I met Mandy the second week that I moved here. I was DESPERATE to get my kids into school – could.not.wait. So, I marched myself on down to the school to talk to the principal. He explained to me that he was obsessed with American football & that every other American had brought him an American football cap. He was very pleased that I was going to bring him a Panthers cap as he did not have one yet. After we chatted for a while he asked me if I wanted to see the classrooms. Of course I agreed to go – my kids were not with me so really anything to make that last longer was fine with me! When we walked into what was going to be Ellison’s classroom, I spotted Mandy. From way across the room my radar immediately was drawn to the only other American within miles. How did I know she was American you ask? Well, it was honestly just blatantly obvious. I could see the bright pink lululemon jacket from a mile away & then as if that were not enough she was sporting a visor. She looked just like every rockin’ woman-mom that I used to work out with at the Harris Y in Charlotte (I really miss that place!). Anyhow, the principal, Dr. McCartheny, finally introduced me to the “other” American because he thought we would get along. Well, the rest is history – Mandy & I hit it right off. Both being Americans, we are on the same wave length about so many things – especially the fact that we could both stay here forever & be extremely happy. Last weekend we had the privilege of traveling to an island off of the coast of New Zealand called Waiheke with both of our families. Her daughter, Mae, is in Ellison’s class, & Issa is Chase’s same year in school. My kids were SO keen on the fact that we were taking a day trip with them. AMAZING is really the best way to describe our day. However, we first started off in a bit of a tizzy. We had friends over the night before for dinner so we were a little less than prepared to leave when we woke up in the morning. From the time we woke up we were rushing around in circles trying to get ready, assuming that we would miss our bus. We made it down to Mandy & Jacob’s house with what we thought was going to be 3 minutes before the bus came so we raced to the bus stop. In true NZ style, the bus was late. I just love it – life is good here, slow, & that’s perfectly ok. LOVE it! So when the bus finally arrived, we took it down to the ferry boat landing. The ferry was so cool – a 45 min cruise boat with tables, a snack center, & an open deck up top where the kids could see all of the surrounding islands. When we finally arrived at Waiheke I was absolutely stunned. I just could not believe that a place like this existed. I am sure that I will feel the same way about every place that we visit in NZ but b/c this is the first place, I was just absolutely amazed. We got off the ferry with backpacks full of food but no no real plans except to explore the island. We bought some bus tickets but missed the bus so we decided to take a hike. We hiked a short ways around until we got to a little portion of the village where we stopped to have a picnic. Then we hopped on another bus & had them drop us off on what seemed like the end of the island. It was so unbelievable! We walked along the beaches for @ 45 min. – stopping every 2 minutes to take pictures. I just could not help myself – everything was so beautiful that I wanted to capture every moment on my camera. When we finally reached the end we realized that we had not payed close enough attention & we had come to the end of the beach with no clear direction of where to go to next ( we were trying to get to the wineries of course:) So, with an exhausted crew in tow, we turned down this one street & there it was – the stairway to heaven. At least that is what we told the kids it was called. There was this giant never-ending set of stairs that seemed to lead somewhere, we just did not know where. We were hoping it was to the wineries but we told them it led to heaven. About 1/2 way up & completely out of breath, Ellison looked at me & said “mama, I don’t think we are heading to heaven:) Sweet girl. Pretty sure she was wrong though b/c when we reached the top we found a sign leading to a Casita Miro Vineyard. When we arrived we walked into what smelled like an incredible restaurant. They looked us up & down funny b/c we had kids then told us that they were full. We begged to just sit outside on their lawn which they agreed to. So…. we plopped ourselves right down on that lawn, pulled out our picnic spread again & showed our true tailgating east coast colors – Go Tigers! While the kids rolled down the hill & picked their olives to make “potion” we happily drank wine for a few hours. Waihiki – best day EVER!!!
Oh, & just for a funny. Mandy & I LOVE the words that people use here for things. They are different from the words we use in the US & we are both hoping they will stick with us & with our kids. Here are a few of our texts back & forth this week while we were trying to use our new words…
Hope: Mandy, do you want to go shopping in the morning?
Mandy: I can do tomorrow – in the morn!
Hope: Sweet! I am in!
Mandy: Sweet as!!! XXX See you later, girlie!
Hope: I’m so keen on that!
Mandy: LOL we will find heaps of things!
Hope: Hopefully some goodies, aye??
Mandy: Maybe some lollies (gummies)! Good on ya, cheers!
Hope: If we can find a car park then maybe we could have our morning tea there?
Ha ha ha! I never want this year to end……:)