Sunday, October 25, 2009

It was all a Dream

They say that time flies when your having fun. Well if that math is correct, then in NZ, time is in freefall. So I decided to join the club. Oh but that was only the third day...
Once upon a time ago, I departed from the cozy confines of WWOOFing, and fully embraced life on the road, or quite literally sometimes, life in a tent right next to it. This entailed subtracting certain luxuries from my lifestyle. Goodbye: such amenities like three full, and often delicious, meals a day, a cozy place to rest my noggin at night, and the knowledge of what the day ahead of me had in store. Hello: freezing balls while camping out on the southern side of the South Island, PB & J three times a day (as a result of my splendid mechanical skills, I've reduced my stove to a smouldering heap - which isn't as bad as it sounds, considering that I walked around with peanut butter and a spoon glued to each hand in the states anyways), and the 'knowledge' that I had no idea what was going to happen from one moment to the next. Despite this, let me assure you, the latter is something that I don't ever want to stray from again. When the plan is quite simply, 'there is no plan,' then all expectations go up in flames the same way my cooking device did. Which leaves each experience completely naked from any type of pre-conceived clothing that my mind could design. I'm quite the daydreamer, so this had the affect of peeling off a contact lens-like layer of stars, and left my clear eyes scanning the ground frantically for a flat place to pitch my tent for the night. So, I've been on a whirwind tour, constantly stimulated by new sights, sounds, people, ideas, thoughts, and the ridiculous lack of temperature that my already naturally cold blood isn't waving a '#1 fan' finger around for. To sit here and go through everything that I've stumbled upon would take a long time. I'm not saying I'm lazy, I think it's more along the lines of really really lazy. If you want to argue, then I point toward the fabled (and hopefully in this case correct) phrase: "a picture is worth a thousand words." So I've thrown together a couple of clicks that I think might give you an idea of what I've been through (plus a couple more to waste your time). Theres no real rhyme of reason to their order, because as I've already pointed out, structure has become something somewhat obsolete in my life. However, I WILL attempt to bullet point some of the highlights of this voyage. Key word: "attempt." Here goes.

-yes, did skydive. 15,000 ft. 60 sec. vertical freefall. 2 miles into clouds. still can't breathe. still have that stain on my boxers. or is that from not washing them in three weeks?
-hitchiked with an aussie woman. ended up having such a good time together that she sponsored a night in a hostel for the two of us. nobody get your panties in a bunch, shes in her late thirties with two kids. i got my panties in a bunch over the fact that she also payed for meals though.
-saw two glaciers. i am small.
-camped on a lake
-ate an avacado out of a trashcan. dont worry mom, i washed it off.
-camped next to a lake
-hitched a ride for a couple of days with a Taiwanese couple, who's noodles left an embarrassed Ramen running away with its tail between its legs
-camped near a lake
-been surrounded by freaking Moredoor from lord of the rings. everywhere i go. the mountains are constantly giving the finger toward the oblivion of upwards, they just explode out of the ground in some places
-took a boat cruise of MILFord Sound (i had to, sorry), and had to have set the record for most free hot chocolates/teas/coffees consumed on the tour. anyone think they can top twelve? needless to say, i got my moneys worth.
-fact: MILFord gets 200 days of rain a year, with an average of more than 275 inches a year (god you people in America make life tough with your stupid measurement system). record for 24 hours? two feet. apparently its keen on re-defining the term "pissing down" rain.
-hiked some mountains, ending up in a forest where every single tree had a six inch beard of moss covering all surfaces. made me jealous. because this miracle grow just wont get my beard to six inches.
-listened to birds. sounds like each broker in the NYSE got replaced by one of these jokers, and right in the middle of a stock market crash. one of these sounds like C3PO, or like a mockingbird that just dropped acid.
-camped out overlooking a lake
-thoroughly enjoyed camping on not so legal-spots near lakes
-resolved to get a deaf friend, a blind friend, and a cripple friend, as the first thing i do when i get back to america. parrots orders.
-CS'ed (couchsurfed) in invercargill, the self proclaimed 'anal wart of NZ,' with a truly amazing 6 ft 6 south african, who never wore shoes and was a hare krishna monk for 5 years, and a 5 ft kiwi girl that went on photo missions with me. i guess that the constant rain felt like it was its duty to try and be some type of savior solvent for the anal wart part. epic fail buddy. adverse affect.
-hitched with the first two obese people ive seen so far in NZ. you want irony? they run a doughnut stand.
-CS'ed with daniel boone re-incarnate (whose in this months national geographic), his girlfriend, and her little brother, all from the georgia/tennessee, and all true vagabonds, having globe-trotted like its their job. my heroes. kicked soccer balls at sheep, talked in russian accents, drank tea (shocker eh?), battled with strands of seaweed from the beach, baked the best bread ever, and listened to them jam out on their gittars. beautiful people. beautiful times.
-went up the steepest street in the world. while it was raining. with the gasoline light on. in a car that has difficulty waking up in the mornings. laughing like madmen. g-nius.
-hitched with a guy who kept telling me about his drunk driving charges...uhhh
-spent halloween with a german woman and a swiss fellow, tripping through sentences in german, and eating swiss chocolate. and yes, i camped out on a lake.

It's all a blur. There are far too many shades within, some illuminated, some left out. All I know is that I'm still living the dream.

Monday, October 19, 2009

allow me to introduce...

i woke, and stumbled outside of the granny apple camper just in time to unleash a cattle-like, austin powers-esque blast of liquid that had been brewing all night somewhere within me. when the sirens of pressure evacuation were done flashing, i didnt even have time to stand, hands on hips, and proudly beam down on my own version of the nile. no, because i heard the obvious, and by now obligatory chicken emulation, followed by a screechy, yet strangely uplifting, rendition of "hello!!" shes the only person I know that puts two exclamations and a smiley face after her 'hellos' - and you can practically see them materialize from mouth, squeezing through the empty gap in her teeth, which is a direct result of her being 'really good at running into trees.' thats true talent. and oh yeah, good morning to you too.

meet my host, parrot: self-proclaimed geek (her email signature is in binary), old school punk rock junkie, banjo picker, human being version of internet movie database, avid collector of jesus christ paraphernalia, talented cigarette roller, chicken pie connoisseur, number crunching tax agent. while im at it, good luck.

much has been born from my time here in punakaiki, on the rugged west coast of the south island. ive learned a lot from parrot, especially about spirituality. my growth in this department has sprouted from what we call 'cracker ceremonies.' i wasnt religious until that little square of feta, butter, and olive first collided with my taste buds. god rays burst from the clouds. people can stereotypically joke all they want about having tea and crackers, but as a new convert, i would be first in line to surrender myself to martyrdom for the cause.

sometimes i think that she might turn down the volume, or even stop talking. but even though she looks away constantly, the taps to the stream of knowledge remain permanently stuck on open. a well placed contact of the wild eyes is only used to punctuate her more profound points, namely 'hes a complete wanker' or 'for fuck all.' there isnt even time to laugh, as shes already lapped you if you take out the time to utter a sound, let alone attempt to rescue that olive that just decided to abandon, and subsequently run away from your feta topped cracker.

the camo bandanna has to be some type of external hard drive for her brain, and you can see how the immense heat radiating from her dome piece has already toasted her hair, causing the extreme curls, as if theyre pleading mercy to her speed injected neurons. want proof? shes the only person that ive ever met that knows about my parents spiritual guru. yeah, that was covered, if im not mistaken, between an oral history of south american politics, and a story of her playing 'follow the bumper sticker' and 'find the worst diner EVER' on her trip through the bible belt, an apparently obvious location for vacation. by the way, such a diner can be found in tennessee.

although one of her first confessions to me was that 'i swear,' theres a big red 'x' through both piss or weed, as there really is no need for any stimulants other than robust, rapidly rolled cigarettes and coffee. life is enough. anyone within megaphone earshot will understand. when asked about all the money saved as a result of the 'anti-frat' tude? well, as the story goes, that has clearly gone towards a much more useful pursuit - 'heroin.' dont laugh now, or youll miss the story about her pink haired, transgender friend hannah, from seattle, or maybe of that time she held the drunk drivers brains in his head after the accident.
or many, many, more.

as i said. good. luck.

Friday, October 16, 2009

thumbs up!!

well, one really.

i have too many stories to tell, so id rather highlight a recent development of mine, what some of you might call an 'addiction.'you see, they say that denial is the first sign of addiction. my case proves otherwise. i know that i have an itch, and i know that i have to scratch it. this so called 'problem' begins at the base of my left thumb, and runs all the way to the peak of the limb. and the basic issue is that it simply needs air. it needs to breathe, to stand alone, apart from the rest of its kind, on top of the world. my addiction: hitchhiking. so, whats killing you?

(inside the hitchhikers anonymous meeting...) - "it all started so innocently, riding to orewa with a german kite boarder named neils. he was a media director who hated his job and wanted to travel, liked to listen rock music, and was living with her girlfriend in auckland. he gave me a soda and some chex mix, and we talked about his western culture and his failed attempts at being a buddhist. i had no idea what one single ride could turn into..."

(back in real life...) - i really didnt. my most recent binge included five rides to get to my destination, and ive all but thrown my bus pass out the window. all the faces, names, stories, smells, sights, they all jumble together into this smeared water color painting of the road. many a time ive never even bothered with exchanging names, because when hitchhiking, there is much more shared than the exchange of identity, experiences, and insights. theres an understanding between the host and the hitcher, an unspoken bond. right off the bat, similar interests are already in place, as anyone that picks up some sketchy guy on the side of the road must be slightly delusional, or they had to be in that same situation at some point during their lifetime. they understand the constant disappointment of watching car after car after car go by, with people giving you a thumbs down, shaking their head, or just ignoring you. but you still manage to smile, hoping that the old lady, that trucker, or the two ski bums will stop. everyone ive ridden with has been there. and theres comfort in that. whether im riding shotgun, or nestled in the backseat with my gear, wide-eyed like a kid at story time, as soon as the speedometer speeds up, time slows down. everything becomes calm, and all your worries get jammed down at your feet, next to the empty boxes of chips (fries) and cans of fizz. there is a different world born within each vehicle, coded from the style of the driver. but once you step out of that car, leave that world, and enter 'ours,' your taste pallet is wiped clean, and everything melts away, as your find yourself standing on the road again. its like a nice piece of bleu cheese after a sip of wine. but you want that next sip of wine, dont you? yup. and when it comes to that, i dont have a drinking problem...i drink, no problem.

i can tell when its time to get back on the move, as i get this nagging feeling in my stomach, like im hungry, an ache. the real ache is for movement, the thrill of getting from A to B. or should i say A to Z, because its the letters along the way that make the journey. oftentimes, ill get to my destination and feel let down, because i realize that the reason i was so excited to get there was due to the process of actually getting there. then the stomach starts rumbling, the finger gets itchy, and my thumb, like a sail to my boat, is yet again pulling me wherever the wind blows. just let it breathe.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Excuse me, while I Kiss the Sky

red rocks, outside of wellington, nz.

i hitchhiked to wellington, with no idea what was going to happen. ended up meeting this 38 year old german other being named christiane, who let me tag along on her trip out to the coast. she walks like my mom...on steroids. it didnt help that the a lot of the hike was on 35-45 degree angles. i do have an excuse though, as i cite my footwear to be the weakest link (i wish i could say 'goodbye' - but that would cost me upwards of 100 bucks). i was going to do the whole massage thing once i got to thailand, but the rocks at red rocks had other plans for me. it was like having a really angry mother of mine do reflexology on me for six straight horus. definetaly the most intense hike ive ever been on, but the coolest too, as there were views of the city and the ocean the entire time. we tramped (me dragging along) up into the cloud at the top, where the wind was out of its mind. god had to be burping at us after an 8-course meal. it felt like a bad rip current, as my legs were almost taken out from underneath me at some points. needless to say, slept like a red rock that night.

Clothes dry, Colds get better, but Memories stay wet Forever

(editors note: i have gone on a strict non-capitalization diet.)

whangarei falls and alley caves, in whangarei, NZ.
the falls = sweet as. mate. at the hostel in auckland, i met a hawiian guy (definetaly a 'hang loose' type of fellow) and a german chick. he was definetaly putting on moves - cool couple i thougth, i can dig it. but when we were at the visitors center gettinginfo about our hike to the falls, i hear a yell. i turn around, and it is...none other than those two, who had hit it off so well that they rented a van together and were booking it through the country, sleeping in the back. what are the chances?
couldnt tell you, math has never been my cup of tea. but it was definetaly cool to do the walk with them. we zigzagged up this mountain, the native bush attempting to swallow the path up the entire way. ive never seen plants like this in my entire life. its like somebody dropped bombs, and where each little piece of shrapnell landed, a city of vegetation sprouted. and this is blitzkrieg people. it was like slums of plants, all piled on one another. but minus the negative connotation, as there is a very generous attitude found here. much like the people of nz, each plant has its arms open, welcoming any stranger into its home. there isnt a tree to be found that didnt have a bush harboring on one of its branches, or a vine snaking around its trunk. we strolled through a valley before finally reaching the falls. abraham (surfer dude) and i made the no-brainer of jumping into the falls. standing behind them was like planting your feet right behind a jet engine before it takes off. it was a powerful sensation, like the fall was saying, "go on, try it, i dare you to jump' - so we did. fa-reezing. awe-some. never have i felt more alive.human goose bump? check.

the little insignifcant spec? yours truly.
the caves = cool as. mate.

before we made it to the first cave, we (matt, the german bloke, and i) stumbled upon something called the 'rock forest.' there were these massive rocks in the woods, all eroded down, like a bunch of old country men sitting on the front porch, the skin on their faces the most helpless vicitms of gravity. they were mountains, with green forests of moss siding rivers that seemed to eat through the softer stone. or you could erase all the crap i just wrote, and simply say, "majestic." quite simply the most stunning thing that ive seen in NZ so far. and yes, i didnt bring the camera.
in the caves it was pitch black, but i was doing fine, we were crusing, climbing over that and ducking under this. me being a genuine genius, i didnt have any shoes, and as a result my toes were curled up like fried shrimp. frozen shrimp, shall we? every now and then one would get pried open due to a precise jab from a rock hiding beneath the murky water. but my headlamp was doing work, and it was all groovy until we had to wade through 'that' pool, where the water reached a certain level that would make even chuck norris yell uncle. seconds later we were up to our nipples in ice water. at this point they were quite reminiscent of the stallagtites above us. see, nature does things that pretty girls can do, only way better. there was a little neon green universe of glow worms above us, where constellations were formed in the crevices of the cave ceiling. sadly, i couldnt find the big dipper. we managed to drag our numb bodies onward, as there was light ahead. you want to talk about the light at the end of the tunnel...we ended up doing this in two of the three caves, which was dope, but by the time i was done with the second cave, i could have been classified as a three year old down low.

human goose bump? check. check.

foxton beach? just consider it a check. check. check.