My Top 3 Travel Memories – #BloggerRelay for #teampurple

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My class of adorable 6 year olds recently studied “Continuity and Change”, looking at how the Olympics had evolved from the Ancient Olympics to what we see and follow on TV. The school term itself already feels like ages ago and the Olympics seem to be all but a distant memory of the whole world coming together to share the best of the best. Ever the memory makers-travel bloggers have  kept that spirit alive, inspired byLowCostHolidays coming together and share their Top 3 Travel Memories in a relay style meme competition.
A virtual baton has been passed on by 34 awesome members of #teampurple since the end of July, with heaps of interesting travel stories from all over the world shared along the way. Now as I take the baton from Becki over at Backpackerbecki, I must sprint to the finish line as the last entry. No pressure at all! Lucky for me, I have done a few runs during my time in New Zealand – just as long as I don’t trip over the finish line or something embarrassing like that.
Now, on with the travel memories!

Bronze – Zipling in La Ceiba, Honduras 2008

There were 5 of us all together, trying to find accommodation during the Carnival weekend in La Ceiba – crazy. My friend and a girl we’d met along the way decided to go Ziplining and White-water rafting. I’ve never loved heights but prior to our trip I had just finished my level 2 high ropes rescue certification as a means to getting over that fear, for the sake of my upcoming summer job.
The spring of 2008 marked the end of some pretty important chapters in my life – I’d finished my 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree at Brock, my time living my new ‘city life’ in St Catharine’s Ontario, where I’d made some of the best friends of my life,  was over, as was my first long term relationship of 3 years.  Of course with all these endings, came new beginnings. A friend and I had planned our first international trip to La Esperenza, Honduras where we would work at a government funded childcare facility for two weeks. We’d set out with great ambitions, collecting donations of soccer balls, small toys, art supplies and general health items such as toothbrushes and soap.
During my time in Honduras  I learned so many valuable lessons which I still think back to today; lessons about the world and how it works, lessons about myself and how I cope, heal and travel, and lessons that I didn’t even realise at the time.  Looking back on the trip, I can now see I made lots of amateur mistakes – everything from not being able to speak or understand Spanish, to being afraid to eat the eggs because they weren’t refrigerated.  Hindsight is always great like that.  The time that I spent with those children, where the most important communication was universal in the way of hugs and smiles, and the growth and healing was exactly what my soul needed. The whole trip itself was exhilarating,  the work we did as rewarding; but flying through those trees, trusting in the sense of adventure and rolling with the punches left me wanting more of everything - more adventure, more exploration, more adrenaline, more people to connect with and to help myself by helping them.
Honduras was a major benchmark of my travels.

Silver  – Climbing in Raro July 2011

Once I’d finally landed my dream job that I been working my whole life towards, I was pretty excited. I had my own classroom, awesome kids and a fantastic school community. I soon learned that all the people that go on about “all the holidays” teachers get, are not teachers, as I faced a lot of work in that down time, but that’s okay as it’s all part of the job that I loved. In my first year of teaching, the highlight of my free time away from school consisted of road-tripping around the south island with one of my best mates from university in Canada. I hadn’t seen much of the west coast and it was great to tick that off, but I felt that I lacked international adventure.
Thom and I soon sorted this out, as a planned a winter escape to a popular New Zealand holiday destination, Rarotonga. One of the 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands in the Southern Pacific, Rarotonga boasts of a 32 km coastline (meaning that you can drive around the entire island on one road, in less than an hour).  Our 5 days were not nearly long enough, but in that time we enjoyed snorkelling, a 4×4 drive through the interior of the island, hiring a scooter and exploring on our own where we found an independent art shop as well as Happy Hour at the Game Fishing club where they have the cheapest drinks on the island.  The whole trip was a highlight for me, really.
But the very last day, we woke up early and set off to do a hike that we’d found on our trusty map. Admittedly we weren’t yet brave enough to do the ‘cross the island’ hike, but found one similar that involved a bit of mountain climbing. It was physically challenging as I huffed and puffed my way to the top. But Thom was encouraging the whole way up, not letting me give up no matter how many breaks I took. Once we made it to the top, as usual, the view was completely worth it. As we sat in each others company looking at how far we’d come, I knew I had an awesome travelling partner and couldn’t wait to take on more adventures with this boy by my side.

Gold  – Seeing Fleetwood Mac by myself, New Zealand 2009

I’d not been to many ‘big gig’ concerts prior to living in New Zealand; my dad took me to see The Backstreet Boys when they came to Halifax and played on Cidetal Hill but that was YEARS ago. As an adult, my concert-going experiences were limited. I decided when I moved to New Zealand to study the whole year was going to solely be about me. I travelled solo twice, I took healthier habits, I ran a half marathon, I completed my post-grad degree and all of it was awesome. So when Fleetwood Mac announced their tour through Taranaki I was intrigued. Dad had always listened to them when I was growing up, and despite my futile efforts to want to listen to ‘cool’ music at the time, I’d since outgrown all those boy bands and still enjoyed what I have to admit are classics. Dare I say it, my dad actually had (ok still has) good taste in music. 
The first night sold out really fast and I was gutted. Later on, they announced due to the popularity, they would be adding a second night in New Plymouth. That was it, Happy Birthday to me, it was decided and I bought myself a ticket. I’d sort out the fact that I was pretty far away from the venue later on.  As it unfolded, the journey to the concert was equally as eventful as the concert itself!
Searching on the cheap, I booked a flight from Dunedin to Christchurch and then spent the night sleeping in the airport before my flight to wellington the next morning. I flew to Wellington, met up with my one and only family member in the country who put me up at his place for the night, before I caught a bus that would take me on the 5 hour coast to coast journey from Wellington to New Plymouth.
But while I was there, I realised I’d made a pretty significant packing error… I’d FORGOTTEN TO BRING MY TICKET TO THE CONCERT! My sole purpose of this mission, and there was the ticket, still sitting on my bookcase at home. D’oh. Dale drove me around the city, until we found the shop that dealt with the tickets. After a bit of rigmarole, a helpful clerk managed to cancel the Dunedin dwelling ticket, print me off a new valid ticket and send me on my way, forgiving me of the $10 reprint fee, because he just couldn’t believe I’d forgotten it.
 In New Plymouth I had my very first Couchsurfing experience, as I surfed with an elderly couple for the weekend. As I made myself comfy on grassy spot on the hill, I thought it was the journey that would be more memorable than the destination and that was okay because the destination was still pretty damn cool. As I was getting myself a beer to quench my thirst of the early summer evening, I chatted to a bloke in the line. He ended up smuggling me into his workmates Gold section seats for the rest of the concert. It was awesome to be up close enjoying Fleetwood Mac’s last performance on tour. Their encore went on for ages!
The memory represents so much for me, as I overcame all the obstacles put in my way while traveling solo; it was a fantastic end to my year of independence. You never know where you’ll end up making connections with strangers either!

So there you have it! My top 3 travel memories, and the end to the #BloggerRelay!

With much anticipation, it looks to be a ‘photo finish’, so sit tight and wait to hear who the winner is! On behalf of #teampurple I’d like to send a big THANK YOU to Neil at  Backpacks and Bunkbeds, the leader of our team, for all of his hard work and organisation – Awesome job mate!
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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Neil Barnes October 8, 2012, 7:59 am

    I cant believe you forgot your ticket! … and that you got another one printed! That is epicness, I think I would have just broke down.

    Great entry, thanks for running the anchor leg of the race and wrapping it up so nicely :-)

  • Kate Clarke October 12, 2012, 9:01 am

    Ah Neil, you will soon learn this is just one of the many dumb/unfortunate situations like this I’ve encountered, so I’m becoming pretty pro at coping. I’ve recently made a list, and got over 20 related events, so stay tuned for that post soon!

    Thanks, it was an honour to be te caboose!


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