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February 2016

Bucket List: Skydiving

I paid for my skydive 3 days after I arrived in New Zealand. 5 months later and I am in Taupo for the third time and decide it was time to finally do it!

I was picked up in a limo and drove to the airport where we were briefed and selected out photo and video options including the music for our videos, I was more nervous about choosing the wrong songs then jumping out of a plane at this point.  We were kitted up in jumpsuits and harnesses and I met my jump partner. We were loaded into the plane and up we went! The views of takeoff and the fly up were incredible. At 8,500ft we were given oxygen masks to help with our breathing(!) This made me nervous but It was still only underlying nerves and in comparison to my Bungey I was very chilled.  The plane reached 15,000ft and I was the second to jump. I sat on the edge of the plane with my feet dangling underneath, holding onto my parachute and my head back onto my jump partners shoulder. It was a very quick process from sitting in the plane, to dangling out the side, to jumping (being pushed) out of the plane which meant there was no time to be scared.   The freefall was incredible! The view was amazing and the feeling was indescribable. In fact I think my brain just stopped working and I couldn’t process emotion or thoughts at all. The freefall was just over a minute long although it didn’t feel anything near that. Time went so fast! If anyone is thinking of doing a skydive do 15,000ft not anything less as the freefall will be shorter and even at a minute it’s over too fast! 

 The parachute opened and I just laughed. It was an awesome feeling and so much fun! The ride down was awesome and we landed smoothly.   I adored the skydive! Just like with my Bungey I instantly wanted to do it again and I have a feeling that I will at some point in my life do another jump. I’m glad I waited a few months until I did it as I got a beautiful day and it was an awesome way to kick start the resumption of my travels.

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The Forgotten World Highway.

The world may have forgotten this highway but I never will. I lived in Tangarakau, right in the middle of it, for 3 months, without phone reception and 1.5hrs drive to the nearest town. 

In this remote gem I made friends and memories which I will treasure for a lifetime. Tangarakau is unique even for New Zealanders as it is about as far off the beaten track as you can go in New Zealand. Living and working out in the bush has provided me with opportunities and experiences I wouldn’t have got working in a town.  I have learnt that I have a rather good shot for a rookie after shooting 3 possums in the head first time with a 22′. I’ve tried my hand at bee keeping whilst managing to avoid getting stung. I’ve mustered cattle, on the farm and just as a necessity to get them out the garden. I’ve been horse riding around the farm with a beautiful yet lazy horse called Lemonade. I’ve been witness to sheep shearing including hand shearing. I’ve rode half the Forgotten World Adventures golf cart route from Tangarakau to Whangamomona. I’ve rode a quad bike across the farm. Celebrated Christmas Day with over 30 people out in the sun. Helped prepare and enjoyed a traditional homemade Hangi at New Years. And walked up to Mount Damper Falls to see the north islands highest waterfall.            The community out here though is what has been really amazing as a lot of the things I have done are because of the people who have wanted to share their lifestyle with me. The one school has only 19 children in it and the Christmas parade route is only 100m long yet everyone turns up to show their support and enjoy a drink in the local (and only) pub.  The locals are singled out by their signature Red Bands and a Whangamomona pub t-shirt, both of which I am now proud owners of giving me the right to call myself a local …(kind of).     I will miss this corner of the world and the people in it. A small community such as this one makes saying goodbye, even after only 3 months, so much harder, but it is time to move on and explore more of the North Island. I’m sure I will be back though.

What it means to be an Au Pair…

I accepted my first ever job as an Au Pair nervous yet excited. There was little easing into it though as I arrived to a home with 3 kids under 5 and within a month there was another baby and an 8 year old girl who joined the family. As well as it being my first time as an Au Pair, it was the families first time having one. This meant we stumbled through together, figuring out my place in the family and the kids getting used to having someone other then mum or dad look after them.

I had a great 3 months working as an Au Pair and have fallen in love with the family and all the kids. So as my time is coming to an end in this home I thought I would share some of the small things that define what it means to be an Au Pair, or at least what it meant for me with this particular family.

Being covered in bruises. The kids loved climbing on me! I didn’t mind it as I got to lie down and they’re entertained sitting on me but it resulted in me getting some baby feet size bruises across my chest that raised eyebrows. 

 

The kids can’t see me under here right?
 
Minimal privacy. It didn’t help that there was no lock on the bathroom door but if a kid wants to tell you something, there’s no waiting until after you’ve peed or bathed, they will just stroll in and tell you what they need to, no matter how insignificant.

Always being kind of dirty. Kids get dirty and then touch you. I’ll be feeding the baby and she will whack the spoon away and make the maximum possible amount of mess and I am of course in the firing line. There’s always dirt, food or grime and the kids find it and will conver you in it. Also babies poop, puke and wee. 

My hair’s not brushed but the kids are fed…
 Sometimes being a bad caregiver. Don’t get me wrong I’ve never had a kid hurt, starved or neglected on my watch but any parent or caregiver can tell you that you will, at some point, make mistakes when it comes to kids. 

One night the mum of the kids I look after was putting one of the babies to bed and he was screaming, she shouted at him telling him off and threatening punishment when he yelled that he just wanted to say sorry. I teased her about this but then the very next night I was putting him to bed and again he was screaming and protesting and I told him off and all when I realise he was just trying to give me a kiss goodnight. Whoops.

Losing boundaries. I’ve been sat eating lunch when a kid decided they wanted some so I let them try it and next thing I know they’ve had more than me. I’ve also shared water out of kids bottles from convenience despite the unknown quantity of backwash which is probably the content majority

 Losing any shred of vanity. I probably brushed my hair about 5 times in 3 months. Personal looks are not a priority. It worked to my advantage that I was living in the middle of nowhere so no one could judge my appalling appearance.

Easy jobs becoming the most difficult tasks. When kids are involved things become trickier and take longer. Baking becomes a thoroughly messy affair. Tidying becomes the worst and slowest chore. And most things are deemed a success if you simply complete it. 

Not bad for a 1, 3, 5 & 8 year old.
 Brutal honesty. Kids are honest. Always. They will tell you if you look a hot mess. The kids always commented on my “prickly legs”. Cheers guys.

Wondering how much you can sell a child for on the black market. No matter how awesome the kids usually are, they will always have moments and in those moments they will drive you insane and you will consider having your tubes tied.
But of course as much as I joke (whilst conveying factual information) I adored working as an Au Pair and living with the family. I know I was incredibly lucky getting hired by the coolest family in New Zealand and whilst it was hard and crazy work, I had so much fun and made some great friends. 

I will sorely miss the kids cuddles and unexpected compliments, (having a 4 year old randomly tell you how beautiful you look can really brighten your day). I will miss the jokes and chocolate therapy with momma bear once the kids were safely in bed. And I will miss the house that was so full of love and laughter and all the people that made it that way. 

Au pairing is hard work but the pay off, in my experience anyway, is enormous.

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