Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A crazy week...

Greetings to all, with special greetings to Rab and Marina who have taken the plunge to go online - Kia Orana!

I don't know where to start...backwards may be easiest. Yesterday was the first day of school for The Shahs - Bailey in Grade 3 and Jamie in Pre-school with Sienna tagging along. They are attending the Tekaaroa Seventh Day Adventist school, a primary school which has 3 classes plus a pre-school class. Being an SDA school, Monday morning starts with Chapel and songs sung with great gusto. Then notices and prayers....all in CI Maori.... By the time Naomi the head teacher asked Bailey and Jamie to come to the front for introductions Bailey was on the verge of tears and wouldn't speak. Oh dear - not an auspicious start. I nearly cried myself! Jamie had no problems.

Off to class, with a friend Collette who works at the resort, taking the little ones to the kindy class, and I went with Bailey. Fortunately Bailey's teacher Matieo is wonderful and spent a lot of one on one time with him. The other kids are a bit shy but are quite nice and the day improved quickly. Lunch time came along - at 10.30am - and I had a crowd of kids wanting to chat, wanting to show me the best mango and guava (tua ava) trees which seemed to break the ice a bit. Bailey was happy for us to go after lunch and we picked him up at 2pm. (The kindy class finishes at 10.30). Today was much better. I saw him mucking around and prancing around with the noisy boys - must have a word with him on that! I parked the car outside the kindy class under a tree and read my own book while Jamie and Sienna wandered in and out. On days other than Monday there is only a short sing-song and prayers in the classes, though I impressed everyone by dragging the words to one song from my long-forgotten sunday school mind!

So, we have been in the new house (Retire's house - everyone knows it!) for nearly a week and it is just great. Big bedrooms for the kinds to play in, on the flat with a paddock next door, 100m from the beach and Mama Nicholls next door bringing us fruit every other day. There are screens on all the windows, never more than 3 mokos (geckos) in the house and the mozzies are under much better control. The kids love that Mama Nicholls has 5 cats next door and want to spend all day over there. The beach near the house is pretty good. There are a lot of shallow areas for the kids to play in, plus a channel which is deeper for us tall people. There are a lot of pretty little blue fish and zebra fish, and the boys are just starting to get the hang of goggles and will float on their boogy boards taking a look.

It is such a small community, And already we have connected with a lot of people. Everyone knows there is a new manager at the Pacific Resort, and we are his family. We were taken out on the lagoon last Sunday by Teina and Annie Bishop. They run Bishops Cruises, and Teina is the local MP. What lovely people they are and the kids warmed to them very quickly. Annie and Teina have 3 daughters at boarding school in Sydney. We went snorkling in the lagoon - lots of fish, giant clams and a coral nursery - and very warm water. We then went to One Foot Island where we met Stephen and Poppy, another lovely couple. We have been made so welcome. Once the tourists left(!!) and we had the place to ourselves we had some beers and snacks and the kids hunted up DOZENS of hermet crabs. The swimming was fantastic and it was a lovely relaxing cruise back at sunset.

So we have cell phones but are awaiting international call access to the house phone, which will come this week with the broadband connection (though I use that term lightly). Some days are good, some days are hard, and being out of contact is difficult, but I hope everyone at home is safe and well.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Poppa

Happy birthday to you dad, 51 today right? Actually today is your birthday in NZ.....and if you came to visit us tonight you could celebrate tomorrow too! I think this might be the first birthday in 34 years that I haven't been with you. Missing you heaps and in the spirit of MANY MANY tropical sunsets, I offer you this from our first night:


Friday, February 13, 2009

Not quite home sweet home

The Weather report: Sunny, some cloud, 32 degrees...

I knew that this adventure would be challenging...I knew that things wouldn't be straightforward all the time...honestly...

We had our first relaxed day yesterday where we had a nice, stress free time, the kids spent time playing on the beach on their own, collecting crabs and racing them, making sand versions of the Spynx and Great Pyramid, and all because we have abandoned the house we were in and retreated back to the resort. Fortunately there are a couple of free rooms at the end of the beach, right next to the house that is being built for us. So we are far enough away that we don't see any guests and I don't need to worry about volume levels. And did I mention that we slept through the night....!

Unfortunately the house that has been rented for us to live in (while our permanent house is constructed) would be great if you were a family of teenage kids. Not so much if you have 3 kids under 7. The house is probably the highest house above sea level, half way up the highest (only) hill on the island. The views over the trees to the ocean and lagoon are great, and the sea breeze comes in the front windows nicely. It has a lovely big covered deck - with railings that come up to Sienna's chest and a 10m fall.... there is nowhere to play outside as the land is so steep...there is no aircon (not too surprising) but the fans in 2 of the bedrooms don't work...we lock up the house at 5pm and endure the stiffling heat in an attempt to ward off the mozzies but the the mozzies here are armour plated - the kids are covered in bites despite the coils, mozzie zappers, repellant AND screens. AMAZING. Then there are the geckos. I don't mind them so much. Thay are kind of cute so long as they are not too big, but when there are 12 of them staring at you as you sit on the couch it feels a bit like an audience. We can't go out as the drive is too steep and slippery to walk down and walking up with the kids and beach gear is not an option, which means Michael has to break into his day to pick us up and drop us off. So all in all, not ideal by a long stretch.

So now we have had some sleep, we can start to think. There is another house option we are investigating. We are going to visit school today. Bailey has made two friends - a baby gecko named George and an aggro crab named Hermie. We haven't seen any kids yet, but Michael's staff have been very very welcoming. We will be here for a couple of days which still means no photos as the PC is at the house (with the photos) and we are running off the laptop.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Kia Orana

Kia Orana!! The Shahs have landed! A quick update to say we are here safe and sound if not somewhat exhausted. After a tearful farewell, (and $400 of excess baggage) we were through customs and found a seat to eat some chips (!) across from the toy shop - which of course meant some more lego to buy. First onto the plane and offers of assistance all round. Air NZ excelled themselves this time by relocating the couple next to our single seat so we had 6 in total! Personal TV screens occupied the kids for 3 out of 4 hours and the rest was "how long......"

We stepped off into a wall of heat in Rarotonga to a fleeting thought of OMG what have we done?!?!??!?! Air NZ were already collecting our bags for us and Cath from Pacific Resort RAR was awaiting us outside. We had time for a sit down on the grass and a cold drink before boarding the TINY commuter flight. We took the back seat next to the cargo door (quick exit) and 10 minutes later Sienna and Jamie were asleep on me. Thankfully the aircon started a little after that, and the 45 minutes went quickly.

I had my first view of Aitutaki down the aisle and through the cockpit window as we descended for landing. A somewhat disconcerting view!!! We landed and Michael was waiting for us at the fence. Bailey took up the offer of the baggage handler and was carried directly out the cargo door to run across the tarmac to daddy. I woke the little ones and we took the standard exit down the stairs. There was a lovely breeze, and floral ei's were awaiting us and of course Mikey!!!

We picked up our 12 (!) bags and 5 minutes later were at Pacific Resort Aitutaki receiving a very warm welcome from everyone. We had a swim in the sea immediately and a light dinner before heading to bed ;-)

This morning everyone was tired - so tired Bailey only ate 2 weetbix! We took a walk 100m down the beach to the staff village and saw our house across the grass from the beach. Sandcastles and swims, and lessons on how light blue water is shallow and dark blue water is deep... Jamie the adventurer was quite off his game imagining giant crabs and stingrays at every step. Bailey and Sienna were IN!

It has been 29 degrees today with rain, thunder and a stiff-but-warm breeze. We took 'our' car (the older resort vehicle) out for a drive in the rain to find the wiper blades are hanging off - good job we don't have far to travel. 5 minutes to town and 7 to school. The local shop was quite reasonable so we got some essentials - biscuits and crackers. I got the laptop hooked up and rigged for DVD's by late afternoon which gave everyone some time out. We have just returned from dinner, which saw Sienna dancing to the band and Jamie falling asleep on Michael before the icecream came.

We will get a good night's rest tonight and move into the rental house tomorrow. It will be nice to have a bit of space and separation. More tomorrow with some pics as soon as I find the camera cable....