quiet day with a bit of work. I earned $30 on tips – yay! Supposedly it’s an American holiday, resulting in lots of US tourists who are very generous when it comes to tips. Besides work I did some crafting (painting mohair on commission) and messed around in the van. Mark made very nice anti-skid mats to go on the kitchen shelves and I cut and sewed our mattress cover to size.


Sigh. Working on call drives me completely crazy sometimes. The timing is often so terrible, you start to think they do it on purpose (which is ridiculous, of course... I know). Today Mark finished work early and I had nothing to do. The weather was great, so we wanted to go climbing at Mt. Iron. Just as we were about to leave, all packed up and ready to go... PLING! “60 minute massage in 45 minutes please”... Argh! I know these are the consequences of working on-call, but só often it goes exactly like this! And when Mark's working and I'm thinking ‘hopefully I'll get a few massages today (and don’t have to spend all day at home with granny)’: nothing! Nada! I don't want to keep going on about it or sound like I’m complaining all the time... I know I just have to accept that this is the way it is right now, it’s not like it’s forever. Plus the pay rates are very good... But goodness, flexibility is SO not my strongest point! I just need to persist in seeing these moments as a way to become better at it, I guess. Anyway, after work we still had time for a short climb and a visit to Paul (the car mechanic/electrician) who indeed had a battery for us and really helped us out with the wires and electrics and stuff. Meanwhile I played with their enthusiastic dog and 2 cats. So it kind of turned out to be a good day after all.

The view from Mt. Iron, on Albert Town (a kind of suburb of Wanaka).
Check out the size of the backyards people have here!


Today we finally bóth had the day off and took our chance to visit Rob Roy’s Glacier. We’ve been talking about doing that for weeks, so we were pretty excited to finally have a perfect day for it, with good weather and no work. The road through the Matukituki Valley (which leads towards the glacier) is all unsealed and quite corrugated, and you constantly have to dodge sheep and sometimes even cows. It was quite tough on poor Carry, but very much worth the effort. Really, what a breathtakingly beautiful area! The hilly grasslands stretch out on both sides of the road, gradually rising into steeper mountains that eventually form the almost vertical walls of the valley. Everywhere you look waterfalls dramatically drop down from these walls, endlessly filling crystal clear pools from which curvy little streams meander through the meadows. (Gosh, I even went a bit poetic there!) Can you imagine it? Words fall short really, I can’t believe places like this still exist. Nature here is untouched by human hands, besides the road we were driving on. The peacefulness is hard to describe…

Raspberry Creek Carpark, with a view into the Matukituki Valley. 

We did the track towards Rob Roy's glacier (10km return), where we were treated with an amazing view of the melting glacier. We went at a good time; during spring you can really see this brutal force of nature in full action. Hearing the ice cracking (a magical, frightening sound!) and witnessing several small avalanches was a truly humbling experience, luckily all from a safe distance. The weather – and thus the visibility couldn’t have been better, it was like we had first range seats for one of nature’s spectacular show-offs. 

The glacier in all its glory.

Yours truly, on the bridge over the Matukituki River.

Next we went climbing at Wishbone Falls. Climbing next to a waterfall in a heavenly beautiful valley? It doesn't get any better than this! Very tired but even more satisfied we got back home at 20.30... Hopefully we'll go back there again, maybe even for a few days!

The view from the Wishbone Falls climbing spot. Pretty amazing huh?

Let me expand on the climbing for a bit more. Wishbone Falls are a couple of waterfalls like the ones I mentioned earlier, in the Matukituki Valley. We stopped along the road, because according to our climbing guidebook there had to be a couple of bolted routes just next to these waterfalls. Something we highly doubted - like I said: the valley is really desolate and a long ride away from civilization. We had to walk through some meadows to reach the edge of the valley and the waterfalls dropping down from its walls. The pool at the feet of the falls surrounded by small hills with grazing sheep everywhere absolutely deserved the word ‘paradise’ and was worth the short walk even if we wouldn’t be able to climb…but believe it or not: little glimmering bolts on the rock meant there were climbable routes indeed!
Climbing next to a waterfall...it doesn't get much

I don’t think we ever climbed at a more beautiful, spectacular location, and the climbs were exciting as well! You know what, this is one of the things I so love about climbing. Without the promise of those routes, we would’ve had no reason to stop at the side of the road and cross the meadows and discover this little paradise.


Sore muscles, but still very satisfied! Now we’re looking forward even more to traveling around and enjoying more of such amazing days. First, however, there'll have to be a few more weeks of making money. Today I had two 90 minute massages and one 60 minute one, while Mark did some more work on the van again. The fridge, gas cooker and lights are now working; it’s more and more starting to look like a livable home-on-wheels!


Today I massaged the Oak Ridge (where the Spa is located) resort’s owner for the 3rd time, on request. You would expect he would finally give me a tip now, especially since he only has to pay half of the price anyway, and he's also huge (like in: HUGE!) with muscles like a wall, which makes firm pressure massages hard work! Pfff :P 

How I get called to work...lol!

The first birthday cards are slowly starting to come in, it’s really nice being the birthday girl for almost a whole week like this!


Happy birthday to me! Let's not mention my age…it feels like 30 is slowly coming in sight now, which sounds só old! This morning I first Skyped with mom and dad, who recorded the sweetest video ever: singing for me wearing Hawaii-style flower necklaces, haha! I love them so much :) I know me being here isn't always easy for them, but they're also very proud and supportive, more than I could wish for! There were more cards and presents in the mail and Mark came home with the sweetest hand-written birthday card ever, and as a present... belay glasses! Hello super-awkward climbing look, goodbye sore neck and headache! We ate a massive tortilla stack (we pretty much had to roll into our bed afterwards, walking wasn’t possible anymore) and my day was perfect. Birthday in spring for the first time in my life!

For everyone who’s wondering now: “what the heck are belay glasses?!” I’ll provide a little explanation. When climbing, one person belays the other person – the climber. The higher the climber gets, the more the belayer has to look up to keep an eye on how things are going, ready to catch a fall if necessary. This is especially the case with lead climbing, which is what we usually do outside. Since we started spending an increasing amount of time at the rocks during the last couple of months, I noticed an annoying headache each time after climbing, that sometimes even lasted up to a couple of days. Nothing too bad, but still quite annoying. It didn’t take us long to figure out what caused this; it’s a common climber’s problem – or actually: a belayer’s problem. Because of the constant looking up, tissues in the neck get pinched, resulting in a nagging pain in the head and cervical spine. To solve this problem, some creative climbing folks designed the so-called belay glasses: a type of glasses with little mirrors in them, kind of working like a periscope. The mirrors are built in on such an angle that when you seem to be looking straight forward, you’re actually looking úp through the glasses. With the help of this handy device, the belayer doesn’t constantly have to bend his or her head backwards anymore to keep a close eye on the climber! Excellent…except that the glasses look absolutely ridiculous, even a bit terrifying on some persons :P But I guess I’d rather be pain-free than fashionable! It’s a very thoughtful birthday gift :)


You won't believe what happened today...we're being kicked out of the house! I had been washing our bed linen and was hanging it out, when all of a sudden an angry granny stood behind me, yelling at me. I misunderstood her at first; I thought she was telling me she was moving out in a few weeks, and I happily responded that we were going to leave around that time as well, so all would work out fine. But then she responded that WE were the ones leaving - in 10 days, adding that I didn't have to look so surprised. I thought we were acting up pretty well to all her crazy rules, but apparently it still wasn't good enough. Now we have to leave before we're done working (both Mark and I told our bosses we’d work till 31 November), which is absolutely not practical... And I'm stuck with an even grumpier granny the rest of the time. I have to admit I had a bit of a meltdown over it, why does she have to make things so hard on us? The first thing this woman checks when she gets home from work is if all her teaspoons are in the drawer, and if not, she starts yelling at us even with her coat still on! If she instead just looked 1 meter to her right, she’d see the spoons lying to dry on the rack together with the rest of the dishes, after we’d been washing them. I mean, really? What’s up with her? It’s just one of many recurring examples of her strange behavior…or is it just me? I really don’t know how to behave in her proximity anymore!


It’s becoming way too quiet again at the Spa. No work yesterday and just a single 60 minute massage today. Meanwhile I'm dying and re-rooting (translated: making doll wigs) a lot to at least make some money. Yesterday I ran to Mark's work again. It's fun to see the progress on the beautiful villa! Actually we both just try to get out of the house as often as possible, mainly to avoid granny…so after work we went for a beer with John at the Waterbar. Talked about gold mining and compared Mark to Sir Edmund Hillary, with his current huge beard. He’s not really standing out at the moment though, since it’s Movember here…the month in which you’re supposed to grow your moustache and beard. Although I must say that in Mark’s case October was kind of a Movember too…just as September for that matter... Oh, and they handed out pork rolls at the Waterbar, so we were all like: yay, free food! After tasting one of them I completely understood why they gave them away for free though, gulp…


Today was a bit of a strange day, somehow. I was on call but wasn't called to work. It was really windy, sometimes it rained and sometimes the sun was shining. Mark realized he lost his wallet. He even went through the security videos of the shop we went to yesterday and where he last used it, to eventually find it under the blankets of our bed… No comments please :P We went shopping at Wastebusters and Salvy's (which really seems to have become a weekly ritual now) and had a coffee and ice cream (Hokey Pokey for live! Why had I never heard of this flavor before I came to New Zealand?!) in town. We started cleaning and vacuuming the van - which was certainly necessary after all the working on it - and finished the day with a slightly bizarre movie: Incendies.


Hayden and Maddie were in town! We went climbing together at Roadside, a new area for all of us. There was an awesome roof for the guys to play (and show off ;)) in, I had a go at it myself too...meanwhile chatting away and catching up on travel stories. If I hear the talk I – once again - can't wait to hit the road ourselves!

Mark struggling his way through the roof.

You might remember from last month’s blogpost that our American friends Hayden (with whom Mark has been working the last couple of months) and Maddie left Wanaka, to explore the rest of the South Island. They started with the area below Wanaka, a region that covers more or less the lower third of the island. Right now they’ve come back up, passing through Wanaka again before settling down in Cromwell for a couple of weeks: a little town close to Wanaka. They will work there in one of the many vineyards there for 2 or 3 weeks before moving on to the rest of the South Island.

Tonight we were invited at Carl's (Mark's boss) for a barbecue. John (Mark’s colleague), his wife Amy and their kids were there, as well as two other couples. We had a great time: friendly people, a beautiful house, and Carl’s wife Jill is an absolutely praiseworthy cook!

A close up shot of one of Rob Roy's glacier's many crown walls.


I got finally called again to do a massage today. Quentin and Elena were back in town again and their solar panel had arrived, so Mark helped Quentin with installing it on their car's roof, while I helped Elana sewing and mending their curtains. Afterwards we had a barbecue at the resort again, where we listened to their stories about the Catlins (a region in the south of the South Island), the Keppler Track (one of New Zealand’s great walks), the Milford Sound and a lost telephone in a garbage bin... I'm a bit afraid this was the last time we went to the resort though, we got *ahum* a bit of a eeh…warning for trespassing (*looking very ashamed*). 

A little explanation of the phone in the garbage bin: after spending the day at the lakeside somewhere, Quentin found out he lost his phone. So, retracing what they had done that day, and where he had last used his phone, they drove back to the lakeside to look for it. Calling himself with Elena’s phone they searched the area, until he heard his ringtone…coming out of a garbage bin. Because, apparently, he had thrown it away, somehow. He had to dig through the trash to retrieve it…but at least he got his phone back! Lol, this is really something that could only happen to a guy like Quentin, I’m quite sure his life is never boring.

A little movie of Mark climbing at Wishbone Falls.


The guys hadn't quite finished fixing the solar panel to the roof of Quentin and Elena’s car (Quentin had bought the wrong size screws, he's not exactly a natural DIY-er). So after work they came by again to finish it, while Elena and I continued on the curtains and talked about life on the road, movies, books and relationships…just a good ol’ bit of girl talk :) After exchanging some movies for rainy days, it was finally time for them to leave - with a full hard disk, fixed curtains and a solar panel on the roof. The leaving took another hour, our friends kept on packing, unpacking and repacking endlessly, moving stuff around in the van and tying surfboards to the roof; everything just barely fitted. Then it took about 80 tries to get the van out of the garage, which was quite a hilarious sight.. However, we will definitely miss them, they're a great couple and likeminded souls. I hope we will see them again at some point, in New Zealand or anywhere else. Safe travels Quentin & Elena!!


Luckily it's slowly getting busier again at the Spa. I massaged three Americans at the Edgewater Resort yesterday (US clients means tips, ka-ching!). The last client turned out to be a journalist, who gave me a crash course on the American immigration policy. He was quite passionate about it, to put it mildly… (you're not really supposed to talk to the clients, but some of them just can’t keep quiet :P ).

Nothing really exciting happened besides that, just lots of random stuff…, which altogether made for some pretty awesome days though, to be honest! I got Mark (against his will) addicted to the tv-series Lost (check out one of my recent posts about it here) and I received a belated birthday gift from my bestie Eef: Lush products, a handmade leather journal, and the sweetest birthday card. She knows how to spoil me!

Happy birthday gifts from Eef!

Through the Wanaka Trading group on Facebook we scored a free bike rack for our 2 bikes and on Trademe.co.nz we got a camping stove and Personal Locator Beacon. Oh, and the flashing little light in the van that kept bothering us turned out to be just a broken sensor, and we didn't even have to pay to get it replaced!

A little bit about the Personal Locator Beacon, or short: PLB. We spent quite some thinking on whether to buy one or not, because these little devices are insanely expensive, and you can also rent them from the Department of Conservation. A PLB is a kind of personal safety device that can alert search and rescue services and allow them to quickly locate you (based on GPS coordinates, sent via a satellite system) in case of an emergency. It works wherever you are: deep in the jungle or in the middle of an ocean – you just need to pull out the antenna and hold a button for a few seconds. Since the phone coverage in the South Island is quite limited (only really existing in and around towns), you won’t be able to call for help when something happens in the backcountry, unless you’re on a mountaintop. That’s the main reason why the DOC offices throughout the island rent those devices to trampers and other kinds of adventurers, making sure they can send an SOS signal in case of a broken leg or worse (as long as you’re still conscious, of course…but let’s not go there ;)).

Mark and I both agreed on not going out into the backcountry without such a device, and already noticed that even on some more remote climbing spots (like in the Matukituki Valley) it might be a useful thing to have at hand. We’re also planning on quite some multiday hiking trips. After much debating, it seemed like the soundest idea (both financially and logistically) to get a PLB ourselves, instead of renting one every time. A big investment, but I guess you don’t want to save on your personal safety!

Mark having a lazy moment on a flat stone island, in the Matukituki Valley.


Today I had to do a massage in someone's personal hotel room, which meant dragging a massage table and suitcase full of towels and linen around the resort. Sigh…who’s idea was this?! The client had the balcony doors open and all of a sudden there was a curious little bird hopping under the massage table, so sweet! I’ll admit it instantly made up for the effort :)

Tonight I had mistaken the time for another massage by an hour, so I had Mark pick me up again to have a beer together at the lake (ssssh!! Just one!). The poor guy thought he finally had a contemplative moment for himself… It's very windy once again, but luckily I have gathered some nice blankets over the past few weeks at Wastebusters – because, what’s a campervan without some snuggly plaids?!

Staying warm at the lakeside in one of our thrifted blankets.


Hayden and Maddie came for a coffee this morning! They finished their job at the vineyard in Cromwell, and are leaving the area now for real. This time they brought an American friend along, who will travel with them in their car for a while. Which is pretty unbelievable actually, since they have just a station wagon with a mattress in the back – poor girl sleeps outside in a hammock during the night! Their plan is to travel the Haast Pass and then go up the West Coast towards the North Island. It was really great to see them one last time! A bit sad as well, it feels like everyone is leaving Wanaka...but so will we, in just about one more week.
I had to do a bunch of massages today and wanted to relax a bit afterwards by taking a bath tonight, which resulted in another crash with granny...so much for the restored peace.

Yeah, the situation with our English housemate hasn’t really improved, sadly enough. A couple of days after she gave us our sudden notice, somehow things escalated between her and me agáin. I have never experienced something like this before, we simply seem not to be able to be in the same room without ending up in a fight. While I’m actually quite conflict-avoiding normally! Things went so badly this time that I knew nothing else to do but to run out of the house (before I’d really start shouting things I would regret later), calling Mark on the street. I was sobbing, completely losing it, I SO hate these kind of situations! It feels like I’m drowning in all kinds of overwhelming emotions (anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness), losing all rationality and normal perspective. Mark was just on his lunch break, and decided to quickly come home before returning to work. I’m glad he did, he handles these situations a lot better than I do. I don’t know how, but somehow he managed to calm both granny and me down and even agree on a departing date that would work for all of us. Seriously, what would I do without him?!

Anyway, the peace seemed to be restored, but it turned out to be only for a couple of days. A quiet bath was not admitted – this time even our German housemate (whom granny favors like a son – her words!) apologized for her behavior towards me. Sigh…I. Can’t. Wait. To. Leave.

View from our street: farmers burning tussock on the hills, to clear
grassland for the sheep.


We had our weekly trip to Wastebusters again. Mark found some new books - he's over the moon with his Neil Young biography. He wants to read a lot in the van, and I can't help but finding reading men very sexy :) I continued cleaning the van, which makes a huge difference (I actually think the vehicle was once owned by a chain smoker; the roof above the front chairs turns out to be a completely different color after a good clean up!) and Mark finished the last of the woodwork in it. Just one more week to go - I'm a little bit nervous!

Oh, we also both have a wetsuit now. We figured they might come in handy while traveling along the coast a lot – New Zealand’s sea waters are apparently not of the warmest kind. I got mine earlier this week and Mark got his today from a couple from Uruguay. Very friendly folks of our age, we hang out with them for a bit. They got a perfect little unit all for themselves, a bit like a little holiday apartment in someone’s backyard (honestly: right now any place without yelling housemates seems better than our current living situation). She decorated it very creatively, he had his climbing gear hanging around…so there was an instant click :) They were leaving Wanaka for Australia, so Mark (having lived and traveled in Australia for 2 years) could give them some advice about where to go. I really love this part of traveling: meeting people from al over the world!

Some of my crafty results of November: hand dyed
roving and sock yarn :)


It's a bit of a messy week; it feels weird to know we will be leaving Wanaka in a week, after having lived here for four months. Mark's still mucking around at work: the house is almost done now, so in that regard our departure is very well timed. I do a few massages here and there. Yesterday I had to treat the resort owner again (remember, my hardest client?!); a 90 minute firm pressure treatment, and, sigh….nope, still no tip! Meanwhile I sewed the last pillows for the van, got my hands on a good letter of recommendation from my employer at the spa, and registered and figured out our PLB - we should be totally safe now! Wanaka is slowly getting busier, the number of campervans by the lake is growing steadily.


Emotional meltdown yesterday... Nothing worked out well: granny dictated when I had to do my laundry and was complaining about the smell in our room. Well, sorry granny…I have a boyfriend who works really hard and comes home in sweaty clothes, that’s why I always open the windows in our bedroom! Maybe it would help if you didn’t sneakily close them again every time when we’re out?! Oh, and since when do I have to take off my helmet in the post office? (As if I don’t hate wearing that thing enough already…I’m a Dutchie for heaven’s sake, I KNOW how to ride my bicycle!) And why can't the bank exchange my 10 US dollars (massage tip) for New Zealand dollars? Sigh... And then on top of all that my Macbook screen stopped working... It was just one of those days when the world seems to be against you, and having a good cry is the only solution for that. Luckily I have the best boyfriend in the world (“come to papa bear and let it all out, go on...”) and today it seems to be going a bit better again. Of course :) I’m probably just stressed out by the situation with granny and a little bit anxious about our big upcoming change of moving into the van. This whole ‘living & traveling overseas’ thing can be so overwhelming at times!

The result of many hours of hard work...doesn't our kitchen look amazing?!


Well, the laptop seems to be miraculously working again, and so does granny. She's being impossible again! I spent 1,5 hour cleaning the bathroom today, but she was still nowhere near satisfied. I don't like to despise someone so much, to let someone have so much influence on me (because I realize it’s partly my own fault, I keep letting her hurt me and taking her behavior way too seriously!). Mark handles it a hundred times better than I do, even though he's getting pretty sick of it too by now. Luckily he came home early today: his very last day at work! He really enjoyed building the house, learnt tons of new stuff and I think his boss was really happy with him too, since gave Mark a nice bonus! It’s always nice to bring something to a good end, and the timing is perfect as well – like I said: the house is pretty much done! I had a massage today, and I'm still on call tomorrow and the day after. Meanwhile it's really time to start moving all our stuff into the van now! Had a nice skype session with my friend Yessica (who, living in Indonesia for a year, is currently geographically my closest Dutch friend) this morning, hopefully I can Skype with everyone else this weekend too…before we have to say goodbye to free wifi!


I actually had quite a busy day at work yesterday, making good money just last minute: two 90 minute and a 60 minute massage with a bit of time between all of them, so it was a lot of cycling back and forth. Meanwhile Mark painted the interior of the van! Of course granny didn't like it (“you should have done that weeks ago!”) but it turned out really nice. It's petrol blue and ochre yellow - the only colours they had at Wastebusters, except for black and white. Today, around midday, we finally managed to leave. We left in a hurry, because granny was acting up again, so we ended up throwing everything randomly in the van and speeding off. Meaning we had to unpack and repack properly at Albert Town Campground, just outside Wanaka... But hey, we left granny for good, and our trip across the South Island has finally started. A new stage of our trip!

One last picture of Rob Roy's glacier, with lots of waterfalls coming down.

And that was it: our four months in Wanaka! Despite some obvious hardships, we're both looking back with a smile. What else could we do, Wanaka has probably been the most beautiful place I've ever lived, and I seriously doubt it will be topped.
Another thing I'm looking back on with great appreciation is the work experience. I know, a couple of paragraphs back I was still complaining like a grumpy old lady...and working on call was definitely a huge challenge for me. But I did it, all the way to the end. I got an excellent letter of recommendation, my clients were happy with me, I had great fun with my colleagues and a friendly but professional relationship with my boss. I left the Netherlands just after quite a negative work experience, which truly made me doubt myself a lot. Even still now, I struggle to process it and let it go. But the positive time at the Spa showed me that I can have good work experiences as well, and that it was not necessarily just me who's to blame. For that I'm really thankful :)
Okay, enough rambling. Next time – finally! – more interesting stuff will be covered, exploring the beauty of New Zealand’s South Island and living on the road together for the first time. Stay tuned!

Last but not least: a cow who pertinently refused moving his
lazy ass, on our way through the Matukituki Valley. 

4 opmerkingen:

  1. Another lovely post full of interesting information! It sounds though, that this granny person is bi-polar or something, well she's definitely not the full ticket, is she! A very miserable dominating personality for sure!
    It's great reading what you've been up to and how you're doing down there in NZ and look forward to the next stages of your trip. As I read this I was just thinking that it must be a whole year now since you left the Netherlands?
    Keep 'em coming Lisette, and keep safe :)
    Hugs Sharon in Spain xx

    1. Thanks for your comment dear Sharon! You're right, the granny was quite something...she didn't make things easy on us, but we tried not to let her spoil our last month in Wanaka :) At least I learnt some new valuable lessons from that period, haha!
      And true, it has been a bit more than a year now! You'd be surprised to hear we're in Asia now (I'm actually writing this comment in a guesthouse in Laos)...so many more stories to tell!

      Big hugs back to you! X


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