A friend of mine, much wiser than I, back in the motherland when describing the ‘miracle’ of travel explained to me that when you first setoff you struggle to even imagine let alone plan for the idea of you doing it for an extended period of time. Just for his information and possibly his ego as well; after 3 days in a bed-bug infested hostel with semi-regular blackouts in Nadi that is exactly how I felt. However he then went on to explain about how I’ll apparently ‘get into the swing of things’ and then before I know it I’ll wake up one morning and realise I’ve been away from home for 3 months. Well here’s another fun-lovin’ spoonful for your ego Tim, my good man, because you hit the nail firmly on the head with that one as well. In fact this scenario has happened two more times since then and as of tomorrow morning I will have officially left my teary eyed Mother and Brother (even if he won’t admit it) weeping at the gates of Manny Airport 5 whole months ago. What a big boy I am.
It almost feels like every post I make nowadays feels like some sort of ‘return to the game’, you know like how every thing the Wu Tang Clan ever released after the first few CDs felt like a reunion album rather than a next instalment, mainly due to the infrequency of my posts. Don’t get me wrong there have been issues with dodgy Wi-Fi, tight schedules, writers block and hangovers so violent that you’d swear I’d slept with their sisters, filmed it, put it on Facebook and tagged them in the post but the buck ultimately stops with me. I mean its not like I get paid for it or that I have a legion of fans waiting with baited breathe (this blogging thing is starting to feel like my music career all over again!) but I do find it therapeutic and lord-knows a bit of therapy on ones travels is no bad thing! Why? More on that later.
So since last time; I managed to obtain work in Wellington by some stroke of miracle. Said miracle coming in the form of a very good friend who already worked in the place passing the details onto me and putting in a word and the funds received a much needed top-up. Good nights and days out were had, I got to see my homeland kick ass in the annual Rugby Sevens competition, well they won one game and I got to see it. I completed my first famous NZ crossing, had a particularly charming (no seriously that’s not sarcasm) member of my hostels housekeeping team refer to me as the human version of Garfield The Cat, fell in love, fell in the sea, fell out of love, fell out of bed (many times), marked coursework for some non-native English speaking college and university students (felt nice using my powers for good actually), did stand-up comedy, said some genuinely heart-breaking goodbyes (a few heart-breaking hello’s for what its worth and all!) and found out a couple of things about myself that I genuinely think I needed to find out even if they weren’t all pleasant.
Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I hated my job because I feel that doing so would be unfair and I think I made it pretty clear in person to all relevant parties. At the end of the day it paid the bills, beefed up the travel funds (an essential thing as NZ is expensive to a, quite frankly, unethical level at times) and even if there were folks at the job that literally made me want to rip my own arm off just so I could have something to beat them with, other than my superior wit, there were also a number of folks there that I took to very strongly. I left the job in the latter part of last month and have been sauntering around the South Island visiting the Abel Tasman, taking road trips from Blenheim to Hanmer with awesome German chums, swimming with Dolphins and seeing some incredible and downright sobering sights in Christchurch (one of the most fascinating and perspective setting experiences I’ve had in a long time and one that I’m thoroughly recommending) without a care for the last 3 weeks and have been able to do just that because of said job. I’m currently in Queenstown though and feel that this gravy train may soon be coming to an end but to be honest this place would have Donald Trump handing CV’s into Fergburger let alone Anthony Bozzola from inner-city Roath.
I still stand by what I said in my first travel post when I say that travelling has its ups and downs. Despite what you’ll read in every travel brochure or (dishonest, payola taking) travel blog the land of the long grey cloud is not perfect. Its good, great in fact but it can grate on you as much as anywhere else. There’s an ancient myth told by unhealthy folks in the UK about how being healthy in the UK is too expensive, which we all know is nonsense. However in NZ its as real as the air you breathe; fruit, veg and salad is extortionate for the most part and on the subject so is alcohol! Okay, that last one isn’t exactly healthy but it sure makes me feel good. Everyone in NZ (well, almost) is either middle-class or higher meaning that ‘value range’, ‘basics’ and ‘smart price’ items are non-existent meaning that the folks that eat less, ironically enough, usually end up looking like they eat more as 90% of it is garbage.
The sense of humour in NZ could use an overhaul as well, sorry but I’m just going to say it. Kiwis can be funny, very funny at times on a person-by-person basis but by and large the national sense of humour is as flat as a pancake. Sarcasm is as wasted on the place as a Christmas Tree in a town under Sharia Law and the emphasis on visual humour (Speedo Cops for Christ sake!) is pitiful. Watch the trailer (you know; the thing that’s meant to make you want to pay $15 to see the full product) for Into The Wild if you don’t believe me. This is all opinion based by the way but its my ten cents along with the fact that NZ’s apparent knack for customer service and hospitality is a lot harder to come by than what you might believe. The fact is though that I’m foreign, the world is a big place and what might frazzle my mind might very well dazzle someone else’s but when a guy in a hostel that I’m spending money in looks at me like I’ve asked him to pull his head off and s*it in it before screwing it back on just because I wanted to check-in (and hand him a $100 by the way) approximately 30 seconds after he closed his office with the keys in (that was less than 10 seconds away from where he was sitting) then I feel like something isn’t quite right.
One thing I will say about the ups and downs of travel though is that I’m glad I’m experiencing them. Everybody that does it is different and wants to enjoy it in different ways and meeting such a variety of people is interesting and downright mind-blowing at times. For every Kiwi Experience riding, 18 year old, spoilt t*at who sounds like he fell over and broke his accent from Surrey or Hampshire (believe me there’s a s*it load of them in my hostel right now) there’s a friendly security guard who lets you and your mates drink in the hostel WAY past the cut-off time, a cool French guy that takes awesome photos and shares his Crapes with you, a Thai girl who’s a culinary genius and brings food back for you from her job (I detect a theme here!), a girl in the housekeeping team who’s smile is so bright and sincere that even before work in the mornings when you see it you can’t help but blush and smile back, a roommate who gets you a job and introduces you to all his friends who then become yours and so many others that would take me pages to list.
Such a colourful cast of characters have also helped me grow in confidence (a prospect that probably terrifies some people reading back home) but not necessarily in the traditional sense. In fact, if anything I feel myself becoming a bit more humble and less ready to steam into discussions and situations all guns blazing with my opinions and convictions. What I do mean though is that my inward confidence is growing; I’m more self-aware and less ashamed of my past failings or mistakes and seem to be adopting a more ‘water off a ducks back’ kind of attitude towards situations.
I still honestly don’t no how long I can keep this travel malarkey up for; my clothes are starting to hang off me differently from when I first got them, my belly’s getting rounder and my hair looks nappy to say the least. However it does carry an addictive element to it, I was warned about this, and plans to add more stops to my repertoire are starting to emerge. Without sounding like a dreadlock rocking, friendship bracelet wearing, bad guitar-playing, string vest sporting, ‘spiritual’ nonsense talking, trust fund possessing, double barrel named twonk (see; I haven’t changed that much!) whatever will be will be and we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m off to ride the gondola tomorrow, have been eyeing up the prospect of a bungee jump, am going to a Bone Thugs N Harmony (my childhood heroes!) concert in May and am watching Wales take on the mighty All Blacks in June. Fun times ahead I’d say and to think until a year ago I couldn’t even find NZ on a map…
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.