The Katmah Experience

living and learning one day at a time.

Doing it My Way

I’m officially a backpacker… without a backpack.

Let’s just skip over all the common sense arguments. When has common sense ever really applied to me or my life, anyway? I’ve done this entire trip the backwards, upside down, and sidways route- so why not finish it that way. My good old mountain equipment co. duffle bag has gotten me this far, I’m not about to ditch it for a easy to carry, fancy shmancy, state of the art backpackers back pack. Sure it might be easier on the shoulders, and the rest of the body. But that’s just not the way I roll.

So, now that we’re past that. Update time! I’m currently in Christchurch. I flew in here on Saturday- and after a lovely meeting with hunky All Black’s star, and Captain Richie McCaw, I was settled in with Lindy Elliot and her family. I love love love meeting all these relatives. I’ve always been a family person, so it’s great to meet the international rellys. Plus, it beats staying in a hostel, or sleeping in a car, or in a tent in the cold by myself. A lot cheaper too. On Sunday Lindy and her husband Ed took me out to Sumner, where we walked along the beach and got to know each other a bit more. Driving there and back we went through a lot of the more heavily damaged areas from the recent (and still occuring) earthquakes. The roads are very bumpy, and cracked. Kind of like Winnipeg roads.. except because of a natural disaster, not lack of repair. It was common to look up and see houses on the sides of the hills and ledges either falling off their perches or half way demolished. It’s all something that’s impossible to even imagine for somebody that comes from a place like MB, where chances are we’ll never experience that level of natural disaster. Floods, snow storms, droughts, and the occasional twister are one thing. The entire land mass you live on shifting, cracking, and changing shape in an uncontrollable manner- that’s something unpercievable to us.

After Sumner, Lindy had a meeting in Christchurch so she dropped me off at the park, where I had been before. I planned on catching up on some reading, or studying (Anatomy.. yaaay), but I was lucky enough to stumble across a play in the park. It was done by a comedy group called the Outwits, who did a humerous recount of Christchurch’s history. Perfect! There was even a musical part, titled “Munted: The Musical” on Christchurch’s most recent history, the earthquakes. Munted, for all you Canadians, is a curse word. Similar to ‘screwed’, ‘destroyed’, ‘f..iretruck’, ‘totally messed up’, etc. While I’m sure many of the jokes in the play went straight past me, I throughly enjoyed this little bit of theatre. The acting was great, and it kept me laughing the whole time. As well as educating me in a very unboring way! Much of it was kiwi humour, so it’s hard for me to describe the jokes and scenarios to you, as you probably won’t know who Richard Till is, or what Countdown is. It was quite interesting for me to be so excited about meeting Richie McCaw, only to have pretty much everyone from home go.. “Who’s he? What are the All Blacks?”. To be honest, I didn’t even know Canada had a rugby team until I came here and witnessed the amazingness that was the Rugby World Cup, I also really knew nothing about Rugby in general.  So, fun fact: Richie McCaw is the captain of the All Blacks, one of the greatest rugby teams to exist, RWC 2011 champs, and an amazing team of stupendous athletes.

On Monday, after going out for breakfast with the family for Ed’s birthday, I was shown around downtown Christchurch (pop-up mall, red zone/ghost town that was the city centre), and then to New Brighton by Lindy’s son, Jonty and his girlfriend. It was a rather grey and chilly day, so after walking down the pier and getting a warm drink we came back and I settled in ready “Eat, Pray, Love”. Today, it’s again grey and drizzly. A great day to read, and blog. Seeing as this is the first time I’ve had an actually computer to use I figured it’d be good to type out a good long post on my happenings. My phone is great, and I can and have been blogging off that (I’m too cheap to replace my laptops charger while I’m here) – but fighting with autocorrect for 1500 words is not something I like to do often! This afternoon I’ll be heading south to Waimate, where I’ll meet the rest of the Elliot family and stay with them for a couple days. I’m quite looking forward to it! On Thursday afternoon I’ll come back up to Christchurch and go to Macleans Island to work at the 3* show jumping show there as a groom for Tessa Williams. New connections, and extra cash-what’s not to love?

What happens after that? Well, I’ve been wondering that too! The front runner in my plans as of the moment is to take the scenic train ride 4 hours from Christchurch to Greymouth, on the west coast. From there I will lug my trusty duffle to a hostel that I’ve found. Rumoured to be the best in the country. Where I’ll stay for a couple nights and explore the area. The famous Pancake rocks are only 40 minutes away and are on my ‘to do’ list. After seeing what I can there, I want to get to Queenstown (obviously I have to see Queenstown, it’s kind of a must do when in NZ), where I don’t want to spend too long actually as it’s said to be very expensive and touristy- neither of which I’m too big on. Nakedbus offers a day trip from Queenstown out to Milford Sounds, with many scenic stops along the way and a cruise around the sounds included. What’s not to love about that? Especially when it’s at an affordable price.

Here’s where my plans get a little bit fuzzy. Going back to Alexandra and visiting once again the lovely Ken and Marie Paulin is most likely next. I debated doing the Rail Trail bike tour, through central Otago. But it’s about 3 or 4 times what my budget is- so not happening. Maybe I continue down the west coast from there, and then back up the other side. Or go straight to Invercargill, explore that area, and then head up the east coast. I definitely have some more research to do on what I want to see and do in my remaining time. If anybody reading this has any suggestions, please let me know!

When am I home, you may wonder? Ah, yes, the questions I’ve gotten a lot lately. Too bad I’m not giving any specific dates, suckers! Because I’m a jerk. And I like surprising people. I have already lined up a job at Aubins Nursery for when I’m home, thank God. I also still fully plan on taking some spring courses (Anatomy, lord help me) to ease up next years schedule. It won’t really ease up anything, but I definitely think taking Anatomy on its own will  help me get the grade I need in it (B or higher). Pretty intimidated by that, because I suck at studying and getting higher then average marks in general. But, me and goals go hand in hand, and once I set one it’s pretty damn hard to get me off the wagon. Hence why I’ve been fitting in some pre-course studying whenever I can over here. Never thought I’d see the day (as I’m sure my parents didn’t either) where I’d be studying.. for fun. Just one way I’ve changed in the past 6 months!

All this being said, my travel plans are (as always) subject to (and most likely to) change. Chances are I’ll get lost. Again. Or organize something and then realize later I organized it in the completely illogical, unethical way- shrug- and do it anyway. Whatever happens I’ll have my trusty iPhone (my entire life) in my hand, or pocket- ready to take a picture of every completely upsidedown, sideways, and backwards situation I get myself into. Finally starting to really enjoy NZ the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed. Just took me most of the trip to figure out how. Once again, I went the long way around. Story of my life. But you can meet some amazing people, see some mindblowing things, and have some unforgettable experiences going the long way.

There’s quite a mix of emotions going on at the idea of coming home. As I’m sure every traveller experiences. On one hand, I’m absolutely, and whole heartedly ready to be home and see everyone and get going on all my plans again. Travelling doesn’t really allow you to plan your future. I mean you can think about what you want to do, and make decisions based on those thoughts, of course, but you can’t exactly act on them when you’re in a one person tent somewhere between mountains and the pacific oceans on strange little island.  Also, facebook, emails, and other means of communication with all your closest friends back home is not really always ever the same as actually seeing them. This is where the other hand comes in. It’s going to be so weird having a face to face conversation again with everybody and anybody back home. It’s one thing to see their face on a blurry little screen with voice delays and bad connections- and another to actually be there. It’s also been 6 months. Which isn’t very long in the scheme of things, but it’s long enough for lots of changes to occur. That’s 6 months where I’ve been experiencing things people back home can’t really ever understand because they’ve only got the retyped version, and I’m really not the greatest story teller (hence all the pictures). And vice versa. That’s 6 months where all my friends back home have been changing in their own ways. It’s not that I think that things are going to be all different and awkward and whatever, well, kinda, but it’s just that there’s a big gap in that time where I’ve been growing and changing in my way, and everyone else has been growing and changing in theirs. But I guess that’s really what growing up is. Once you’re out of high school and you go on your own way.. you really learn how to be independant. It’s not something you can truly learn when you’re constantly surrounded by people you’ve always known and somewhere you’ve always been. To be able to know yourself when you’re 10,000 miles away from everything you know? That’s growing up. So it just makes you wonder sometimes what it will be like getting back to everything that you left behind. That got deeper then I meant it to. Anyway, a more light hearted reason why I’m not as excited for coming home; I’ve gotten very used to not having a routine, or a schedule. It’s nice to just be able to up and decide you want to hop on a bus and go see something new. Or just hang out on the beach listening to the waves. Or go hike up the side of a mountain. For obvious reasons (other then the most obvious, there are no mountains OR oceans in MB) I can’t do that when I get home. As much as I am looking forward to getting back into my routine, riding, school, everything- it’s going to take some adjusting. A lot of adjusting. 3 months ago, if I had come home, probably would have been easy. Other then I would have been very disappointed in the trip. But now that I’ve started to really travel, and explore and have some fun like I always meant to, it’s a bit different.

To conclude, I don’t have a backpack, I’m working this weekend, I love my family here there and everywhere, I’m a emotional epiphany about coming home, I have some kick ass plans for the remaining time here, I plan on changing those plans, I’m going to take pictures, I’m going to keep updating this blog (so stay tuned!), and most of you won’t know when I’m coming home until I’m physically at home.

Kia Ora!  


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