Thanksgiving on the South Island

We caught the 9:00am Interislander ferry from Wellington on New Zealand’s North Island to Picton on the South Island. We checked in before 8:00am as instructed and were sorted into an entry lane based on the height of our vehicle. We sat there for a while watching tractor trailers be loaded into the cargo deck before being allowed to drive on. We drove to the back of the parking deck and looped around so we would be facing the correct direction when it was time to disembark. Then we walked up to the 7th floor where we found a nice seating area with a view out the front of the boat. The ferry takes roughly three hours and passes through the Cook Strait, which with its long list of shipwrecks is one of most dangerous waters in the world. Peggy, Mike, Jess, and Angie played Tichu while the boys played Dota Underlords on their phones and Abby read her book and enjoyed the views from the top deck.

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An Epic Adventure Across New Zealand’s North Island

After a brief stop in Australia to practice our surfing (more on that later), we made our way to Auckland, New Zealand, to meet up with Jess’s family. Angie and Kevin, Jess’s sister and her boyfriend, were already waiting at the Airbnb having spent the prior week in Australia themselves. The rest of Jess’s family would be arriving the next day, and we would not be wasting any time getting the whirlwind tour started.

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We’ve fallen a little behind on the blog… too many fun adventures have had us out exploring the world rather than sitting at our computers. However, we are making a big push to catch up, so stay tuned for more posts! We’re hoping to post one a day until Christmas, so think of it like an advent calendar of sorts… and maybe you can help keep us honest.

One Final Look at Japan: Mount Fuji and Reflections

We left the farm in the morning and caught a train from Matsumoto to Kofu. In Kofu, we caught the bus to Kawaguchiko thanks to a helpful woman who made sure we did not miss the last bus of the day. When we got off the bus at Kawaguchiko, it was raining. We walked to our hostel thinking how thankful we were it had not rained while we were freezing on the farm.

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Life on the Japanese Farm

We had expected that working on the farm might be challenging given that we did not speak Japanese, but we quickly settled in. Takao-san’s English was excellent, so our instructions were clear, and he was full of fascinating stories. We learned his English was so good because he had spent two years in Zambia with the Japanese-equivalent of the Peace Corps. He arrived having not spoken English since high school more than ten years before and left fluent. By contrast Hisami-san and Grandpa did not speak much, if any English, but they still made us feel welcome. And little Mi-chan kept us entertained. She was the most animated person we have met… possibly ever! Eric thought she was just like a real-life anime character. She could be hilariously silly, but she could also go from calm to mad in a single second. This was all the more amusing because we never had any idea what she was mad about.

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Integrated Rice and Poultry Farming in Azumino

The Japanese farm on which we had agreed to volunteer was located in Azumino in Nagano prefecture. We had chosen this farm because we liked the description on the WWOOFing website and the bonus that the woman was a chef. Somehow, besides a bullet point that mentioned “meat processing”, the description did not actually say much about what the farm did, so there was little indication of how we were going to spend the next ten days.

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