I’m lucky. I know. I get paid to travel and explore New Zealand. But wait, it gets even better. I get paid to travel and then to write about it!
Travel + writing = a happy me.
It sounds ideal, right? Well, it’s pretty spiffy but it isn’t always easy. When I’m traveling for work, going surfing, or soaking in hot springs, or climbing mountains or discovering art galleries in a North Island city, it’s not like I can ever really, fully relax. Because I’m working!
I’m busy in my head, wondering how I’m going to capture a perfect 360˚ view or how to describe the blessing my Maori surfing instructor just offered to the still morning. I have to notice details. Note down blessings. Step outside my normal traveling habits to really experience what my employer is paying me to experience. Oh, and I can’t forget to take pictures of it all.
I am compulsive shutterbug on these trips. I know each picture won’t be a gem, so I am compelled take hundreds in the hopes of snapping five or ten that will be good enough to publish. On one surfing trip to some of New Zealand’s best North Island surf spots, my traveling companions even awarded me a “paparazzi” prize.
I mentioned in a recent post that in September this year I traveled to New Zealand’s Stewart Island for a three day tramp. (Tramping in New Zealand has nothing to do with hobos or a Disney dog. Overnight camping + walking = tramping). Stewart Island is nineteen miles south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait and has a permanent population of around four hundred. It’s is known for its kiwi birds, New Zealand’s flightless mascot. My travel companion and I hoped beyond all hope to spot some in the wild. (And we did!)
While walking for three days was, um, fun, I think, despite how much my feet ached, I was constantly seeking out details, endeavoring to think of ways to describe what was happening around me and constructing clever one-liners to capture those details. Just like I don’t seem to let my camera rest, I don’t let my mind rest either. (But maybe that’s the way with writers. We tend to look for stories in just about anything.)
I know better than to write my travel stories while on the trip. I need time for the experience to settle and for the most interesting moments to float to the surface of my memory. Once back in Christchurch, back at my desk at work, I can pull all of my disparate thoughts and one-liners together.
So, I haven’t written my Stewart Island story yet (don’t tell my boss!) but it’s still brewing. I’m allowing the landscapes and the birdsong and the occasional fears to coalesce. I did construct a few observations and jotted them down, hoarding these observations mercilessly for later use:
- We exalted over glimpses of sun with as much enthusiasm as we had exalted over spotting kiwis in the wild.
- Sacajawea we were not.
- We enjoyed the view from inside our hoods.
- Dolphins yelled out at possums on the jetty.
- “You don’t drink? Well honey, you’re on the wrong island!”