20.07.2008 - 20.07.2008
i climbed a volcano today and it was flipping sweet. actually, here, they say "sweet as." originally i thought they were saying sweet ass but it was actually the option that makes even less sense.
you take a ferry to rangitoto, which is the most recent volcanic island here, formed about 600 years ago. and you hike up to the crater, which is absolutely huge, and not bare like i expected it to be but full of vegetation and just impossible to capture the enormity of it on camera. and then up to the summit, a bit past the crater, from whence you can see a far-off view of the auckland skyline, and sailboats, and so forth. it was raining and sunny alternately on the way up -- "alternately" is on a scale here that is totally foreign in the states, the weather changes ridiculously quickly, on the weather channel they don't really forecast only tell you what it's like right now -- but this turned out to be perfect because when we got to the summit the sun came out and there was this giant rainbow over the water and over auckland. gorgeous.
it's also kind of a strange little island, because before wwi, new zealand got nervous that somebody was going to invade, and so they started fortifying. amped it up during the war and during wwii, and rangitoto was one of their main spots, because of the great 360 degree view it's got. submarine nets, minefields, cannon, the lot. and of course nothing ever happened. nobody ever invaded. the remains of some of these things are still there.
it's a relief to be exploring during a non-tourist season. the weather is not bad, especially if you are used to pittsburgh -- it's basically like autumn in pittsburgh, except the weather changes more quickly and is more unpredictable -- and there's so much to explore, so the relatively small number of tourists who are here get spread out all over i guess. europe was so insane with tourists, especially italy. it was so crowded with tourists in italy that it was essentially not really enjoyable -- italy was the least favorite leg of the trip for all of us.
stuff is still really expensive here, though. i've just resigned myself to being painfully in debt to my parents when i get home -- i mean this is despite the fact that the program is almost completely paid for by my chancellor's scholarship/other scholarships. i save as much money as i can by never eating out, getting cheap groceries, not drinking in bars (a pint's usually $6 or $7, mixed drinks can be twice that), washing my clothes in the sink...but everything you do costs money and there is just so much to do here. when am i ever again going to get the chance to see the nz rugby team play the australians? or the royal new zealand ballet perform romeo and juliet? go skydiving in THE place that started it all? see a cave full of glowworms? i have to do it while i'm here. it's not like europe, where it's likely i'll be back many times. nz isn't really close to anyplace else or on the way to anywhere. so this may be it.