Wednesday, November 2 (Day 63)
Mango Bay, Fiji
This website isn’t achieving what I wanted it to do. Yes, I have good numbers - on average more than 100 unique viewers a day, peaking at 400, and that’s without currently using Facebook, email or link exchanges to drive traffic. In Africa the project was a great success although had Bjorn and his missus not gone all my precious at the end of it in South Africa, it would have and (should have) achieved a lot, lot more. I never really spoke about that at the time. I just didn’t want to rock the boat. The Shirt 2010 was Bjorn’s project, after all, so it didn’t seem right for me to kick up a fuss at the time about some of the bad decisions and personal conflicts that occurred right at the very end of our time in Africa. If I do manage to put a book together about these past 18 months’ adventures, as I hope I will, then I will go into all that then. Furthermore, in Argentina I struggled to find the projects that I’d wanted so much to champion and, when I finally did track two down, it was during my last two days, with an unsuccessful visit to the slums and an eye opening and humbling night on the streets with the homeless in Buenos Aires. More info will follow about the Buenos Aires street project after I get home.
In NZ I didn’t see any projects and I feel bad for that, but the truth is since my personal life took a turn in July I’ve had to concentrate on fixing myself before I can start worrying about others again. I realise today that the healing process is kicking in. I feel happy; very happy in fact. Sorry for not championing the grass roots projects as I’d intended but for the moment at least I feel very good about myself for the first time in four months. If you do get the chance, please take a look at the Projects We Like page, where you can click on the pictures and be redirected to the relevant websites. More projects will be added to this page when I get back to Europe and I am extremely keen that this website develops further to help promote the work of grass roots organisations which do wonderful work helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. I’m still here. In Mango Bay. It’s like the Hotel California – you can check in but you can never leave. I sort of feel bad that I didn’t leave with Ruby, the British Iranian girl who is off to Caqalai Island to hook up with some National Geographic people who are making a film about venomous sea snakes. I was encouraging her to go on a two day road trip with me to see the snakes and to spend a night at the former colonial capital, Levuka. She was umming and erring - understandably with jet lag and enjoying the Mango Bay vibe - but today she suddenly said let’s go and I just felt too much in bits from last night’s back-of-the-net evening to pack my stuff and leave here in the space of half an hour. I should have gone. Sorry Ruby. Not that my day is bad: Kayaking on the lagoon with my French friend, reading A Clockwork Orange under the shade of a coconut tree, another kava ceremony, sunbathing factor 40 stylee, and falling asleep in a hammock under a palm tree.
It is time to leave this place now. This particular party and my personal Fijian rehab are over. My new year began yesterday. It’s time to get back on the road.
How did my life reach this point? Is a question many of us often ask ourselves. It can be for positive or negative reasons but the question is generally prompted by some sense of the unreal. I write this as I lie on a sofa in a farmhouse cottage in the rural Catlins feeling rather cut off from the outside world. There is no internet here nor is there any mobile phone coverage for around 20 kilometres. Rain lashes against the big windows and a gale causes the front door knob to rattle. The nearest ATM cash machine is apparently 50 kilometres away and the closest thing that resembles a shop, a 20-minute drive down an unsealed track. My original plan for this day, conceived of months ago, was for a romantic stay by a gorgeous windswept beach with my then girlfriend. Instead, I find myself sharing this cottage, in a remote corner of New Zealand, with a bloke from Argentina whom I met a little over a week ago in an airport motel, a couple of hours after completing a 20,000-kilometre journey from the UK. That’s what I mean by ‘how did my life get to this point?’ I mean, I am only about 30 kilometres away from the exact same place I thought I would be today but somehow instead I am the temporary owner of a Nissan Sunny, which sits parked outside caked in mud, and I find myself occasionally throwing logs onto a wood burner in an attempt to keep the house, where myself and Alex have somehow ended up in, warm. I am not altogether sure why we ended up staying here. We just decided to take a left turn off the coastal road a few minutes after the yellow-eyed penguins failed to show up at Nuggets Point. I can hardly blame them. Every time we went for a brief hike today it was a relief to get back inside the car as promptly as possible away from the driving rain and gusting wind.
Of course, it is mentally therapeutic to cut yourself off from the outside world from time to time, and this cottage certainly scores highly for its cosy remoteness vibe, but I am just not sure how and why I am here at all. I know it won’t be the only time I will ask myself that question in the coming couple of months but I just felt the need to grab my netbook, start typing away and putting that thought down on digital paper now. I don’t know how the Soviets had 5- and 10-year plans as I don’t seem to be able to plan six months ahead successfully. Life can be strange and so randomly unpredictable.
RWC Daily September 12
Kaikoura beach, September 2011
September 7th, 2011
My top film is probably ‘Into the wild’. Somebody downloaded it for me once and told me to watch it because they were sure I would love it and because they said the main character reminded them a little of me. I guess they were right, in some way or another, because I cannot think of any other film character I so readily identify with. I won’t spoil the film in case you want to watch it but one of the most memorable conclusions of ‘supertramp’ is that: Happiness is only real when shared.
Having woken up at 3am feeling like it is 10am, and insomnia consuming me, thoughts race around my weary head. One is exactly the one mentioned above. I have seen some incredible things during my last solo trips to places like Argentina and now here in New Zealand, but without somebody you love or greatly enjoy spending your time with these wonderful places and special moments often lose much of their meaning.
I put the dorm light on in the night and look up to see various pieces of graffiti scrawled on the wooden panels of the bunk above:
I know where you are from but where do you belong?
Don’t worry be happy
Even a shit day travelling is better than a good day at work
I pooed in this bed in 2010
And I look for my pen wishing to add the line from ‘Into the Wild’. But just as I am about to take ink to wood there it is: Happiness is only real when shared. Some other lonely soul having reached the same conclusion as me in this very bed some days, weeks or months ago.
September 4th, 2011
I am in an Auckland airport motel having arrived in New Zealand earlier today after 26 hours. The Chinese bloke sat next to me on the plane filled in on his customs declaration that he intended to ‘stay in New Zealand as a tourist for 30 years’. Very bullish I thought for an 18 year old lad on holiday.
11 hours ahead of UK time and one hour of sleep in the 26 coming over, I am a little disorientated. Had a lie down on my bed and, suddenly, it appears to be midnight. Thought it might be morning already so felt a bit silly asking reception if breakfast was starting soon. “No sir, after 6 hours. It is midnight”
I fly to from the North island to the South Island in the morning ahead of England’s first rugby world cup match there next Saturday. Saw a few Irish and English rugby couples in Heathrow but in the airport and motel here the only supporters have so far been from Argentina.
This is the new dedicated home page for my 2011 Rugby World Cup blog.
If you want to read up about the end of my journey to Argentina & the Copa America, and see the latest photos I have uploaded, then please simply click on 'Copa America 2011' in the main menu at the top of this page. I will be adding photos and content to the Copa America blog in the coming weeks when internet speeds and time permit.
Thanks to those of you who followed More Than a Game's travels in South America.