Kia ora e hoa ma!
At the beginning of every week in my Maori language class we are taught a “Whakatauki” which is a sort of proverb. Today in class we learned my favorite thus far:
Whaia te iti kahurangi kit e tuohu koe me maunga teitei
This translates roughly to “Pursue that which is precious, do not be deterred by anything but the lofty mountain.” It is an encouragement, something to motivate and inspire you to constantly strive for what you find precious in life.
My semester here in Otautahi (Christchurch) is moving along faster than I want it to. I’m coming to realize that I really will not want to leave when August rears its ugly head. A good friend told me today “don’t think about past or future too much, stay happy in the present”, so I am taking his advice. Life here is fantastic and I am going to enjoy every second.
My classes have been really great, my two favorites being Te Reo (Maori language) and Aesthetic Theory. If you’re interested I would suggest checking out the “Aesthetic Philosophy” section of this blog for a few posts dealing directly with the latter of these two. It is truly an enthralling subject, and one that is challenging the way I look and think about art. One of my other papers, “Rebuilding Christchurch” is also challenging my current perceptions. Only this one hits a little closer to home. It has got me seriously thinking about community service, it has me searching for the answer to WHY I serve, WHY I care. Last week I submitted a couple of papers, one called an “articulated learning statement” and one called “my personal definition of caring”. I have attached the two PDF files here and would encourage you to take a look!
We only have two weeks left until the glorious month long April break. I am beyond excited to have the chance to travel around the south island with my mom, but I have to get through a philosophy paper, a research report, a psych exam, and a reflection before I can have that taste of freedom. Truthfully this is not a lot of work, especially compared to my last semester at UWSP, but it is still more than I have had to do lately. I keep meaning to put in some academic effort but the spontaneity of adventure continues to sweep me up in its arms.
Let’s rewind, it’s been a long time since my last post:
Around three-four weeks ago I was at the bouldering wall with some friends, after climbing for a little while we went over to the circuit room to do some strength stuff and when I dropped off of the pull up bar I landed on my foot wrong. I thought I was okay until I woke up the next morning and couldn’t even walk. I skipped Maori and was quite pathetically making my way to the health center using a shopping trolley as a sort of walker. It turns out that I sprained my ankle. I was put on crutches and told that it would be three to four weeks before I could do anything active. Through luck or willpower it was not a bad sprain (or perhaps just a really bad roll) I was off crutches in one week, and then running in two. Still, not being able to run, jump, climb or hike was quite a bummer. Right now it is alright, not perfect yet, but good enough to do whatever I want to do!
Two weekends ago (the 9th-11th) I travelled with friends to the lovely town of Hokitika on the west coast of South island for the Wild Foods Festival! This is a huge event famous for its variety of revolting food products available from brightly colored tents, its live music, and the fact that costumes are encouraged. New Zealand does not celebrate Halloween in the same way that we in the US do, to make up for this fact it seems that costumes are encouraged at the majority of large festivals and parties.
Link to the Wild Foods homepage: http://www.wildfoods.co.nz/index.cfm/1,51,0,0,html
So, on Friday I rode over to the west coast with a few friends (Alex, Stan, Jack, and Philip) we camped in a friend’s backyard with around 15 other people and the next day went out to the festival.
That day I tried Kangaroo, crocodile, whitebait, and shark: none of these were bad at all…but then I also had a live huhu grub (link to huhu grub) which they literally got out of a stump they were actively axing to pieces, and then sheep’s testicles. These two latter food products are things that I will never eat again. The grub was the worst.
Wild Foods was a success, we all left Sunday and had a minor problem when Alex’s car started spewing black clouds from under the hood and stopped running. Oh, and it was pouring rain because you know, that kind of thing would never happen on a nice day. So the five of us got a ride back to Arthurs Pass, assessed the situation, then split up-three of us going back to Christchurch and two going back to fetch the rest of our gear from the possibly deceased vehicle. I was part of the group going back to CHCH and got a ride after about 10 minutes of standing in the drizzle. I was actually quite keen about the rain. I’m pretty sure Stan and Philip thought I was crazy, but sometimes when shit happens you have to get the best out of it. We were in no hurry, and even though it was rainy it was still pretty warm. It was an adventure, a good adventure. Alex went back for his car this past weekend and it turns out that the Laser will live to see another day, and also the problem could have been fixed with a little tape. So it goes.
Wednesday the 14th the amazing flat N83 hosted the first potluck extravaganza. We came up with the idea Monday night and whipped together an event. The idea was that every flat would bring a dish and we would all congregate at ours and have a big social dinner party outside. We made nachos and the whole night turned out better than we could have imagined!
This past weekend was adventure time for me. I have the best school schedule for planning short trips, I have class on Thursday until 1 pm and then no classes on Friday. After getting the OK from the health center to walk and run I decided to take full advantage of my long weekend.
On Thursday I borrowed Mackenzie’s cycle and rode 13k to the New Brighton beach. By campus it seemed quite stormy but once I got closer to the ocean it warmed up a bit, still wasn’t sunny, but was definitely perfect. I got some fish and chips and then sat on the beach surrounded by a horde of gulls all wanting my food.
After the bike ride I went to the rec center bouldering wall for a little while with a couple of friends. I had just bought a pair of climbing shoes which I love to death, and it is surprising what a difference they make! Thursday night was spent hanging out with friends and getting ready to leave the next morning.
On Friday I woke up early, finished my preparations, and hit the road. You only have to walk five minutes from Ilam apartments to get to the edge of town, there the road splits and Yaldhurst goes straight to the west coast via Arthurs Pass, this makes it a prime location for hitchhiking. One of the many things I will miss tremendously about living here is how easy it is to catch a ride to the mountains. Three hours tops and you can be in the Southern Alps! In situations like this the generosity of people shines through. Mostly I think I’m just starting to become very fond of hitchhiking as a mode of transportation.
I got to Arthurs Pass around one and hit the trail soon after. I tramped out to Edwards Hut on the recommendation of friends and was not disappointed. I had one of those rare days where the sky was blue enough to make the river reflect the most wonderful color turquoise, where the sun was starting to go down setting the leaves on fire with gold, where I had the trail to myself and my thoughts. The path followed the river valley much of the way, but did have some up and down through woods.
I got to the hut, which I did not have to myself. There were a few other people who were heading the other direction from a different hut, but they were all very nice. The beautiful day turned into a cloudless night and when it was perfectly dark I dragged one of the hut mattresses out into the tussock and slept there in my sleeping bag under one of the most perfect night skies I have ever seen.
I hiked out the next morning pretty early and got a ride to Castle Hill. The UC climbing club, which I am a part of, had a big climbing event this weekend. I didn’t initially sign up for it because at the time I was still on crutches, but I figured that since I was in the area anyways I might as well go and visit. Castle Hill is one of the most captivating landscapes I have seen thus far in New Zealand.
I had planned to get a ride back to CHCH Saturday night but it didn’t take much to convince me to instead head back to an outdoors education center with the climbing club to hang out for the night. Sunday we all went to Flock Hill, which is close to Castle Hill, for more bouldering.
This is the landscape that I want to never leave behind.
Exhausted but incredibly pleased I rode home with the climbers. A shower and pasta dinner later the night found me giggling on the floor with Mackenzie and Ben, as happy as could be. Today I have been pretty sore, and a little swamped with work, but of course this adventure was worth the price.
This next week brings Frisbee games, homework, friends, beach trips, climbing, morning yoga and hopefully some hiking. As they say, Karawhiua! (Translates roughly to ‘give it heaps!’)
Katahi ra koutou!
Kua haere au,