Timeline Redefine: A Change in Perspective

Lately, my Instagram has been inundated with scenic landscapes and random bird life, tracking my travels around New Zealand. For anyone who missed it, I am currently backpacking New Zealand.

I have seen so many incredible things. I have done so many incredible things. And as I write this now, I am only seven days in. The things I have experienced have been amazing.  I abseiled down a waterfall 80m underground. I learned the famous war dance known as the Haka and performed it (terribly). I saw ancient Maori carvings in a secluded rain forest. These experiences have been second to none.

As the title suggests however, among these adventures, there came a change of perspective. It was a perspective I had often wondered about. It was a mindset that I thought, deep down, I possessed. As it turns out, I very much do.

03/07/2017

We were invited into the home of a modern Maori family. It was phenomenal. We travelled up the long driveway, past the deer, past the cows and past the goat that eats your clothes (real thing). The bus came to a halt and we were greeted by Nadine Toe Toe with an energetic ‘Kia ora’, the response to which, was of course, a dynamic group ‘Kia ora’. Nadine welcomed us to their lodge and by extension, their whanau.

We had mere minutes to kill before we were launched into activities. First, we played stick games, designed to teach Maori children to learn without knowing it. Sneaky. Next came our feeble attempt at the Haka. Difficult to follow and blissfully hilarious. We even had the family laughing at our less that scary faces. Later we were taught to make bracelets out of flax and were fed hangi (a beautiful meal cooked underground of all places).

04/07/2017

The following day, we were up at 7am. We got on the bus and went to school. More specifically, the Galatea Primary school in Murupara. We were directed to a small classroom, a fair distance from the front entrance. The children stood up from their seats and performed a traditional welcome song in our honour. Soon, we sat down around miniature tables and started drawing.

Once our time was up, we left the school (though not before high-fiving everyone in sight). Back on the bus, we were told about the cultural impact we have as tourists on the little town of Murupara. Murupara is/was regarded as a gang town. What was stressed, was the importance of these young children, meeting people from outside of their small town. What was stressed was the hope that can be generated from meeting someone from the other side of the world.

In the town of Murupara, everyone is family. But not just family, whanau. Whanau meaning ‘family that I choose’. This message really hit home for me. Some people have so little and yet they share everything they have.

I’d like the world to be a little more like this, a little more amazing. Murupara is a town I will never, for as long as I live, forget.

 

Timeline Redefine: “Oh my Gosh, I saw a pufferfish.”

The Cook Islands. Described by Lonely Planet as both remarkably remote and accessible. Both modern and traditional.

Rarotonga is the largest of the Cook Islands. Even still, walking around the coastline would take less than a day.

A heartbreaking scene as I strode into camp was the magnitude of stray dogs that roam the island. I had a little internal cry before I decided to learn more. A quick conversation with a woman a coffee house, and I learned that the dogs are not so much strays but in fact, wanderers. They are not owned by anyone but more by everyone. You will rarely see a dog in a collar or a leash. Some are fed by the locals, others fend for themselves; sourcing coconuts or stepping into the streams to fish. The more I learned, the easier it was to see that Rarotonga is not filled with stray dogs but in fact, a well functioning canine community. And then I was happy again.

Three days on this mysterious island was not nearly enough. I got distracted on day one by the imminent beauty of Muri Lagoon and all of a sudden, my time was gone. And believe me, when you see it, you’ll understand why. My diving fins had never seen so much action. With a gentle current and crystal clear waters, the scenery of Muri appears to have been pulled straight from the movies. I felt as though I’d been cast in the Cook Islands’ latest travel advert.

As the title might suggest, I caught a glimpse of a pufferfish. A porcupine pufferfish to be exact. Now, this may seem like a menial experience, but speaking as someone who’s only viewing stemmed from nature documentaries and the occasional viewing of Finding Nemo, I was incredibly excited.

  • Befriended a crab in a supermarket. Check.
  • Ate the World’s greatest chicken burger. Check.
  • Experienced the magnificent cafe culture. Check.

In so little time and so little space, I experienced so much. And yet, at the very same time, I did very little. I could have travelled to Aitutaki and snorkelled the wreck of a cargo freighter or even explored the white beaches of the One Foot Island.

For such a small area, there is so much more to do. This is one to go back on the list.

Peace out!

 

Timeline Redefine: The City of Angels

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the City of Los Angeles is home to some of the friendliest people on Earth. As a cynical, weather obsessed Brit with a nervous but polite disposition, you can imagine the culture shock when I arrived was somewhat substantial.

The destination? Venice Beach, California. The objective? Fun.

La La Land (as it’s less commonly known) is colourful. The word ‘colourful’ encompasses everything the city has to offer. From the vibrant street artists to the luxurious coastline. From the star emblazoned path on Hollywood Boulevard to the rocky heights of Runyon. The enjoyment never seems to cease, as long as you know where to look.

The Calypso Tumblers. Catch them on the Boardwalk. Possibly the greatest, most diverse group of dancers my eyes have ever seen. Did you see that series of America’s got Talent? Neither did I but they were on it, so they must be pretty damn good. Dancing not your thing? No matter. There is such a variety of street artists lining the Boardwalk that there is literally something for everyone. The Dubstep Beat Boxer will give you flashbacks to that EDM concert you went to last month. Look around and you might find the skateboarding dog, which for me, seemed to tick all the right boxes.

The skate park is another highlight. Despite not being heavily fond of skateboards or in fact skating of any kind, I found watching the daring endeavours of the local talent almost therapeutic. Not to mention the slight satisfaction that came with watching the showoffs slip up; crashing and some might say burning. Of course, only slight satisfaction.

Los Angeles was full of surprises. Whether it was an impromptu swim with a seal on Venice Beach, or bumping in to Lori Petty at 7am after getting shockingly lost, my three days in LA were as magical as I had hoped. Ever since the day I first watched Jennifer Garner in Alias. There’s a little insight into my mind.

Peace out!