Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 17

Day 12

What did we do today?

Today we took a bus to the airport in Cairns. Then we got on our plane to Sydney. We took a bus to get to or terminal at the airport in Sydney, and then we got on our plane to Los Angeles. From LAX we took a flight to Chicago. From there we got a bus and finally made it home. Even though this whole ordeal was well over 24 hours long, we arrived in Chicago only about 6 hours after we left Cairns. It’s been a long day. We’re home!

INQUIRY: Are small or big fish more likely to stay close to the surface of the water?

Hypothesis: If fish are observed in different locations around the Great Barrier Reef, then the smaller fish will be located closer to the surface of the water.

What are we observing? The amount of small and large fish in a particular area within 6 feet of the water’s surface.

Equipment: One will need snorkel gear, and underwater viewing station, and a timer.

Procedure: (1) Observe fish from a snorkeler’s perspective. (2)Record the number of fish that swim by within 6 feet of the water’s surface for one minute, making note if the fish is small or large. The fish is large if it is as big or bigger than a handbreadth. (3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 in the underwater viewing station.


Trial 1 Area 1: Snorkeling

Number of small fish close to surface: 16

Number of large fish close to surface: 1

Trial 2 Area 2: Under Decks

Number of small fish close to surface: 3
Number of large fish close to surface: 10

Data Conclusion:

Total number of small fish close to surface: 19

Total number of large fish close to surface: 11


Through the conduction of this experiment, my hypothesis was proven correct. There were more small fish close to the surface of the water than large fish. This is most likely because the bigger fish can reach deeper depths.

New Questions that have arisen as a result of this experiment:

How does the swim bladder of a fish affect its ability to dive?

What is the common depth for this species of fish?

Would the time of day affect the results?

Possible sources of error:

The data was taken in deeper water. If it had been taken closer to the reef area the results may have been different.

When the second trial was done, the handlers were feeding the fish. This could have forced the small fish down deeper to feed off of the bigger fishes’ scraps.

There was an unclear definition of depth and size in fish.

The same fish could have been counted twice.

How to Improve:

Add more observers to collect an average number of fish.

Watch the fish in a variety of locations.

Conduct experiment in different months and different times of day.

June 16

Day 11

What did we do today?

Today we got up and went to the rainforest!! First we took a train to Kuranda (beautiful scenery) and walked the town. We found a man selling didgeridoos and he let us try it out. Zach was really good at it and I started to get the hang of it. It’s really fun!! We ate lunch at a restaurant in town. I had kangaroo pie and it was delicious. We then took a gondola up to the rainforest. We got a tour of the rainforest. It was really neat! I especially liked the trees and plants that grew off of each other. The forest was beautiful. After our tour we went back down the gondola. We went to an aboriginal show and cultural area, where the men performed for us and showed us pieces of the aboriginal culture. I loved hearing them play the didgeridoos. They also let us try boomerangs and throwing spears. I was really bad at the boomerang, but pretty okay at the spear. I was pretty happy when my spear actually went down range. J When we got back to our hotel we had more free time in Cairns. Kaisa, Katie, Scott, Steven and I all went back to the same restaurant. We had the same waiter… We found out his name was Bailey and he was from Wisconsin. Small world right? This time I ordered the kangaroo steak and it was incredible. Today was the perfect end to the perfect trip.

Prompt: What is your Top Ten?


No order because I can’t pick!!

Great Barrier Reef—This was incredible. Literally breathtaking. I loved the personal connection I had to the reef and enjoyed seeing many of the creatures I studied in zoology right before my eyes.

Luging—I had so much fun luging! It gives you an adrenaline rush and you can go incredibly fast! I had a blast and officially want to go professional.

Ogo—This was amazing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this when we got there, but looking back I am so glad I did! The inventor of the ogo is a genius in my book! This adventure got me out of my comfort zone and in the spirit of the trip!

Bridge Climb—The Sydney Bridge is an engineering marvel. The history of it is incredible and I loved learning about it. Always push your boundaries and never look back. The bridge opened my eyes to the true beauty of Sydney.

Outback food—This was just fun. It’s not every day you get to try something as cool as kangaroo! I loved this experience not only because it was a spontaneous and fun decision and I got to try something new, but I also loved it because I got my friends to try something new as well. I hope they learned, like I have, to try everything!!

Redwood Forest—I loved this experience. I have always wanted to visit a redwood forest. I didn’t even realize there was one in New Zealand… but then again, what isn’t in New Zealand?! Redwood trees are so beautiful and unbelievably big! It’s humbling, being that small. I also had a great time with my friends here.

Sunrise over Lake Rotorua—The sunrise was gorgeous! I couldn’t believe it. It was so pretty. How can something be so beautiful and have so many colors? It baffles my mind.

Rangitoto College visit—The kids were so nice! I loved how everyone was involved that night. We met our kiwi twins and made lasting friendships.

Eating kiwi fruit for brekkie—Delicious. I love kiwis- the bird, the people, and the fruit. New Zealand: there’s no other.

Trying… and hating… Vegemite—It was bad. That’s about it. How Aussies and Kiwis eat that stuff, I will never understand.

Making new friends—There are many people on the trip I never talked to back home. I’m glad I got close to so many people on this trip.

Playing a didgeridoo—I have always wanted to play one of these! The fact that I could keep it going for a few seconds made my day!

June 15

Day 10

What did we do today?

We went to the GREAT BARRIER REEF!! We got up and had breakfast this morning and then went downstairs and boarded the buses. When we got to the coast, we walked down the long wharf and got on a boat. The boat took us a couple hours out to sea. We arrived at this platform and docked. We all got off the boat and grabbed our scuba gear and were off. I was scared at first because I’m not a strong swimmer, but I got used to it. I loved scuba diving! The Great Barrier Reef was amazing! I saw so many cool things! After diving we ate lunch and sat in the sun. We all had some cuts from the coral. After that we went down below and watched them feed the fish. See also got to see the touch tank. I got to hold a sea cucumber!! I love it! I also got to hold a tiny starfish! We got to release the sea cucumbers back into the reef… Today was an incredible day! Later we came back to shore on the boat and went back to the hotel room. Steven, Scott, Kasia, Katie, and I went to find some dinner in town. We walked far down our exploration area and found this restaurant. It looked pretty good, so I called my group over to the menu that was posted outside. The very first thing I see on it is the “Outback Sampler.” I knew we had to stop there because you cannot go to Australia and not try the kangaroo, crocodile, and emu. We did and it was amazing! The kangaroo tasted like really good venison, the emu tasted like a really lean steak, and the crocodile… well, it tasted like chicken. Not joking- it really did. Of course it wasn’t a super chicken-y flavor, but very similar. I also ordered the crocodile pasta. It was incredible. Today was our taste of Australia: GBR and kangaroos! And boy was it good!

Prompt: Talk about the Great Barrier Reef.


The Great Barrier Reef was breathtaking. I absolutely loved it! The reef was beautiful. There was so much biodiversity and variety, it was incredible. The coral was magnificent. The colors, shapes, and textures of each individual piece were unreal. They are all unique. Color seems to sprout everywhere. Life is all around us. Everything was something new to discover, something new to see. You could keep looking closer and closer at something and the patterns kept getting more and more intricate. The coral was really cool and really interesting, but I really liked the fish as well. They were so beautiful! They had so many different colors. Later on in the day we got some fish food from a very nice lifeguard and we got to feed them. They came right up to us and we got to pet them. One of my absolute favorite things at the Great Barrier Reef were the bivalves. The giant clams were amazing! They were so big! I know they can grow to be over 4 feet long but it still shocked me how big they were. The colors in their mesenteries were fabulous. Giant clams have plantlike algae called zooxanthellae that grow on them. They have the same symbiotic relationship the zooxanthellae have with the coral. The alga creates food for the clam and gives the clam its beautiful color (The absence of zooxanthellae is a cause of coral bleaching). This was incredible to see in real life! I gave everyone I hung out with at the reef a guided tour. I pointed out the incurrent and excurrent siphons on the giant clams and the lateral line on the fish. I loved holding the starfish because I showed my friends its ambulacral groove and gently touched its tube feet. I was surprised that the sea cucumber was so smooth considering it’s an echinoderm. I showed its tiny spikes to my friends and told them this creature is under the same phylum as the sea stars and sea urchins. The sea cucumbers were such a strange color. They were so dark! I absolutely loved the Great Barrier Reef! Knowing so much about zoology really made this experience wonderful for me. It’s the personal connections you make on a journey that make the trip memorable. This is a memory I will always hold dear.

June 14

Day 9

What did we do?

Today we woke up and went to the airport this morning… and flew to Cairns! It is so beautiful here!! We got into our hotel and it is awesome! Our hotel room in Cairns is the nicest we’ve had on this trip. Our room is literally beautiful. We have a wonderful view and the temperature here is incredible! Coming to Cairns was just a big spirit lifter! After all that rain we are ready for the Aussie sun!! We got to our hotel and changed into our bathing suits. Then we went to the beach/pool! The water from the ocean had been cleaned and put in a pool… it was really nice and inventive. The water was kind of chilly but no worries. We had a wonderful time swimming, soakin’ in the sun, and being with our friends! Later, we went back to the hotel to dry off. Then Maddie, Amanda, Katie, Steven, and I went out to explore the town. We found a really good restaurant and we all had wonderful food. I had a parmesan chicken thing… it was good, but the company was better! I love my travel family! We stopped in some shops and saw the sights around town. We got some ice cream and then headed back to the hotel. At the hotel, we had a little bit of time before room check so we went to the pool… It was way too cold though! Today was a really fun relaxing day!

Prompt: FREE


This trip has been incredible for me. Last year, I had problems making really good friends on the trip to China. Of course I had friends but certainly not like this year. I feel like I have connected with almost everyone on the trip and became friends with, I’d say, well over half the group. This trip wasn’t as adventurous as China was, but it certainly wasn’t so difficult. It’s been relaxing and all around fun!! It’s hard to compare the two together and I definitely cannot tell you which was better. They are unique in their own way and that’s what makes them special. Both have given me experiences I will never forget, friendships to hold on to, and stories to last a lifetime. Traveling shows you life’s greatest moments. Hold onto them, they can become your fondest memories.

I would just like to thank everyone who has helped me on my journeys. Your help, whether it be mental, physical, or financial is greatly appreciated. Thank you for helping me through the thick and the thin and thank you for being there. This is for my friends across the world, my family back home, and everyone with me now- Kiaora. Thank you.

For my teachers who have taught me how to travel- Kiaora. We had a wonderful past two years… I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have! Thanks for taking me to see wonders! I truly appreciate all of the hard work you’ve put into the trip to keep us safe and having a good time. My sophomore year I was in Mr. Ewen’s geography class. He gave us an assignment to create our own trip, going through the whole process. That was a long project, as I’m sure yours was too. After the first couple of weeks into the class, Mr. Ewen called up a couple of people from the class and asked us if we wanted to travel. I definitely know that answer to that question now! Thanks for the lessons and all of the memories!

June 13

Day 8

What did we do today?

Today was our EXCURSION DAY!!! We were planning on going whale watching today… but the weather was too bad and we couldn’t go. Some of my friends had taken Dramamine before they heard the news, so they weren’t feeling very good today. I luckily escaped that one! In the morning we went to a big market. Our group wanted to go upstairs to the mall. We spent all of our time there and didn’t really get to look around. I guess the market was underground… we didn’t get to go. L We went and got some lunch at an Italian restaurant… we got some pretty good pizza. Then we went to the Bridge Climb!! We got all harnessed up and had everything hooked onto our jumpers… even my glasses… We did a test run on a small rig and then headed up for the real thing! I loved the bridge climb. It was magnificent. Sydney is beautiful!! The climb was life changing… It showed me one of the wonderful examples of how incredible our world truly is. After we touched ground we went back to the harbor area and watched the light show on the Sydney Opera House. That night, I went out with Ms. T and Mr. Barry’s group and we went to a restaurant where I ate a pineapple burger. Then we headed back to the hotel.

Prompt: What does it take to travel on your own? Do you think you are ready?


I love traveling- I caught the bug last year in China, and this year has been incredible! I would love to travel throughout my life. There is not a single country I don’t want to see. There are wonders everywhere you go, you just have to be willing to look. Traveling on your own can be a scary thing. It’s you and that’s it. You can’t rely on anyone for help in a tough situation. You not only have to know how to have fun, but you also have to know how to be safe. Safety and health are obviously a first concern. You have to know how to take care of yourself. The best way to figure out if you can handle it is to try it. Honestly, I’ve never traveled alone in my life, so I don’t know how I would react to being on my own. I would like to think I would be good at it, but truthfully, I really don’t know. Can I find my way? Will I know what to see? Can I set a rigid schedule for myself? Can I be spontaneous and adventurous while being safe and conscious? It’s a constant balancing act. You also need to know how to be adventurous. Being spontaneous is important while traveling, but it becomes difficult when safety is an issue. This is true not only when you’re traveling by yourself, but with a group that is too large as well. I feel like that’s how it has been on this trip. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve loved this trip and have enjoyed myself in everything we’ve done, but sometimes I feel like our excursion group is too big to do everything everyone wants to do. We can’t go off and explore because our group is too big to be safe in crowded public places. We’re a target when we’re huge. We’d also be a target if we were on our own though. There’s safety and dangers in numbers. But anyway… You also have to be charismatic while traveling. When you’re by yourself, you need to talk to others and become fully emerged in the culture. This is something a shy person like is continuing to get better at. It makes the trip more memorable when you connect with the people there. In the end, you just have to go with it! Have fun! Look where you are!

I don’t know if I’m ready to travel by myself. I mean, I definitely WANT to! I don’t think anyone knows what it takes to travel on your own until they’re put in the situation. No one’s ready until they’ve tried. Time to pack your bags, close your eyes, and point to where you’re goin’ next!

June 12

Day 7

What did we do today?

We got up and got ready. After breakfast I got some medicine because all of the rain was hard on my sinuses. Today Alec gave us a tour of the suburbs of Sydney. He showed us all of the really nice houses and beautiful beaches. We went to the Rocks. I had fun exploring at the Rocks despite the wind and rain. Next we went to Bondi Beach!! We had a lot of fun. The beach was beautiful! We saw a Portuguese Man-O-War!! I was very excited… I had never seen one in person! A rogue wave came and got us all wet though, so we were kind of uncomfortable the rest of the day. We went and got some hot chocolate and coffee to warm us up, but my tea latte burnt my tongue… Then we went to the Sydney Opera House. I was surprised because in all of the pictures I’ve seen of it always looked smooth and white. It’s neither. It looks less like a tent and more like a bunch of seashells. The roof is made of tiles and is cream in color. I found that very interesting. The birds here are crazy… they certainly like the food the tourists have. We took a tour of Sydney Harbor on a boat and went under the Sydney Bridge. It was a lot of fun! We then went to Sydney Wildlife World. I took lots of pictures of the kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, crocodiles, and the kookaburras. I had fish n’ chips at the Lizard Lounge at the Wildlife World!! It was really good! We walked back to the hotel and got to hang out and play games in Lexa’s hotel room. We also got to wash some clothes… which is a plus.

Portuguese Man-O-War!

Prompt: Reflect on all travels and how you have changed. Why do we travel?


I feel like I’m changing on this trip… Every trip I’ve changed (hopefully, and I feel) for the better. Last year my parents noticed I was more open to change and was far more social. I felt comfortable trying to work with a group. Going to China was the farthest and longest I’ve ever been away from home. It taught me to be responsible and independent. This year the trip is longer and farther. I know that I’m changing and growing on this trip. I’ve seen it particularly in the way I’ve been testing my limits, stretching my comfort zone, communicating, and problem solving.

So far I have tried to participate in everything we’ve done so far. This is extremely difficult, especially when we’re so tired from activity I’ll get the most out of it. Whatever you can get out of the trip helps you grow as a person. I feel much more outgoing. It is getting easier for me (a shy person around people I don’t know) to feel like an influential part of the group. One of my goals on this trip was to be easygoing. The people of Australia and New Zealand are known for their laid back attitudes. I get stressed out while traveling because I’m worried I won’t be on time, I’ll lose something, or have something stolen from me. On this trip I wanted to be the true backpacker inside of me. I wanted to be open with everyone, be myself, and not worry about things so much. Hopefully I can achieve my goal… I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m not dumping my baggage or drama on anyone. I want to be free to anything our incredible wonder of a world has to offer!

June 11

Day 6

What did we do today?

We woke up at 4:45 this morning. ‘Nuff said. It’s tired out. We got on the bus and drove to the Auckland Airport. Today we took a walk around the city. We went to the park and saw a fountain, we to the Sydney Tower, and saw Sydney Harbor. We went to an Opal Factory and had lunch in a giant food court. I ate a pide… It was like a pizza without sauce. It had cheese, chicken, and pineapples on it. It was delicious!! We went to an open air market and I got to try out my awesome China haggling skills. I could only get the price down minimally though… Australia is nothing like China! It started raining when we began walking back to the hotel. We must have walked two miles in the rain… it was crazy! Our spirits were high though and we made it through. We were really tired when we got back though… We ordered pizza and had fun bonding at the hotel.

Prompt: Talk about Sydney and compare and contrast it to other major cities you’ve been to.


Sydney is absolutely gorgeous! It looks more like Chicago than Auckland did because the buildings in Auckland were all mostly only a few stories high, whereas in Sydney there are plenty of skyscrapers. When we first arrived in Sydney, Katie turned to me and asked if we were really staying here for the next couple of days I told her yes and asked what was wrong with that. She told me it looks just like Chicago and that it was just a city. This made me think: well… why is this city so important? What makes it unique and stand out against all other cities across the world? It’s the similarities and the differences that make a place memorable. The similarities help connect the traveler to the place. Once the person has this personal connection to the area, they can understand and relate it back to their own lives. You’re no longer looking at scenery; you’re looking at something meaningful to you. An example of this is today when we saw how the buildings looked a lot like Chicago or when we saw a Subway restaurant. The differences between cities are important to see after you recognize the similarities. The differences show a city’s uniqueness and individuality. These are often the monuments, like the ones we saw today: the Sydney Bridge, Harbor, and Opera House. These things are unique to the city and make Sydney, Sydney. You can truly appreciate the differences once you can see the similarities.

The more you travel, the more connections based on similarities and differences you make. For example, the Sydney Tower allowed us to see for miles all around the city just like the Skydeck at the Sears/Willis Tower in Chicago. The Sydney Tower offers bungee jumping, but the Chicago tower offers aerial views. Another example is the smells in the city. It smells really clean and open in Sydney… I love it! Chicago doesn’t smell as nice as Sydney, and Xi’an smelled even worse than Chicago. There seem to be many green zones in Sydney which is similar to Hong Kong and St. Louis. Places such as Chicago and Beijing don’t have many of these.

The differences and similarities between cities is what makes you remember the important things in life and travel!

June 10

Day 5

What did we do today?

Today we woke up at 5:30… We went downstairs for breakfast. I love having kiwis for breakfast! The fruit here is wonderful. The best I’ve ever tasted! Today we braved ourselves for the vegemite. Yup… it was bad. We went out in the rain and took a public bus to get to the Redwood Forest. It was wet, very muddy, and rainy beyond belief. But, it was also a wondrous good time. Our group consisted of Maddie, Katie, Amanda, Steven, Bridget, Lexa, Reilly, Schags, Ewen, and Ms. Titus. We sang all the way through the trail. Mostly they were Disney songs… ‘Be a Man’ from Mulan was a popular one. We went back to our hotel and dried off as best we could. We got on the bus to Auckland and stopped to have lunch. I had a homemade burger and shared a weird chicken pie pastry with Katie and Steven. After we made it to Auckland we went to Rangitoto College!! I met Charlotte and she was so nice and adorable. We had so much in common! I really liked the Maori kids’ haka performance for us. They sang to us and we sang the national anthem to them. The barbeque they had for us was really good… I’ve found I really like sausage rolls. Katie, Amanda, and I stayed in a creepy hotel room that night…

Prompt: Talk about day 5.


Today was so much fun! We went to the Redwood forest early this morning for a hike. I loved it! I t was one of the many examples of how people are getting to know each other and participate on the trip. I feel like we are stepping out of our comfort zones. In the forest, our excursion group was singing songs, laughing, and having a great time! We would never sing like that back home. I have also stepped out of my comfort zone while luging and zorbing. I love it!

I feel like everyone is beginning to be more open to change and excitement. We’re all starting to mingle and talk to people we normally wouldn’t. It’s wonderful! Out here we are all put on the same level. It’s out in the real world of travel that one’s true character shines above all else.

We got to meet the kids from the Rangitoto College today! The experience was amazing! I cannot even describe it… Even though our pen-pal buddies were a random pick, I feel like it was fate we had them. Me, Amanda, Katie, Maddie, and even some of the other kids from our school feel like they met their kiwi twin today. Charlotte, my buddy, is interested in all of the same things I am (including art, skiing, and travel!) and basically had my personality in a nut shell. She was so sweet; I can’t wait to talk and see her again!! J

June 9

Day 4

What did we do today?

Today we had brekkie in our hotel. The hotel was serving vegemite… we smelled it, but it was a no go. It smells revolting. Just sayin’. We woke up early today, so we went outside and watched the sunrise. It was incredible. The colors were indescribable and breathtaking. We took many many many pictures. We then went on a duck tour! We got to see Lake Rotorua but couldn’t go in it because there is an invasive weed living in the water. In order to protect the other lakes from the invader, the boats cannot travel from Lake Rotorua to any of the other lakes. We went to the Blue Lake next. It was really pretty but it was so foggy we could hardly see! Afterwards we went to another lake that was less foggy… there were so many different species of birds! The ducks dropped us off at the Whaka Village. We got a tour of the hot springs, saw the giant geyser, and watched our tour guide sing us a welcome song. After that we stopped in town for some lunch and free time in Rotorua. I had a very good steak sandwich at the Art CafĂ©. We also went to a fruit market and got some amazing apples. We got back on the bus and watched more sheep and cows go by… we even saw an emu! We went to the Agrodome and saw the show. Then we went OGOING!! The first time I went down the hill with Maddie and the second time Maddie, Alex, and I raced Steven and Nishant (we beat them!). So much fun!!! We dried off at the hotel and went to our traditional hungi dinner an hour later. We saw the Maori challenge (places down token), greeting (hongi- the touching of noses), and haka (war dance). Tonight we packed our bags for Auckland.

Prompt: Talk about the Maori culture we saw in the morning and at night.


We went outside to watch the sunrise over Lake Rotorua. It was unreal… Incredibly beautiful! This was the perfect beginning to our day. It got us excited for the duck tour and the Whaka Village. We were greeted and invited into the village by a wonderful tour guide. He gave us a tour of the area, the hot springs, and the mud pools. I loved Whakawerawera because we got to see the two contrasting cultures working together under one meeting house. The traditional culture is in perfect harmony with the modern era. I loved how everyone was so in tune with the Maori culture. Everyone was involved. I think the fact that this pride for an ancient culture can be so prevalent in modern times is truly an amazing thing.

In the afternoon we went to the Agrodome and saw how the culture is applied to the modern day. We saw how a cultural aspect of the country has turned into an attraction for tourists. For dinner we had a traditional hungi dinner. We saw a traditional Maori greeting, challenge, and haka. The food was incredible and I loved the performances. It really gave us an insight to the Maori culture and how the people are today.

Me and Amanda's haka faces... How'd we do?

June 6-8

Day 1-3

What did we do today?

Today we met outside of the school and collected bags, said our goodbyes, and left for our adventure (June 6, 2011)! We waited in O’Hare Airport and boarded our plane to Los Angeles praying our bags would show up where we did. After arriving we transferred onto our plane to Auckland, New Zealand. After a tedious long flight, we made it!! We got on our bus ride to Rotorua. We stopped in the town of Matamata for lunch and some free time. I had a pineapple and ham sandwich. The town is famous for the Lord of the rings movies. After a few hours we left and headed for Rotorua. In Rotorua we went up a skyline gondola ride and went luging!! Luging is pretty much the best thing ever. J After our luging adventure we went to the hotel for an hour of free time. We went out to eat at “Burgerfuel” and I had pretty much the biggest burger in the entire world. It was called the biofuel and it was life changing. We then went to a “grocery store” called the Pack n’ Save. It was cool because we got to compare and contrast the Pack n’ Save to something similar in America, like Wal-Mart or Jewel. We walked back to the hotel and slept after a very long and fun day!

Prompt: Give a summary of events (first impression), discuss culture shock, and tell what you’re looking forward to.


Today has been a very long day… fun, but long. We got on two planes to get to New Zealand. After almost missing our plane out of O’Hare due to technical difficulties, we landed in Los Angeles. We then flew to Auckland, New Zealand. My first impression, walking into New Zealand, was its open beauty. The air was clean and the sky was slightly foggy. New Zealand is an exciting new place; I can’t wait to see more of it! We left Auckland and began traveling to Rotorua. We stopped in Matamata to have lunch. The people seem very nice and curious about who we are and where we come from. The food seems interesting and unique. For lunch, I had a sandwich with ham and pineapples on it. I liked traveling on the bus to Rotorua; the land is so rich in color! The trees are a thick green and the earth is a rich red-brown. I loved how Rotorua is a really popular place to visit but it’s still a small town. Some of the things that shocked me were the way the people talk and the food. The food has been similar to the food in America, but with its own NZ twist. I expected communication to be relatively easy considering the New Zealanders speak English. This is not the case… We have to pay close attention to what the locals are saying because sometimes they are hard to understand. Luging was very fun today! I loved it! New Zealand is really free flowing and easy going- just all around fun! The people are very friendly and optimistic here (This, I have to say, is different from the U.S. Americans are usually nice but not always optimistic). Later in Rotorua we went to “Burgerfuel” to grab us some dinner. One of the workers, Leighton, was very nice and described his trip to America as we described our trip to New Zealand. It was a great experience. The burgers were amazing tonight! The beet root was an interesting touch to a giant burger. I love trying new things and can’t wait for more!

I’m looking forward to visiting the Whaka area and meeting the Maori tribe. I love catching onto new phrases and givin’ ‘em a go. I’m excited to see the Agrodome too. I’m really just excited for everything! What a great way to start off a trip!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham: Here or there?

One thing I find really unique and interesting about traditional Maori history is the way they viewed food and cuisine. The Maori people believed “…food was noa, or non-sacred” (Maori Cuisine 1). The Maori religious places and objects had to be separated from the food supply. Any contact with the food left these tapu, or sacred, items at serious risk. People such as high chiefs, tattoo artists, or anyone else engaged in tapu work were not allowed to handle food. They had to be fed by non-tapu people. I found this very interesting because I had expected the exact opposite. I had just expected the Maori people to find food as a very cultural thing. I was shocked that they not only found it non-sacred, but they saw food as being so non-sacred that it couldn’t come in contact with anything sacred. I suppose I had expected the opposite because to the Native Americans, food was important in their culture. When a native would kill an animal, they would be sure to use the entire animal, never wasting any part of it or over killing any species. This is commonly known with the bison they would hunt. Students are often taught in American schools that the pilgrims made peace with the native tribes over a shared meal. Although food wasn’t really seen as a religious item in the Native American culture, it was still a positive part of the culture. It certainly wasn’t as extreme as food was seen in the Maori culture.

New Zealand fern- Pikopiko

I’m certainly not as afraid about the food in Australia and New Zealand as I was last year in China, but of course I still have concerns. I love trying crazy new foods and eating the cultural foods I find in different places. If it’s something I can find at home, it’s most likely not going in my mouth (within reason). I want to and plan to eat as many new things as I can. The one thing I’m concerned about is when you’re traveling, it’s very easy to get a stomach ache and not feel well after eating something you’re not accustomed to. I don’t want to be sick on the trip and I hope I feel okay throughout the trip. I think the food on this trip will be safer than the food in China. I believe that we will encounter foods in Australia and New Zealand that are closer to what we are used to eating in America. I’m excited to see what we’ll find!!