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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Frank & Kate

I was lucky enough to meet up with Frank and Kate today, two Americans working over here in New Zealand. My mom works with Frank's dad and as soon as she found out they were over here she put me in touch with them.

Turns out Frank and I went to the same high school in Lynchburg, Virginia, so it truly is a small world. He and Kate live together in San Francisco now, and they're over here in Wellington for a 3-month stint. Kate is an architectural engineer and specifically works with designing buildings that can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis. Her parent company is based in Wellington but she works at the San Francisco office. Most Kiwis rotate out to the States to work for a few years, but she's the first American to come over to NZ to work. Frank had just left his job at Sony, where he worked as a video game designer, so he managed to find work doing the same sort of thing here in Wellington.

Sadly for me, they're only sticking around another two weeks before their time is up here, and then they'll be heading back stateside. Still, I feel lucky to have been able to meet them and hang out with them for a day. Been getting a little homesick and they're the first Americans I've met since I've been over here.

They took me out to lunch at a great Thai place, and although I've already forgotten the name of the place I remember exactly where it was located, so I'll be sure to go again. They then invited me to go with them to the Karori Wildlife Reserve, right there in Wellington. There's about two kilometres deep of forest set aside just for these many species of bird and the reptile called the tuatara, and it's all inside the city limits.

Welly is a very hilly city and it sits towards the top of one of these hills. I wish I had my camera with me that day but it was once again really overcast and anyways it was very hard to get a still shot of any of the birds. It was much better to listen to them sing and chatter, and there was one species (the tui, I think) that sounded an awful lot like R2-D2.

There was an old gold mining tunnel you could go into, and at one point you walk across the top of an ancient dam right in the middle of the forest. The tuatara is the oldest living reptile ancestor to the dinosaurs, although to look at him you'd hardly run the other way. They're pretty docile little things and about the size and shape of a water dragon.

We also saw a grotto of glowworms, which are a pretty cool feature that as far as I know is unique to New Zealand. They glow a soft white light but you can only appreciate this in near-total darkness. They're not really worms, either, but the larval stage of a certain kind of fly that weaves these sticky coccoons and sticks to the underside of exposed logs, roots or caves.

Turns out not only did Frank and I go to the same high school, but like me he had also done a lot with the theater program, so it was cool to catch up with him about that. He and Kate met at Stanford, I think, where they were both in grad school. They are really nice and it was cool of them to pay for my lunch and let me tag along to the wildlife reserve. They were going to spend the last two weeks or so of their time over here exploring the south island, so I hope they saw and did a lot down there and I'll certainly stay in touch with them. They also have a blog of their time over here which I'll try and link to.

So thanks again, guys, it was great meeting you and someday we'll have to meet up again - whether it's here or in Frisco or who knows, maybe even Lynchburg at Christmas time.


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