Sunday, May 26, 2013

Psycho night.

We're in a motel that used to be a hospital. It still smells like one. The only people we've seen, since checking in more than 6 hours ago, are the owners, and the cleaning lady who's working late. They were full over the weekend she says, but I think we may be the only earthly souls here tonight.

We had leftover curry for dinner in the kitchen.

Followed by a slice of homemade pie from under that cloche in the picture. No one else dropped by.

While we were eating, I saw an old lady walk into one of the rooms. Cushion didn't and there's been no sound or sight of her since. I'm sure I saw her. She must just be very quiet.

It's not even 8pm.

David Bowie is playing. Before him, Dean Martin.
Down the corridor, I can hear the telly in our room and Cushion coughing. From somewhere further away, a tumble dryer. There is no other sound.

I'm typing on this couch.

Wondering about the people who used to stay in these rooms and shuffle along these hallways.

 I don't want to use the D word, but I'm thinking it. 

Even the cat on the wall looks nervous.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thoughts from Mount Doom.

Day 9 of the road trip. (3 days ago.)

"Are you sure you want to do this? I have 2 good knees and they were both in pain by the time I got down," Miki, one of the owners of the lodge where we were staying, said to me. "Some parts can be very steep and there'll be a lot of steps both going up and down. Think about it," she advised.

The shuttle bus driver who dropped us off at the start point of the Crossing was less diplomatic. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, loud enough for the whole busload of strapping teenage backpackers to hear. I couldn't decide if he was being serious. I had just told him that I'd had 2 knee surgeries and we might be a little behind schedule getting down from the mountain. Would he please wait for us if we weren't back by 4? 
I felt my ears go hot. I was going to be the stupid old lady holding everyone up today. Sadly, no witty retort came to mind and I was suddenly filled with doubt.

Write ups on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing describe it as a one day walk, requiring anywhere between 6 to 8 hours of steady walking. It ascends for about 800 metres, descends about 1200 metres and the highest point of the crossing is 1886 metres at Red Crater. 

We were told though, that the Crossing could be done by a fit person, without stops, in 5 to 6 hours. In the end, it took us oldies just over 7. We got to the pickup point at 3.15, hurrah for us. 

The slow pace was probably my fault. Despite my 10 years of hard core (haha) capoeira training, I had to stop often to gasp for air, still my pounding heart and ask myself what I was doing there. (To be fair to me, I was also in charge of taking pictures and there was no shortage of things to shoot.) I'm sure the ever-competitive Cushion could have completed the Crossing in less time on his own, and he'll be pleased I mentioned this.

While on the bus returning to the lodge, I read the pamphlet that Miki had passed me about the Crossing, and learnt that her husband Callum holds the world record for completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. He ran it, in 1 hour and 25 minutes. The mind boggles. This record was set a long time ago, around 2000, 2001. No one has yet broken it. According to his website, the youngest person to have made the Crossing was 5. The oldest, 94.

Am I glad I didn't chicken out.

This crappy picture was taken on my iPhone. I will upload pictures from the camera when we get home. If you want to see more of Mordor, stay tuned!

Remember! You don't have to comment on these posts from the road! Almost 2 weeks down, 2 more to go. In Wellington now. Very pretty, too cold.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Postcard from Camp Could Be Nice.

deer Typis,

 mr O is helpin g me send you this pikture.   As you can see, i am ok.

  it is getting COLD. Tank goodness for my coat! 

Love, Georgia X

Too bad about yur Troubels  Sorry i haf NO time to chat. I have made frends.!!

Note from The Typist.
Apparently, I used up my all data allowance for the month in 8 days because I googled a few maps, made one post and visited some blogs. Hopefully I'll be able to top up soon, but it means I won't be able to read and comment on your blogs while I'm on the road. My apologies.

To be fair, don't worry about commenting on these posts from the road either. I'll just pretend I'm back in the old days, when we sent snail mail postcards on holidays and never expected to get a reply :)

Catch up with you when we get home. Till then, hope you're all well! X

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The traveller's fervent plea.

Day 7 of our road trip.

I have an ear ache, which started the night before the flight. Both ears are now completely stuffed with a mixture of swimmers ear drops (from Cushion's stash of travelling medication), antibiotic drops (from Dr Bryan of Coromandel Town, NZD80 for consult + NZD15 for drops), and a baking soda solution (recipe free from Dr WebMD). I can't hear a thing and am learning to read lips. Cushion playing doctor. Details of what he's doing too disgusting to blog about, but if you must know, it involves a straw.

Got stung by a jelly fish at Hot Water Beach 2 nights ago. "Very strange," the locals said, "It's not jelly fish season." No after hours doctor available, closest one a ferry ride away. Bathed foot and ankle in urine (on the advice of young man with experience, urine kindly donated by Cushion) and white vinegar (kindly donated by restaurant at lodging), took an antihistamine (from Cushion's stash of travelling medication), applied pawpaw ointment for good measure.

Flu now coming on. Possibly from hiking up Mount Maunganui in rain yesterday. Achoo. Cough cough. Feverish. Taking antibiotics (from Cushion's fast depleting stash of travelling medication)

About to start off on a hike through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Please, Cosmic Protector of Intrepid Travellers, please don't let me step into a boiling mud pool or get spat on by a geyser. I'd really appreciate a break. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Postcard from Auckland.

Dear Georgia, 

Greetings from Auckland! It is lovely here, sunny and warm! We walked lots yesterday, exploring the city and had some good food. We are struggling along here and so unhappy without you.
Have you made friends with the horsies and piggies yet?
Please remember not to chase the cows, and what I told you. If they're not in a sealed bag, they're not ready to eat. 
I hope you've made some doggy friends at least.
Please say hello to Mr O for us!
That's it for now. We miss you! Really.

Love, your humans, now setting off for the Coromandel X

P.S. I hope you're being a good girl and not bullying anyone.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oh no! It's Sunday!

Dear everybody, 
I'm off to camp now! 

Here is my holiday bag. It is all packed and ready to go.
How stoopid does it look. It cost 2 dollars at the market. The Typist is very proud of her frugal purchase. It will be her fault if the other dogs at camp laugh at me.

Apparently, everything I need for my holiday is in the bag. I have serious doubts about this.
As far as I can see, there is a jammie, a raincoat, my flea treatment, dewormers, and a ridiculously long letter to Mr O, the camp commandant of Camp Could Be Nice, telling him stuff like how I like to eat a lot and sit on humans. 

"Did you forget my bikkies and treats, Typist? Surely that is something I will need on holiday?"
"What do you mean, I will just have to eat what the other dogs eat?"

The Typist says the most important part of  the ridiculously long letter that Mr O will probably never read  letter is Plan B which tells Mr O what to do with me if she and Cushion cop it while they're on holiday. In case you didn't know, The Typist is a worst case scenario type of human. 

So that's it! I will be away a month. I hope Mr O likes me! I hope I make some friends! Please don't forget me! I will try to be brave. Kissy boo and hooroo! Georgia X

I will miss my bed. 




Last words from The Typist.
"Georgia! Come here baby. How about a cuddle before you go?!"

"Okay then. Bye sweetie. Be good. Love you."

Monday, May 6, 2013

The end of a relationship.

My head's been a monkey lately, quietened only by Valium. I wrote a post a few days ago, and forgot to publish it. All water under the bridge now.

Yesterday was the last day of our capoeira batizado or grading festival. I wasn't going to go, but when I woke up, it was a beautiful day, and so I did.
 Darling Harbour, where the grading was held.

The festival lasted about 3 hours. I felt like a fish out of water. 3 hours is a long time to flop around gasping. Surrounded by my happy fellow students of capoeira, excitement and expectation on their faces, freshly dyed new cords around their waists, I did my best to clap, sing and dance along, but the truth is, I felt morose, nostalgic and old. I couldn't decide if it was harder watching my friends do moves I've never been able to master, or moves I used to do easily and no longer can. It seemed like an age since I felt their bliss.

I started training capoeira almost 11 years ago. I estimate a good 3 years of that was spent recovering from injuries and surgeries. I always joke that my body hurt less when I was drinking 7 days a week, smoking a pack a day, drinking red bull on all nighters at the studio, and the only exercise I got was clubbing.

But I have zero regrets. I might have 2 bum knees now and will never trek Machu Picchu but capoeira gave me a lot more than it took. On a physical level, it improved my reflexes, coordination, spatial awareness, peripheral vision and balance which, I'll have you know, is very useful for scrubbing my toes while standing on one leg in a soapy wet bath tub. All good things for an older person, no doubt about it. 

On a mental level, it made me face some fears, and while I didn't conquer all of them, I think I made a dent. I learnt how to sing in Portuguese and in public, a very useful skill I'm sure you'll agree, and how to play 4 new musical instruments. Best of all, for the first time since I stopped working 14 years ago, I felt part of a community, met some good people, made some friends, discovered Brazilian churrasco, pão de queijo, feijoada (all food, in case you're wondering), and re-kindled a childhood love of and interest in South America.

I told Cushion before the batizado started that this would be my last one. To my surprise, for someone who laughed at and sometimes ridiculed my obsession with the game (and rightly so, in retrospect), he said he was proud that I had lasted 11 years. That made me sniffle. He didn't think I would even finish the 8 week beginner course. Considering I couldn't do 5 push ups when I started and have the attention span of a gnat, I totally understand why he would have thought that. I have to take this opportunity to thank him for his patience. While I'm at it, I suppose I should apologise to my neighbours for pounding the atabaque 
 and wailing away to the berimbau
for hours on end.

I have to say, I'm proud of myself for making it this far. I'm also disappointed that I only made it this far. 

But I know it's time to hang up my belts, or maybe bin them like my friend Chapeuzinho. I'll still be playing in the park. If I'm lucky, maybe Astro, Cleopatra, Falcao, Sorriso, Louva Deus, Rogue, De'Ouro and other friends who left before me will play with me. Or maybe I'll play by myself at the gym, why not? It's always fun to amuse the other gym members. I still hope to attend classes with my mestre when time allows. But I think I finally understand what the bum knees, hyper-extended fingers, stiff neck, torn quadriceps, sore wrist, fractured rib, fractured toe and split eye have been trying to tell me for years.

And so I thank capoeira for its last and greatest lesson. Accepting that what you want to do and what you can do aren't always the same and that's okay. 


I know most of you reading this won't have a clue what I'm rabbiting on about today but I just had to get the hum out of my head. Please feel no obligation to comment. I'm sorry I haven't been visiting. With just a week to go before we leave for New Zealand, I can't even promise to find the time to visit but I hope you're all well. I will try to do an update on the girl whose blog this is before we leave. She seems a bit stressed too, no doubt recognising the backpacks now lying in the guest room waiting to be filled. I miss our conversations, more than you can imagine. 

The Typist X

P.S. Parabéns to all my capoeira friends who got their new belts, especially Mandioca! I know you might be reading this, you're the only who does ;) Well done girl! I'm so proud of you.

"Come on, Typist! How about we move on from this nauseating display of self-pity and snuggle instead?"