Last night’s dinner was a great way to say goodbye to the group.  After the paper, we spent the afternoon walking around Auckland.  Everyone met at 7:15 in the YMCA hostel lobby all dressed up bottling our mixed emotions.   We walked through the city in our oversized group to the restaurant where our group squeezed into a small room with two long tables.  The restaurant, Little Mexico was nice – we had preordered our meals and kept ourselves busy while they came by talking and ordering drinks – tequila shots and coronas.  After our food finally came, we went around the room to give thanks.  We were a put on the spot but everyone stood and shared a great, heartfelt message.  I said how I knew I always wanted to travel to Australia.  I was so thankful and fortunate for the Professors who accepted me into the program and let that happen and for the group who I’ve made such great friends with along the way.  It was a different goodbye because in a sense, we had already said goodbye to Australia and the traditional program.  We have been traveling together as a group for the past two weeks and are ready for some separation.  So, it was bittersweet – I’m certainly sad that the memories won’t continue but so satisfied with the ones we’ve already made.  I also don’t think I was as struck by the goodbye because I’m staying to travel for a little longer.

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Today, November 24 began early.  The first group flight left this morning at 4:30 on a shuttle to the airport.  I woke to say goodbye to Lauren and fell back asleep until it was time for me to checkout.  I took my bags down into the CBD to Xbase hostel where I will be staying for the next few days.  It was to early to check in so I stored my bags and set out to explore Auckland.  I first headed down to the warfs.  Of course after studying sustainability down under for the past 3 months I had to check out the Sustainable City Showcase (nerd status).  There were lots of stalls set up relating to different aspects of sustainability – transportation, lifestyles, fashion and beauty, clothes, homes, business and workplace, and food and community.  Everyone stall had something different to share.  I talked to many people about their projects and was able to share a little bit about what I’ve learned from observations and differences from the United States in exchanged for gaining lots of new information.
After I headed to the Britomart Farmers Market.  It was smaller than I had expected but it still was a nice setting with vendors selling their produce, falafel, mini pancakes, and cheeses.  There was also a craft gallery in an building next-door.  There was one artist who made cufflinks and keychains from old typewriter keys.  I thought it would be something my dad would really like but they were pricey (I took you a photo though).  After a morning of walking, I stopped for a cappuccino at Raw Bar in a little alley off of Queen Street.  I read the local magazine to find the next place to explore – the Silo area.  I first checked into my hostel and then caught the bus, for 50 cents down to the Wynward Warf.  The Silo area was appropriately next to two large Silos on the harbor.  There was a small market with food carts and crafts.  I bought my mom a card that was made also using a typewriter.  I sat at a picnic table that was made out of a wooden door to write her a letter while listening to the DJ play Bob Markey.  It was a nice day out for being in the harbor and looking at boats but I’m planning on exploring more of the harbor area on Monday when I go to the Maritime Museum.  So instead, I chilled out for a while before meeting up with the Brown family.
My professor, Meghan Brown and her family have another night in Auckland before traveling.  I’ve really loved getting to know this family on a different level than a Professor-student because we’ve shared more than just classes and office hours.  We’ve shared experience – field trips, sea sickening ferry rides, hikes, long bus rides and a breakdown, and massive slumber parties in a Morae.  Her family is part of the whole HWSUC family.  We met up for dinner and after went to their stay for some leftover thanksgiving pies and final dinner cakes – lucky they got all of the leftovers.  The kids were fun and got all hyped up on sugar so before they crashed, we all said goodbye.  Again, I am so thankful for them and the experience of a lifetime they have given me.
I’m thinking that most of the group is probably in LA on a layover now.  I hope they have safe travels the rest of the way home!  As for me, I will continue exploring tomorrow.

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