First thoughts

Hervorgehoben

Hi there, Allegra, Grüezi

So, it took me a while to start a blog, though the idea has been in my mind for a long time. It just didn’t want to come out. But new year, new plans, new ideas… right?!? So, I think today or tonight as it is in New Zealand, where I am currently, is the right time. Anyway, welcome to my new blog. The plan is to write about my travelling, some anecdotes and adventures. I seem to attract adventures, sometimes good, sometimes less good, but untill now all went out well, so… will keep hoping. And have something to write about that way. Anyway, hope you enjoy reading. Will also let some German or Rumantsch words „slip“ into my contributions, as that is a part of me, respectively a part of my life. My mother tongue is rumantsch, the 4th language of Switzerland, and English. It is always a bit complicated to explain people where I am from. I was born in New Zealand, yes, have a New Zealand passport, but grew up in Switzerland, so also have a Swiss passport, happy with both until now. 🙂 Live in Switzerland and plan to have my base there, as it is handy for travelling and also has a high life standard. And it is actually a beautiful country! But there are many beautiful and/or interesting countries, that is why I like to travel! So, let’s get started.

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Stingrays in Paihia

One weekend we went to Paihia with the little ones. One reason was to see if I could get a job in a hotel where Anna’s friend worked at. I had written and we had called and asked but hadn’t received an answer. So we decided to visit the location. I could fill in a form, but I never heard from the hotel again. Of course, Anna’s friend couldn’t help it, she just worked there. But this was an ongoing theme, lots of employers simply didn’t answer my requests for jobs, though I tried to do it in a most professional way. Anyway. That wasn’t the subject. The exciting part was that we saw some stingrays right at the edge of the water, means under the bridge to go to the boat! One of the kiddies had seen them first and was very excited! We told everyone around us and soon the stingrays had a small audience. Not that they cared, as it seemed. It was really fascinating to see them glide through the water, hide, and show themselves aain. Were they playing hide and seek? Maybe. Anyway, that was probably the highlight of the day, besides eating hokey pokey ice cream (me) and good ice cream (the others). Another thing I like about Paihia is the small telephone book library. It also has a „proper“, classical library but that isn’t always open, in contrary to the telephone booth library. I even deposited a book there another time, when I was driving through and we had a quick stop in Paihia. And to see what it means check my photos.

Another note or anecdote from the kiwi orchard

Well, I can’t remember exactly how long I did the picking of the flower of the kiwi fruit, it wasn’t long, we had to hurry up. One reason was the weather, the other was that there were more orchards to work on. Unfortunately I couldn’t join my new found friends there, for logistical reasons. Anyway, as mentioned before, one thing was the hygiene. We had instructions to always wash our shoes in the bucket at the entrance of the orchard, as to avoid diseases or similar. Not everyone seemed to follow this rule. Another one was to hang up the bags with the flowers so they wouldn’t touch the ground while they were drying. And then we had to react quickly if it started raining. We had to grab our bags, take them to the shed and make sure they wouldn’t get wet. Not that easy in that small shelter. But somehow we managed. Anyway, as the weather could change quite quickly during that time, I think it was November, I had a good, waterproof jacket, that I had actually bought in Hamburg, in Germany, a while ago. Not expensive, but very practical. Ah yes, and I also always had sunglasses with me. I am telling you this because I lost both in different ways. On a sunny day I decided my sunglasses were bothering me, so I decided to trample on them. No.. of course I didn’t do that on purpose. I hung them on a rope on the side of an orchard lane. Unfortunately they fell down without me noticing and I stepped on them by mistake. Crunch, crash… „Oh no!“, I said in despair. Luckily I had another pair at „home“. So that was ok. My jacket was a similar story. In the morning it was still cool so I needed it, but it disturbed more than it helped at work. So I hung it up on a branch. At the end of the day I remembered I had put it somewhere. But I couldn’t find it anywhere. Had I put it somewhere else? Had someone put it in another place? Or even stolen it?! I couldn’t believe it. But after asking probably all the orchard workers and also the supervisor a few times I had to face it. The supervisor was so nice and lended me another raincoat. I was thankful for it, though it wasn’t near as practical as my stolen one. And I couldn’t understand how that had happened, I had been in the orchard all the time. But of course not always near my jacket. So, lo and behold… be careful of your belongings, wherever you are! I was told later that the North is known for such „crimes“, a friend of a friend had her car stolen. One that was for sale! Or was it only the wheels? Anyhow… crazy times.

And to end, something nicer, something I came up with while I was actually working in the orchard: a short poem dedicated to the busy bees.

Leave the leaves and the bees in the trees, 

I am singing a song to get along


 

Of Kiwis, fruits, flowers, bees and queens

Kia ora!

So, after a while of babysitting and just lingering around at my friend’s house I finally found a temporary job: kiwi fruit flower picking! Yes, the flowers, not the fruit, as I discovered. When I first applied I wrote that I loved kiwis and ate them in the morning. I was soon to find out that I wouldn’t be able to eat any kiwi on the field. It was the flowers we were supposed to pick, no kiwis that time of year. So lots of people were also a bit surprised and wondered why we had to do that. I don’t know the exact reason, though we were shown a video of the procedure after the picking etc. But basically it is to get the pollen and to resell, give it to other companies interested, mainly China. Something similar. If you know better, write a letter. 🙂 So, this cleared, the job began.

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looking up in a kiwi orchard

As I lived a bit out of town and not near the kiwi orchard I was dependent on my friend driving me there. But that was fine, I could sort out the time I was supposed to be on the orchard and my friend could bring her kid to kindergarten. The first day we, a small group of mostly young adults, were introduced in the art of kiwi fruit flower picking. It was just a short introduction, with important instructions about the hygiene. Later on I did wonder if everyone got those instructions, but that’s another story.

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This is how the flowers were hung up during the picking, they shouldn’t touch the ground.

So, the work began. After a while I noticed there were quite some bees buzzing around. I tried not to get too nervous, but then I went to the boss and asked her if she had any advice in regard to the bees. She asked if I was allergic. „No“. „Ok, otherwise you couldn’t work here“. That was about it. So I just watched the others and figured I would let the bees do their work and they would let me do mine. And it seemed to work. Actually I overcame my fear of bees that way, not that I was too afraid before, but I became even less afraid and noticed that it really is true that they don’t harm you if you don’t harm them. And of course they were probably used to people on that orchard. So in a way we even became friends, at least that’s what I like to think. Of course the queen bee wasn’t in the orchard, at least not the real one. But my boss was called Kararaina, and in my first mother tongue, Rumantsch, that sort of meens Dear Queen (Chara Raïna). I also told her that towards the end of my engagement and she was thrilled to hear that. And I do actually think it was the right name for her, she was really a nice boss or queen. Oh yeah, by the way, she was Maori or had Maori origin. As did lots of the other workers on the field. So I was sort of exotic, I guess. But it was interesting, and though they did speak English, I did learn some words and hear some Maori slang. Unfortunately I forgot most of it again. Well, will have to go again to relearn everything. Haere? 🙂

Babysitting blues

So, as mentioned, I went to my friend’s mainly to babysit and I could stay at their house during that time. And even longer, as it turned out. We hadn’t really planned how long I could stay, my friend had just said: „You can stay at our place!“ I did mention I was planning a longer trip and would like to stay in New Zealand until about January, but also wanted to travel around, obviously. So we sort of discussed that, but I only decided on the exact date while I was already staying with them. So thanks for your hospitality again! Also to the kiddies. 😉 Well, the kiddies… quite a story or a few actually. My friend had called them „Angels“, yes, exactly like that, in quotes. Hm… I was a bit suspicious, but I had met the older one a few years earlier (well, three, to be exact) and he was a little darling then. So I thought it would still be that way. Well… more or less, I guess. 🙂 As 4-year olds are. The younger one was a bit more than a year old. So basically the same age as my sister’s siblings. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well. I had time to adjust to temperature, different time zone etc. for about a week. Then the work began. My friend and her husband were going on an anniversary cruise. So, the day they left I already looked after the kids a bit, checked they weren’t in the way and such things. My friend had explained everything to me in detail, even prepared meals and made a list. So nothing could go wrong. While I was watching the kids, the little one decided to jump off the sofa/couch. Head first. Well, you guess. He immediately started crying… first it seemed nothing severe had happened, then we saw he was bleeding from his mouth! Luckily his teeth were still in, at least those he already had. Oh no… what a start! My friend didn’t seem too worried after a bit of checking, but she did show me the medicine bag and prepared some drops etc. Good thing! Little one was also having a bit of a cold, so not an ideal combination. In the end I did end getting up in the night respectively giving little Mister some medicine in the middle of the night. And the big one was a rascal during the day. But watching videos was one of his favourite pastimes, so I finally got to see Ice Age 3, more than three times. 🙂

 

We did go out, mostly to the playground, and all enjoyed that. Though I had to run after the little one and see the big one was behaving. Usually no problem. Once the older one found a stick though and kept running around with it. He also played with it, as little kids do. He was swaying it around, like a sword. Suddenly he stuck the stick into my eye!!! Of course, he didn’t do it intentionally, but I had a shock and was just quiet for a while. He did apologize „sorry Selina, I didn’t mean to“, I could tell he really didn’t. After a while I luckily recovered, though the scratch did remain for a few days. Luckily it wasn’t a big one. I think their mother didn’t even notice. But the only thing I asked when she came home was: „How do you manage?!“ So I guess she got the message. And I really did wonder. In the end I think it was good that two of us were there, though the big one did get a bit confused with who I was. „Aunty, oh… Mum.. oh, I mean Selina…“, poor little chap. Good for his brain though, as he is a very clever little guy, like his younger brother too. Doesn’t make it easier though, does it? 🙂

First fright – I mean flight

So, the journey begins. Late in the night, of course no fright. After my „passport control short shock“ all was ok. I have travelled quite a bit, so flights are not a problem basically. And all went well, I was very excited to leave. Though I did worry a bit that everything would go well, also on the other side of the world. I did have everything with me, in the end, or not? Well… I forgot my camera! Me! Can you imagine! Of course, nowadays with good mobile phones it’s not such a big problem, but I was annoyed when I noticed. But at least I had everything else with me. So, I will just add some photos for you to see and wait like I had to wait to arrive at the other side of the world. Lots of thoughts, dreams, sleeping, reading, listening to music, watching movies – thank you Emirates!

Nice stopover in Dubai, I already knew the airport, though this time they were building. Making it even bigger? I don’t know, can’t remember the reason. Didn’t do any shopping, well, except for food and drinks, as I already had enough luggage, luckily no excess. So, good night for now. More about my trip to come soon, hopefully.

Dubai airport

Arrival in New Zealand airport

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Passport problems

Allegra – Grüazi and hello!

So, I just saw an entry in my journal and remembered an episode of my trip that happened at the Swiss airport, in Zurich, to be exact. Passports are an issue when travelling, I am sure everyone who has travelled abroad knows that and probably quite some people have their own story. I just rememberd entering Bahrain, I had done quite some paperwork beforehand, plus had an invitation of a friend from Saudi Arabia, which is another story. But when I was at the passport control they stopped me and made me wait for quite a while and I was worried and wondering if they would actually let me in. They did, in the end and were even friendly, so all went well. Though it did make me be cautious with everything. For example not taking photos of everything and everyone. Anyway, drifting off. I thought leaving Switzerland wouldn’t be a problem, they just don’t like people coming in. But… as you might have seen, I do have two nationalities, that is New Zealand and Swiss.

 

So for my trip to New Zealand I decided to travel with my New Zealand passport, also as I hadn’t any fixed plan on how long I would stay. I did have an idea, but you never know, right? So, off I went, ticket booked, passports checked and up to date. So no, that was not the problem. After being on time at the airport at first, saying goodbye and then anyway having to rush, I arrived at the passport control station. With a smile I showed my New  Zealand passport to the man behind the glass counter. He didn’t smile back. Well, he wasn’t going on holidays or flying away, after all. He looked through the pages, to and forth… silently. After a while he asked me: „And where is the stamp when you entered?“. Then I explained I was a dual resident. The man became angry and scoffed me off, but let me through. I could barely just not reply in an insulting way. It did bother me though, how was I supposed to know what he was looking for? And I did worry: Would I have a similar problem entering New Zealand? What about when I returned to Switzerland? Some people had asked me if I would actually return, my answer was basically yes, but one never knows. Now this answer had a different dimension. Anyway, I thought I should have done some more research in regard to this and wondered if other people had similar problems. There must be a group or some place to pose such questions?

As mentioned in the other blog, I did find groups in Facebook where I could share my travel stories, tips and concerns… and find other travellers. I also found an expat group, though I haven’t connected with people from that group and also don’t think someone has the same situation. Maybe similar. Anyway, when I returned all went well. Until… you guess. This time I had a friendly police woman. I showed her the New Zealand passport, she asked me a few questions when I finally said I am also Swiss. Then she gave me the following advice: „For check-in you can use the New Zealand passport. For the border respective passport control you can use your Swiss passport or identification documents“. Or was it the other way round? Not sure anymore. Anyway, next time I will ask someone before I set off on such an adventure. Don’t have to challenge things too much. Or I will try and find that kind police woman.

Anyone else had a similar experience or other passport problems? Let me know and also what kind of advice you have. Happy travels!