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KINGA AND CHOPIN TRAVEL THE WORLD
Extracts from Kinga and Chopins emails to the world


8 Mar 2001 Just arrived Just landed in New Zealand. A different world
Neverending vastness of the ocean below us, and the sky above us - blending into one infinite darkness, lost in time...
We left Chile on March 6th at night, changed planes in Buenos Aires, flew all night long (really long - 13.5 hours), and woke up in the morning of March 8th New Zealand time. We woke up to a dirrerent reality. Smiling volunteer lady serving free tea and coffee at Auckland airport, free local phone call service, and city maps, coin operated internet machines, left-hand driving, garbage separation, extra virgin avocado oil... People relaxed and smiling. And you communicate with people on a different level. Instead of asking: "Poland? That's very far, right?", they ask: "So where about in Poland are you from? And what's the situation there right now?" Instead of being shocked: "You don't eat meat...?!! Why?", they say: "You're vegans? O.K. I'm vegetarian."

Our first ride, from the airport to the city was with a native Samoa guy who was listening to the radio in Samoa and invited us for coffee to his place.Well, just some of the first impressions. It's absolutely mindblowing that you can cross half the world in just one flight and find yourself in a totally different world.

15 Mar 2001 enjoying New Zealand countryside The original plan was to travel around New Zealand, then go to Australia and work there for a while. Now, we got our visas extended from one month that they gave us in Chile to six months. And we've heard that everybody, without exception who spent longer time in Australia and came for a short time to New Zealand, regreted they hadn't done the opposite. Which gave us an idea - why not get some place to stay, find some temporary work and experience living here for a while. We ended up right now on a farm in beutiful countryside not far from Auckland. Bryan, who runs the farm has a lot of well bred Arab horses, some of them having Polish ancestors. He taught us a lot about the history of horses and we taught him some Polish, useful for pronouncing horses' names. We love it here. We're helping around the farm, just for a while. Then we want to go and travel around, go to South Island before it gets too cold - winter's coming here soon! And after that maybe look for a place to stay a bit longer. That's the plan for now.

21 Mar 2001 Wellington After two days' ride with a Canadian guy with a rented Landrover through the beautiful North Island of New Zealand, we made it to the capital. We're staying with a Servas family and Wellington is a really nice place.

22 Mar 2001 Kia Ora Arts activities during Race Unity day, visit to the fantastic museum with its exhibits on Maori culture, seeing kids perform Maori greeting song - these are just some of the things we enjoyed in the last two days in Wellington while joining the class of our hosts' daugters at school, great 5 and 7 years old girls.

26 Mar 2001 South Island Brendon, our Wellington host, said he never heard of anyone hitching a ride over to South Island. Well, we neither - until... we did it. Yes, hitch-hiking over the water is possible! We didn't manage to hitch across the Pacific but at least we did it here, to New Zealand's South Island. Went to a yacht club just north of Wellington and talked to everybody around and finally heard the words we were waiting for: "South Island? Jump on board, we're leaving in five minutes." We had a spectacular ride on board of a great fast motorboat with Garry, Barbara, Carolyn, Wayne and John, who after a day of lobster diving and beer drinking dropped us off in the wilderness of South Island. A few walking days from Picton, the first town. We walked part of the way through scenic Queen Charlott's Track, and then managed to hitch a ride to town. We're in Blenheim right now, there's a lot of fruit growing in the area and we alreay have been offered a job with apple picking starting this Wednesday, so might do that for a while.

29 Mar 2001 apples, apples, apples... Big ones, small ones, medium ones, green, red, or in between, all shapes and sizes... For three days now we've been picking apples in an organic orchard. Quite nice job. And we have plenty of freshly squeezed apple juice every day. They export to Europe and the States, so next time you eat an apple with a "New Zealand" sticker on it - think about us, we might have picked that one!

8 Apr 2001 moving on In a week and a half of picking apples we didn't really make a fortune but at least made enough for travelling around New Zealand. We liked it there on the orchard but decided we picked enough apples and wanted to see the rest of the South Island before it gets really cold here - winter's coming. So we've moved on, had a great walk around Kaikoura peninsula yesterday, didn't see the whales but saw seal colonies. And we're in Christchurch today.

16 Apr 2001 southland Spectacular coastline, native bush, waterfalls, seals on the beach, high cliffs... Got a ride with a local farmer who took us with his four wheel drive pickup all over his hilly farm to see how his sheep are doing and count his cattle scattered among the immensly huge property looking out to the ocean. I don't know if his couple of hundred sheep appreciate the scenery but we certainly did. We finally made it to Invercargill - New Zealand's southernmost city and enjoyed a day in its park and Southland Museum with subantarctic exhibition. Heading towards Fiordland tomorrow. P.S. Check this great hitch-hiking site with the interview they made with us: http://digihitch.com/

21 Apr 2001 adventure When we left Invercargill we got a ride with Clife, a young English guy. Travelled together for two days, exploring some amazing caves and stopping in other great places on the way to Milford Sound. There Clife said he'd like to walk the Routeburn track to Queenstown if only he didn't have the car (it's two days treck through the mountains and by car you have to go around, the long way). Chopin felt like hiking too, and I didn't really at that time, so... we all had the same idea at the same moment - I could drive the car and let them both do the treck. So I did, the first time on my own driving on the left side of the road, changing gears with my left hand... The car had no insurance, it was an old cheap wreck (sorry Clife!), but running well, so I had to drive extra carefull not to hit anyone. And so I did, driving happily with spectacular scenery for almost 300 kilometers to Quennstown, with no accidents. That is until... the next day, on my way to pick the guys up from the hike... It was raining, the road was a dirt road and really slippery - I didn't know that until it was too late and... ended up in a ditch by the side of the road. Luckily there were no other cars (or trees!) around. And luckily someone was passing by soon (the road was really remote), so they gave me a ride to the village and I got some people to come and pull the car out. Well... did it happen because I was wishing for some adventure...? As I was a bit disappointed there was not even one hitch-hiker that I could pick up... Sometimes our wishes come true in an unexpected way. Anyway, I was lucky, nothing happened to me or the car, it could have been worse. We're staying in Queenstown now with Nami, a Japanese friend of an Australian girl who's living with my family in Poland at the moment. A whole house full of young Japanese people. Chopin has just baked wonderful wholemeal bread, they neverhad this kind before..

29 Apr 2001 Back to the North Island After over a month on the South Island (we haven't noticed how the time passed so fast!) we made it back today to the Nort Island. Hitched a ride with a boat again - see, we are getting better with this... Not really, just lucky. Anyway, we liked the South Island, great nature, spectacular coastline all around, fiords, mountains, waterfalls, glaciers on the sparcely populated west coast. Lots of space. Only too bad you can't see New Zealand's symbol, the kiwi bird in the wild anymore.

2 May 2001 Wellingtos is a great city. We spent a few days here, mostly catching up on good films - we haven't been to the cinema for months. I saw an amazing, powerful, deeply moving film, "Dancer in the Dark". We'll go on now, the plan is to see if we can find some kiwi fruit picking job for a while. Until the season comes for the yacht people to sail to Pacific islands and from there hopefully to Australia. Most boats will be leaving in June, July, we've heard. P.S. Have a look at this traveling site where we appear as guest artists: http://www.inktreks.bigstep.com

6 May 2001 Back in Auckland I don't know if there's a point to write about plans, because they change all the time. On the morning when we were going to leave Wellington and start looking for some kiwi fruit picking job we got an e-mail from Jeff and Janet whom we met on Panama Canal (they were sailing around the world) saying the sailing season for Pacific Islands and/or Australia starts as soon as April and May. So, not wasting time we headed straight for Auckland. Posted today a few messages around yacht clubs here and will go to other places, more to the north of as well. Had an interesting conversation with one of our drivers the day before yesterday. Most of the drivers don't have any special philosophy connected with picking hitch-hikers, many of them, actually, when asked if they always do that, say that normally they never do and don't know really why they stopped for us. But this particular driver knew exactly why he stopped. He says that somewhere in the Bible Jesus says: (I don'r remember word by word, by something like that) "if someone asks you to go a mile with them, go two". So he drove us farther than he was actually going. And it's part of the "feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless,..." Had there been cars 2000 years ago Jesus might have added: "give hitch-hikers a ride". What do you think...?

11 May 2001 I'll let myself be a little mysterious and not reveal the latest developements until... later. I'd better write about what's happening right now. Have you ever had gold kiwi? Even though there are no many kiwi birds in this kiwiland, there is enough kiwifruit and so we finally have ended up working with it. Gold kiwi. It has an exquisite, more interesting taste than its green cousin. We were picking for one day and now I'm woriking in a packing house and Chopin with an electrician. We're stay here in Kerikeri in the Northland for a week or two...

20 May 2001 soon... I don't know how many kiwi fruits passed through my hands at the packhouse. Ten days of hard, poorly paid job, but it was fun, working alongside local Maori people and other travellers from all over the world. A very "kiwi experience". And more than enough gold kiwi fruit to eat. Chopin was working in an electric workshop. We stayed for the first time at a backpackers' place, as they arranged the job, drive us to and back from work and even got tax numbers for us. We're back in Auckland for a short while, staying with Nathan who found our website and invited us to his place. Yes, you can still meet some decent people through the internet. We're developing our pictures today. Not much longer here...

29 May 2001 Vanuatu! We can tell you now. We've been lucky this time and turned up at the right place (Whangarei yacht club) at the right time. And... found a man who neeeds a hand with ocean crossing. WE'RE SAILING TO VANUATU. Marj, our captain's partner has had enough of rough crossings and decided to fly this time. We haven't had much of open ocean sailing experience but that's not what our Canadian captain was looking for: "Are you not scared of the possibility of being sea sick for most of the time...? Do you realize that at sea it's just the sea and us, if something goes wrong nobody will come to rescue us - some people never make it... So, are you prepared to do this?" "Yes!!!" We have lived on the yacht in the Bay of Islands for a few days now helping with preparation and getting to know Mike, Marj and Marimba2 (the boat). Leaving tomorrow - wish us luck.

14 June 2001 Sailing Nothing but the ocean and the sky all around. And us in the this small
(30 foot) yacht rocked by the waves and pushed by the winds... Nowadays windwane, GPS, and such other amazing inventions take care of most of the navigation, you just have to adjust the sails. So our main task was to share the watches with the captain, meaning every fifteen minutes (day and night) going out and checking the horizon - that's to avoid crashing into some other vessel - quite unlikely event, since we went for days and days without seeing any ship. It took me two days of sea sickness before my body adjusted to the new, constantly rocking environment. After that it was great. Chopin on the other hand remained totally unaffected and no amount of rough rocking would prevent him from cooking delicious meals - not always an easy thing on a moving boat, you need a lot of skill and undisturbed sense of balance. In fact sometimes just going about the daily routine seemed more like one big balancing act. Well, reading, cooking, contemplating ever-empty horizon filled our time - the event of one day being a flying fish landing in our cockpit. On the evening of the 12th day a misty outline of the island appeared on the horizon and just after sunrise the following day (yesterday), we arrived. At Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu on the island of Efate. A different world again, with relaxed, smiling people, women with colourful dresses, palm trees all around and beautiful, warm water. Only... one minute on the internet costs the equivalent of two and a half coconuts.

18 Jun 2001 Efate Our friend told us in his e-mail: "It's great you're going to Vanuatu, but how will you get out of there?" A good question. We were wondering as well. So we started looking around and on our third day here we found a Dutch man looking for a crew on his yacht sailing to Australia. Leaving in a few days... We weren't really planning on leaving this green paradise so soon but we don't know if we would find some other way out of here later on. Also we realized, to visit other islands you either need a yacht or a lot of money, and since we don't have neither of those, we'd better stick to Efate. And a few days will be just enough to go around the island, explore and enjoy. We find Vanuatu a fascinating place. With over one hundred different languages spoken in different villages and islands of the country, it is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. Also part of the population speaks English and part speaks French - legacy of being joined British-French colony (until 1980). But local people outsmarted the colonizers and developed a new, unique language, called Bislama or Pidgin English. We wanted to make most of our short staying here so we went all around the island following the only (unpaved) road here. Even though the concept of hitch-hiking is not exactly well known here, people being of really friendly and helpful nature got the idea. I can't possibly tell you all in one e-mail, just a few simple but memorable moments: * riding at the back of pickup truck full of locals * people in a village with no electricity showing us how to cook yam - a staple in their diet * a little girl to whom I gave a little bouncing ball, running and jumping from joy all around the village * early in the morning, walking on the village beach, a different little girl cracking shells of tiny crabs and throwing them into the water.
"What are you doing?" -
"Feeding the fish" *
Snorkling! - after two and a half years of travelling, this is the first time we've had a chance to do that - and a whole new world opened up for me * at the other side of the island, meeting one woman who said: "I saw you on the market in Vila! You and your husband. With big, big baskets." (backpacks!) Well, we have really, really enjoyed Efate Island of Vanuatu with its friendly, gentle, smiling people. We're back in Port Vila, have to do some major shopping at the market and we're sailing to Australia, leaving first thing in the morning tomorrow.

28 June 2001 Australia! So it took us quite some time and some adventure to get from South America to Australia. With New Zealand and Vanuatu and miles and miles of ocean along the way... - makes you realize how watery a planet it is. But we made it! With the passage on Marimba first and now on board of Zucchini we had a chance to experience two completly different kinds of sailing and living on a yacht. This time our captain didn't have the self-steering thing set up so we had to hand steer all the way, with the wheel, like they did in the old times. Day, night, sunshine, rain, wind or weaves splashing all over... With the three of us on board and 24 hours in a day it meant roughly 8 hours a day of steering per person - a full time job! Even though I wasn't sea-sick anymore, I'm much more a citizen of the land than citizen of the sea (our previous captain showed us proudly his official "citizen of the sea passport"). Chopin who feels at home right away wherever he is, was totaly comfortable at sea and made a happy sailor, electrician, technician and an excellent cook. Even cooked meat for our very carnivorous captain: "so what do I do with this piece of someone now...?" Anyway - this morning, our tenth day sailing from Vanuatu - we arrived at the port of Townsville in the north east of the state of Queensland, Australia.

2 July 2001 Aussieland at its best The first contact on the new continent - before we even set foot on Australian land - was meeting customs officers. Taking their shoes before entering our dirty boat, chatting with us and later on bringing us the map of the city and saying they just booked us for half an hour of free internet in the public library. We were impressed... the absolutely most friendly customs officers we met during the entire journey so far. We are equally delighted with the city of Townsville, with its many parks, great beach, free swimming pools, relaxed atmosphere. A great place to live! We're experiencing some lucky spell of amazing hospitality. Syd, a Servas host we're staying with has been preparing real feasts for us, even though he himself only eats when he feels like it, what happens once every few days... He let us use his four wheel drive landcruiser and explore the area - he lives outside the city, right next to a national park. And we not only saw, but actually touched a kangaroo - in the wild! Today were given a private tour of Australian Institute of Marine Science by Syd's neighbour. So far - we just love it here. And the Great Barrier Reef stirrs my imagination...

12 July 2001 magic goes on... We spent a few days on Magnetic Islad, snorkelled, saw a koala in the wild and then went up north to very touristy Cairns and further along the tropical coast, "where rainforest meets the reef". Reached Cape Tribulation where the paved road ends. To get any further you need a good four wheel drive. We thought we'd see if we'd get any luck hiking up to Cooktown. And got more than we expected. Steve with his 4WD pickup and a dog was going... all the way through York Peninsula, to Bamaga, almost at the very tip. This is one of Australia's last frontiers, some 800 kilometers through virtually uninhabited land, apart from a few scattered Aboriginal settlements. On our way to Cooktown, in the middle of absolute nowhere, we gave a ride to two other hitch-hikers, Pa from Spain and Cameroon from Canada. They came out of the forest where some hippie communities live. Cameroon seeing my "hitch-hike the world" T-shirt said: "hey, are you... I can't believe it... you're the people with the website, hitch-hiking the world. I e-mailed you when you were in Brasil, remember?" I didn't. But he said I replied saying we might meet somewhere in Australia. And here we are, meeting on this dirt road. Destination has its magical ways... Having dropped them in Cooktown, we went on with our Cape York adventure. With Steve who seems to live exclusevily on cigerettes and beer and loves fast driving, we made it fast, in "only" 18 hours. Luckily it's dry season now, most streams are dried up and rivers shallow enough to cross, in the wet this part of the wrold remains unaccessable by land. So here we are, as far as you can get on Australia's mainland. We'll see what happens next.

14 July 2001 something different... Got a job with a travelling carnival on Thursday Island. 24 July 2001 Carnival - Thursday Island Three dollars per game. You get three balls - put all of them into a basket, you get to choose any of the main prizes (giant Whinnie the Poos, blue dogs, fluffy monkeys, Tasmanian Devils, etc). Two in - wins you a small prize. One in is just your fun... Chopin has been working the basketball joint at the Carnival and is known by all the kids on the island as "basketball man". Or you get six rings for five dollars - put just one of them over a box and you win fifty dollars. Easier said than done, but the fifty dollar note taped to the box is a temptation too strong to resist. Crowds of island people come, whole families with bunches of cute black children. And bunches of money too... And they spend it all on the games. Win good prizes too, for some you need some skill, for others just luck. Not much seems to happen here on Thursday Island otherwise, people are hungry for any kind of entertainment so that's where the Carnival fits in. It's been quite an experience working for them. Can't remember having an easier, more entertaining job. The most interesting part is watching and meeting all the different people. And tomorrow the Croc festival starts here, with school kids from islands from all over Torres Strait coming with their performances, some from as far as some tiny islands from Papua New Guinea.
Saludos desde el mundo
*click on the link to see Kinga and Chopin's website with the full story of their journey, and to see where they are now.
http://www.geocities.com/kingachopin

© Kinga & Chopin 2001

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