Saturday, June 11, 2011

We finally made it. I've had a full night's rest in a quite comfortable bed in a lovely little mini lodge. We've unpacked our bags a bit and gotten comfortable in our surroundings. And we have taken out our cameras and become the most trigger-happy photographers you will ever meet. And as of now, I have been in New Zealand for a full official day, and boy, has it impressed me. After traveling for three days and being here in New Zealand for a full day now, I already feel like this group is family. We are all quick on forming little inside jokes, laughing uncontrollably, taking goofy pictures together as a group, and loving every minute we are spending together in this magical place. 

Today was unreal. We woke up bright and early (which surprisingly I have not had one issue with and have been out of bed the second I hear my alarm- Please believe me Mom and Dad) and jumped on the bus for a two-hour skinny winding road extravaganza to get to Milford Sound. We zipped up our jackets and attempted to put on our gloves and still take pictures while we soaked up the beauty of Milford Sound on a two-hour boat cruise. We saw seals, dolphins, glaciers, waterfalls, and mountains galore. I had heard wonderful things about Milford Sound but you really cannot even begin to understand how beautiful it is until you see it yourself. Google images do not even come close to doing it justice. My parents had gone there for their honeymoon and my mother raved about it to me before I left so I cannot wait to come back and show her the pictures I took. 

We stopped at a couple sights on the way back to our lodge to take some more pictures, if the amount we had already taken wasn't enough. We found ourselves at this beautiful rainforest called The Chasm. The waterfalls we saw there was insane. I'm beginning to see the remarkable things the world can do over decades and centuries. It was so beautiful that I ended up taking almost 900 pictures. Just on the first day, people. And that's nothing! One of us took 2,000. I think you can safely say we're eager little photographers. 

After a long day of sightseeing and picture taking, we had our first official group pow-wow. We played this exciting game where we went around and named our cameras and talked about them as if they were our boyfriends.  Multiple people had quite clever jokes to insert in their introduction of their cameras. Peter, one of our National Geographic guides, was smart enough to record the whole thing so hopefully it will end up on facebook sooner or later. My camera was dubbed the name Cameron, or “Cam the Cam.” Gotta love my boy Cameron, he’s definitely going to be my main pal on this trip, I can already tell. But the other boy I have come to love on this trip is my jacket, Big Red. They did not prepare us for it being this cold outside. Every single person in his or her pathetic flimsy little jackets all look at me in utter jealousy of how warm I am while wearing Big Red. I may look ridiculous and look like a puffy red marsh mellow, but Big Red hasn’t let me down yet, and for that, I will always be grateful. 

Someone very dear to me once said that in the cold, you feel alive, while in the heat, you feel like you are slowly dying. And it isn’t until you are on the top of a boat standing directly under a four hundred feet waterfall, eyes watering and tears trickling down your cheeks, wind forcing you backwards as you try to keep your feet steady, mountains completely surrounding you, and below freezing weather, that you truly feel alive.

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