A Leap of Faith
Fri. Jan. 27, 2012
As I write this, Im flying away from British Columbia at about 40,000 feet in a huge tin can over the Pacific Ocean. A small, blue knapsack sits at my feet while the rest of my belongings are stowed away in the planes cargo bay in a back-breakingly large backpack. Just a couple of months ago I quit my job as staff writer for Downhome magazine and, along with my significant other, sold the car, boxed up all of our worldly possessions and moved out of the apartment wed lived in for the last six years.
And no, were not running from the law, nor do we have body parts stashed in our luggage (perhaps I should be more careful what I write about while Im in the air). We did it all so that we could run away to the other side of the world, to New Zealand.
Some people (my parents included) think Im crazy. But before you pass judgement, let me explain.
Catching the travel bug
This June, Ill be turning the big 3-0 (gulp!). Most of my friends are either getting married, having babies, buying houses or all of the above. None of those things really appeal to me at the moment but a big adventure certainly does! Ive never lived and worked abroad before, but its something Ive always wanted to do. So I figure, after several years of saving up all my pennies, what better time than now? (And hey, if you believe in all the Mayan end-of-the-world hoopla, I may be running out of time. Personally, I dont put much stock in any of it but Im not going to test my luck either!)
I decided to catch a plane when thumbing a ride out of my hometown didn't work.
Ive spent the last two-and-a-half years at Downhome, drooling over all the awesome vacation photos sent in by loyal, world-travelling Downhomers, so its no wonder the wanderlust finally became too much to bear. Even at home I couldnt escape the envy. My own brother recently returned home after spending the last 10 years teaching in Taiwan and Poland, and hes been torturing er, entertaining me with his incredible travel tales. And my grandfather (who just turned 94) on my dads side travelled to Ireland and the Shrine in Montreal regularly up until his late 80s. (Interestingly enough, my dad has never left The Rock and doesnt see any reason why he would ever want to.) My dear grandmother on my mothers side (who passed away last March, just four days shy of her 89th birthday) was also keen on travel and had seen other parts of Canada. She, too, had always wanted to visit Ireland, but unfortunately, never got the chance. If there is one lesson I learned from her, it is to not put things off in life. I know if I told Nan about my plan to take off Down Under, she wouldnt tell me Im crazy rather, shed say, Pack me, too! Im carrying her adventurous spirit with me.
While its no easy decision to pack up and leave your family, friends and a job you love, there comes a time when you must decide to either stay where you are and stick with your routine, or take that giant leap. Ive chosen the latter, and earthquakes and hot air balloon disasters (two tragic stories from New Zealand that nabbed headlines over the Christmas holidays) be damned, Im still going.
Whaddaya at, Mate?
I hope to not only soak in as much of the Kiwi culture as I can, but also to spread the love for my own Newfoundland culture. And with the Whaddaya App ready to go, I should have my new Kiwi friends speaking Newfinese in no time (or perhaps a Kiwi/Newfinese hybrid Whaddaya at, Mate?).
Actually, from what Ive seen so far, we have a lot in common with our Kiwi cousins. For one thing, they seem to have a wicked sense of humour. (Air New Zealands safety video, starring the loud and proud leotard-clad fitness guru Richard Simmons, was unexpected and hilarious a rare find on flights these days.
[Kiwis are also game for adventure, and living in the adventure capital of the world, theres loads of adrenaline-pumping activities to choose from. Aucklands 328-metre tall Sky Tower is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the hostel where were staying when we arrive. Speaking of jumps, did you know you can actually hurl yourself right off that thing? (Hint: Stay tuned to my blog for more.)
While Im here, Im also going to keep my eyes peeled for fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. (Im sure theyre out there, as you cant seem to go anywhere in the world without running into a fellow expat.) And if any of you have visited or live Down Under, and can give me tips on what I should see and do, Id love to hear from you. Just leave a comment anytime here on my blog.
So, Im exchanging The Rock for the Land of the Long White Cloud for a little while. I dont know what 2012 has in store for me, but I cant wait to find out. I hope youll join me for the ride. Its bound to be a wild one!
Till next time! Linda Browne