Thursday, February 24, 2011

a sad farewell

i'm afraid i'm going to cry at the airport tomorrow.

as excited as i am about what awaits in nepal, i've fallen in love with new zealand and the thought of leaving hurts me.

tomorrow afternoon i'm off to sydney. after sydeny it's shanghai, delhi, and finally KATHMANDU! it'll be a good four almost five days of travel, so wish me luck!

. . . i don't know if i'm mentally/ physically prepared for all this, but i have no choice now. . .

goodbye precious new zealand, i'll never forget the good times!

{p.s. i found a new hobby today - bungy jumping. i have a whole collection of photos to post from the past few weeks and i cannot wait to share my faves}

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


dear all,
i´m safe here in queenstown. tuesday´s earthquake in christchurch has left us all in shock. i just cannot believe i was there only five days ago. the hostel i stayed at in cathedral square is no longer standing.

i went back and looked at all the photos i have from the spire. . . it is hard to believe what it looks like now.

i have recieved so many sweet emails and messages from friends and family and i feel very loved.

that said, please continue to pray for the people of christchurch.

i am still waiting to hear back from friends. today i got several worried facebook messages from the relatives of friends i have met here . . . some friends still haven´t had contact. . . i still haven´t heard from candice and tom (pictured in some of these photos.

when i have the time, i hope to write again soon.

i´m off to nepal on saturday and i have mixed emotions about all of this. . .

i have four days to travel and i should get there on the 1st of march!

take care. i love you all and i only wish keeping in touch was easier.

all the love,

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the great debate and final decision

remember this post just a few days ago?

it was probably all really confusing considering i didn't really explain anything that was going on.

in short, my plans have changed dramatically in the past few days. originally i had planned three months in new zealand and another three almost four in nepal, but that was before . . . before i got a little email.

i got this certain email while i was in the blenheim library. at first i was shocked to see who sent the email but i was even more shocked once i started to read the message. a few months back, i wrote about going to see a documentary by mary olive smith. the documentary, "a walk to beautiful," is about women in ethiopia living with fistulas. i thoroughly enjoyed the film and talking with mary olive after the show. i had asked her back in the fall if she had any contacts in nepal and we had a brief email correspondence for a while about the filmmaker/ photojournalist friends of hers in asia. after a few months, i had not thought about it much, that is, until i got an email from mary olive just a few days ago.

in her email she asked if i would considering being her production assistant for a short film on family planning in nepal.


i was all ready to write back and tell her, absolutely, until i saw she was getting in in early march. in march, i was still supposed to be in new zealand.

but, after talking with everyone here and back home, i realized, this is an opportunity i could not pass up! it isn't everyday that an emmy award-wining filmmaker gives you the chance of a lifetime.

she knows i am a novice, but this is ultimately what i want to do for the rest of my life.

mom and i talked a couple of months back about what i saw myself doing with the rest of my life, and i shared with her that my dream would be working as a photojournalist/docu. filmmaker who exposes issues relating to either women's issues or malnutrition. i just had no idea i would have an opportunity to do that very thing so young/ so soon!

even though i'm sad to leave nz early and miss out on australia almost entirely, i know that they'll always be there {just waiting for me to come back!}. i've already had a lifetime of fun here and i know that nepal will be incredibly rewarding and challenging.

i made it to queenstown {the adventure capital of the world y'all!} yesterday afternoon after a nine hour bus ride and like all the other places i've been in nz, i fell in love almost instantly. the views here are unreal. i'm currently sitting in the hostel meeting room and every way you look there is something lovely. i can almost touch the remarkables {the mountain range} from where i sit!

on the long, but surprisingly pleasant journey from christchurch yesterday, i realized just how happy i am right now. this might just be the happiest i've ever been in my life. i'm living my dream and i feel so incredibly blessed, supported, and loved.

thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. it made be the crazy decision, but i also think it might be the right decision.

. . . nepal here i come!

{p.s. this photo is just one of the many reasons you might be able to understand why my decision was so difficult! this shot was taken on the tranz scenic train across the country on wednesday}

Sunday, February 13, 2011

happy valentine's day!

valentine's day for me this year =

* working in the garden for a couple of hours

*skype dates with mom, mm & dd, then abby & guion, and then later today sarah

* a walk around town {figured out my bus route for tomorrow. . . spent a lot of money on bus/ train tickets!}

* grocery store run {ate a kitkat bar alone on a park bench {kitkats are usually good, but this chunky one tasted like cardboard}

* officially made my decision {more to come about this later}!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

other thoughts:

- i miss the blog world but trying to keep up with all my fave blogs while abroad is next to impossible {i haven't once opened up my google reader since i have been here! eek.}

- abby's week of challenges start now {best of luck lover!}. it can be an enlightening experience.

- i posted a few new photos over at the wordpress blog

- travelers always have a good story to tell

- my song of the week is gray court { i listen to it everyday on my long-ish walk to town}

Saturday, February 12, 2011

i'm about to . . .

. . . make a really crazy decision. . .

i don't really have the time or energy to explain it all right now, but i would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers today and tomorrow!

i'm just too happy here in nelson and there lies the problem. i'd be more than happy to stay in nz forever. no matter what city or town i end up in, i always want to stay there for a year or two. . .

people come to nz and they stay.

i'll fill you in once the decision is made official.

i'm at mcdonalds now b/c the internet is so slow with a dozen people on at one time back home, so . . . i have to walk 30 min. through town for free internet on a sunday, but it's all good. i'm so happy to finally have the chance to check in on people, get caught up on the rest of the world.

more to come. sorry nothing exciting to report here. just know i'm perfectly content and incredibly inspired every moment.

[mcflurries are wayy different here btw.]

{photos from yesterday's walk around town}

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

in nelson

if asheville and denver had a kiwi baby, it would be neslon.

nelson, nz is a fabulous hippy town that i could live in for the rest of my life { i think } . . .

i made it here yesterday after a two hour bus ride from blenheim. it was hard leaving blenheim, my home for the past two weeks, but nelson looks like it is going to be grand. i wasn't ready to say goodbye to all of my new friends, my new family {see first photo}, but knowing i had so little time in nz as a whole, blenheim really isn't the place to spent all of your time.

the bus ride was lovely, but i had a hard time keeping my eyes open {kinda like that beautiful, sleepy train trip k and i took through the s. of france last summer!}. once i arrived in the city center, i realized, i had no clue how to get to the farm. after walking around hopelessly with only a street address, i was about to give up . . . it was hot, i was tired, and my bags were much heavier than i remembered!

i had little hope until i saw those famous golden arches and a sign advertising free wi-fi. so after nearly a year or two without setting foot in mcdonald's i found myself with an m&m mcflurry and a google map of nelson. thanks to mcdonalds and deep ujjayi pranayama, i made the long trek uphill and through town to seven oaks! kelsey, it reminded me so much of our experience in calais, i had to laugh. this time around though it was a little more difficult being alone and having more bags! it was equally hot and hopeless at times though!

now that i am here, i have been able to catch up on some sleep, get back to working, and skype with family and friends!

the house, more like mansion {pics to come!} was built in 1878, so you can only imagine how lovely it is! the ceilings are impressively high, the dark woodwork is irreplaceable, and there is even an antique fireplace in my room!

the work here is easy and fun - primarily weeding, raking, etc. today = planting petunias and impatients and more weeding!

got to get to work now -

{all photos from blenheim. . . even if it might not have been the most exciting of nz's spectacular towns, i will always have fond memories in blenheim.}

Sunday, February 6, 2011

20 by 20

i've made it - made it to 19!

today {feb. 7th, nz time} is my first birthday abroad. my morning was spent - meditating, practicing a few asanas, showering, making breakfast, and skyping with my lovely family back home and sarah! they were all so cute {mm, dd, mom, dad, kelsey, sam, emily, aunt b, kim, ally, kate, alex, and even abby and guion in virginia!} and talkative. they were even having the birthday dinner there tonight in honor of me : ) it was hard seeing everyone at home today and be reminded that i can't reach out and hug them or eat the flank steak and salad with them, but i know that i should be here right now. i'm having the time of my life and i wouldn't want to be anywhere else, but your birthday only comes once a year and all i really want to do is celebrate it with people who know me.

as it turns out, thursday was my last day of work here in blenheim, so i've spent the last few days relaxing and recovering from the hard work. my blisters are {mostly} healed and my back doesn't ache much any more. the last few days have been lovely and the weather was really nice, although a little too hot and sunny : ) my sunburns have now become a peeling mess of brown flesh. . .

unfortunately it is a little rainy today, so i'll most likely spend the rest of my birthday indoors. we had planned to go to the river like we did yesterday, but . . . now we're just inside watching the super bowl {maria, i keep thinking of you and your steelers!}.

i have had a truly wonderful 18th year and i cannot wait to see what my 19th throws at me! last year i was here in asheville and at the time i would have never guessed i'd be in nz at this time. never would i have imagined all this was possible by just 19. by my 19th, i've spent at least a month on 5 different continents. {just two more to go now!} i've been so incredibly blessed and my life has changed drastically thanks to my travels. i think that the thing i love most about travel is the people you meet on the road. i've met an assortment of crazy, adventurous, and inspiring travelers already and all of them have a story to tell. hostels are genuis and i've only had good experiences with them in nz so far. . .

in honor of my birthday today, here are a few things i hope to do by 20.

grace's 20 by 20 goals:

1.] learn to make a ridiculously good and moist chocolate cake
2.] volunteer somewhere doing something i love
3.] buy a bike
4.] see mt. everest
5.] take a self-defense or karate class
6.] become a better friend and better listener
7.] teach yoga weekly {at home and abroad!}
8.] learn to knit with ms. beth
9.] have weekly cooking nights over at sarah or kelsey's place
10.] work in a garden
11.] find a job doing something i love
12.] learn to sew a skirt, romper, or dress
13.] start looking for more travel opportunities, grants, scholarships, you name it!
14.] make a chain of blessing and add one each day of school
15.] join a bible study
16.] make art on a daily basis
17.] run in a race
18.] find the best place to see the stars on/off campus
19.] go rock climbing with andrew every week
20.] make a documentary film : )

c'est tout!

tonight is bbq night here at the hostel and we're all going to go to the store in a little while to get some foodstufz.

all the love. . .

{this map is in the hostel and everyone puts a tack on the place they're from. i'm currently the only american, but we have finland, russia, malaysia, japan, germany, and the uk covered at the moment!}

p.s. i've added a few new nz photos to my photography portfolio too

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

from garlic to grapes

where do i begin?

my life is one hilarious mess. i love traveling without a set plan b/c my plans always change.

after i left the farm in the sounds, i found my way to blenheim and in to the koanui lodge/ backpackers.

i had planned to stay only one night, but as i was playing german card games with all the germans, karen at the desk walked past and asked if everyone had a job. i kinda jokingly said, "no, but i'll probably just leave in the morning." her response, "okay, we'll you can start tomorrow on the field."

alrighty then.

so. . . the next morning, i was up and ready to go at 5:50 without any clue of what i had just gotten myself into. work as it turns out is harvesting garlic in a big dirty field {see pictures}. the work is by far some of the most physically demanding work {reminiscent of those fabulous mississippi days friends!} i have ever done in my life.

after seven hours, 42 full buckets of garlic, and a sexy sunburn, i didn't know what to make of my first real job experience abroad.

it is the real deal now though, kiwi bank card/account/ employer and all! i love that this whole experience fell in my lap and although it is challenging, it is a job and it pays for my rent these next couple of days.

today was really lovely though b/c we got to work in a vineyard. garlic harvesting is not what i plan to do with the rest of my life, but i think i could get used to vineyard work. the darling grapes were just starting to change color and our job was to simply prune and pluck. i genuinely loved it!

i'm currently overwhelmed by all of the emails/skypers/and fb messages, so i need to stop this post shortly, but before i sign off, know that i'm happy, healthy, and content in this lovely little farming community and town!

i've been online for about an hour now and i've already cried once {i have such a lovely support system back home and i've loved and appreciated every sweet email}, almost wet my pants with excitement {amazing offer in nepal opened up, but bad timing. . . so. . .}, and i have not stopped thinking about how crazy it is to be this far away from home. . .

all the love!

{many more pictures to come. a.) rainbow on the way to work yesterday. in short, it was the perfect way to start the morning. b.) sarah, ali, and i on the fields. these two brits help me through each day. i'm so thankful for their positivity and for the sing along sessions! and c.) the lovely vineyard from today!}