The Palangi Files
Well It's about...
Friggin time! Right? Mad ups to all my homeys that have been throwing much love the last few weeks. Especially Nicole (love ya babe!) and Jessica and Nevi and Mark and assorted family members.
Alright, So lets see, where do I begin? I've been back in Tonga enjoying my home sweet home stuff for the last few days. I actually got back Monday but I caught the hiv or something in New Zealand so I was feeling like shit for the last few days. Anyways, I've beaten my scarlet fever and I'm back in full swing. So let's review:
For the most part, I thought New Zed was off the hook. Its crazy, the whole friggin country is just beautiful. I'm not even sure how long I was down there for I guess something like 15 days or so, but I didn't even scratch the surface on cool stuff that there was to do. What I find most amazing about the country is that it is literally just beautiful all the way through. Its like mountain, pretty lake, mountain, cliff, mountain, pretty lake, big mountain, beach, ocean. That's pretty much how I would describe the whole south island anyways. I loved the scenery fo sho!
So my itenerary? What itenerary? I'm frigin' letting it roll, deciding to see where the wind takes me... Well that's how my trip started. I got mad blitzed during the kings birthday/block party celebration and stumbled home at like 5:00 in the morning. Got my tix arranged, I'm sorta packed, got my thongs all arranged with the one that says "Sunday" on it at the top. I just never really checked the time I was supposed to leave. So I'm still a bit sloshy that Saturday that I'm leaving and for some awesome reason I decided to make sure that I had the flight time correct. Well lo and behold! Looky Here! I'm two hours off, my plane leaves at 12:15, not 2:15. Clock check: 11:00. Holy shit. This can't be right. I grab my bag and hump my high-knee over to the taxi stand as vave aupito as a palangi can. I hop in this taxi that knows my situation. I hop inside and am pleasantly reminded of the terrorist van in Back to the Future that kills Doc Brown. Its 11:45 and 30 minutes to the airport.
"You need to get the airport, eh?"
"Yes, by 12:15"
"I think we can do it."
BAAM! He floors it. For the next 25 minutes of my life I feel like I'm on a roller coaster with a Dale Earnhardt running it. I've never been more scared in a passenger seat in my life, but I understand the circumstances. New Zealand or Bust! So after passing 7 cars in one fell swoop and making opposing traffic drive on the other side of the road not once, but twice. We make it to the airport. 12:10. It has to be record. Fortunately, like just about every other flight I've ever been on in Tonga, its late. I've made it. No busting for me!
I arrive in New Zealand fully in tact and looking for excitement. I promptly find a place to stay, the cheapest way downtown and a starbucks. I haul my ass on board the backbackers bus with a venti caramel machiato and head to Auckland: City of Sails!. I spent my first night in Tonga drunk off CNN and took what could possibly be the world's longest hot shower. My shower so long, I took it in shifts and while I said I wasn't leaving till they ran out of hot water, I was in there sufficiently long enough to melt into a primordial ooze. It was beautiful. Oh, and for those of you travelling to Auckland I highly recommend the Base Backpackers for places to stay. Definitely the highest rated chain out of the places I stayed.
So I spent three days in Auckland pretty much just overwhelmed by the choices of places to eat food, the obscene number of shopping outlets that tried to steal my money, the ubiquitousness of starbucks and their delicious coffee, the unubiquitousness of Mexican food and a dazzling array of stuff that I used to be very well aware of but no longer could remember how to deal with, like advertising and hot chicks. There was just so much regular stuff that I wanted to do (even on Sundays) that I just aimlessly wandered for the most part. Shopping and doing stuff during the day and having a few drinks and hot showers at night. Oh yeah, I did go over to the skytower (which you can read about here) and while I had every intention of actually going up it, I never made it past the casino. That's right, I spent my whole Sunday drinking beer and playing blackjack like a sinner. It was awesome! I even won $100 bucks, which I promptly lost on roulette.
All in all, it was an alright time. In retrospect, however, I probably would have gotten the hell out of Auckland a lot sooner if I knew how cool the rest of the New Zealand was. I left Auckland on Tuesday and headed to Christchurch, or Kalisifalelotu in Tongan. I spent the next three days in conferences with people from the school that I teach at here in Tonga, called Whitireia. The conference, while I was a bit doubtful at first and was by far the youngest person at the whole thing, was well worth the trip. Got to meet and do a whole bunch of work related stuff which I have promptly exorcised to my subconcious.
One thing of note from my days in the conference, I haven't been in a physical fight with another person since high school and while I've been close to getting in them on a number of occassions, I was usually at the receiving end of a beating rather than the giving end. Well my second night at the conference I met, quite possibly, the worlds biggest douche bag. He was about 20 years to old to have metallica hair and an earring, drinking the New Zealand equivalent of Pabst, and smoking roll your own tobacco, just to preference of course. So we start talking about teaching and where I work and stuff like that and I tell him I'm a Peace Corps volunteer and the kind of work that I do and its immediately. "You're a fucking Mormon!" No, I'm not a morman you slathering imbecile. "Why don't you work in America? America has problems. Why don't you work in Afghanistan, they have problems too. How about Iraq why don't you volunteer there." On and on it goes. Now, normally, I would blame New Zealand for only having 5 TV stations and a country who's voted "The Hobbit" the best book of all time. I would also hold President Bush accountable for being such a god-damned dipshit with foreign policy and ruining my life as a American traveller, but this guy was a tool bag. My heart was quickening a bit and my adrenaline was flowing like Yangtzee during flood season. I made a promise to myself that if this idiot opened his god-damned mouth one more time I'm not going to say anything, I'm just going to kick him in the balls and then punch him in the mouth. I was so angry that I could barely control myself. Fortunately, before I brought the conversation to fisticuffs, toolbag's friends realized he was a toolbag and chased him back to his room to wallow in the fact that New Zealand only has 8 million people in it and no one in America can point it out on a map because we don't care. Or maybe he went back to his room to ask himself if the "Ride the Lightning" days are really over. In any event, dealing with the foreign policy issue as if I handed US soldiers my $100 bucks under the table to steal oil (or whatever the issue is now) was probably the hardest thing about travelling in New Zealand. Everyone hates Americans. I even considered telling people I was from Canada because that would confuse most of them but didn't because I'm an arrogant American and bleed red, white and blue.
Alright so anyways, the conference ended on Friday and instead of going back to Auckland like I was supposed to, I skipped my flight and decided to hang out in Christchurch for another day, sort of get the vibe of the place. Well I tried to make arrangements for heading to Dunedin and couldn't because all of the college kids were heading back on Sunday. Digression: Some thoughts on this topic briefly... This rocks! I love the fact that when students have off for holidays, they backpack and see their country and check out other cities instead of just lounging about school or going to their parents house. One extremely cool thing about New Zealand was the relative cheapness that you could do ever thing. The whole place was set up for broke-ass travellers with hostels all over the place and eating raman on community stoves. Definitely rocked and I wish America was more like New Zealand in that capacity. So revert to original plot point, So I can't get out of New Zealand till Monday afternoon. No problem I think. I ask the cute girl waiting on me what are some fun things to do in Christchurch on a Sunday. One thing leads to another, I find out the girl is actually from Bucks County (about 25 minutes outside of the illadelp and she has off on Sunday and offers to take me around to see stuff! SWEET! I'm pumped. I run off to the Internet cafe and check my mail and write this rubbish. I forgot what i did that day. I think I mainly just walked around and looked at stuff. Oh yeah, I stayed in a place called The Occidental which I would avoid. I don't know, I'm weird about heat in my room in the winter time and stuff...
So Bex picked me up around 11ish and we went to The Gondola! Which for people travelling to Christchurch, I highly recommend it as the views are spectacular. It was really, really cool. So after we checked out the views we hiked down to car and drove to the Artic Centre: The World's Best Antartic Attraction which was pretty cool. I had an in because one of the volunteers from my group, the late, great Frank Burhart had worked in Antarctica for some Ungodly amount of time and Bex was pretty interested in getting a job down there. The place was very discovery channel and I learned a whole bunch of interesting things about ways you could die there. I made a bold resolution after visiting the centre, I will never live in Antartica. Here's a more you know moment... In order to work in Antarctica, you have to have your tonsils and appendix removed? Did you also know Antartica receives the least amount of snow out of any of the continents? Less than 20mm a year! Did you also know, its as cold as witchies tittie in antartica? *do, do, do, do* It was cool. I could have pretty much read the entire building if it wasn't closing. We also rode on the The Hägglund Ride which was pretty exciting. Next we went to get some pizza downtown at Center Square, which is pretty much the first thing that you see when you go to Christchurch. Finally, we went to see Spiderman 2. I wore my special spidey unnderpants and bought popcorn and was mad at Peter Parker for being dumb. M.J. is a hottie! Finally, it was back to the Occidental for me. After saying goodbye and thanking my new friend for being so awesome, it was time to roll.
Hopped on a bus and went down to Dunedin, home of the University of Ontago and a couple of J.K.'s friends places. I stayed at this great backpackers called XYZ. The place was great and I highly recommend staying here. I didn't do too much my first day because I got in at like 9 at night. Oh yeah, I forgot to bring my drivers license with me while I was in Tonga so I was relegated to taking the bus. Just a heads up, its cheaper to rent a car than it is to take the bus. Bring your license when you go to New Zealand. Actually, I did do much. I was in a college town so I went to this bar called Captain Cooks which was filled with a whole bunch of Cute Kiwis. Unfortunately, in this bar, I realized that I'm pretty old to be hanging out at freshmen college bars. It was particuarly true in this case as the drinking age in NZ is 18 so most of the girls and guys were about that old. Anyways, I got my drink on for a few and left to another bar where I met a couple of cool people and just hung out late night and got my swerve on. All in all a nice night complete with late night eating of the culinary classic, fish and chips and filled with Coronas and Jack Daniels.
I woke up pretty late the next day and finally got in touch with J.K.'s friends. They told me it was cool to crash at their place and they'd show me around Dunedin. Cancelled my bus ticket to Queenstown and decided to stay another day in Dunedin. Just walked around the town and hung out. Took pictures of this famous Church Whose Name I forget down there and just sort of walked around a bit. I liked the feel of Dunedin, not as much as Christchurch, but it was cool. It was a college town and it sort of reminded me of Penn State a little bit. Definitely pretty cool.
So the next day I hung out with J.K.'s friend and her boyfriend. Actually, her boyfriend helped me get a place to stay in a town called wanaka and get a bus there and then kept me occupied until J.K.'s friend got home. Once she got home we went to the albatross santuary and checked out some of the birds, which was pretty cool. Then we went to this awesome sort of national park place called shoefly beach or horsefly beach or something like that. It was at the end of this farmers road and not very obvious, but once we got there, it was the bomb. It was hands down the prettiest place that I had seen in all of New Zealand. Outstandingly beautiful. On the beach were a bunch of Sea Lions and I got to see a couple of them just laying about the beach and swimming and stuff and I also saw two of them fighting! It was pretty cool they were just hanging out on the beach banging their chests together. They were pretty big animals and I didn't want to get too close, but I got a couple of great pictures of them. Oh yeah, at the end of the beach was this great Penguin Blind so I got to see these yellow-eyed penguins just hanging out and doing their regular penguin thing. It was pretty cool to see them not in a zoo. They're funny little creatures and just fascinating to watch and they aren't as angry as they appear to be in this picture here. I hung out there till the sun just about set and then headed back into Dunedin and went out to dinner at the Speights Brewery and had a filet mignon. I felt beautiful and touched my hair. It was great.
I was supposed to go out and party and drink my face off that night, but I was pretty much beat and didn't really feel like it. Also, I started coming down with some really bad flu at the time and just wanted a good night's sleep at this point. So we rented The Last Samurai which except for the fight scenes was about one half star better than how I disposed of my filet mignon.
Left on a bus the next morning for Wanaka. Wanaka is a tourist town that's sort of close to Queenstown, which is where everyone goes for vacation. Queenstown is supposed to be off the hook, but because I didn't make my reservations in time, I couldn't find a place to stay up there so my Dunedin friendzez suggested Wanaka, which ended up rocking! I got to town, dropped my crap off and got fitted for my snowboard and bought my lift ticket and shuttle pass to Cardrona for some snowboarding.
Woke up early the next morning, grabbed my gear and headed for the mountain. I couldn't get lessons until about 10:30 or so and I was at the mountain at 8 so I spent most of the morning on the kiddie slopes teaching myself. I fell a bunch of times, but by the time 10:30 came, I pretty much had my lessons sorted out anyways. I ended up leaving my lessons about 30 minutes into them and spent the rest of the morning practicing. Ate an awesome breakfast too. Oh yeah, an aside, I love breakfast. Eggs and toast are definitely my favorite breakfast and probably one of my all-time favorites in general. The kiwis definitely do breakfast right. For like 11 bucks you get Eggs, Huge Toast, Bacon, Hash Browns McDonald's style, Sausage and Tomatoes. I thought the tomatoes thing was weird at first, but now I'm a convert. If I have tomatoes in my house, I will fry them up for breakfast for the rest of my life. I never realized how good they were until now, which is sad because tomatoes and eggs are great together. Oh yeah, that reminds me. The biggest commercial shock I had in New Zealand overall had to be McDonald's. The ones that were in the big cities had a reduced burger menu with no super-sizing of any sorts and stuff like the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese were gone. Instead, they had a wireless internet cafe with a McCafe that actually had the best chai in all of New Zealand and were serving, get this, Morrocan Chicken with Couscous, Fish Cutlets with Thai sauce and vegetables and Grilled Chicken with Pasta as the main courses. The place didn't even smell like french fries, it was crazy. In any event, that was nutty. I just got a cheeseburger for the hell of it and left. Alright, so where was I...
Snowboarding! That's right. In retrospect, I probably should have skipped the rest of the trip and went straight to the mountains to snowboard. I've never been before and now I kick myself in the ass for not going sooner. It was the best time. I had a hard time learning to ski in high school so I never really went, but snowboarding was a piece of cake! It was so much easier to do and to stop. It just made sense. I loved every minute I was out there. By the end of the day I was zooming down the slopes with only the occasional bluder and stumble. I had the best time. I got back to town and took a hot shower and realized how sore and completely out of shape I was and decided to roam town. In wanaka, I found the only mexican restaurant in the South Island. I thought I was dreaming. I walked in, grabbed a seat to myself, ordered up the Chicken Fajitas and gorged myself. I didn't leave a bean on my plate. I had to actually butter myself up to get out the door. It rocked! I wish I could have spent more time in Wanaka, but I had to leave.
Hopped on the bus the next day and went back to christchurch. Got in late so I just hung in and got ready for my flight the next morning back to Auckland. Got on my flight in plenty of time, hung around and read some books in the airport and the left for Auckland. Got back in auckland early and headed back into town. Made a mad scramble to buy all of the stuff that I had marked on my list earlier including: a 256MB Radeon 9600 Pro Video Card, Battlefield 1942, Beer Pong Balls, an Extension Cord, a DVD player, a Carton of Marlboros, some lacey undergarments and fishnet stockings, bottle of vodka, bottle of wine, good floss, Dune Messiah, Sherlock Holmes, Moby Dick, Bill Bryson, Harry Potter and the magazine Nun's life. So with my capitalistic urges suppressed and a round of shopping and debt brought to you by Visa, I felt vindicated. It was time to get back to Tonga.
So, after reading this whole thing, which I sure most of you wont read, here's some stuff that I liked and didn't like about NZ.
Breakfast! Hot Palangi Chicks and Sexy Hair! Capitalism! So pretty that it gets old after a while! Hobbits! Penguins! Sea Lions! Snowboarding! Nice People! Monkeys!
New Zealand preoccupation with heat, or rather the lack thereof. No one in the country heated the bathroom. Blowing smoke as your urinating in someone's home is annoying. The use of the word Toilet. For some reason, it doesn't appeal to me, this has to be a cultural difference or something. That and its a french word. Funny thing though, "Where is the toilet?" bothers me. "Where is the toilet paper?" does not. Ummm, the fact that Kiwis think Americans are dumb because we can't find their country on a map. With only 5 channels of TV they need more exposure to what America is like not on television.
My favorite place so far in New Zealand has been Wellington. Also, I would like to come back sometime when its not winter, but all in all, New Zealand is outlandishly beautiful and there is SO MUCH STUFF TO DO that it gets overwhelming at times. I also wish I would have planned more than just winging it. There are some definite places I would have love to have seen. Also, for the most part, the people in New Zealand are just generally awesome people. You meet idiots sometimes, but that happens everywhere. Oh yeah and stuff in new zealand is EXPENSIVE! Books, CD's, DVD's, Corona's, Shots of Jack, fu'u mamafa! All in all though, its got so much for a small place that its worth the trip. I would highly, highly recommend NZ and make some time for it. There is a TON of stuff to do there.
Alright. Its 3:30 in the morning and it took me forever to write this. Look for the next installment "The Mark" in a couple of days and then other regular updates. Sorry for being so lazy, I'll talk about later.
0 comments - Post a Comment
Or more appropriately, Christchurch'n. So I've been here in NZ for like a week so far and its been pretty chill. I don't know. I don't really feel like writing now so I'll keep it brief.
I like to vacation. First few days was weird and I didn't know what to do with myself. That's a problem for like ummm... a few days. All of the sudden this whole weird feeling of like, doing nothing is pretty cool just hit me. I've been revelling in it. I guess that's it. I'm going to do other stuff. I'll be back in Tonga the 18th so I'll be back then.
Jim 0 comments - Post a Comment
Sort of. Well, first, apologies for the last post. I could delete it, but it makes me laugh... So today was the first day of training and it actually went pretty well. The stuff we talked about was pretty applicable, went out last night with all of the G66 volunteers to Luna Rosa (*Tourists, eat here. IT ROCKS! Get the lobster too, its worth it) transplant our regime to Wanda's and had a great time. It was definitely a lot of fun.
Alright, I'll preface this by saying I have absolutely no clue at all about what the heck Tonga girls are looking for or how to act or anything. They are a total friggin mystery to me. I don't know how to explain it. I just don't know. New group guys, you'll see what I mean. So last night, I was actually sort of complaining about Tongan girls in general and my aparent just awfulness at any and all atempts to sort of have a relationship or hook up or just take a relationship to that holding hand PDA's are taboo level. Anything that I would consider more than talking I fail miserably at.
So all of us have pretty much had our fill of beer for the evening, half the group has left early to get some shuteye before training and there is a couple of us left just sort of hanging out and finishing our beers. We start heading out. I do some ridiculous dancing type stuff on my way out the door across the dance floor and suddenly, this extraordinarily strong (yet supple) female hand grabs my shoulder and rips me around. Suddenly, I'm some dorky white guy filling in for the handsome latino lead in Lambada! The Forbidden Dance. I'm thinking "what the hell is going on here?" Well, when in Nuku'alofa, I do like the Nuku'aolfans do. I gyrate my pointy caucasian thighs like some spastic math major with muslce spasms. She's diggin' it! Unbelievable! This is outstanding! Her front gold tooth is shining like a diamond in the flourescent lighting. I think, just for a moement, I'm in love.
Just when I'm thinking life can't get any better, like a diligent postal inspector on a special package patrol, I get the full inspection. Jumpin Jehosaphat! I'm not going to go into any lewd details, but needless to say I'm overwhelmed. She's looking for an easy Visa, I quickly tell myself. She knows your money and she ain't no rabbit. This is just too damn easy! Fokisi!
By this time, however, I'm planning the honeymoon. "Maybe we'll have First Sunday before First Sunday and maybe, just maybe we can skip the wedding feast. I'll have to go to church at least a couple of times but that'll be worth it. I'll have to start saving for the kids college and send those invitations out..." Suddenly the music stops and the scorching finale of Lambada wind down. D'enouement.
Back to reality. We're not married yet or anything. Kick ass. So my Midas-toothed Tongan pixie grabs me by the hand and tells me to start murdering people. Well actually she didn't, but she could have, I felt like a dumb cow. She sits me down and we exchange these deep, soulful glances that peirce each others inner being. Actually, I still don't know what the hell is going on. I'm like "Peace Corps. Tonga. Your name is Jim." Just gathering my wits about me and such.
Well this kind gentlemen towering over me, gently taps me on the shoulder to give me the middle finger. I'm like "Strange, he must be American and not a Kiwi or Roo because he's using the middle finger. Oh yeah, he's giving that to me. Weird! I wonder what I did or how this gigantic gentleman knows me. Perhpas before I was married I may have been a bit rude. Well those days are behind me now, my friend. I'm moving on, I've got better and shinier things on my bunsen burner. His arrogant American sign-language has no time in my new life." My gold-plated postage inspector grabs me by the hand and directs us to another table. Thank Otua! That behemoth was quite intimidating don't you agree darling? Yes, Yes, quite right. Blah, Blah, Blah and then...
BAAM! Full on early 90's high school french kissing. This is sensory friggin overload. "You know, this flies in the face of all of the cultural training I've been so overwhelmingly prepared for. Are Tonga women always this wonderful?" I'm drunk, married, and at this point partly comatose. I feel like sleeping beauty (at the end, not the beginning). Suddenly these other white people that I used to recognize before Simi jr. was born, people from my old life, drag me back to reality.
Steve: "My that's quite the shit-eating grin you have there"
Me: "Oh yeah, Stevey what's up?"
Steve: "You alright?"
Me: Aside [What I think: Alright! Does this damn fool even know about the wedding? And the crazy wild passionate love I've been making! Damn him and his foolish questions] What I say: "Yes."
Steve: "We thought you went to the bathroom and we're just wondering where you got to."
Me: "Oh. My bad. See you at training tomorrow?"
Steve: "Yup." [Exit Stage Left]
So darling where were we? BAAM! BAAM! Double Baam! Kissing like the end of "The Breakfast Club" just explodes. Jesus, that couldn't have been more than 10 minutes since they left. Time has flown by. Suddenly, in the middle of the hooking up, I realize that Mrs. "We Deliver" isn't giving me the attention I so justly deserve. I open my eyes. Christ! She's not even looking at me! What the hell is going on! I've got all this time and energy expended for the wedding, the cake's already ordered and she doesn't even have the decency to pay attention to the foreplay! Son of a bitch!
Momentary hiatus. Well, 7 months in Tonga have made me nosy. Gossip is my Melrose Place. I stop kissing and look for the direction of the glance. Its Mr. Middle Finger Extended (MFE). Damnit! I've been had! I politely tell Mrs. Bizarre Love Triangle that I'm may be sexually repressed and funny-smelling, but I know a hustle and pre-emptive ass kicking when i see one. I kindly gather my wits, tux rental receipts, package and beer and get my palangi ass out of there as absolutely fan-digity-fast as I can. Disaster averted and I still got my cold Ikale.
And so my list of "Why Tongan women act crazy and why I'll never understand them" gets more intersting and complicated. Last night, my list got a "boyfriend that can kick you ass" corollary. Its getting complicated now, but the equation works in regular space-time, but doesn't work in quantum. I'll need to explore this theorem further when i return from new zealand.
Oh yeah, here's an aside, please don't take offense to this stuff, its more of a joke than anything else. Tongan women are great, I just have a hard time understanding them sometimes and my encounter last evening was not a representation AT ALL of what normal Tongan fefine's are like. It was pretty cool for like 10 minutes though...
So New Zealand Update? Supposed to be leaving tomorrow (I think). No hotel rooms booked, no itenerary, I'm not packed, don't know how I'm getting to the airport or who's coming with me. I don't know my flight number and I don't know really anything about what I'm going to be doing. Except for red and black dinner night (I'm wearing a red t-shirt.) And this is how every holiday should start. I'm sure I'll dork out and spend some time at the internet cafe's just dying to see if I got any comments on my site, so I'll be around. Anyways, wish me luck.
Semisi 0 comments - Post a Comment
so what if I'm drunk! I'm feeling it. Dig it? (That was so hard typing you don't even know. IST is the word of the week. Yeah! I have two weeis coming to me. I rock! alright, its 2:00 a.m. and I've got "training" tomorrow and I'm still drunk. I love you all. Smell me.
sEMISI. 0 comments - Post a Comment
|E-mail Jim Jawn | Photos & Blog ©2003 Jim Jawn | Updated 02.01.04|