Birthday Boy Kiwi Style - Christmas
Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
80Trip End Dec 31, 2009
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It's hard to say what we loved most about our trip to the bottom of the earth (a sheep farm 45 minutes from Invercargill). Our children greatly enjoyed the companionship of the Frey-Mclean children. Josh is a super outgoing 13 year old full of vision and vigor for life; Taylor is a very focused, kind and considerate 11 year old as well as his twin sister Tessa who sings like an angel. The trio introduced our kids to farm life and the 18 orphaned sheep they are taking care of. Monique loved feeding the orphaned lambs milk and calling out "lamby, lamby, lamby" as they chased her in the paddock to consume the milk she was carrying.
We pretty much abandoned any thoughts of formal school work except for mandatory music practice every morning. We were very fortunate to be staying with a family that encouraged 'why' questions and encouraged the answers (if they existed) to be discovered by the seeker. We were entertained regularly by performances but the real highlight was when Josh, Taylor and Sabrina played their instruments at the Christmas Eve service and Tessa sang.
We were invited to a Kiwi style Christmas Eve Church service. Being the first to arrive we watched in amazement when a procession of attendees arrived yielding bottles of wine, beer and other spirits while sampling some on the drive then 20 second walk into the church. This service was BYOB (but this B was for bottle/booze not bible). People were relaxed (yeah, no duh) and everyone was expected to perform an 'item' (a song, joke etc). Pastor Paul spoke on the meaning of Christmas and that it was about a very special birthday boy - Jesus (Something that we seem to be forgetting).
It felt like home being with the Frey-Mclean's as the kids got a fairly familiar Christmas (except it was summer, no turkey, and we were closer to the South Pole than the North). We hunted and twice found a tree to chop down
as the first one the Dads and kids brought back was rejected. Lots of time was spent hand making decorations for the tree and anticipating the potential gifts under it.
We spent two different days at Curio Bay (famous for its surf, Hector dolphins and other sea life). The waves were great on the 23rd and the kids enjoyed boogie boarding until a rather large seal chased them out of the water and onto the beach. The seal was a bit aggressive but eventually waddled up the sand to sit beside us to warm in the sun for awhile. A little later Bill spotted a group of Hector dolphins in the bay and the kids suited up and enjoyed boogie boarding with the friendly dolphins swimming around and under them.
We also met up with Chris & Karen (fellow world travelers from England whom we had previously met in Peru on a broken down boat). Chris took some awesome photos of the kids being chased out of the water by a seal. Chris got the kids all down on their knees explaining that seals are intimidated by anything taller than them. I am not sure it worked but was a great photo opportunity. Hopefully we will meet up again on our travels.
Feeding the two families was quite a process. Seven hungry kids can be a bit demanding but after two weeks of communal living I think we had it figured out. I really enjoyed cooking alongside Cec, chatting and learning all her secret vegetarian recipes. Bill and Cec were wonderful hosts. We learned that thinking 'outside the box' is not bad but freeing and have been encouraged by what they are doing and how seriously they take their roles and responsibility as parents (good on ya mates!).
Bill and Cec offered to drive us to the Dunedin airport (3 hours) - yes, I too am thinking what wonderful friends they are. The kids were pretty quiet after saying goodbye at the airport, but it was worse when we arrived in Auckland and were waiting for our luggage. Monique stated boldly that our life was going to be so boring without Tessa and she burst into tears. Sophia and Tessa (both 11 years old) really enjoyed each others company and sang together constantly. Mostly, they sang Abba songs (we all watched the movie "Mamma Mia") with a few Christmas carols thrown in. I will always remember this as our Abba Christmas.
We are now off to Auckland for a couple weeks to see the end of 2008, celebrate Sabrina's 13th birthday and figure out what we are going to do in India.