Sunday, November 16, 2008

Koromakawa - Day 3

We were land bound on Day 3 with high winds on the sea. We had a relaxing day of reading and games - Yahtzee, Monopoly and horseshoes. Doug and I even had an afternoon nap. The boys, who have been resistant to napping since birth, quietly read while we dozed. Waking up from a lazy afternoon nap, listening to the wind and water was absolutely delicious.

After we returned home, we read a news story in The Southland Times that a New Zealand woman was shipwrecked during the storm, not far from where we we staying on Ono Island.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We voted as Kiwis and Americans this week

Wow! I won't attempt to articulate the feelings of elation and hope we feel with Barack Obama's victory. I have spent lots of time reading to myself and to Colin and Liam much more eloquent accounts that express feelings being experienced by myself and by people all around the world.

Far away in NZ, the Kirkpatricks are feeling proud to be Americans. I read this article posted in the New Zealand Herald and it definitely resonated:

Suddenly, it may be cool to be American again - 06 Nov 2008 - NZ Herald: International and World News

The day after the U.S. election, Liam got off the bus beaming. He has felt, on some level, under a dark American cloud at school. The comments have been off-handed, but even Liam at 10 can understand that they are definitely not pro-American. He has sensed the frustration and anger that people here have felt towards many of the current US policies. We have explained to Liam that his friends and classmates mimic what they hear at home and that these comments are about U.S. politics and policies and are not directed at him or us personally. In class this week, he was called on to share his understanding of the significance of Obama as president-elect of the US. Liam told us during dinner that he explained to his class about the Civil War and slavery, then went on to describe the civil rights struggle. He also tried to explain the U.S. presidential election process. His class spent part of two consecutive days discussing the U.S. election. I would say they were the happiest two school days in the last year for Liam. He felt proud to be an American for the first time in his New Zealand classroom. I never expected this profound reaction from Liam at age 10.

I've been asked if New Zealanders are interested in the US election. Kiwis avidly followed the campaign and election day. People ALL over our world as well as New Zealand, celebrated Barack Obama's election as the 44th president of the United States. All of our local papers as well as the NZ Herald carried front page stories and pictures of President-elect Obama. As soon as the race was called Kiwi friends started to call and congratulate us. Here's another article in the NZ Herald:

Paul Holmes: Lincoln's legacy continues - 09 Nov 2008 - NZ Herald: International and World News

Crazily, we also just voted in our first NZ election. Yesterday NZ elected a new prime minister, Mr. John Key of the National Party. We just became eligible to vote on our one year anniversary in NZ at the end of October. We have been following election campaigns in two countries.

Our family toast at dinner on Wednesday, 5 November (NZ time), after watching Barack Obama's speech

- Here's to hope, change, and peace...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day Two - Snorkeling with Manta Rays

On Day 2 we all had a first-in-a-lifetime experience - swimming with manta rays! It was absolutely amazing and overwhelming. They were huge with a wingspan of two meters. They looked almost prehistoric, but also graceful. They seemed to fly by us in the water with wings flapping in slow motion.

The mantas and coral reefs reawakened my awe of the natural world. Underwater, the creations and creatures are more fantastical and vibrant than my wildest imaginings. Unfortunately we didn't have an underwater camera and I am stuck sharing my limited verbal descriptions, instead. I had been disappointed with the reefs we visited on the Blue Lagoon Cruise, but the reef off Koromakawa was truly the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. We were just inside the Great Astrolabe Reef.

I saw a reef shark glide by and tried to follow it from above as it wound silently along the reef until it turned and disappeared into the deep blue depths beyond the reef. Glide, however, is not the correct word to describe its movement. The shark is powerful and purposeful, dark and streamlined. I want to say sinister because of its dark profile and scary movie personality. I wasn't scared though. I was captivated and awed.

The boys did great. Colin stayed in the water until his little body couldn't stop shaking with cold and his lips were blue. Liam followed everywhere. I had explained to them that reefs and coral are fragile, that we could watch and observe but that we couldn't touch. I also threw in that coral cuts are VERY painful and heal slowly. I told them the story of being dragged over the reef crest in rough conditions doing research years ago. I had hung onto a brain coral (Diploria sp.) waiting for the tidal surge to ease to escape without scraping across the fire coral (Millepora sp.). I had cuts from armpits to hands, which scabbed like a delicate, intricate tattoo. With my warnings in mind, the boys carefully paddled the reef without mishap.

We floated above witnessing the magical coral garden. We observed that the fish only venture a short distance from the safe hideout in the reef. The reef is a city with many small neighborhoods and most creatures stay in their own neighborhoods, like people.