Monthly Archives: February 2011

Unfortunate New Zealand Connection

I submitted my last post – describing how much I enjoyed my New Year in New Zealand – the night before New Zealand experienced its “darkest day.” On Tuesday Feb 22 at around lunchtime, a 6.3 magnatude earthquake hit the Christchurch city center during one of its busiest times, killing hundreds of people and nearly destroying the city.

My heart goes out to New Zeland and the people of Christchurch. I’ve been to New Zealand three times now, and it is one of my favorite places in the world. I plan on going back to visit many times in the future. Hopefully I can soon make my first trip to Christchurch to volunteer in some capacity.

I realize Australia relatively recently has had several natural disasters that have claimed many lives and destroyed homes and land (such as the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria and the recent Queensland floods). My heart goes out to the people of my nearly-adopted land as well.

But New Zealand somehow reminds me of home far away (in West Virginia). It has something to do with the mountains, the air, the wildlife and the simplicity of living in New Zealand that makes it really special to me.

One only has to look at two recent mining disasters that may signify a special cosmic relationship between New Zealand and West Virginia.

On April 5, 2010 an explosion rocked the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. It was such a monumental disaster that President Barack Obama gave the eulogy for the 29 miners killed.

Just more than seven months later, on November 19, 2010, an eerily similar explosion tore through the Pike River Mine on the South Island of New Zealand. The number of casualties in this accident?

Also 29.

Now I’m no numerologist, but could this be more than a coincidence? Who knows.

All I know is that these disasters will always be a part of life. Hell, developing and third world countries experience disasters many times the size of the ones described above.

I’m not happy about having to write about such incidents, but I think they can somehow help us recognize the fleeting nature of life and the importance of fervently embracing the people and places we love every day.

Who knows when we might no longer have the chance.

Third Trip to NZ and the First New Year (Maybe)

I spent New Year 2011 in Auckland New Zealand, marking my third trip to the country. This time I thought I would get to experience the first new year for any nation in the world, but no one could tell me for sure if New Zeland was truly the first country to welcome the new year. I also heard that the honor instead went to one of the Samoa Island nations. I did not, until recently (and months after this trip), find out the answer. But back to that in a bit…

As always, I was amazed by the tranquil nature of the New Zeland; I was so tranquil by it all (and completely spent from weeks of work), that I spent some days sleeping in my completely dark(good) and equally sweltering(bad) small hostel room.

Wasting a lot of my time snoozing and rambling around the hostel turned out to be a good idea because I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with an exciting mix of people.

One of the most memorable trips for me was a jaunt by ferry to Waiheke Island with a couple of Canadian friends. Together we enjoyed a breezy sunny day on a small still beach against the backdrop of a colorful Pacific Island-like community. My two Canadian travel partners from Calgary had just met each other that day. I had met one of them the day before.

Another cool group of people were the Japanese who really had a good sized contingent at the hostel.  They were all young, friendly and outgoing types who indeed helped me learn a little bit of Japanese. If you are reading my blog for the first time, then I say Hajimemashite readers

I spent the rest of my time reading, learning new recipes, and having a drink or two.

Now, two months after the trip, I am finally getting around to posting some of my pictures (thanks to one of the Canadian friends who was pestering me into getting the pics up). This led me to consider a new blog post. In preparation for this post, I decided to learn once and for all if I could finally tell the world that I was one of the first to see New Year 1-1-11. The best source of information I found was an online article from the Samoa Observer. The report admited that its nation was not, in fact, the first to experience New Year.

Neither was New Zealand’s.

You will learn from the article that Kiribati is the “first nation to party”! 

Read the highly informative article here.