Perhaps my calling in life?
02.07.2013 - 19.07.2013 3 °C
Let me paint you a picture.
A girl, of blonde curly locks and a suspiciously tan face for both her colouring and the time of year, sits wrapped in a flannel with a fuzzy, blue blanket draped across her lap, cupping a warm mug of tea in both hands and watches the flames dance in an open fireplace but metres from where she sits. She contemplates writing on her blog to her dear friends across the ocean, and telling them all about how she has taken a leave of absence from university and settled in Wanaka, working at a small organics store where she serves steaming herbal teas to locals, has an unlimited supply of cashew, cauliflower and coconut soup and drinks too much organic coffee. She has made a myriad of friends by hitching most days up to one of three snow fields, either with kites, skis, or on her most daring days, a snowboard. Apres ski is hot lemon and honey tea at another local cafe with other hitching friends (cars are for people with money and she is not among those) and on weekends house parties abound where the first question asked is, ‘what is your name?’ but the second is, ‘ski or board?’. Time is measured by how many runs are left before the lifts stop, and how much more dancing can be done before she can’t stand up anymore, and collapses, laughing, into a friend’s spa under a blanket of stars, only to do it all again the next day, and the next, and the next.
Forgive me my fantasy there, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t contemplate almost constantly such possibilities while I was in the South Island these past three weeks. Internet-less and phone reception-less, I was surprised (and mildly concerned) about the amount of emails I had on my return thinking I had done just as above - with friends expressing concern I had donned my ski jacket, shirked responsible adult life and become an adventure-seeking bum, because honestly- no one would be surprised.
My humblest apologies for a complete lack of blog entries over the last couple of months- I was caught in a storm of assessment that really didn’t warrant writing about (‘And today, I tried to cram a ridiculous number of Chinese characters into my poor, weary brain. Again. Tomorrow’s forecast- more of the same’) and when I finally emerged, blinking, into the crisp sunlight of holidays I immediately jumped ship for the South Island and immersed myself in snow snow snow. However, said snow has given much fodder for my return to the blogosphere, and so here we are!
4:30pm on the 1st of July heralded the long-awaited end of my exam period, and also the beginning of harried packing and last minute organising- which included, but was not limited to, attempting to eat all of my remaining food (regrettable choice before a yoga class), questioning past Lucy’s logic at booking a 7am flight, saying goodbye to other exchangies who would be returning home in my absence and trying to fit all my snow and kiting gear in an insufficiently sized pack. Despite such complex and varied hurdles (oh, first world problems), 7am the next morning saw me checked in for my flight and ready for my first taste of the much lauded South Island.
I flew into, and spent my first and last few days in Queenstown. Living up to its reputation as the rowdy party animal of the South Island, bars outnumbered everything but outdoors stores, every night was a big night and Fergburger, an iconic burger joint, was always brimming with hungover hoards.
My housemate from Auckland, a wonderful Canadian named Amanda, and I had a ball mucking around in snowboarding lessons, ice skating, dancing and hunting out Bikram yoga classes on frosty Friday evenings. We delighted over the amazing mountains that ring Queenstown, pondered how cold the lake would be to swim in (too cold, was the consensus), huddled over hot hot (and pricey pricey) coffee and watched many a dreaded busker doing their thang.
We capped our time off with a massive dancey night out (I was certainly dressed to impress in a thermal singlet and hiking boots) then went our separate ways- Amanda back to the land of all things maple and myself over the Crown Range to Wanaka, and 2 weeks of throwing myself at the mountains in any way possible. With a willing and able partner in crime, Skip (a Wanaka native whom I instructed with last summer in Aus), we hiked up to glaciers, shot down hills on skis, hauled ourselves back up hills with kites, explored on bikes and mountain boards and even, sometimes, radically, on our own feet.
While Queenstown may talk really loudly about how much skiing it does and how hardcore it hits it, Wanaka is getting out there, taking on cliff drops and crazy backcountry chutes. Quiet, small, and so much more relaxed, you wouldn’t immediately realise that Wanaka harbours a ridiculous amount of pro-skiers and boarders. Almost every car is a Subaru, decked out with roof racks packed with skis and boards. Wearing your ski jacket around town is not only normal but encouraged (because it is so freakin cold), and Mons Royale, a locally designed merino thermal range, is the height of fashion (and I know ALL about fashion).
I lost track of days as I quickly fell head over heels for Queenstown’s unassuming neighbour. The weather did all its very best tricks- from heavy snow falls my first few days, to ridiculously clear nights of stars for forever, to lazy foggy mornings or ominous storm clouds boiling on the horizon. The snow was as varied- I went from 30cm of never-been-touched powder while kiting in the bowls of Snowfarm, to glimpses of dirt and sliding around on ice (which does nothing for my skills) during an afternoon at Cardrona. I met a silly amount of Australians (are there any of us left in Aus?!), but I also met a silly amount of awesome Kiwis, Canadians, Brits, Germans, all there for the same reason- snow, sweet snow.
Returning to Auckland has been a shock to my system- ski jackets are no longer the norm and my feet are boiling in snow boots that were just perfect for Wanaka’s sub 5 degrees. Uni started yesterday- with a diary already chock-full of assessment dates and some really hard classes coming my way. (I totally didn’t realise my Spanish linguistics class was taught in Spanish (FOOL Lucy!). In the first class, when my teacher was defining what a word actually was, he argued that the textbook’s idea of it being a unit of language with a blank space either side of it wouldn’t work because of how WE speak, and oh how I felt like interjecting and saying it is simply because SOMEHOW Spanish speakers DON’T BREATHE AT ALL WHEN THEY ARE SPEAKING. EVER. But I couldn’t say that in Spanish, so held my silence... something I feel I will be doing a lot of in that class.) However, all of my classes do look like they will be really interesting, and challenges may mean I don’t blow off class for activities quite so much this semester.
My love to you all, hoping you are well and happy, whereever you are!
Lucy, apprentice mountain guru .