October 9

Today was Annalena’s 19th birthday. We planned a little surprise with a travel journal that we had got for her and we had each written in. We gave her advice and compliments and Lindsay even contributed a poem that she wrote just for the occasion! We worried that being away from her family on her birthday would be tough, especially since she is young. (She has become something of a little sister to each of us.) Seeing Anna’s face light up when she saw her gift was so gratifying. She told us that we had made it one of the best birthdays she’s ever had.

My new replacement (the other one just left the country without a word, leaving some of his belongings at the Lodge), Niko, began work as well. He is Anna’s age and I think we are all relieved to know that she will have some company when we move on. He was a good sport and even accompanied us to a bonfire on the beach. Emi had wanted to have a fire for weeks and so, after multiple broken plans, we finally did it!

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Emi, Anna, José, Niko and I hiked down through the Maori village (past a vicious sounding dog) to the beach. It was the first time that José had ever walked through nature in the dark! The rest of us are from fairly rural areas so this was shocking to us. It was a very clear night so we could see the stars and the Milky Way. It was amazing how many stars there are visible here. (I tried unsuccessfully to take pictures.) We fortuitously came across a premade fire pit! We heightened the sides with more rocks and collected driftwood.

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The fire started unbelievably easily and it got hot immediately. Part of Emi’s plan was for us to cook sausages on the fire, so we did.

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It it was a great way to spend a beautiful (but inevitably windy) evening.

Also, yesterday Lindsay and I acted as (very unlikely) models for José. We took his silence during and after the shoot as evidence that we shouldn’t quit our day jobs. Pictures to come once he is finished editing.

We also discovered that we can fold down the seats in the back of Lindsay’s hatchback and lay down comfortably. This is the view from our sizable “bay window.” Yes, we are planning on sleeping in the car regularly.

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