The Great Outdoors

When I say Camping you might be thinking, “I’ve got nothing but a tent and the great outdoors.” But it was more like: a tent, two pillows, three blankets, a bag of pop corn, and enough movies to last a short life time. Okay, I’m probably exaggerating there, it would have been a very short life time, like I’m talking about the length of a fly’s life.

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It all started when my Mom, Dad, my Brother, and I decided to go to the beach on a small island in Australia. Upon arrival, we noticed that the only thing on the island of Henning was a small camp site right by the beach. Cameron and I decided to camp out on the beach that night. We scouted out the land so that we could decide were to pitch our tent, and we ended up deciding on the flats ground under a pine tree. Because no one else was there, we had the camp site to ourselves. After setting up the tent, we said our final farewell to the rest of our family, just in case a ferocious animal needed a snack. Small spaces scarcely bother me, so though the tent was snug I was quite comfortable.

Then we pulled out the popcorn and movies. After watching movies for a while we went outside to get some fresh air, and my eagle-eyed brother spotted something moving in the pine tree we had pitched our tent below. It was hard to tell, but based on shape and size we think it was a raccoon. But he was not the only visitor we had that night.

The sounds you hear when alone in the wilderness can be a wonder and a fright. Sometimes you will never know what creature made those magnificent sounds. For the majority of the night, we could hear a sound similar to that of a cricket but much louder. We are still undecided as to who this animal was. But it didn’t seem like he moved at all through the night. Fairly early in the morning Cameron and I were able to hear what we assumed was a bird in a tree nearby, who had a melody that was different than any I had heard before. Cameron and I both agreed that it sounded almost exactly like someone was coughing loudly. I stuck my head out of the tent to try and see this bird. I still could hear the bird but I could not see it. Then I stepped out of the tent and the sound suddenly stopped.

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It is quite amazing that God was able to create such beautiful, unique, and incredible animals for us to discover, enjoy, and love. Although I might never know what animal was making that coughing noise or that chirping, I do know that God made them for us to hear, enjoy, love, and treasure.


Cockatoo Tales

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Have you ever heard people tell you that birds can talk and thought, “No way, how come I’ve never seen that?” Well the truth is, that they weren’t lying. Some species of birds are able to speak. When they speak they don’t exactly sound like a person would. They are in fact, speaking English.

The specific bird that I am talking about is named Cocky. He is a Cockatoo, and he resides at the Nusa Island Resort in Papa New Guinea. His vocabulary may not be very large, but it is still amazing to look at a bird and have it call your name.

Cocky can say, “Hello,” “Cocky,” “Vicky,” (which is the name of a girl I met there) “dance,” and can imitate your laugh or cry. If you stand beside Cocky and jump up and down while chanting, “Cocky dance, Cocky dance,” then he will flair up his top head feathers and bob his head up and down. Obviously Cocky is an extraordinary bird.

Cocky is a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. These birds have short legs, strong claws, a waddling gait, and often use their strong bill as a third limb when climbing through branches. They have long, broad wings used in rapid flight, with speeds up to 70 km/h. These birds’ head feathers are lifted when they land from flying or when they are excited.

But everyone has a problem, and Cocky has two. Problem number one is that he is blind in one of his eyes. Problem number two is that his legs are paralyzed so he is a flightless bird. If he tried to fly he simply would not be able to land. So instead of flying he puts his mouth around a wood bar and hangs there. It looks really funny, especially when he is hanging by his beak and then tries to talk. Bad Cocky, don’t talk with your mouth full, it’s rude.

So now you know it’s true, birds really can speak.


Imagine the Image

Have you ever thought of what it might be like to experience a weekend out on a sailboat?

Wind in your hair, sun on your face. Well, it has got to be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Because of the beautiful seas and lulling oceans, sailing is the best thing to do in your free time.

Normally when you are sailing it's very peaceful and beautiful. By beautiful I mean the sunsets and sunrises, dolphins leaping and whales blowing water out of their blow holes. By peaceful I mean, looking around and all you see is sunshine glimmering off of the waves, and the gentle rocking of the boat as you sail through the sea. 

 
 

A sunset or sunrise from the view of a sailboat is much different than seeing a sunset from on land. Don’t get me wrong, sunsets on land are gorgeous, too. But it’s not the same as the unobstructed, 360 degree view of a sunset from on the ocean which could take your breath away.

Not only does the sunset last forever, but it’s magical too. Lighting the sky in red and pink, with not a cloud in sight. Illuminating the whole sky with a beautiful array of colors, red, pink, orange, blue, green, yellow, purple, and anything you can imagine. Not to mention the stars at night, dotting the sky like a speckled puppy. Shooting stars fly across the sky in the hopes that someone will make a wish.

As fare as animals go dolphins are Stop Work Orders most frequent guests. Leaping at the front of our boat in a joyous ballet. Sometimes up to thirty dolphins chirping there little song at the front of our sailboat.

Whales are lease frequent but still give us the perfect memories to take back home with us. They slap there tails against the top of the water, which is always a welcome sight, as well as when there whole body comes out of the water and then falls back in with a hug SPLASH.

We don’t have to go to a Japanese restaurant to eat fresh tuna sashimi. If we’re hungry we just throw the line in the water pull it up and BAM there’s dinner.

I hope your adventures on land are just as exiting as mine here in the open ocean. Sea you when my next adventure takes place.


Museum Marvels

My family always enjoys learning about the culture and history of the different places that we travel to. So in order to extend our knowledge of Port Villa, which is in Vanuatu, we decided to visit The National Museum of Port Villa. It was a large museum and I enjoyed roaming around its perplexing exhibits.

Understandably, I wouldn’t have had enjoyed it as much as I did if my parents had not allowed me to invite Hannah, who is a girl off a boat called Skylark, to explore the calling displays. Because we both enjoyed the museum so much, we also worked together on a report that my mom had assigned for us. The report only had to be about a paragraph long. Since Hannah and I were enjoying the process so much, we decided to make it a tiny bit longer, and by that I mean a lot longer. The finished product turned out to be roughly 13 pages long. It might make more sense to call it a small book but I am getting ahead of myself since this blog is supposed to be about the museum and not anything else.

If I were to tell you everything about the Museum that would take a while so I will just say my favorite things that I learned that day.

The first thing would have to be the story that is cleverly titled The Tax Man. This story has its name because it is about, you guessed it, a statue called The Tax Man, and another reason is that if you touch him he holds out his arm as if to say “you touch, you pay.”

Another story that I found interesting is about Land Diving. Land Diving is a cultural ceremony that celebrates boys becoming men. First the boy will climb to the top of a tall tower made of tree branches and then he will tie a long vine to his ankle. His mother will come with him and take with her his favorite childhood toy and if the boy thinks he is being called to jump than the mother is supposed to throw the toy away because he no longer needs it, he is a man. (His head is supposed to touch the ground when he jumps.)

I personally think that in Port Villa, if I was a dude, the day I became a man would be the worst day of my life. I mean think about it, you would lose your favorite toy and possibly die all in one day, what fun, right?

* Note to parents do not let your children try the ideas in this blog, at home, or anywhere else, for that matter.


First Day of School

Don't freak out, please, don't freak out. I'm not totally crazy, and I haven't lost my mind either. Now the reason I say that is because this blog is about...are you ready...school. But before all the kids in the audience start to think, "Oh goody, more endless fun learning how to find the area of pi, or how to spell glutinous, and in some cases if you're having a really great day even finding the best posture to snooze in." But let's not keep talking about that, or you might fall asleep again. Although this is lots of fun, instead, how about we talk about the interesting parts of school.

Some kids might say that there is no such thing, but if you look at it from the point of view that I've been seeing it in the last few days, you might actually change your mind.

I'm in Fulaga, Fiji and the locals in Fulaga have a little village called Muanaicake. There is a school and at that school they let kid cruisers come and partake in their school. I attended school once on Monday with my friend Hannah and once on Thursday on my own. Ciara also visited the school on Monday but she was helping with the kindergarteners which sounds like a big task.

The class I was in was grade 5's and 6's and my teacher was Master George. He was an excellent teacher and also very talented at explaining the different things that we needed to learn. The first day we learned about perimeter and er, and est's, which Hannah and I have already learned, but their academic level is a bit lower in Fiji than in Canada.

We still had an unforgettable time and got to meet new people like for example Penina who is a local girl my age. She also was at the picnic with us on Friday but that's another story for another time.

When we first arrived in Fulaga, we thought that everyone's English must be pretty bad because everyone shied away from us. But then, when I was at school, I found out that:
A - they were always taught in English and
B - their English was very good they just were shy. 

Master George said that they wanted to talk but they were just shy. I guess it would be pretty scary if you saw some alien-like white thing creeping around your house?

At ten o'clock we got 15 minutes break and at twelve o'clock we got 45 minutes for lunch. Master George's wife, Ma, said that I would eat with them. I had lunch at their house which was very delicious. They eat a variety of food; we had chocolate cake, tea, lemon bars, tortillas with noodles, and peanut and butter sandwiches (I brought those).

It was drug awareness week and each day the students had to wear a different color. Monday was red, Tuesday was blue, Wednesday was orange and Thursday was rainbow, or whichever color you wanted to wear. (Friday was a holiday.) After lunch we worked on slogans and posters for drug awareness week. My team's slogan was, "You were given a life for a reason so don't cut it short." There were many of other great slogans like, "Drugs aren't cool they make you look like a fool," and lots more but I can't remember them all. I truly had a great time.

The point is that we had a ton of adventures and that proves my point that school can be exciting if you aren't learning about pi. Well, it can be exciting in Fiji anyway.

What is your best school experience?


The Dock Walk

As you probably already know I am an extremely social person. It is hard to socialize when you live on a boat and the only people you have to talk to is your family. We meet other kids on boats which is great, and I get to meet kids when we're on shore sometimes, but if we're at a marina, which doesn't happen very often, then I get to "dock walk."

I love dock walking in the marinas, and different people dock walk for different reasons. We had a young couple that stayed on our boat when we went from the Galapagos to Tahiti and when they were in Antigua they dock walked looking for day work on the mega yachts. Other people dock walk to get jobs polishing, painting, cleaning, and other boat stuff. Some captains on big boats dock walk to meet other captains so they can trade information about things like the best anchorages or pretty beach locations or things like that. It's a great way for crew members to meet other crew members to get jobs or share experiences.

I dock walk for a whole different reason. I dock walk because I love to meet people. When I saw a Canadian boat in Denarau Marina in Fiji, there were two older women coming out of the boat and I exclaimed, "Canadians, give me a hug." The farther away from home that I get the more I love to see Canadians. Every once in a while dock walking scores me a tour on one of the mega yachts. Since I love to dock walk I usually do it at least ten times a day.

There are some BIG yachts here in Denerau Marina, for example the yacht Aquamarina, which is a really beautiful boat. I met two of the crew from Aquamarina. Sometimes when I dock walk, I skip with my skipping rope. One time a crew member from Aquamarina was skipping at the same time and when I passed him I said, "I'm beating you." And now every time we see each other one of us says, "I'm beating you." But I have to admit, he is the skip-rope king.

I also meet a lady whose job is to stock up on food for the big yachts which is a full time job. One time I even dock walked because my mom needed to know where the best place to stock up on food is. I asked around and got the best places on a list. (If you haven't read my sister's blog about our crazy stock ups yet, you definitely should. Click here.)

I also meet a man named Paul, who is the captain of a 140-foot long, gorgeous sailing boat. He has a full-time crew of six people and some of the mega yachts have even more. He gave us a tour of the boat that he worked on and it has a lot of space inside. It even has a sauna. Is that cool or what. They also run their air conditioning full time.

I also meet a family and their daughter, who was extremely cute. They were from Brazil. They were on a catamaran with ten people on it. The little girls' mother invited me to get ice cream with them and bought me a Barbie doll. They seemed to know everyone at the marina and had been there for two months. They were very nice people but their English was, as they say, "so so".

Some of the visits I've had are as simple as a smile or they can turn into friendships that will last a lifetime. Maybe one day you too will get the chance to dock walk, whether you do it for work or if you just for the pleasure of saying 'hi' to the people on the dock. No matter how you do it, dock walks can be a lot of fun.