Saturday, 29 March 2008

Night out with friends (29th March 2008)

The weather took a dramatic change today, pouring heavily outside with gusty wind blowing. Yuck. This type of weather is why sometimes I feel that Wellington may not be the place for me. Sunny days make me feel happier!

Earth Hour took place at 8pm tonight. It was an event created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced: GLOBAL WARMING. I took part in this by turning off the lights for an hour - everyone who participated would do the same at their local time of 8pm and this simple action sends a powerful message about the need for action on global warming. Well, honestly I didn't really participated since I was on my way out to town and had to turn off all my lights anyway :P

Caught up with Ken at 8.30pm at Molly Malone's for a drink - bloody hell, was already drenched even before I started partying! Us and Kalwant were going to check out Fetish Dance Party 2008 at Subnine on Edward Street tonight. I had send around texts and a few messages to some friends to join in and I think I may have shocked a few - they probably didn't expect me to ask them to go to such an event that was meant to be flesh and fantasy of kinky, weird and unbearably erotic stuff. I thought it would be good fun to do something different and even have a few good laughs with friends.

We were looking forward for a fun night out BUT (yes, here comes the but) we didn't end up going to the party. "How come?", you ask? Well, the 2 bouncers at the door. donned in what looked like Jon Bon Jovi and Hannibal Lecter, just wouldn't let us in. Said that we were not dressed for the party i.e. we had to lose more clothing. Did they just suggested I take off my mini-skirt and halter top and walk in in my undies??? I have to say I was not impressed that we were barred from going in because no where on the advertisement did it state that one had to dress up for the party (Jon Bon Jovi agreed when I mentioned that). Still, they wouldn't budge despite it was their own error of misinformation. For a split second, I really did want to strip off my clothes just to piss the bouncers off. ARGHHH! Got my friends out and walked all the way here in the rain for nothing! There goes my plan for tonight ~~:( That's smoke coming out from my head...

We ended up at Vivo Enoteca Cucina around the corner, a nice quiet wine bar for a glass of wine and chit-chat. Hmm, I like the place - I've never been here before! Have to come back next time to try out their Italian cuisine. You know, actually there are quite a few small clubs and bars hidden around the Edward Street area that I didn't know of. Just shows how 'often' I go out!

Though we didn't end up doing what we had planned, it was still a nice get-together with friends. And we're planning a yum char session to catch-up when we all get back from our travels later in April. Cool! Looking forward to that :)

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

MRI scan at Wellington Hospital (26th March 2008)

I took off early from work today for my MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan at the Radiology Department in Wellington Hospital this afternoon. Why, you ask? Well, approximately a year ago during the pre-salsa congress party, I pretty much collapsed on the dancefloor - I couldn't feel my legs from knee down and it was the scariest feeling I've ever felt. It was as if I was paralyzed. I had absolutely no control of my legs and everytime I tried to stand up, I fell. I ended up spending the end of my night at the ER in hospital and the rest of the congress weekend sitting and watching others dance. A year from that incident, I've not had a recurrence (thank god!) though my left leg still feels a little numb (sensation of pins and needles when I tap it) and my doctor decided that I should go for a MRI scan to see if the machine could detect something peculiar in my nervous system (we tried a lumbar scan X-ray which didn't show anything abnormal).

So what exactly is a MRI? Pretty much a gigantic scanner that is used to image every part of the body, and particularly useful in neurological conditions, disorders of the muscles and joints, for evaluating tumours and showing abnormalities in the heart and blood vessels. In a nutshell, this should work for me! But boy, was I nervous...I went to the hospital on my own and though I've been the the hospital enough times (I've been admitted to ER about 4 times in the last 2 years), the idea of being there still makes me feel uncomfortable. Would have very much liked a support person there with me. Sigh...The nurse was most kind, assuring me the procedure wouldn't hurt and will be over very soon. I was so glad when she told me they won't be injecting contrast dye into my veins today (apparently enhances blood vessels, tumours and inflammations)! YES!!

My 20 minutes in the MRI scanner was both interesting and strange. I had to change out of my normal clothes into a hospital dress and was asked to lay down on the MRI table/bed. I was told to keep still during the scan and that it would be quite noisy throughout the procedure. Oh yeah, it felt like I was in an industrial factory or similar and had to wear special headphones provided by the nurse! But what really made me feel a tad claustrophobic was when the bed was raised up and slowly moved into the middle of the machine, head in first. For a moment, it felt as if I was being put in a coffin - the space in the scanner was compact (I think the gap between my nose and the top is less than my palm's length and I wondered if it expanded to fit a patient much bigger in size than me...) and it was as if I was being shoved in the huge oven for cremation. Urgh, I shudder at that thought...Thankfully my thoughts were interrupted when the scanning noise began (not the 'zer, zer' sound you hear on your computer scanner but 'dung, dung' and 'kloink, kloink' noises just like hammering metal in a factory).

So this what was it was like being in the MRI scanner - I recalled when I was much younger, probably 5 years old or so, and had accompanied mum and dad to the hospital where mum was getting a MRI done. It was intriguing to see her MR images on the computer screen (the nice nurse took me to see what was happening during mum's procedure) and hear the nurse talk to her through the speakerphone (I had one provided to me too today but didn't need to use it).

What's next for me now? Well, do nothing but wait for the results and hopefully get some answers so I'll have a peace of mind what this weird numbness is about.

Monday, 24 March 2008

A walk along Oriental Parade (24th March 2008)

Another gorgeous day today and it's too hard to head straight home after my swim so I went for a walk on my own (and have an ice-cream) at Oriental Parade. Again, didn't see anyone I knew today despite quite a lot of Wellingtonians out and about. Photos taken today: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604223313551/detail/

Everywhere I looked, there were families, couples, groups of friends, young and old, talking, laughing and having a good time together and I felt a sudden pang of sadness inside me sitting on my own watching people pass by. Loneliness decided to come sit next to me, filling me with thoughts of self doubt and memories from the past. Hmm, time to go home now (and take that cave man club of mine out to club Loneliness into pieces)...

NZ Pacific Salsa Congress (21st - 23rd March 2008)

Friday, 21st March 2008: Today's the first day of the congress and also the day of our performance - I'm feeling so nervous!!! Don't think any of my non-salsa friends will be there since I've been keeping this whole thing hush-hush (I wouldn't know what I'll do if I hear them shouting my name when on stage!). Eeks!

Thomas caught a ride with me and we headed to the congress around 10am to catch up with the rest of the bunch. Surprsingly the turn out this year was not as great as last year. Hmm, I wonder if it was because there were too many events going in the same long weekend here in Wellington (including the rock concert by Ozzy Osbourne and KISS)...

I started my day in a Conversion On1 to On2 workshop conducted by dance teachers and performers from Sydney, Oliver and Luda. It was awesome! Made so much more sense to me now how to listen for the On2 beat as I've been so used to dancing On1. Still need more practice because I struggle with my turns when dancing On2 but it's a good start :)

At 12pm, some of us were just hanging out while waiting for the next class while Alicia and I decided to be naughty and crept up to Petera (fellow dancer who oftens organises social lunch-time rueda in between workshops) dragging him into a social rueda in the middle of the hall. Hehe...it started off just us 3 and then I dragged Colin in, and more dancers followed suit, including Jamie (another world-class performer and teacher from Australia) - it was so much fun!

Next workshop for me was Upper Intermediate Partnerwork with Victor and Burju from Boston. Burju is so cute and both were really funny, making the class enjoyable. I like her ladies' styling - unique! Unfortunately I couldn't do her workshop on purely ladies' styling as all the performers tonight had to be at Town Hall at 4pm for the tech rehearsal. :( Oh well, lots of social dancing after the performance to make up for it. Eeks, I'm still feeling nervous!!

The selection couples and teams went through a full rehearsal (exception not dressed up) at the Town Hall and many of us had the opportunity to watch what the others were doing. Cool! Our rehearsal was ok but needed to tweak the positioning a bit - poor Thomas couldn't dance some of the moves because he was squashed in between some of us. I felt most bad when we did the tornillo and he couldn't fully extend his leg because the backstage wall was blocking him. Argh, what do we do now??? We couldn't practice a second time to work out the positioning! John and I will just have to move further front and cross our fingers (and toes!) that it'll work! Yikes!

Quick, quick, we are going to be late! The girls and I then returned to my place after the rehearsal to shower and sort out our hair and make-up before heading back to the Town Hall by 7pm. Wow, everyone looked so different in their costumes and face made up! There was so much noise, energy and colour in the dressing room (it was a shared space with other performers) and everyone was cheering each other on. Woo-hoo! I'm so nervous - I don't think I could remember my steps...AHHHHH!

And that was Salsa Picante! (applause) Oh my god - was that over? I couldn't believe it! I was nervous before getting on to stage but I have to admit, I had fun! And I think the others had a great time on stage too :) The whole performance went well - great job team! Though we were not selected to represent NZ in the next selections, it had been an wonderful journey and experience being part of a performing team. We also have to thank Ramnish and Lily for all their hard work choreographing the routine and managing the team from start to finish. Thanks guys for your patience and believing in us! As Lily kept saying, our routine was challenging and we managed to nail the steps within a few months given that we aren't professional dancers. Yay!! :)

Hey, half of the participants at the congress were up on stage! Yep, that was so weird - all the performers were up on stage at the end to do a finale group dance with Jamie (yes, his infamous Zombie dance) and the hall looked somewhat empty. So pretty much most of the people in the workshops I saw today were up on stage with me...Photo taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604526926274/detail/

Now with the practices over, I'll have to fill up the gaps doing something else (but what?). Haven't thought about it yet...Oh well, for now, I just want to dance till I drop! And I REALLY did dance till I drop! Not sure if it was because of the buzz I still had from the performance or that I had been refraining myself from social dancing until after the performance but I was dancing continually like the Duracell bunny - non-stop! Oh, but I had a lot of fun dances tonight. Still lacking of men on the dancefloor so the women had to be pretty assertive to get a dance or two. I think it was around 2am by the time I got home. What a night!


Saturday, 22nd March 2008: Was up at 9am this morning, had a quick breakfast and off I went to Te Whaea: National Dance and Drama Centre in Newtown for more workshops. Ouch, my body is feeling the ache from over-dancing last night! (Am I really THAT old?)

Did Salsa Hip Hop workshop by Csaba and Vali from Australia. Interesting but not really my cup of tea. I think I'm still kind of an old-school dancer i.e. go for dances with more structure and longer history. It was different and challenging - my arms, body and legs don't seem to co-ordinate very well in this dance style! After the hip-hop class, I went to do the Upper Intermediate Salsa on1 Turn Patterns with Oliver and Luda - simple and nice steps.

Oh god, my brain feels so dead - my body is going along with the workshops but I don't think I'm really using my brain cells to take it what's happening. It is as if my brain is tired out but my body hasn't followed suit! Photo of me with my mouth full and Alicia at the hall during the break:


Lunchtime was spent dancing rueda in the common hall - fun! I took off after that to get some rest. Was just feeling exhausted and don't want to tire myself out before the dance party later tonight.

Not sure if it was because of the lack of participants in the congress or if this was the 2nd time I attended the congress, I didn't feel as enthusiastic as the previous year, getting up early and going to all the workshops possible and squeezing in as many dances I can get in the parties. I don't know - something feels amiss or lacking this time round. Hmm, this is probably the last salsa congress I'll be attending in Wellington...

The salsa show was entertaining though the party tonight retired a bit early. Guess most people exhausted themselves the night before so many took off early. One more day to go, people! I had several good dances tonight so that was enough for me :) Photos taken at the party: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604527911586/detail/



Sunday, 23rd March 2008: Yawn...I want to just crawl back to bed...It's 10.30am at the moment but I seriously can't be bothered to go to Te Whaea for workshops. The sun is shining oh-so-brightly outside and I feel like heading to the beach to chill out instead. Hmm, what should I do - beach or dance?

15 minutes of self-struggle and debate later, beach won over dancing. But first, a short swim for me! Having not swam for a week, today's short swim was a real struggle. Tire too easily! What a bummer...have to do better tomorrow...

Spent a few hours at Scorching Bay with Helbert this afternoon, just chilling out over a few beers. There was a cold breeze so we couldn't really enjoy the beach as we would have like i.e. getting a tan. Still, it was nice to just relax in good company - I didn't mind missing out on the salsa workshops today for some sun :) Honestly, I wasn't keen on going to the workshops anyway so didn't really feel I missed out. Photos at the beach:








































































Headed to Town Hall again tonight for the Viva Cuba! Show and salsa party. Wasn't planning to go but some of my friends were in the performance so I was there to give them support. Having been in the salsa scene for the past year or two, I've seen the Cuban performances by Vivio and Greydis far too many times thus the lack of my enthusiasm attending tonight's show. But I still want to watch because they are such fantastic dancers, in hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll have a new choreography this time but it's always the same, with little changes like adding more dancers or a new costume. I don't understand the logics behind not coming up with new choreography when they are world class dancers but who am I to comment? I'm just one of the audiences and no where near to becoming a professional dancer. *shrugs*

I didn't dance as much or stayed as long at the party tonight. I don't know but I think I'm kind of over the whole salsa thing? It's a great social activity plus it helps you burn calories while having fun though I'm somewhat tired and fed up of chasing men around the dancefloor to get a dance. There are still more women than men dancing salsa in NZ and it's not surprising to find 4 women all going up to the same guy at the same time. Interestingly, I've not encountered the same issue during my travels last year when I went salsa dancing. On the contrary to what's happening in NZ, women have no chance of leaving the dance floor once you start dancing - the men come in streams! Well, I guess I'll either go with the flow or go out of flow i.e. leave. Perhaps this is my cue to exit the salsa world for a bit. Time to put those dancing shoes away until another time...A few photos from the last night of the congress:


Ramnish couldn't handle any more dances but Abi and Lily wouldn't let him off!



A photo for Abi of her wonderful work on my shoes to make it look similar to the girls in Salsa Picante

Friday, 21 March 2008

BBQ on Thursday (20th March 2008)

Man, I need a good feed right now - work has been SO busy today that I've only had a muffin and coffee the whole day since breakfast at 7am!! We changed out usual BBQ Friday to today because I won't be able to make it tomorrow due to the salsa competition - I'm so happy that my friends could turn up at such short notice :) Thanks guys! Photos taken this evening: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604176113146/detail/

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Afternoon at the beach (18th March 2008)

What a fantastic day it has been - nice and warm (24 degrees Celcius) with the sun smiling at Wellington City! I just couldn't stay in and decided to head over to Oriental Bay beach after work to soak in some sun. Hmm...me in my bikini, lying on the beach listening to my ipod...ahh...the simple pleasures in life...Photos taken at the beach: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604144342328/detail/

Monday, 17 March 2008

St Patrick's Day (17th March 2008)

It's St Patrick's Day today and the whole town is painted green! No, I don't mean green paint but almost everyone you see in town this evening is donned in something green - hat, t-shirt, wig etc. St Patrick's Day is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland, which falls on the 17th of March. And it's one celebration that Wellingtonians never miss :P

Normally I wouldn't drink on a Monday (it's only the start of the week for god's sake!) but the lads in the office convinced me to join them at Kitty O'Shea's, our usual Friday drink-after-work bar, for a drink this evening. Coincidentally, it was also our workmate, Sam's birthday, and what other way to celebrate with our Irish colleague than having some Guinness and Kilkenny's together! I'm being naughty, skipping my Monday swim...hehehe...Photos taken today:

Me and the boys (l-r): Francois, Jeremy, Sam, Phil Cregeen, Tama and Phil Stevenson



Leprechaun-looking buskers on Courtenay Place

Sunday, 16 March 2008

A weekend of fun (15th - 16th March 2008)

Saturday, 15th March 2008: After a long night partying, I was up at 9am than my usual 8 and treated myself to some pancakes. Yum, I love pancakes! Photo of my breakfast:


Oh, that was a bit too much for me - should have just stuck to 2 pieces!

Today was the Salsa Picante dress rehearsal. Only a week to go before the competition - oh my god! Wow, Abi did a fabulous job on my shoes - they were different in design than the rest of the girls and Abi added an extra attachment so that it'll look similar. And it worked - our friends who came to watch the practice couldn't tell the difference! Yay!! Photos at the rehearsal: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604161986028/detail/

After the rehearsal, I went for a swim. I've been starting to practice my breathing on both sides when swimming the freestyle (I've only been breathing on my right side). Ain't easy, I have to say but I'm sure it'll get better with more practice :) Hey, I couldn't even swim 4 months ago - I deserve a pat on the back!

The weather was nice and sunny so I took a long drive to Scorching Bay. Hmm, I would love to just lie in the sun for a bit but I've just had my shower at the pool. So instead, I took a walk around the bay. Most sunny days, I would end up bumping into friends at the beach but didn't see anyone I knew today. It was quite nice to have a live DJ playing music - most of my beach days in NZ had no music accompaniment so my friends and I had to bring along an ipod with speakers or open up the boot of the car and turn on the stereo. Photos taken at the beach:





























Walking down the beach on my own reminded me of the days I spent here in the past. Old memories flooded back, both bitter and sweet. Sigh...

I went over to Jo's place tonight for Lia's farewell party. Turns out, she was just going to be away for a month in the South Island for work and I thought she was going away forever! Still, it was a cause for a get-together and I had good fun watching friends sing karaoke, dance, chit-chat and mingle with new faces I've never met, had some feijoada (yum!) and there were even some guys having a BBQ at the backyard, people dancing in the kitchen etc. I think George really enjoyed singing karaoke :P Would have loved to stay longer but I couldn't as I've got salsa practice at 9.30am tomorrow. Photos taken tonight: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604162299928/detail/

Oh, did I tell you that I met a guy named Glen from Christchurch who also knew Kalwant and Sharon? What a small world!


Sunday, 16th March 2008: I was up at 7am today! Wasn't sure if it was the end of daylight savings and my brain just wouldn't shut down and allow me to sleep. Sheesh! It was supposed to be the end of daylight savings today but this year, NZ had extended daylight savings by 3 weeks. I want my beauty sleep back...plus the weather was terrible this morning. Just look at these photos taken from my apartment:





































An hour of salsa practice and another hour at the gym later, I headed to the Overseas Terminal Function Centre (Chaffers Marina) to check out the Italian Festa. It was free entry and there were lots of people and heaps of Italian food to purchase and try. I didn't stay long or tried anything but just walked around and took some photos. The weather was looking much better now though still pretty gusty outside. Photos taken this afternoon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604149668860/detail

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Ali's farewell party and clubbing in town (14th March 2008)

Work has been really busy lately and time seems to fly by – whoosh!

Ali threw a farewell party tonight at Zarbos Restaurant on Herd Street by the waterfront for friends he has made in Wellington during his time here. Ali’s heading back to Toronto, Canada – oh no, not another one leaving!! :( Yeah, unfortunately for us, Ali’s decided to return home and will be leaving NZ on Monday. Sob, sob!

Kalwant and I agreed to meet up in town before walking to Zarbos together. Some photos taken on my way to Courtenay Place:

A group of Hare Krishna followers singing along Cuba Street


Did the devils just landed in town?


And here comes the men in green, making a nice Christmas colour mix as they cross the reds
A blown up leprechaun at Molly Malones (it's St Patrick's day on Monday)


Ali did a fantastic job organising dinner for us. Zarbos was a really nice place and the food, fabulous! We had a 3-course meal for $30 per person with a starter and dessert of choice from the selection provided and a family style meal for all to share. The night started off with champagne all round and warm-up salsa dancing before the meal – some of us even managed to squeeze in a dance or two in between courses! It was interesting to have dinner and dance like this. People could choose to dance or mingle or do both. Most of us were either from salsa or Weta Digital and came from a variety of countries. Just shows how multicultural/multiracial Wellington is!

After dinner, we all headed to Ali’s apartment block just upstairs of the restaurant to the rooftop for a group photo. Oh, it feels so sad that another friend is leaving Wellington...Thanks for the party Ali! Best wishes in your future endeavours and do come back to visit us soon – keep in touch! We’ll all miss you and the girls from salsa will definitely miss dancing with you! Photos taken at the farewell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604125270064/detail/

Some of us headed to Latinos Bar while me, Su Wei, Alicia, Kalwant, Jessica and Thomas took Alicia’s friend, Anna-Li, into town and hit the clubs. Anna-Li was visiting from Israel and travelling around NZ, stopping in Wellington for the weekend. It was supposed to be a girls’ night out but Thomas didn’t mind being the only boy in the group – he was probably the envy of other men, having 6 gorgeous girls dancing with him! :P Photos of us clubbing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157604130686079/detail/

I really enjoyed my night tonight with friends. I’ve not seen some of them for awhile! It was a great opportunity to catch up and have some fun together :)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Clube do Balanco (12th March 2008)

I've been doing most things Brazilian but I've not yet had the opportunity to visit the country. Since I can't go to Brazil, why not bring Brazil to me? How, you ask? Simple: Buy a ticket to the Clube do Balanço show!

I've actually just returned home from the show held at the Wellington Town Hall, one of the many performances of the 2008 NZ International Arts Festival. It was a one-night only show and I had bought my ticket last year when the tickets were first sold. I know, it sounds a bit crazy to buy the ticket so early but hey, it’s not everyday that Wellington has a band playing from Brazil :) Cost me $70 for a general admission ticket and I had to stand up during the whole 1 hour and 45 minutes. But frankly, I would rather be standing so I could dance to the band!

Clube do Balanço is a 9-piece band that plays a fusion of soul, jazz, funk and rock backed by an irresistible samba beat. This Sao Paolo based Brazilian band is composed of Marco Mattoli (vocals & guitar), Edu Peixe (drums), Gringo (bass), Teresa Gama (vocals), Fred Prince (percussion), Guto “Bocão” (percussion), Marcelo Maita (keyboards), Tiquinho (trombone) and Reginaldo “16” Gomes (trumpet). And they were fabulous! The crowd was an interesting mix of people from different age groups and ethnicity, all enjoying the music and with some dancing samba and joining in, clapping and throwing ours hands in the air to the 60s music.

I wasn’t able to convince friends to join me to the event – guess the cost was the main setback (oh yeah, it was one hell of an expensive show!). Was there early and met another fellow salsara, Chris, and her boyfriend, Vaughn, at the front of the stage (unfortunately for us shorties, we need to be there early to get a good front spot) and we had Christian joined us just before the band started playing. Hehe, as usual, Christian was in his own dance realm, doing his samba and grooves throughout the whole show. :P

The band entertained us with songs from their album, Swing & Samba Rock, including Brazilian hit song, Mas Que Nada, a song from the City of God soundtrack, Nem Vem Que Não Tem, and also a short stint of samba school beats performed in carnivals. Teresa has such strong vocals that reminded me a lot of famous Cuban singer, Celia Cruz – powerful, deep and tantalizing. She’s sure one hot mama! And not forgetting Guto – oh, he made me laughed so much! He has a flat top hairstyle (think singer MC Hammer) and despite speaking nearly no English to the crowd, we could understand what he was asking of us and cracked up at his hilarious antics. Ooo, and Reginaldo – he must have got the ladies’ hearts thumping wildly when he did his little hip/pelvic moves. Phew, it is hot in here or what?

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and it was worth the money I paid plus it was the ONLY performance in the whole festival I went to. It was a real pity that no photography or video recording was allowed (though I did see a few people try to do so, some with cell phones – tsk, tsk!). It would have been nice to capture the comical antics of the band. Hmm, might have to go hunt for the CD now...

Oh, and I had thought I would be going to the show on my own. Saw a few other familiar faces after the show, including Bianca, Rod, Adeuson, Anouk, Abbi etc. We just didn’t know we were all going to the same show!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Lesith's housewarming party (8th March 2008)

Lesith invited me over to her house at Broadmeadows this evening for a housewarming/get-together. I had a lovely time with friends and had the opportunity to practice my Portuguese as well :) There were several Brazilians there who were currently learning English in NZ and two of Lesith's Portuguese students, me and Sam - it was great that both parties tried to speak each others' language and learnt from one another. Was very pleased with myself that I could understand some of the conversation and jokes the Brazilians were saying even though I couldn't contribute much i.e. speak in response. My brain still takes awhile to make sense of each sentence because I would translate each word into English to understand the Portuguese sentence. Hmm, need to hone my listening skills...

Aww, Amaya is so sweet! She knows I have a camera and would do a pose, waiting for her photo to be taken. Cheeky! And she makes me smile too as she giggles when I play peek-a-boo with her :)

Adeuson's birthday falls on the coming week and Lesith surprised him with a birthday cake. Feliz aniversario (Happy Birthday in Portuguese)! Photos of us tonight:


Friends Ricardo (Br), Sam (NZ), Helbert (Br) and Liandra (Br)

Just look at Amaya, in smiles at the camera...

Brazilians Junior and Adeuson

The black trio - me, Ricardo and Sam


Lesith and Adeuson with his birthday cake

Sunday, 2 March 2008

It's the weekend again (29th February - 2nd March 2008)

YES!! It's the weekend again - oh, I've been so looking forward to it the whole week and I'm so glad it's here!

Friday is never complete without a BBQ. Yep, you know the drill, BBQ at Mike's every Friday until summer ends, which (I think) is in 2 weeks. Had a few new faces this week - Adeuson (Anouk's partner just returned from Brazil), Junior (new Brazilian guy and friend of Lesith's) and I brought along my friend, George. Photos taken this week:


Junior with his camera with Sandung and Chris beside him

Boys Sandung, Chris, Sam and Mike


Anouk carrying baby Amaya with Adeuson beside her, and George

Hmm...


...and me!

Sob, sob...I've not had much sun yet this summer as my weekends are prioritised around Salsa Picante practices. Sigh, I miss my days just lazing in the sun with no time contraint/schedule...The group have been practising every weekend since I returned from my year end holidays for the competition to be held at Wellington Town Hall on Good Friday (March 21st). That's 3 weeks away and I'm starting to feel stressed out! I had initially joined the group to perform for fun but we ended up putting ourselves forward to compete in the team category for the 2008 NZ Pacific Salsa Congress. I'm sure everyone is feeling somewhat stressed even though I think my group isn't so much in combat mode compared to the other teams. But still, it's stressful knowing that for 3 minutes, there will be over 90 people watching us dance on stage! Yikes!! Here's the link of the selection teams (Salsa Picante included) for this year: http://www.nzpacificsalsacongress.co.nz/congress/performers.shtml

I'll probably take a break from salsa dancing for awhile, and just social dance occasionally. Kind of felt too overwhelmed by it after getting involved with the competition. I love the dance but with work getting busier and all, I hardly spent time in my apartment (feels more like a hotel where I only go home to sleep) or just some quiet time to relax. It'll also be nice change to take up a different hobby or activity this year :)

You may have noticed by now from my Travel Itinerary column that I'll be travelling to Tasmania in April. Yeah, thought I deserve a holiday break after all the commotion in my life. Booked myself on a backpacking trip (yes, I'm travelling on my own again) going around Tasmania for a week. Not too sure what to expect but I'm going with no expectations. And the trip ain't cheap either. Already forked out a grand to pay for my return flights and another grand for the trip (not going to look at my credit card statement for now or I'll get a heart attack). I'm just going to go and make the most of my short trip. It'll be fun!

What about Samba de Gafieira practices, you ask? That is still going on as usual, 2-3 times a week. Hehe, I'm so pleased with myself that I can finally do the 'cabidi' with minimal fear, an acrobatic move where Helbert brings me to his right side, gives me a lift so I could swing my both my legs in the air to his left hip, followed by swinging myself to his back, then hooking my legs onto his left arm, letting go of my hands while swinging myself upside down and him turning me right side up to sit on his lap. Probably doesn't make any sense to you - you need to see it to understand what I mean. I love being flung around and dipped in dances :) Of course, you need to trust your partner and practice a lot before you carry out such moves. And you need enough space too. Do not attempt such moves in a packed dancefloor. My new challenge now is to learn the 'bambolei', another acrobatic move but this one has me going around under his leg, somewhat like a hula hoop.

Oh yeah, if you haven't seen the movie The Bucket List, make sure you go see it. A touching movie about the lives of 2 men, their friendship and how they lived their last few months before they kicked the bucket - I had some good laughs and also shed a few tears along the movie. Definitely recommended.