Time has been moving so fast around here, especially now that it’s not raining all the time. Apparently there was a drought earlier this summer and in the past week or so it has rained 5/7 days. On Wednesday we had a beautiful train ride coordinated for all the international students. Even though it was cloudy, the sights were incredible. We got a sneak peek at the sight of the next Lord of the Rings film. I don’t follow the trilogy, but tons of people seemed super excited about it. The university then hosted a free barbeque for all of us, which was exponentially more delicious than I anticipated. After that we all went to a comedy show in the Forsyth Barr stadium, an unbelievable facility where all of the university rugby games are held. Just bought tickets for a rugby game this weekend! There were about 5 or so different comedians, one of them named Rhys Darby, who plays the band manager in the HBO series Flight of the Concords. It once again became apparent that we were in a different country when about 20% of the jokes included references we couldn’t even begin to piece together. Oh well! Still a lot of laughs.
On Saturday a bunch of St. Lawrence students decided to head out to the peninsula to check out he views. The scenery on the bus ride alone was worth the trip, but couldn’t even begin to compare to the other views. Dave convinced us to take the trek over to the other side of the peninsula to check out the Alcatraz penguins, one of the most endangered species in the world. When he warned us it would be a bit of a walk, I immediately became conscious of my attire, a dress and flip-flops. Wardrobe disaster numbers two of the trip, so far. We ended up walking about 8 or 9 miles to get to the beach, but the views all along the way kept it feeling short.
Once we finally arrived to the beach, after trudging through about a mile or two of wet farmland and an encounter with about a dozen sheep and cattle, we were nearly blown away by the force of the winds. We were mistakenly thrown into some tour group that was already being led across the beach. Lucky for us, the guide knew the perfect spot to catch a view of the penguins. Even luckier for us, most of the tour group was full of friendly older couples. Obviously, we felt this would be the perfect opportunity to hitchhike, rather than walk another 8 miles and then pay for a bus back to Dunedin. We split up into twos, and Max and I were lucky enough to get paired up with such a sweet couple from Scotland. They actually had a son who lived in Manhattan and were familiar with upstate New York so we had plenty to talk about. They refused to accept any of our money, and thanked us for the good conversation. People are so awesome!
At this point soaking wet and feet blistering, we made it to a joint in the center of the city, which had a fireplace. We scooted our table as close as possible to the fire, ignoring all of the strange looks that come along with a soaking wet dress and a generally disheveled look. We splurged on some fancy pizza (three different kinds!) and the NZ version of French fries.
Unfortunately one of the pairs wasn’t able to hitch a ride, and had to walk back another 8 miles in the rain. Tough break! We bought them each a couple beers later that night to make up for it.