2. Bringing Sexy Bach

4 Feb

…. so guess what happened? Remember? That’s where we left off from the last blog? 

Well, on our way to the rental car, I met Roma, a deaf girl from Germany who was traveling on her own. what. I’ll say it again. A deaf girl. Who’s first language is certainly not english.  Traveling ON HER OWN. Internationally. Solo. Deaf. Whoa, I could not believe it. 

Luckily, I know some American Sign Language (it’s such a great language), so Roma and I were able to start chatting, and I soon found out that beyond her very clear and apparent bravery, she was also just a wonderful and charming woman.  I was so impressed. I wanted to know more. Rachel suggested I invite her to lunch AND I DID.

Roma was SO cool.  Have I mentioned? The more I learned about her, the more impressed I was; Roma has an insane life story.  She told me that she didn’t learn sign language until she was 14 because her parents refused to teach her. They forced her to read lips. And that no one in her family (still) uses sign language to this day.  Like, at all. In fact, Roma hadn’t even known that sign language existed until she was out and about in Germany, and happened to see two deaf people communicating with each other in public. I can.not.imagine.  I get goosebumps, even now, thinking about her life story.

QUICK NOTE ABOUT SIGN LANGUAGE:

The thing about American Sign Language (ASL) is, it’s American. Which means that German sign language and American Sign Language are actually very different. Reminder: Roma is from Germany. So when a friend-ish of hers came to meet up with us (he was also deaf), I couldn’t communicate with him because he couldn’t sign ASL and I couldn’t sign GSL (assuming that’s how German Sign language is abbreviated. But it’s probably not.) AND THEN, the plot thickened when another one of Roma’s friend-ish joined us, also deaf, and this friend signed New Zealand Sign Language, which, I learned, WAS ALSO DIFFERENT FROM BOTH ASL AND GSL. My mind was continually blown by this girl, Roma.  Reminder, Roma could speak with me in American Sign Language!  She was so smart.  She was fluent in at least 3 sign languages AND COULD READ LIPS!!!   This is understandable because her parents forced her to until she was 14, but THEY SPEAK GERMAN! And Roma can lip read in both english AND German.  SHE’S INCREDIBLE. Bonus Roma fact: At lunch I found out that Roma is vegan. Why? In order to be kind to animals who have no voice. ❤

You can tell, I LOVED chatting to Roma and her friends.  I was impressed. Seriously. I want to direct everyone in my past (and my future) who is shocked and worried by my solo travels to this girl (or lots of other kick-ass women that I meet). THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE DOING INCREDIBLE THINGS!  PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST DOING THE DAMN THING! They are out there. And they are inspiring. I hope I always come back to this and to her, whenever I think I have it difficult on one of my solo travels. Roma is truly an inspiration. Rachel and I chatted with her for hours (as long as we could) before we finally had to head out and pick up our rental car.

Here’s a quick video detailing a few of our days in Auckland and Roma. Check.her.out.

———

Today was moving in day.  Our new home, aka the rental car, aka our vacation home, aka The Bach (New Zealand word for beach house; pronounced “batch” and not like Bach, the composer) was ready for us; we found a place for the guidebook; a spot for the water bottles; a home for the tissues.

Before we left Auckland, to go traversing into the wilderness of New Zealand, Rae and I remembered to look up what scary critters lived out there. Luckily, the answer was NONE.  The wildest thing was, as we pulled out of the parking lot, onto the road, we reminded ourselves to stay on the left side of the road (left side, left side). In New Zealand, they drive like they do in England.  Rae and I also played Left Side of the Road: Roundabout edition. There were so many roundabouts on the island that our guidebook (henceforth known as Scott) told us that there was a NZ children’s story called The Magic Roundabout. So cute. So true — they were magical.

We were going to stay on the north island for the entire trip. I know, I know, “But the south island…!” However, Rachel and I found our fun and our adventure in the north. So to start off, we went farther north. It seemed fitting. Our plan was basically…No plan. We were going to read the book, take Scott’s advice, and see what happened.

On the first dirt road we hit outside of Auckland, we saw a Kiwi sign, and that was when we realized our dream: To see a real life KIWI.

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we will find you!

 

The first time we ‘officially’ stopped, on Scott’s recommendation, it was a waterfall that was well-off the beaten track.  It felt like our first Tinder swipe with him…and we liked what we saw; a hidden waterfall!

 

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Stumbling into Lord of the Rings

 

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Channeling our inner mythical creatures (the unicorn towel) because New Zealand is a fantasyland

 

The falls were gorgeous. It was a stunning introduction to the north of New Zealand.  That night, we slept in our bach, which is actually made to sleep in — it came with a mattress, pillows, sheets, and a blanket; the front seats scooted forward and the back seat folded down flat. The back seat was made out of ply wood and a mattress laid on top.   Rachel and I emptied the trunk into the front seat, which then allowed us to lay our legs out in front, like so.  It didn’t take us long before we had a great system.

 

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Bach in action

 

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Chillin’ in the bach seat

 

The bach was comfortable.  Rachel and I had a really good month sleeping like this, and we slept even more soundly when we thought about all the money we were saving.

Right, so the next morning, after that first night (of many) in the bach, we went to a Maori (pronounced Mouldy) town, called Whangarei (pronounced Fun-Gah-Ray; the WH in Maori makes an “F” sound). 

The far north was the only place on the island that had toll roads, which was fine because we weren’t spending any money on hostels. We set an alarm for every three days so that we wouldn’t miss the (very small) payments. 

After a few hours of hanging around, Rachel and I couldn’t help but notice that people were going barefoot in all sorts of public places — now, mind you, we weren’t even close to a beach, and yet people were wiggling their toes around nice grocery stores (like Countdown), restaurants, gas stations, etc. It seemed normal.  And I love doing things that are normal. So we started asking around and learning that people do it in order soak up the earth’s energy. Not even hippies. Just regular people. SIGN. ME. UP. Rachel and I went barefoot at the grocery store a few times, you know, just to fit in (but also to soak up the earth’s energy). It was LIBERATING (except when we left and had to walk on the hot pavement outside).  I loved it, from my head down to my toes.

 

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Did somebody say Chee-toes?

 

Another revelation in a grocery store? :

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You don’t have to refrigerate your eggs.

 

While Rae and I were in Whangarei hiking and getting acquainted with the area, we realized that the Super Bowl was coming up! We called several bars to see which one would be showing it. Touchdown! We drove back into town, and arrived at Donnelley Station, the New Zealand bar that would be playing the game.  It was decked out with American decorations. They even played Jack Johnson when the game was over. Hole-in-one.

 

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Baseball called; they want their cracker jacks back.

 

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New Zealand: Home of Super Bowl LIII

 

 

The bar, beyond playing Jack Johnson and putting up colonial American flags, sold cracker jacks and root beer just for the game. Spoiler alert: they weren’t a big hit.

“Cracker Jacks are more of a baseball thing,” I told the bartender.
“Would have been good to know, eh?” he responded, talking to his mate.

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Fun and Friendzy in NZ

 

Later, I started chatting up a stranger at the bar and it came up that I’m a big fan of comedy.  He immediately responded, with his New Zealand accent: “How sad is it about Chris Farley?!” Really sad.

These strangers at the bar also introduced us to some New Zealand slang; we heard the word “dag” for the first time (not dog), which is an affectionate insult for someone with poor social skills.

——–

The next day, we went on our first date.  But not like that, Col.  Not with strangers, but with Scott, our guidebook.  We had referenced that hidden waterfall as Tinder, and now we were ready to hangout more with our perfect match.  Thus, Breams Head Point was, metaphorically, our first date.

 

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The hill we happily crossed MANY, MANY times to find wonderful hikes and free places to sleep.

 

 

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Hiking to the point of Breams Head.

 

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Getting 360-degree views from the top!

 

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The good good.

 

Things we learned as we kept hiking:

  1. New Zealand is stunning.
  2. New Zealand is beautiful.
  3. New Zealand is perfect.

 

Back to our home, in our bach, we spent nights underneath the most GORGEOUS sky. I could’ve stared up at that starry night for hours, but the next day, it was time for another beautiful hike, so it was always important to get some rest.

One of our hikes was called Whangarei Heads — it had bunkers and WWII history. It was pretty empty, although, ironically, we did see a Japanese couple.

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New Zealand; where the views never get “old”.

 

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Fresh and inviting

 

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Does this make you want to visit New Zealand yet?

 

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Hidden beach

 

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When the rocks match your shoes.

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Collecting treasures.

 

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A beach all to ourselves.

 

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Somewhere you’d find a mermaid sunbathing.

 

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Bench bartender turned bench chef.

 

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Sustenance for the hike made by NZ’s finest bench chef (and yes we were putting room temperature soup on seaweed crackers and eating them).

 

All the hikes were incredible, as you can see; the views were gorgeous, and we quickly realized that it’s really easy to find yourself on a deserted beach when you come to New Zealand.  In a good way. Not Castaway more…well, see below.   


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The weather was perfect. Our days were perfect. One hike blended into another. No wonder we didn’t want to go south. Or east. Or anywhere, really. But, the call of travel beckoned. And Rachel and I did decide to keep going north. On the way up, we stopped by Whangarei Falls.

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Literally chasing waterfalls.

 

This hike was a success in that we saw gorgeous falls. We kept going, past the waterfall (just as Scott had recommended  – also sidenote, at this point we love Scott) and seriously discussed bathing in a waterfall. When was the last time we showered? Rachel and I mused, not for the last time, over the possibility of running into Scott.  It wasn’t that far fetched, he loves New Zealand, and we were following his trail, so why not? We even passed a guy who could’ve fit Scott’s description. As we passed him he asked us if we were locals, and we BOTH thought, “wow, that’s a question Scott would ask!” So we asked him a question in return: “Is your name Scott?” He said, “Sadly, no,” either because he really did wish his name was Scott or because he could tell we would’ve been so excited if he had been Scott and was sad to let us down.  But in true Scott fashion, he volunteered tips for us on where to go next, and sent us on a path with fern trees:

 

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New Zealand? More like New Treeland #amIright?

 

And we saw our first ever Kauri trees (which make up some of the most ancient forests in the world). They are huge and old, which is not something I’d ever want you to say about me.

 

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Rachel gave one a hug ❤

 

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Sunglasses next to one, for scale.

 

The hike was awesome but after it was over, we had to talk to the police on the phone.  There was a scary guy following some of us women on the trail, asking uncomfortable and inappropriate questions. Which is really creepy at any hour, but it’s sort of creepier at 10am.  A local woman called the police and asked us to corroborate her story which we did but, once she was safe, we didn’t stick around to see what happened next.

Even though we probably wouldn’t have gone on the hike if we’d known about the creepy guy on the trail from the beginning, we saw a lot of cool stuff.  This hike was when we started to learn about the DoC #DepartmentOfCorrections. Just kidding. But I do hope that gross man gets reprimanded by the law; however, DoC stands for Department of Conservation. And every letter is pronounced; D.O.C.

Their website says, “We are the government agency charged with conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage.” And let us tell you, they do an IMPECCABLE job. Rachel and I constantly found ourselves saying, “Thank you, Doc.” 

And still, there was more breath-taking, natural and historic heritage to see in New Zealand!  Rachel and I happily piled back in the bach, and headed up the Tutukaka coast where we………. 

……(read the next blog to to find out). 

We’ll be right bach with more stories.
‘mi

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