Ralph Waldo Emerson

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Camwon and Quitting

Well this has certainly been an eventful week. Let's start with the update from home--

Got to talk to Cameron (aka Camwon) online this morning!!! That was such a relief, I've been worrying about him all week and so fairly well berated him with questions. Since he's not a fully employed fireman yet, he's still working a regular job and so had to go check in at the office--quite a contrast to battle fires for a week and then have to wash up to sit behind a computer for the day. But he'll be back out in the field soon enough--he heads out tomorrow to continue fighting fires. Luckily the news reports say that the fires seem to be dying down as the Santa Ana winds let up, so that's a relief. As for my parents, last time I spoke with them they had a house full of little white poodly type dogs running about. My mother's friend, who boards dogs in her Fallbrook home, brought the entourage over. Dad, who has spent 12 years learning to love our current dog, is likely half praying to be evacuated so he can get away from the mongrels. Fortunately, it seems the fire to the north is beginning to abet and the crew will get to return home soon.

As for life in New Zealand: I've put in my two weeks notice and am continuing along on my travels!! In a two month span I have taken and quit my first official, government taxed job. I had planned to stay here through the New Year, but got a case of itchy feet and so decided it was time to get moving. I'll be sad to leave the buddies I've made here--especially Alica, the other waitress at Pepes. We definitely have had a blast working together and can work up tips like nobody's business (though in New Zealand that amounts to about $15 a night tops. Ah, silly non-tipping countries). And despite how much it sucks cleaning at the Godley, I'll really miss Jeanette and the two Brazilian boys whose flirtations have gotten more and more creative over the past couple weeks. Despite their rather loose grasp of English, mischievous winks and grins are fairly universal. I was really worried that my boss at Pepes would explode when I told her I was leaving and had a whole heroic speech planned out in my head, but she seemed less than surprised...though based on my somewhat forgetful tendencies perhaps I was proving myself more of a liability than an asset :) I mean, I'm great at the chatting part of waitressing, but who can remember to close up the tills every single night? I mean honestly. Perhaps I will conveniently forget to put down her number as a reference on my resume...

Oh! And the Argentinian finally responded to me! Sure, it was with an exasperated, "Will you chut up??" but hey, it's progress. I responded with a very mature, "Or perhaps you should shut up, you are just a chatterbox". That's called wit my friends.

Okay, so that's it from here. I'll let you know how the final two weeks go--though I'm quite certain I haven't a chance of living up to the reputation left in the wake of Jenny from Colorado. Here in Tekapo it's about 7:1 men to women, and let's just say she made full use of her ratio. Some come here for clarity, others for chlamydia, as I like to say. And don't worry dad, I've gotten quite a bit of clarity here.

Hope all's well! Don't go setting any fires!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

San Diego

Looks like things are getting pretty bad back at home. My brother Cameron and a good family friend, Aaron, are graduating from fire academy in November, so the two of them have spent the last few days helping fight the fires. They were on the Ramona fire but yesterday got moved down near the border to fight the Harris fire. I'm really proud of him but really worried too. As is his wife, Julie, who's holding down the fort at home along with her relatives that have been evacuated from around the country.

My parents have been sending me updates and I talk to them as much as possible. Apparently my house is right in the midst of a safe area, so they're safe for now. If you look at the google map, my parents live right between Fallbrook and Vista. I know it's kinda hard to find with all those little icons, but just look in the northern part of the map whre there's that nice open patch. That's home.
View Larger Map They've been really lucky so far, plus my dad is a part of the Vista Fire Board, so not only is he very familiar with the evacuation routes, he also gets a steady stream of updates from the fire chief. Here's one of the updates my mom sent:

"It's 6:30 and still dark as the sky is full of dense smoke. There is no breeze so hopefully the winds will not be as strong as predicted. We are still here as are the neighbors. The fires seem to be all around but not actually endangering us here. Down by the border where Cameron is picked up a couple of new fires in the night and it was very windy there all night. What he will be doing will be a bit safer. The water truck won't be right on the fire line. Will fill you in more as the sun comes up enough to see and get the updates."

I just found out from my parents that one of my mom's friends who evacuated from Fallbrook will be crashing with them for a while--along with her 6 dogs. While mom's really excited, I think dad just got a fast pass to his own personal hell.

Thanks everyone for your concern, I'll keep you posted as I get more news from home.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No More Malibu

So I woke up this morning and hopped online to see what was happening in the world. Lo and behold, my school is right up close to the latest batch of Malibu wildfires. This happens quite a bit in Malibu, so though somewhat concerned, I just think about how many times I sat in my dorm room enjoying a day off from classes while friends and family called in hysterics wondering if I was about to be burned alive. Hopefully the same luck will continue with this one--and in the mean time we can enjoy the melodrama of yellow journalism that only a fire in Malibu can incur.
Check out the articles Wells so expertly found:

And of course, this article deals with our most pressing concern (check out the comments on the end)

And Pepperdine people, don't pull a Brooks...and you theater kids know what I mean.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Throwing down the gauntlet.

Alright, kids, 2 weeks in and the Honeymoon period is over. We're talking The Real World: Tekapo, only with slightly less attractive people. Though I can't write up every crazy thing I've heard and experienced in this town (yet), I can fill you in on my own two personal battles.

The first is with a freaking magpie.

Alright, so that may not seem particularly juicy, but honestly this little thing has it out for me. Every time I go for a hike the nasty rat with wings decides to dive bomb me. I had never before experienced the fury of a magpie, let alone a Kiwi one, so didn't know that it's perfectly normal for them to come screaching down like a fury sent from the heavens and attempt to penetrate your skull with their sharp little beak. Didn't get the memo. So as I'm ambling along on my walk the other day, all hell broke loose. The avian kamikaze comes screaming down on me and so of course my reaction is to scream right back...and flail my arms...and yell curse words at it. I really hope no children were nearby because as this thing made repeated attempts on my life, I yelled out some words that may or may not be more common in the sailor vernacular. The best part was that I had put my rain jacket on over my bag, so when I tried to whip out the purse to use as a flail I ended up just yanking my jacket over my eyes and running blind down the path. Oh god I hope I was alone.

Anyhow, long story short I returned with an improvised shiv (though there isn't really any other kind I suppose) and a fist full of rocks. The little blighter didn't make a return appearance, it knew I meant business. I'm about to set out on my next hike and believe you me, el pavo is going down.

Ah, speaking of Spanish. So the roommate that I hadn't yet spoken to a few posts ago has yet to utter more than 3 connected words to me. At first I thought the poor thing was shy, now I realize she loathes me. Yup. I got a magpie and an Argentinian on my closest enemies list.

I started testing the waters with simple things like: "Hey, do you know where the phone is?" Her response: "Yes" and exit. Ah, good, good to know. I thought it was weird, but again, thought she just wasn't much of a chatter box or was perhaps comotose...that is until I saw her working her magic at lunch the following day. You'd think the girl was doing a stand up act as she chattered away with my fellow coworkers. Then, at home, she and Ness nearly tore apart the Woman's Weekly magazine as they discussed Angelina's scrawny ass.

Alright, tactic 2: confrontation. "Did I do something to offend you? Why won't you talk to me?" Silence. "If we're going to live together, you have to at least be polite to me." Not even an eyebrow. Oooh, she was cold. But doesn't know who she's dealing with.

So now when I return home she gets to hear all about my day. As she sits silently, avoiding eye contact, I fill her in on how I'm doing, how work was. If she's chatting online with her Australian boyfriend (who I found out about through the town informant aka Ness), I empathize with her about how hard it is to be away from people you care about. It's like having one of those voice recorder diaries, I'm totally loving it. I even use a bit of my Spanish on her now and then for kicks. It's better than therapy and cheaper too, I tell you what. Perhaps it also helps that I feel that if it came down to it, I definitely could take her in a brawl. I mean sure she has the height factor, but I'm a bit scrappier. Plus I've been getting good training with the magpie.

Anyway, so that's some of the excitement here. If you think of any other good tactics for magpies or Argentinians please let me know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Holy crud, it's snowing! For reals! Had a great, busy night at the Pepes'. A couple of the guys from my hostel in Geraldine dropped in, and by the time we closed up Pepe's we had quite a merry crew to wander to the pub with. (Geraldine, btw, was a worthwhile little trip that was about as evenetful as a geriatric hospital...except less jello). It's one of the bartenders last nights in Tekapo so they were throwing him a bit of a party. Lots of pool, laughter and all that good stuff, but the very best part was that by the time I left the bar, big fluffy flakes of snow were drifting about. Sure, my little denim jacket is hardly suitable for this kind of weather, but I don't much care. It's snowing and that's awesome. In fact, as I'm writing this I can look out to the one lone street lamp and see the little flakes lazily dropping to the pavement. Add that to the fact that I've had a bit too much wine, and this is a glorious night. Good lord it's cold.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Well stomp on frogs and shove a crowbar up my nose!

Alright kids, get scrubbed up and put on your Sunday best, I'm headed into town! Doesn't get more exciting than a town trip for those of us living in what is essentially a well-appointed truck stop. This little venture has required a week of planning, and all just so I can get to a place that has a branch of my bank. Since there's only one commuter type bus coming in and out of Tekapo each day, I'm spending the night in Geraldine, whose star attraction is "the world's largest jumper at 'The Giant Jersey'". Count me in.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Hellooooo! Yes, I'm alive. I apologize to those of you who thought otherwise, but I did make it to Lake Tekapo in one piece...though barely. I hopped off the boss in the midst of a raging storm. The driver said, "You sure this is your stop? I can keep driving". Always a good sign.

Long story short, the waitressing job is awesome and I really enjoy running around and chatting with the customers. I get to tend the bar and am learning to make coffee, too, so finally am getting that "experience" thing every place in big cities seems to require.
My coworker is a really fun Australian girl who's travelling with her boyfriend. They've been wandering the world and working as they go for about 2 years now. She's helped me out a ton so far--from warning me about the scuzzy men of the town to lending me dvds to making light of the craziness of our boss. Ah, yes, the boss, she's a bit of loose cannon. She's only 26 and has been running this restaurant for 5 years, so I think the burden of obligation is just a bit rough sometimes...or at least that's what I'm telling myself. The most entertaining of her antics, however, comes when attractive guys come in the bar. Suddenly the hardened overseer is a giggly girl who bristles if any other female comes within 10 feet of her prey. It's like a real life nature program.

I've also taken on a job in the mornings, yup, I'm a regular blue-collar working girl. I'm a room attendant at The Godley Hotel, which means I'm the one calling out "Housekeeping!" as I shuffle down the hall with my cleaning accoutrements. Unfortunately no one's ever in their rooms so I can't say "You want me fluff your pillow" but one day...one day... Not that these pillows would benefit much from a fluffing. The place was built in the 60s and most of the rooms have not been altered one bit since. It's kind of entertaining to observe where people over the decades have walked on the orange shag carpet. Under the furniture there's still a good inch of shag, while the trail from the door to the bathroom is just a few bare threads grasping at one another. My supervisor, Jeneatte, is one of my favorite people. As I'm scrubbing out the toilet bowl she'll sweep in, discuss our star signs, talk about her ex-husband a bit, mention the awesomeness of the resort she worked on in Australia, take "only a half puff" of her cigarette, notice that I haven't restocked the soap and yell I'm trying to kill her, then waltz out to find Paul the handyman and bother him a bit. We're buds.

As far as living goes, I started out living in my boss' roommate's home office. It was a bit awkward, made even more so by the fact that he began referring to me as his office girl...great. Now, though, I found a fabulous place to stay. It's a big yellow house with three cats, a trampoline and an awesome little woman named Ness. Our third roommate returned from a trip to Australia two days ago, but she has yet to speak to me, so not sure what to make of her. It's a happy, warm little house with hiking trails right out the back door. The views here are absolutely stunning and so whenever I get off work and the sun is shining, I just set out to explore. But, honestly, the selling point of this place was the trampoline. How cool is that. One of the cooks at Pepes (nicknamed Crimi because he's an ex-criminal)is good friends with Ness and so we're both trying to talk her into buying a jacuzzi. He says, knowing her, she just might do it.

So, yeah, life in a small town is proving itself to be quite entertaining. It's nice to set down for a while and get to know people--when you're just passing through it can get a bit lonely. I'm also beginning to realize that this is a way of life that can go on for as long as you want it to...there will always be a job to make a bit of cash and always a country in need of exploration. So who knows, perhaps I'll come home in a year, but perhaps not. I'm just gonna play it by ear. If you want to come travelling with me for a bit, just let me know. It's quite a liberating experience...and how else would I have ever known the true insanity of Lake Tekapo? Much love to all.