super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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2012 started on top of an active volcano so it’s already officially an awesome year

Happy 2012, everyone! What you see above is Mt Yasur, an active volcano on Tanna Island (Vanuatu) violently spitting lava. We took this photo on the evening of the 31st of December, last week. This was how we said goodbye to 2011 and how we greeted 2012: standing on top of an active volcano, the ground beneath our feet shaking violently and the noises of a rumbling volcano echoing through the valley. It was pretty much the best new years eve ever. I didn’t see any fireworks, for the first time in my life on a new years eve, but I still had the best fireworks display one can ask for, courtesy of mother nature.

I have just returned from a wonderful trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu and have about 6943 posts I want to write about the amazing time I had on those islands. But first, and you’ll understand my reasons for being a bit late to this, time to reflect on the 2011 resolutions and make some for 2012.

2011 was the very first year of my life when I made new years resolutions and actually carried them in my mind throughout the year, rather than forgetting them within the first week. Keeping those resolutions in mind made my year a truly spectacular one. It didn’t just end in a spectacular way, it was actually a really good year.

It’s not like anything particularly major happened. I’m still not a Lotto winner (possibly because I never remember to buy a ticket). But several little and not so little things made 2011 a really good one. I didn’t fullfil all my resolutions 100% but I worked on them throughout the year and having those goals made it feel like everything I did actually mattered somehow. To sum up:

2011 goals:

enter 12 running events – sort of check. I entered 11. Sickness led me to pull out of one in June and I thought I’d make up for it in December but sickness was, once again, to blame. Still, two of the eleven running events I entered were half-marathons – which is twice the number of half-marathons I was planning to run, so I’m pretty happy with that.

run a half-marathoncheck! And check!

start a savings account – check!

travel to a pacific island – totally managed to blow this one off the scale! Within the past 12 months, I went from zero Pacific Islands visited to four Pacific Islands visited and I didn’t even have plans for any of these trips when the year started. *pat on the back!*

write more (for fun) – I didn’t do quite as well on this one as I’d planned but I did start this blog so that should count!

visit my family back home – Yes! And it was as amazing as always!

learn to swim – I’m going to put a green tick on this one because I actually hardened up and took a course back in July. Call me weird but I don’t like swimming. But I did it.

join couchsurfing and host someone – done!

do a multi-day hike – another green tick! It was just a 20km hike with a night at a hut but it still counts.

give up soft drinks – ha! Not sure what I was thinking when I came up with this one.

See? Not too bad. There were some other things I had in mind when the year started like get more into crafts and have little projects going on but that really didn’t happen and I abandoned that idea pretty early on.

What about this year? My goals for 2012 are actually not all that different than my 2011 ones. This year, among other little things, I hope to:

reach all my running goals for the year – which I’ve already blogged about here

eat better¬†– something I sort of started in 2011, probably due to all the running madness, but haven’t focused on enough

waste less daylight –¬†Sleeping in is overrated (now this will be a challenge…)

spend less, own less stuff – just because it’s a bargain, it doesn’t mean I have to have it. Actually, if it’s a bargain, it probably means I don’t have to have it.

and a few other things that were already on last year’s list (like visiting family again). So there you go, not much but enough to keep me out of trouble.

Here’s to a wonderful year!

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a random photo and five random facts

Kidney ferns on Rangitoto Island, Auckland's youngest volcano

  • Why did it take me so long to start reading One Day?
  • The cab driver that took me from Wellington CBD to the airport on Wednesday was an old Croatian man who has seen the world. Among many other things, he told me about how you used to need a visa to get into Moscow from other places in Russia and how it would take me seven years to see all the artwork displayed at the Hermitage Museum if I stared at each piece for one minute (I googled it and it appears he wasn’t even making it up). I didn’t want the cab ride to end.
  • Sports writing can be beautiful too. See?
  • The captions for these images are among the best things I’ve read today.
  • Judging by the amount of people arriving at this humble blog of mine by searching for orange queijadas recipes (both in English and in Portuguese), I’d say it’s a pretty popular little cake. I had no idea. And now I’m craving queijadas.

(last week’s random photo and random facts are here)


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I know what I did last last summer* – White Island edition

(warning: picture-heavy blog post. just because.)

I had wanted to visit White Island since I’d first heard about it, roughly three years ago. The thought of being able to step on an active volcano sounded only a few hours of driving plus a boat trip away was too good to pass on. Plus, we had to wear gas masks. I mean, coolness to the power of… I don’t know, quite a high number. Over the Easter break, a group of us headed down to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty and got on what turned out to be the most horrible boat ride of my life to visit Whakaari/ White Island. And by horrible I mean really rough. Fortunately I’m far too classy to share with you how many barf bags I went through on the way to the island… oh what the heck! THREE! Three barf bags! As the boat bounced, I kept thinking to myself “this better be a FRIGGIN’ AMAZING volcano!” – It was.

The volcano is about 48km (30 miles) off the coast of Bay of Plenty in New Zealand and is constantly bubbling and steaming. It’s apparently full of sulphur and they did attempt to mine it but had to abandon it in 1914 after all 10 workers were killed, proving how unstable and active the volcano was/is.

These days, the volcano is actually private property – apparently bought by someone who just thought it would be cool to own a volcano (dear volcano owner, if you’re reading this, we’d be great friends) and, other than the touristic tours like the one we did, it’s only used for scientific research.

This is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano and the fact that it is so accessible makes it a great place for scientists.

The entire trip takes about 6 hours, from Whakatane to White Island and then back to Whakatane. Once you land on the volcano, you walk around for a couple of hours. There are no marked tracks so you just have to trust that your tour guide knows what’s safe to step on and what isn’t. The smell can be a little bit overwhelming at times and we soon discovered that the gas masks weren’t just a prop (we had them on for quite some time while on the island and were still coughing our lungs out).

If you’re going:

  • Pee Jay Tours operates daily tours of White Island, from Whakatane (weather permitting). Bookings are required but can only be confirmed the day before.
  • The tour costs NZ$185 and includes lunch on the boat.
  • You should wear a good waterproof jacket, sturdy walking boots, sunscreen and a drink.

* Technically, this happened in autumn in New Zealand but I was still wearing short sleeves on some of the days of that month so my global-warming-affected-mentality chooses to think of that as summer. Because it wasn’t winter, you see. Nevermind. Anyway, winter is well and truly here now and so I’m re-living summer (autumn, whatever) through these posts. This is the second of the series. The first one was about Rarotonga and you can read it here.