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We’re having a baby!

July 3, 2016

pippa vague the traveling anthropologist

It feels SO GOOD to finally be able to say this! We’ve been keeping our lips sealed for the past 9 weeks – which believe me feels like an absolute lifetime when you’re excited!! Keeping it from friends and family was the hardest! We waited a few weeks after finding out to tell our parents because we wanted it to be a present on my mums birthday, and we waited until after our first scan to tell everyone else just in case we miscarried. I told people that I was doing a ‘dry May’ spell with no drinking – and they actually believed me! I mean, do they know me at all? Haha. And in June I made up an illness and said I was taking antibiotics. It was stressful! It’s silly I know but I felt like I was being really deceitful by not telling people. It feels so good to be able to actually talk about it now.  I think for our next baby we’ll be more open about it at least with close friends.

Due Date: My birthday January 6th 2017.  But I’m really hoping he or she can hold on in there for a few more days cause I kinda want to keep my birthday to myself! 🙂 Gender: It’s still too early to tell, but we can’t decide whether we want to find out or not. I want to wait till the delivery room but Guy wants to know asap.  I do think it’s a girl though – the heartbeat was 170bmp at the scan and that’s apparently indicative of a girl.  Sickness: I’ve been so lucky I haven’t had any morning sickness apart from the occasional wave of nausea that only lasts a few minutes. I have had headaches, cramps and exhaustion though. Cravings: I haven’t had anything major yet except my taste buds seem to be appreciating savory foods more than sweet ones. Some days I’m not hungry and other days I’m insatiable. Sleep: It’s getting better but I’ve been averaging five hours a night these last couple of months. I’ve been having lots of weird dreams too.  Weight Gain: My weights gone up and down this first trimester. I haven’t been sick or anything but I think cutting out alcohol helped me drop a kilo early on, but then I gained a couple of kilos in the middle and then lost them again recently.

pippa vague the traveling anthropologist

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What it’s really like traveling as an introvert

June 22, 2016

the introverted traveler

I got an email from a friend recently that said (in response to my comment that I felt like I wasn’t exploring enough) ‘as long as you’re not staying inside watching Netflix then you’re not traveling wrong‘.

Here’s the thing, sometimes I do stay inside and watch Netflix. I don’t even watch some new thought provoking documentary or the latest critically acclaimed Judd Apatow series – mostly I rewatch my favourite scenes of shows I’ve already seen (Meredith drowning in Greys Anatomy, Tara getting kidnapped in Sons of Anarchy, Lorrie dying in The Walking Dead – I know I’m morbid I can’t help it!).

Other times I read, curled up in the sunshine lost in a book for a whole afternoon. Sometimes I spend a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking using a new ingredient or trying to recreate something I ate on the street. When I do go out, I walk the same streets there and back because otherwise I’ll get lost and end up across the other side of town.  When I go shopping I go back to the same stores because I like knowing where I’m going and [sort of] what I’m doing. I like seeing the same faces and the same layout.

I know it probably sounds like I miss out on a lot. And maybe I do. But I also gain a lot.

When I was in Guatemala (waiting for Guy to finish a three day hike), I spent much of my days walking the streets alone with my headphones in listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks.  Before long I was so absorbed in the story that I seemed to become somewhat invisible to everyone else. This made for some wonderful people watching. I watched teenagers sneak kisses behind their families backs, children playing tricks on each other, old friends catching up and so many other wonderful candid moments.

During my stint teaching English in Laos, I bought pineapple and mango from the same vendor outside my school nearly every day. At first we didn’t speak (I didn’t speak Laotian and he didn’t understand English) but rather pointed and smiled.  After a couple of months though he’d have a bag ready for me, greet me with a cheery “hello miss” and sometimes even wish me a “goo day okay”.  By the time I left Laos I had met his wife and baby daughter and I felt something akin to a friendship between us.

While living in In Mexico City for six weeks I visited the same market every few days to stock up on fresh produce. I always stopped at the same stall just inside the door even though the onions were always a little squishy and the pineapples were soft – because I loved chatting to the old woman behind the counter.  Her face would light up when I appeared and we’d discuss the weather, how handsome Guy was, what I was going to cook that day, and then she’d pinch my cheek and slip in an extra bulb of garlic or apple into my bags.  Next I’d visit the tomato man who’d have a tray ready for me, grill me on my Spanish progress and then wink at me as he threw a couple of extra tomatoes or a bunch of coriander into my bag. Each trip to the market I’d learn something new – a word, a recipe, an ingredient, and each time I’d leave with a smile on my face.

But it’s not just the interactions with the locals – although that’s a huge part of why I travel and why I love it so much.  Some of my best moments have actually been with other travelers.  I’ve had countless conversations with other backpackers in hostels – often the ones who are also tucked up in a corner reading a book, or in the kitchen trying out a new ingredient – and to me that’s all part of traveling. It’s not just about meeting the locals – it’s also about connecting with other travelers. Most of our friends in New Zealand aren’t travelers, or at least not backpackers, so it’s wonderfully refreshing to have conversations with other like minded people. I honestly find people who love to travel the most interesting, the most inspiring, and often just the most fun.

traveling as an introvert

A group of South Koreans en route to Cuba to experience life in a communist country

Having said all of that I have learned some tips over the years to help me on my adventures.  So here’s how I travel as an introvert;

I carry a notebook with me everywhere. I’ll pop into a cafe or bar and order a drink and then write in my journal, or write a letter to a friend, or continue writing my novel (I’ve been writing it for about ten years I don’t think I’ll ever actually finish!).  It takes away that feeling of awkwardness and occasional loneliness that descends upon you as you sit alone, and it also helps me to focus on the now and really absorb what’s going on – what I did that day, how I’m feeling, what I’m looking forward to.

 

how to travel as an introvert

I listen to audiobooks and podcasts.  I love listening to music especially when I’m cleaning or cooking but when I’m exploring I prefer to listen to an audiobook or a podcast.  This is partly because I can’t shake the feeling of music is sort of wasting a prime opportunity to learn something – but mostly because I can lose myself in a book far more than I can in a song. [When I say audiobooks I actually mean the Harry Potter audiobooks that I’ve been listening to for the last five years]. When I’m listening to a book or a podcast I can walk for hours without tiring, eat by myself in a restaurant without feeling out of place,

I explore a city on foot.  I find exploring a new city intimidating no matter how excited I am to be there so I liked to take it in at my own pace (aka slowly).  The idea of trying to negotiate public transport terrifies me so I like to walk around a city. That way I can get back to where I started without getting (too) lost, I can stop whenever I want to for a snack or drink or to take a photo, and I get some exercise at the same time – which is a good thing because I eat everything I see when I’m traveling.

traveling as an introvert

When in Chiang Mai I walked all around the old city on the remnants of the wall

I stay in my comfort zone (mostly).  This is kind of a paradox I know because one of the reasons I travel, and one of the best things about traveling is stepping out of your comfort zone – and I love that. But, I also like to stay somewhat comfortable.  As I mentioned above, in Mexico City I revisited the same market stalls for over a month – not only did I get to know the vendors but I felt that I got a deeper sense of Mexican culture while also being able to practice my Spanish.  Similarly I’m much more likely to choose a little mom-and-pop restaurant than visit the latest ‘it’ place, and again I feel that I gain a better understanding of the local cuisine and culture as well as actually enjoying myself. That’s not to say that I won’t occasionally join a group of people and go out but that it’s the exception rather than the rule.

I take time for myself. If I feel like going to a movie, or sipping coffee all morning, or having an afternoon nap I will – and I don’t for a moment feel bad about it. I don’t buy into this idea that if you’re not doing something every second of the day then you’re wasting it.  I especcially love treating myself to a breakfast out – I’m not sure why but there’s so wonderfully indulgent about going out for breakfast it’s guaranteed to make me feel happy and refreshed.

an introverts guide to traveling

So I guess I really want to say is that there’s no right way to travel – there really isn’t. And if you wanna stay in bed and watch Netflix while the rest of your dorm goes out to a salsa class then know that you’re not alone! There’s a very good chance I’m doing the same thing somewhere else in the world too!

I’d love to hear any other tips you have for traveling as an introvert! I can always do with some more ideas 🙂

what its really like traveling as an introvert

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A Different Take on Traveling to Mexico

June 12, 2016

mexico

With more than 32.1 million tourist arrivals, The Telegraph lists Mexico as one of the most visited countries in the world. The 9.6 per cent increase from the previous year mirrors how this North American country puts a premium on this sector, as well as the beauty and diversity of its destinations.

Since Mexico has varied locales, Expedia suggests a mix of anthropological, archaeological, and cultural tours as some of the top things to do in the country. Travelers also have the option to either watch a traditional Lucha Libre wrestling card or enjoy a satisfying food trip in the city. At the back of these usual pursuits, however, Mexico presents a chance for tourists to be part of bigger things, more meaningful endeavours that transcends the customs of traveling.

Even though there are only a small percentage of British travelers in Mexico, the United Kingdom remains one of the few European countries that take volunteering seriously. Close to 29 per cent of adults, or roughly 15.2 million citizens, volunteer at least once a month, based on statistics by the UK Civil Society Almanac. So if you have a hand – a helping one for that – in this number or plan to do volunteer work in the future, here’s a couple of tips on how to travel to Mexico and give back to a greater cause.

Travel Necessities

Truth be told, British tourists – like you – relish the widest range of visa-free travel opportunities. As a matter of fact, there are 173 countries you can visit without ever applying for a visa, including Mexico; you just have to acquire a tourist card, as suggested by Gov.uk. In spite of this incentive, UK citizens have one thing that’s not in their favour: airport parking.

travel necessities for mexico

Say you’ve already ironed out all the details of your flight, you’ve utilised online check-in provisions, and you’ve even reserved a seat, you still have to deal with the airports’ congested car bays. Thankfully, major international airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow have invested millions in the improvement of its surrounding areas, as well as accepted the services of parking aggregators.

Parking4Less differentiates these airport provisions as the premium meet-and-greet parking, the efficient airport hotel with parking, and the more common on-airport and off-airport parking. With these, you’ll have one less thing to worry about before embarking on a one-of-a-kind trip to Mexico. As a reminder, be sure to reserve a slot 24 to 48 hours ahead of flight schedule to enjoy maximum savings.

Volunteering Opportunities

After sitting through the more than 11 hours of flight time and sorted your things out in your temporary home, the next on your agenda is to meet with the non-profit organizations of your choice in Mexico. There are groups that promote environmental initiatives like the Mexico Sea Turtle Conservation Project, as well as ones that serve the needs of the less fortunate such as Casa de los Angeles.

volunteering in mexico with children

Considering that country features an extremely diverse location, the whole experience assures there are plenty of things to do. More than the pristine beaches, the biosphere reserves, and the widely popular cuisine, traveling to Mexico means you’ll have an ideal mix pleasure and philanthropy.

*This is a Guest contributed post written by: Donald Johnson

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A rainy day on Tiri Tiri Matangi Island, Auckland

June 3, 2016

tiri tiri matangi island auckland

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

My mum has apparently wanted to visit Tiri Tiri Matangi Island forever, though the first I heard of it was a couple of weeks after I got back to New Zealand. We were walking along the beach eating an ice cream and she mentioned it to me.  Her birthday was coming up so when I got home I booked tickets and gave them to her a few weeks later on her birthday. She was so excited! She spent the afternoon rushing around finding her hiking boots and emergency blanket and packing snacks in zip lock bags haha! The next morning we woke to an email telling us that the ferry was cancelled due to bad weather, so we rebooked for the next weekend.  Saturday night there was a terrible storm that woke us all up and we were certain that the trip would be cancelled but the weather gods were in a good mood and we woke on Sunday morning to grey skies but no wind.

The grey skies stayed with us, and it rained more than once but we had so much fun. We saw all different kinds of birds (thankfully we had a brochure telling us what was what ha) and some amazing scenery including what I am declaring the worlds biggest and weirdest tree.

 

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

This little bird! It was seriously the cutest thing on the island – it followed us around the beach flying and hopping just out of reach. When we stopped he stopped, and when we walked he followed along behind us chirruping and hopping around like he was so excited he just couldn’t contain himself.

tiri tiri matangi island auckland new zealand

 

If you want to visit check out check out this website

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May

May 31, 2016

We’ve been back home for a little over a month now and I’ve been settling back into life in New Zealand slowly and gently. I’ve purposely been taking it slowly and rather than rushing around catching up with everyone I’ve been gradually spending time with each of my friends and spending quality time with them. I’ve also been hanging out with my parents more than usual which I’ve been really enjoying. Normally when I visit Auckland I stay with them but I’m popping in and out and don’t see them for longer than a meal or two.  They’ve also just moved into a new house so I’ve been helping them settle in a little – like planting a herb garden.

the traveling anthropologist

We had some sweet friends from Wellington come and spend a weekend with us at Waipu.

the traveling anthropologist

the traveling anthropologist

the traveling anthropologist

My mum and I went for a hike in the rain at Piha. I love discovering new parts of Auckland!

the traveling anthropologist

These little ‘rams horns’ are my favourite shells!

I got a job this week – it’s just temping in an office for a few weeks but I’m actually looking forward to it. Earning some money, getting out of the house, having some structure to my days – all the things I hate to love but yet I do.

I’m still missing Mexico, and missing our life of travel but I’m trying not to think about it too much. There are so many adventures to be had in New Zealand I know we’re not going to get bored. And now that Guy has finally had his knee operated on we can go away for weekends which I am so looking forward to.

Also, I was looking through some old photos and came across these ones from our last weeks in Wellington last year. Gosh I miss that city (on a good day – on a bad day it’s a horribly cold and windy place where no one wants to be). I’m excited to go back there at the end of this year.

wellington day walks wellington day walks wellington day walks

Watching

River. This is quite a strange program and halfway through each episode I thought ‘I won’t watch this again’ but then at the end I always ended up clicking on the next episode. It was only six episodes long but the finale was so good it made it all worth it. Now that’s its’ finished I can’t stop thinking about it.

Marseille. I watched this after hearing that it was the French version of House of Cards – it’s not. But it is wonderfully entertaining, and there’s a love story that got me hook, line and sinker. I actually watched all the episodes twice just to watch the love story unfold again. There were subtle differences between an American show that I loved like the nudity that was somehow necessary rather than gratuitous, and the way that food and wine was always centre stage.

Bloodline. Guy and I just started this so we’re only two episodes in but we’re hooked already. There are so many layers of deceit and deception, and so many characters I just know it’s going to be a good one!

Reading

The language of flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This was a sad book about a foster child trying to figure out her life, but it had touching moments that made me keep reading.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I haven’t finished this book yet but I’m really enjoying it. It details the stark contrast in life between a family of miners in Wales and an Earl in his mansion who lives nearby. There are also lots of other characters appearing briefly which add a wonderful richness to the stories.

 

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A new beginning

May 11, 2016

the traveling anthropologist blog

I’ve been wondering what to do about this blog for a while now. I actually didn’t renew it for a couple weeks when it ran out recently just to see if I’d miss it. I did, badly.

I went back and forth for a while on that and honestly the only reason I didn’t change it was because I couldn’t think of one that I liked, one that summed up everything I want this space to be. Not that The Traveling Anthropologist does but I still kinda have a soft spot for it. And I guess I’ve kept it as a homage to what I initially wanted this blog to be, and more importantly who I want to be. I’ve accepted that it’s not going to happen any time soon, but one day I do hope to truly be a traveling anthropologist.

Anyway, I’ve decided to keep this blog because I really do love it but I’m going to change the direction of it. Since we’re back in New Zealand for the foreseeable future there’s going to be less travel (at least less international travel) and I’m going to share more personal posts, more photographs and videos, more food.

Thank you for sticking with me this far and I sure hope you’ll stick around for the next stage too!

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I wish I was still in Mexico

May 9, 2016

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

This week I’ve wished we were back in Mexico, I’ve wished it so hard it’s made my heart ache a little.

We’re fighting a losing battle with our travel insurance company to pay for Guy’s knee surgery (he tore his meniscus in a game of rugby just before we came home from Mexico) who say that since he’s back home now the public health system covers it not them – but that could take months and months. So he’s unable to work and hobbling around on crutches as best he can.

The chemo his mum is undergoing is half-working. It’s not shrinking the tumors as hoped but it’s stopping their growth and therefore prolonging her life. Which is good but not great, and she’s trying to decide for how much longer she wants to keep going with the treatment.

I’m spending my days searching for jobs, listening to Guy argue on the phone with our insurance company and accompanying my mother in law to various appointments for blood tests,

I’m happy to be home. I love seeing my friends, spending time with my family. We’re having the mildest winter ever here so I’m still walking around in a t shirt and cut offs. I’m picking vegetables from my little garden every few days and I’m trying to make a sourdough starter.

But, I still wish I was in Mexico. I miss it so much.

the traveling anthropologist the traveling anthropologist the traveling anthropologist the traveling anthropologist

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April

April 30, 2016

the traveling anthropologist april 2016

I said last month was strange, but it was nothing compared to this one. We left our comfortable bubble of Mexico City (admittedly we were ready to leave after six weeks) and had a whirlwind trip of Las Vegas where we eloped, then caught up with some friends in Las Vegas before returning to New Zealand to be with Guy’s mum.  Coming home was bittersweet.  I cried when the plane touched down realising that our adventure was over, but it has been really lovely catching up with our parents and friends and I’ve been enjoying Auckland more than I thought I would.

Reading

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. I can’t say I loved this book but I did enjoy it and I read it within two days because it kept me interested. I do love reading young adult fiction – partly cause it makes me so grateful that I am no longer a teenager!

Thirteen Reasons by Jay Asher. I really enjoyed this book – it’s part teen angst novel (which I love) and part mystery thriller with an underlying theme of the importance of kindness to everyone in your life.

Watching

Virunga. I really really enjoyed this documentary about a wildlife park in the Congo where the last mountain gorillas are. It deals with the conflict caused by rebel groups fighting the Congalese army over mining in the park (which would kill the animals but bring in a lot of money). The imagery was spectacular and it dealt with the opposing sides very sensitively. Plus if you’ve never seen a baby gorilla being tickled – it is the.cutest.thing.ever.

Orange is the new black. I know, I know. I am once again the last to jump on the bandwagon (I STILL haven’t finished Lost or Breaking Bad!). I’m only a few episodes in but I am loving this show so far. I’m loving the diversity in the actresses shown, it never really occurred to me until I started watching this that I very rarely see curvy/hispanic/transgender characters on TV and I am lapping it up.

Would I lie to you? There is a New Zealand version of this which is crap so I’ve never watched the British version (which is SO MUCH better). Lee Mack, Rob Brydon & David Mitchell make my heart melt with laughter.

Clicking On

 

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Restless

April 25, 2016

the traveling anthropologist

I’m feeling antsy. I want to do big, exciting, wonderful things. I want to stretch and grow and live. But I don’t know where to start. I don’t know which choices are the right ones to make, which options I should prioritise and which I should leave for another time. I want this but I also want that and I don’t see a way to have both at the same time.

I’m missing Mexico but I’m loving being back in New Zealand. I’m wishing we were still traveling but I’m relishing the comforts of having a home, a kitchen, a double bed.  I want to start my career but I also want to start a family.  I want to go camping every weekend but I need to work and earn some money. I want to live a slow life but there’s so much I want to get done.

I want to be an anthropologist, a writer, a photographer, a videographer, a cook, a mother.

I want to stay and I want to go.

I want to be me and I want to be someone else.

I’m feeling restless as if I have an invisible itch that I can’t find to scratch.  I’m indecisive and quiet, withdrawing into myself to try find the answers that continue to elude me.

I need chocolate, and more coffee. Always more coffee.

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A rainy day picnic

April 24, 2016

picnic in the rain

I love Auckland, I really do. I love the beaches and the parks and the malls and the dumpling restaurants. I love that most of my friends and family are here. I love that it never gets too cold in winter or too hot in summer. I love all the memories I have from growing up here. What I don’t love is that it rains – a lot. Sure it’s green and beautiful but it can be lush without the rain? Or can it at least wait until the evening to rain? In case you can’t tell I hate the rain. In the past it’s really gotten me down especcially in the middle of winter when it rains non stop for two weeks so in recent years I’ve been working on not letting it bother me so much. Luckily we’ve lived in Wellington for the last four years where it doesn’t rain much (but it is the windiest city in the world….) so I haven’t had to try too hard, but being back in Auckland now I’ve been reminded by how much I hate rainy days and I’m having to focus a little harder on staying positive.

I woke up this morning wanting to go for a hike and a pinic, I just had it in my mind. I spent all of yesterday – which was a gorgeous blue sky day – cooped up inside catching up on work so I was determined to get out today.  I knew Guy wouldn’t be quite so keen so I let him watch Netflix while I made a kumara (sweet potato) soup and got some blankets together. Then I announced that we were going on a picnic and pretended not to hear his protests – two can play at the selective hearing game right? 😉

a rainy day picnic

a rainy day picnic

a rainy day picnic

We actually had so much fun and Guy was really happy we went. We managed to find a place under some trees where we were somewhat sheltered from the rain and our popcorn only got a little bit soggy haha.

a rainy day picnic

Even on a grey and rainy day you’re still beautiful Auckland.

pippa vague

At the risk of sounding narcissistic I really love this photo –  I love that it captures my wrinkles and lines – seriously! I’m noticing my face ageing more and more these days and I love it! I really do. I love seeing the experiences and memories of my life played out on my face. The worry lines on my forehead from negotiating foreign countries, the crinkles at the edge of my eyes from laughing with my girlfriends, the bags under my eyes from staying up late whispering about the future with Guy.