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.