I decided I needed a break from my studies around the halfway point of the year. I needed a little taste of home and Western culture since I spent the winter holidays on a predominately Hindu island. My parents decided they needed a vacation too and decided to meet me in Melbourne, Australia for a week, then another week in Auckland, New Zealand. I loved Bali, but nothing beats a hot shower and a western toilet. I even had A MICROWAVE, GUYS. The cost of living was a huge shock (16 Aussie dollars for some avo toast, really?), but it was so great to have my mom’s cooking for a little bit.
In Melbourne, the Terrell clan stayed in St. Kilda, which is the more hipster area of Melbourne near the beach. We ended up taking a private tour of one of the national parks to spot kangaroos and koalas. I spotted a koala that hasn’t been tragedia yet in the reserve, so I got to name it 🙂 Quick fun facts about kangaroos and koalas: You can identify koalas by their noses. It’s like their fingerprints. No one has the same no design of black and pink. Kangaroos can pause their pregnancy for up to two years. WHAT.
Then onto New Zealand. We stayed on an alpaca farm a little north of the city and woke up to alpacas, pigs, and even and PUG every morning. Then we travelled down to where the Lord of the Rings were filmed to Hobbiton. I have never seen so many different shades of green in my life because the area is so lush with vegetation. We were also lucky enough to meet up with the principal timpanist of the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, who is also one of my closest friends, Steve Logan! We all saw him play and kill it in the Rosencavalier and see him in action as a real deal musical adult. Steve introduced me to his best friend in New Zealand, Bleau, and the funny thing was that I think we became better friends than her and Steve? Cough, suck it Steve, cough.
Bleau was nice enough to show me all around Auckland in the Bleau-ber (Bleau’s car). One day she took me to see where she works. Bleau is part of an organization that works specifically with orchestral music outreach in the lower income areas of Auckland, called El Sistema. The orchestral Sistema organization was actually founded in Venezuela, and I even worked for one in El Salvador one summer, but ti was great to see that it has travelled all the way over to New Zealand. She was nice enough to let watch rehearsal one day. These middle school and high school kids were hilarious and so excited to be in the orchestra. The orchestra is a sort of community where they have to learn teamwork, work ethic, and self motivation, but also have something fun to do after school. Bleau had them all sit down and let them ask any questions to me because for many, I was the first American they have ever met. I love this game. I love seeing what kids think of the United States. Someone asked if our ice cream better. Another asked if voted for Trump. I said no, and they all started to cheer. It was great getting to know the kids. If you are more interested in the El Sistema organization, you can check out the U.S. website HERE If you are an American musician and want to be involved in an El Sistema program, there are many chapters all throughout the U.S.
These two weeks were all about sightseeing and having fun, so go ahead and take a look at my pictures from Australia and New Zealand in the “Pictures” tab and take a look at all my adventures!
Thanks again, Steve and Bleau for hosting the Terrell clan 🙂
ON TO MUMBAI, INDIA