Last Gig in NZ

After an exhausting journey throughout the South Island we have landed back on the North Island. That’s right, a little over a month and we came back. I have still yet to write about our hardships, I suppose I just don’t want to think about it. But I’ll fill you all in eventually.

Anywho, we are settled and happier then we’ve ever been here in NZ. We are living in a National Park, probably the most well known national park actually. It’s the location of Mt. Ngauruhoe, also known as Mt. Doom from The Lord of the Rings. We work at a holiday park that provides accommodation for hikers and sightseers. Our main duties are housekeeping and reception, but we also do some maintenance jobs as well. The park is mostly comprised of powered camper van sites but we also have space for tents, and a few cabins as well. We also have a lodge with bunkbeds, a lounge, kitchen, and bathrooms as well as an amenities building with kitchens and bathrooms. David and I split the cleaning, he does the amenities and I do the cabins and lodge. I also had to learn how to drive a manual transmission truck in order to take out the trash and recycling. It was rocky for a while, stalling every time I had to take off. But I’ve got the hang of it now!

Every new place we end up we build a family around us. Our personalities are just like that, we love people. Being here has been such a loving experience. Our bosses are like our parents and our coworkers are our siblings. We also have “uncle Chris”, he’s the chef at the local restaurant. We have dinners, we give each other shit, and we’ll miss them all so much when we leave. I find myself reflecting back on our time here often, which just shows we’re almost at the point of having to move on. But before we do, we’ll be making the most of the Whakapapa Holiday Park.

-Ethan Masselli

Our Travels Will Continue

It has been decided, we will not be coming back to the US, we will instead continue on our journey around the world. I think many of you saw this coming before we even did. If you’ve ever traveled outside of the US I’m sure you understand the excitement and thrill you get. You also get this itch to keep going. Once you’re in the thick of it you realize how easy it is to be somewhere foreign. Leading up to your departure it’s of course nerve-racking, but once you’ve been in another country for a few months it becomes comfortable. We’ve been very lucky to find a job that pays well and has many opportunities (more about this job in another post). This job will propel us into our next adventure.

Next we will hop over to Australia and essentially do the same thing we’re doing here in NZ, work and travel. The visa for Australia is a bit different, it costs $500 and has the opportunity of extending for an additional year if you work in agriculture for a short time. The pay is greater as well, so hopefully the money we make there will sustain us for a couple years after that. We hope to head to Japan after Australia, then the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. We’ll end with a Euro-trip before coming home. At this point our endeavors will take us into 2022, and into my 30’s! Eek!

As exciting as this sounds we do miss our friends and family deeply. Not a day goes by where we don’t talk about someone. How something reminds us of a time we spent with friends, or a new acquaintance reminds us of someone back home. If we could afford it we would fly back home in between each new adventure! But unfortunately that is not the case. Stay tuned for more details as we finalize our plans!!

I also want to thank all of you who come by and read our posts. I know who you are, and I love you. I will be renewing the domain and I will continue to write (hopefully more frequently). Who knows, maybe you’ll see some merchandise on here someday. Hehe.

-Ethan Masselli

GAY PDA

This is a topic I’ve always wanted to write about, being gay and the stresses around public displays of affection. PDA has different levels of tolerance depending on the public area you’re in no matter your sexuality. For the sake of this discussion “public” will be defined as sidewalks, parks, and shopping centers (grocery stores, malls, etc.). These are areas that heterosexual couples are frequently seen holding hands, kissing, and sitting in an embrace without even a nun caring. When I was fresh out of the closet I was a junior in high school and I had no problem with PDA. I had been in relationships with woman prior to coming out so I was no stranger to holding hands and cuddling up on benches. So when I started dating my first boyfriend I just kept on doing what I had been doing. It wasn’t until the fight for marriage equality in my home sate of Maine that I started to feel the piercing eyes on me.

PDA started to feel like a silent protest, which sometimes it was. My boyfriend and I would often go out of our way to walk, hand-in-hand, in front of a crowd of anti-marriage equality protesters. But when something like who you are is converted into a challenge to society, it becomes exhausting. You can’t turn it off, or put it away. Imagine your hair color is seen as immoral. You would first wear it out with pride. You would walk in front of screaming crowds, shoulders high, hair flowing in the wind. But imagine you just wanted to go out to grab some take-out Chinese after you had a long day. Along the way you see businesses with signs in their window protesting blonde hair. Then, as you walk down the sidewalk people stare in disgust, some even “brave” enough to say slurs under their breath. You’d start to think about what you might look like bald. PDA declared to the world that, “Yes, I am gay”! Which was an open invitation for some to declare their opposition (or applaud our “bravery”).

At this point I’m sure you’ve figured out what this has to do with traveling. Back home I knew which areas were safer to hold hands, or cuddle up in the cold. But as we travel we’re more cautious about when we show our love for each other. This isn’t always conscious, which makes it worse. As we walk down a sidewalk and approach a group of men I can feel David pull his hand away, not on purpose, but we’ve been conditioned to be cautious around certain groups of people. I do it too, and it’s not until I see a happy heterosexual couple with interlocked hands that I’m made aware of the distance between David and I. We’ve been conditioned that displaying our love is bad, and we will be punished. And it’s not just the slurs and threats it’s any attention at all. So many times I’ve been approached by strangers thanking me or praising me for my courage. As true as their intentions are, they too are bringing to my attention that I’m different. I’m the first to stand up in protest for anyone’s equality, if you know me you know that much for sure. But what I would give to just wrap my hand around my boyfriends waist and walk down the street without wondering who approves and who disagrees.

I will say this, NZ has given me no reason yet to feel different. Have I seen any other gay couples? Not yet. But when David and I have shown our love for each other in public I’ve never seen anyone even bat an eye.

Ethan M.

Hobbiton

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

One word can only begin to describe our time in Hobbiton, magical. As you make your way through this country you are captivated by the landscape, and as you approach Hobbiton it's no different. The entrance is nondescript, just a farm with winding roads and rolling green hills on either side dotted with sheep and cows, but mostly sheep. You eventually make your way to a small building that houses the gift shop, small cafe, and ticket counter. We had pre-purchased tickets to the evening tour and banquet (which I highly recommend, you will see why). From the small house you board a bus that takes you into the rolling hills where Hobbiton is hid. The tour guides are deserving of a shout-out. We had three: one who drove the bus and pride himself on terrible dad jokes, and two others who were walking tour guides. The two tour guides split us evenly to help with congestion on the small hobbit sized paths. Our tour guide, Glyn was just as magical as Hobbiton itself. He embodied what it meant to be a Hobbit and loved the tales of Hobbits past. Glyn brought us through the paths and described secrets from the set, the passion that has been poured into the hills, and filled us in on Hobbit lore. From the weathered Hobbit-holes, to the growing gardens and flowers, to the breads and honey out for sale, it looked as if it was a fully functioning Hobbit community. Five gardeners work 50 hour a week to keep the grounds as if Hobbits live and thrive there.
We ascended the hillside to Bag End where Bilbo and Frodo lived. As we made our way up the hill we past Hobbit-holes of different size and color. You could tell the profession of the Hobbit from the contents outside their door, from honey to chopped wood, bread and hanging meats. From Bag End you could see all of Hobbiton and beyond, from the pond to the Green Dragon Inn to the mountains in the distance. The sun was setting and it lit up the sky pink. The Hobbits were turning in for the night as their front porch lights flicked on and the path before us was lit by lanterns. We descended back down the hill toward the Green Dragon Inn where our feast awaited. The path back down led us over a bridge past a water mill.
The Green Dragon Inn sat at the edge of Hobbiton across the pond. When we entered there was a curtain to our left and a warm, open, wooden pub to our right. At the bar our tour guides waited for our orders as the first drink is on the house. They had a cider, stout and ale on tap that was exclusive to Hobbiton and not available for sale. We started with the cider which was crisp and delicious. Across from the bar was a roaring fire. Down the Inn further to the right were little sitting areas surrounded by round archways and round windows (in Hobbit fashion). As soon as everyone had their first drink in them they counted down from 3 and opened the curtain. Behind the curtain waiting for us were three long tables filled high with foods of all kind. Everyone hurried to find a seat. Before us were whole chickens, potatoes, stuffed peppers, lamb legs, meatballs, mushrooms, salmon, mashed potatoes, and so much more. We all passed around what was in front of us making sure that no one missed out on anything. In the dining hall was a bar with a fierce green dragon carved out above it. There of course was a fire lit with a beautiful hearth and a couple of arm chairs. Perched atop one of the chairs was an old calico cat sitting upright and alert. Not too long after we began our feast she made her way over to my chair somehow knowing I was her best bet for some scraps of food, and she was not disappointed.
After we all had our fill it was time for dessert. Quickly the staff cleared our tables and replaced our scraps with a tray of mini pies of assorted flavor, cheesecake, a cheese plate, and a NZ favorite pavlova. They also had coffee and tea available at the bar. I could feel the food up to my throat but I managed to eat a pie (or two) and had a cup of coffee by the fire. As I sat watching the fire, surrounded by laughter I felt a warm feeling rise inside of me (and it wasn't just the food). I wished I could just sit there all night, drinking beer, eventually making my way up to a little bed. The architecture was perfect, wooden arches, shelfs with "old" books, flyers pinned to the sides of the bar. I was full of good food, surrounded by merry people, and being warmed by the fire, how could life be any better?
Alas, it was time to end the night. We all slowly made our way out of the Green Dragon Inn with lanterns in hand for our return journey. Glyn told us some final tales as we made our way into the field where Bilbo's famous 111th birthday was held. We formed a circle and our tour guides sang Hobbit songs as we danced about. The sky was full of stars and so were our eyes.
Anyone making their way to New Zealand MUST go to Hobbiton. 30% of the people that go to Hobbiton haven't read or seen any of the movies/books, so don't think you shouldn't go if you don't know the tales. It's a beautiful place filled with joy and magic.

"Far over the misty mountains old
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold…" Dwarven songs, The Hobbit- J.R.R. Tolkien

Ethan M.