I'm trying desperately to keep up with current events here, but it's getting harder with the semester coming to a close. I'll start with two Fridays ago, since that was the first time I did anything interesting since the South Island.
It's NZ music month here in Enzed, and Auckland is bustling with indie bands I've never heard of. I went to go see one play at a library near the Korean Pancake place. It was a good listen, nothing too amazing. The band, Space Ventura, had only been together for 6 months, and they definitely had some kinks to run out. I played around with my camera too, since I had a few minutes before they started playing.
After the concert, I got on a bus to go to the Auckland Night Market, the most elaborate Asian Market in the whole city. I ate like a king that night. Lamb Curry and a Lussi from an Indian stall, Thai Green Chicken Curry, a Chinese Chicken Dumpling, Empanadas from the Philippines, and an Okonomyaki, the most epic Japanese pancake. After my feast, I took a few pictures of the market. I went souvenir shopping again, but there were no homemade crafts, just garbage like counterfeit basketball jerseys.
Saturday rolled around, I woke up nice and early to go on my first run in 8 months! With the help of the Nike Running Club, I was able to finish a 5k reasonably quickly for someone who is definitely out of shape. Then I did some work for Uni before packing for a short camping trip. I made my was down to the Tongariro Crossing with Rob, Emily (my roommate), and Casey (I never seem to spend two consecutive weekends with the same people) in the afternoon. The feast that Rob and I created was so simple and glorious, canned creamy chicken soup and rice, that we couldn't believe how good it tasted. I now know what to cook for dinner when I go camping. We put up the tent in the rain and quickly slipped in, and I got a few hours of sleep.
The next morning looked promising, but looks were definitely deceiving as we begun our tramp of the crossing. For Lord of the Rings fans, this is the location of Mordor and Mt. Doom. The air was fair and things were shaping up to be a good hike, but then we started the ascent to the Red Crater, and the weather went rotten. The higher we went, the harsher the wind became. And I'm not talking about a breeze, the winds here were topping out at 80 km/hr. And at the top they brought on ice. It felt like the apocalypse. It was very quiet up there, very peaceful. Walk ten feet away from the nearest person and you're alone. It's a cool feeling, once your body gets past the flight response associated with the most uncomfortable conditions. Rob and I were wet, and we didn't care, so we waited a while to see if the clouds would let up. Then, out of nowhere, we saw Emerald and Blue Lakes, and ran like mad men to their shores. We didn't stay too long, as the weather was getting to us. Later on in the hike, the weather let up and we were able to dry off before getting to the car.
The drive back to Auckland was pretty uneventful, we all just wanted to get back to relax before classes started for the week. We stopped to look at the sky for a moment, before the light pollution of Auckland ruined our sights.
On Monday, I went to yoga again and pushed myself harder than I had before. Dana, the instructor, seemed to be trying to break me that night (there weren't many others in the class, probably because no one wanted to walk in the rain), and my body was trembling all over by the end of the session. I realized I really want to feel fit, I want to feel strong every time I take a step, so I'm going to try upping the strength training in the weeks to come. Hopefully I have time for all of this.
During the week, I mostly did work in my room, as the weather wasn't so nice and I had much to do. On Saturday, I slept in a bit, and headed off to the Auckland Zoo, something I've been waiting to do since I got here. I had a great day for weather, and all of the animals were out. The Lemurs, Spider Monkeys and Giraffes were my favorite, their personalities stood out. And I had a run-in with a super friendly Macaw. Actually, I liked all of the animals, and I could write a post on its own describing each and every one of 'em. And I finally found a use for my super-long telephoto lens I've been dying to play with. I felt like a child, it was really fun to be there.
On Sunday, I went on a field trip with my Marine Science class to do science at Whangateau Bay. I counted and measured Cockles and various other bivalves that were buried in the sand. The 'research' actually has some merit to it. In 2010, the collection of Cockles in the bay was halted, as they were becoming endangered due to over-fishing and disease. The ban on harvesting ends this year, and a recount needed to be taken of the local population to see the progress. If the new data show there is more time needed to protect the species, the ban will most likely be continued. I'm pretty happy that I did some work that helps with the conservation of a species.
That night, my flatmates and I had our first family meal. It consisted of the best guacamole dip for an entrée (appetizer in American), and a Mexican vegetarian chili for the main. Let me tell you it was the best tasting Mexican meal I have ever had. I've been craving it ever since. We topped it off with ice cream and cookies, after doing a bit of yoga to calm our stomachs. I am now hungry again after typing this.
So, that was the last two weekends! I only have one more trip up my sleeve (which has been further delayed due to weather), and then it's going to be getting close to finals time at Uni. It's crazy to think I only have 6 weeks left here. The time has completely flown by.
Here's to the start of the summer, RIT!
The makeshift tent and paper sign made them seem really humble
Sweet as keyboard
The most chill audience ever
My flatmates Kim and Emily!
Dude made me a pancake. I needed a picture
There was some epic coordination and teamwork among the market veterans
Heaps as Pacific Islanders. Not a Pākehā in sight
I turned around and this was happening
At the top of nothing (Robin Megill)
Lookin' phat by Emerald Lake (Rob)
This animal amazes me
This guy could not be bothered for a picture
Rhynos are fantastic as well
This is a Springbok. I don't know what they do
I'm really happy with the way this came out
A Serval: Nature's mini cheetahs
He liked to roar at people
The Keas here were prettier than the ones I've seen in the wild
And way more photogenic
I wish I didn't see this powerful animal gnawing on a cardboard box
"Ello!" This might be one of my favorite photos ever
This Gibbon had to be the strongest animal I have ever seen
Spider Monkeys are adorable
And they never stop playing
Lemurs are the most skittish things I've ever come across
But they sure do make the best faces
Lunchtime for Burma, Auckland's Asian Elephant
Digging up bivalves at Whangateau
What we sifted through to find cockles, cluckers, and other animals
The empty shells quickly rise to the surface. There were a lot of empties