Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not Last [August 2011]

Every time a climbing competition came to our gym in Florida, I seemed to be working. It was one aspect of climbing I always wanted, but never had a previous opportunity, to experience. That is until my weekend belaying the first round of the New Zealand National Climbing competition when it came to Wanaka back in March. I had a blast belaying for the comp and getting to watch all of the climbers, and was even asked if I would be around to belay for the finals in Christchurch in August. Of course, 5 months is a lot of advanced planning for a where-the-wind-blows traveler, so I made no commitments at the time, and we left it as "we'll contact you and just know that we'd love to have you!" My time in Wanaka flew by and before I knew it, I received the email asking if I would be available to help again. The climbing club members who intended to go began their training rituals, and I decided that I'd quite like to participate if I were to head all the way to Christchurch for the comp!

Although it was unfortunate timing as I was nursing a back injury and hadn't been climbing super hard for a while, I decided to say yes to belaying, register to compete, and make plans to get to Christchurch. I trained as much as I could, did a bit of research to better understand the competition rules and scoring, and took the weekend off of work.

Potlucks Galore [July 2011]

 Ever go to a potluck where everybody brought chips or dessert and you wound up eating some random combination of foods that left you wanting a little something more? This is a story nothing like that.

My friends are amazing. Not only the ones back in the states who have supported me and encouraged me through this trip (and this blog!), but also each one that I have met along the way. In Wanaka I live with three Kiwis, which I love since it makes me feel a bit more like a local. I have a few random friends from all over (Canada, Sweden, Germany, the list goes on...), but somehow many of the closest friends I've made are from somewhere in the UK. It is this group of friends (plus a few of us non-POME’s) that together produced the ultimate level of potluck dinner which will forever taint my expectation for potlucks to come. 

Doug takes over the kitchen during a winter potluck!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

White Gold and Soap Operas [written from July 2011 perspective]

 I have been so tired lately that I haven't had any time to write.

The quaint mountain town where I chose to spend the past few months has been waiting anxiously for that which some refer to as "white gold." For three weeks after the local ski hills were meant to open for the season, the temperature was still too mild for snowmaking and the pockets of the seasonal workers were wearing quite thin (my own included). The weather reporters led us on, teasing with the dreams of lower temperatures and the accumulation of powder. There were horror stories of how delayed openings of ski fields had affected employees in the past, how Australians were already enjoying their season, and haunting tales of how ours might just not come this year. Local businesses approached suffocation as lacking funds meant restricted spending. The word "free" was reacted to with more zealous attention than starving college students might give it (particularly when accompanied with the word "beer"), and cheerful smiles slowly turned flat. The town looked after us, donating what they could or offering discounts to hold our collective attention and help us last until that first paycheck arrived, whenever that would be. I even did some extensive house cleaning for my flatmate one week in order to reduce the cost of rent. We got creative, but the weeks droned on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Day in the Life

I’m going to attempt to recreate a post I wrote one day in June that was lost with my hard drive…

I’ve had some early mornings lately while I am finishing up my spring cleaning job and have already begun training for my winter position at Treble Cone ski resort. Today, however, I was actually able to sleep in a couple extra hours before a short training with the Ticketing staff in the office down town. I biked into town for it, and afterward took a ride out to Wanaka Wastebusters, the local recycling center, to browse their op shop. The town of Wanaka sits in a valley on the lakefront, so anytime you leave town you have to pedal uphill. The recycling center is a few kilometers out of town, so the distance in addition to the hills makes it a bit more strenuous to get around without a car!

At Wastebusters I hit the jackpot: a ski jacket to use for the season that was much more waterproof than my down jacket would be on the wet days, a fleece to add to my long sleeved collection, and some ski boots to use with the skis I just bought! It pays to have friends in places and Doug gave me some pretty good rates for any outdoor gear I found with him!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why everyone should, at some point in their life, work in housekeeping.

Getting back on track to make my blog up to date, I'll publish the last post that I have access to that I wrote before the unfortunate break-in. There were 4-5 more I hadn't published yet, but they will have to be re-written in time. For now, try out a little housekeeping with me!

I’ve heard people say that everyone should be a server at some point in their life. I have always been appalled when people treat waiters and waitresses poorly, blame them when food is not up to par, and (in the states anyway) tip according to the quality of the food rather than the service. I worked as a server for a few months before I came to NZ and had a bit of a slap in the face while learning how difficult of a job it can be! People are demanding, chefs can be moody, hostesses might seat too many tables at once, and you might not sit down once during your shift. While I agree that everyone should experience this type of stress at some point in their life – in order to better understand how you should probably treat others in similar positions – I have since experienced another job that is just as important for the average consumer to consider walking in the shoes of those on the other side.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Post I Never Wanted to Write.

Well, the inevitable happened. Everyone will tell you that if you travel for long periods of time, there are a few things that are guaranteed to occur. What I think rates as number one is: you will get sick. Well, we addressed that one in my last post. When traveling alone, you will probably get lonely. And with extended travel, you will probably at some point be pretty tight with money. I have definitely touched on all of the above during the past year. The other thing is that, no matter how prudent you are, you will likely experience theft. This is why travelers are encouraged to wear those stupid body wallets under their clothes, why they sell all sorts of locks and chains and armoured gear, and why they tell you never to leave valuables in your car.

For most of my year, I got by with experiencing NZ as a relatively safe place. So much of the country is made up of farmland and small towns where you might not even have a key to your house. Yes, there are travelers everywhere so you do need to be careful, but for the most part I was fairly removed from feeling vulnerable or unsafe. I did have a couple food items stolen in one hostel, and a pair of trousers disappeared from my belongings at another, but I'd say two encounters with petty theft in a whole year is pretty darn good. I always kept my things packed away in my bag, even if I was staying in a hostel for more than a night. I preferred top bunks in busy hostels where I slept with a bag containing my laptop, wallet, and passport. On road trips I kept valuables with me - or, if necessary, hidden in the depths of my things. I lived by the notion of "out of sight, out of mind" and, near as I could tell, it worked. As they say, "opportunity creates a thief," so I made a good effort not to allow 'opportunity' to come knocking.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting Sick Abroad

Have you ever had those moments where you can almost hear yourself mumbling “I want my mommy”? You know the times. You have moved out of the “nest” and are mean to be taking care of yourself. You’re quite happy going about your life until suddenly you are struck down by some foreign germs taking over your body. It all starts with a bit of a sore throat, but you might be convinced it’ll disappear with some tea and a good night’s sleep. Then the congestion comes and brings along the ache in your head. You leave work early to walk slowly to the store and stock up on tea, honey, lemon juice, throat lozenges, and soup.  Then you realize that’s not enough and add in some extra vitamin c, echinacea, ibuprofen, and Tylenol. Only, you’re in a foreign country and can’t find the Tylenol – apparently in NZ it’s called Paracetamol. You gather your pile into your backpack, but when you think about walking 2km home up a couple big hills, you burst into tears. You’re just too weak. You gather your emotions long enough to call your flatmate, who actually answers for once, and then wait there pathetically to be rescued. You force yourself to eat some soup, put yourself to bed at 6pm and wake up thirsty and aching in the middle of the night. You’re too stuffed up to breathe, it hurts like crazy to swallow, and it’s all you can do to get through the night.