The Nanny Diaries
Packed Lunch √ Homework √ P.E. Clothes √
These are only a few of the many nanny tasks on my daily to-do list since we settled down in Christchurch to work for a few months, hence my lack of recent posts. Back when the van broke down for the first time (which has now proven to be the first of many) we met a super nice guy named Tim who I got to chatting with about looking for work. As it turns out, he has three kids and was looking for a new nanny at the same time that Josh and I were looking to settle and make some money before continuing our travels.
We have now been living with and working for Tim and his family for about 6 weeks and truly feel like a part of the family. While I have learned many things these last several weeks, the majority of lessons have come from the local grocery store. I now know that in New Zealand a bell pepper is called a capsicum, a zucchini is known as a courgette, cilantro is actually called coriander and limes are a delicacy since they cost $8/pound (which I learned the hard way). With all of that said, you can only imagine what a shit show it was my first time strolling through self-checkout. I’m pretty sure I had half the staff assisting me while I bagged my vegetables. On the plus side, I now consider myself a seasoned fruit/veg buyer and have added quite a few tasty recipes to my ever growing "doughmesstic" handbook including homemade focaccia bread. Yum.
Aside from enhancing my cooking skills, I have also perfected the art of making an Airbnb quality bed, learned how to drive on the left side of road and built a realistic model of an Egyptian pyramid that I am really excited about. If Finlay (the 10-year-old boy I nanny for) doesn't get 15/15 points I will be thoroughly disappointed.
While most of my days are quite busy with making breakfast, cleaning the house, running to after school activities and cooking dinner - we have still found some time to take smaller weekend trips up and down the coast in search of nice waves and killer sunsets. Our last mini vanscursion was about 2.5 hours north of Christchurch to a small town called Kaikoura. The coastal highway was just recently reopened after a devastating 7.8 earthquake that hit the area in late 2016. Although the streets are still a bit dodgy and the damage is prominent, hundreds of whales, dolphins and seals still roam the inlets that hug the roads and can be seen swimming from the window of the van.
Thanks to a last-minute cancelation, we were able to make it onto a 5:30am boat heading out to sea in search of dolphins. Once we were about 45 minutes off the coast, we jumped into the fairly cold open ocean fully suited in wetsuits and snorkel gear and I couldn't believe my eyes. I was immediately surrounded by about 12 dolphins swimming and jumping every which way all just inches away from my fingertips. Their beauty, grace and control in the water was both breathtaking and humbling. Within minutes, there were hundreds more. Some were keen on showing off their tricks and flips while others were more playful and enjoyed swimming in circles with me to see who would stop first...it was always me. Josh told me that he could see my smile virtually taking over my face even through my snorkel mask which was doing a nice job of squishing my cheeks together. We spent an hour diving and interacting with the dolphins before returning to the boat but I was so lost in the moment that it felt like 10 minutes. Lucky for me, the dolphins had a few more flips in store for us which I was able to marvel over while sipping hot chocolate. The skipper of our boat later told us that she believed there to be about 400 dolphins swimming with us that day which is extremely rare.
I always feel a slight hint of fear when swimming in the open ocean, especially at that depth, but there was a presence and a vibration among those dolphins that had me so enthralled I lost all sense of fear. When watching my GoPro footage once we returned to the van, I was able to hear them talking to one another which ended up making the experience that much more special. The latter part of our day was spent setting up camp, cooking lentil soup, surfing and making jewelry...what a life.
Occasionally I have to pinch myself just to prove to myself that this is all really happening. To remind myself how blessed I am to be living this life full of adventure, new experiences, less stress and more sunshine. Taking this year off to travel has benefited me in ways I never saw coming and has given me a small taste of what the world has to offer. One of the most surprising things I have found since settling in a city to work is that I miss being on the road and off the grid. I miss the freedom of waking up and having everything we own right there with us in the van and nothing but options.
By the end of April, I will be finishing up my nanny obligations as Josh pours his last few drinks (he is working as a bartender at a salsa bar downtown) and we will be back on the road. The plan from there is spend another 6 weeks or so traveling up the west coast and exploring the northern half of the South Island before hopping on the ferry with Lucy and heading North. Speaking of Lucy, she is currently in good shape and is taking well to her third engine...perhaps the third time really is the charm.