So I got a job in Arthur’s Pass. All I knew is that it was a village of 30 people with one random cafe and a bar. As well as the coldest, rainiest and highest settlement in New Zealand. Yeaaay.
I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision. Should I have stayed in Wanaka? Fight for a job with Vikki? Have a bit of a..social life?
Pff.I was tiiired. Tired of moving around. Tired of having the same travelers’ small talk. Which is basically people secretly measuring each other’s travel plans and past experiences, hiding the fear-of-missing-out and justifying the decisions already taken. Myself included.
Or I just I enjoy solitude more than I dare to admit. Boom. There. Ok, I said it. So off I went to the mountains!
I got a ride, organized by my bosses, with Steve. A trucky (a guy who drives a truck, I believe this word was invented by Pia) who made this beautiful ride from Christchurch to Pass to Greymouth every day. And he sure did love to talk.. With that thick kiwi accent and unlike me- an abundance of joy and energy to share his stories with yet another passer-by.
He was so annoyingly and yet adorably positive. Someone should write a book about this 40-something-year-old happy chappy character, who wears shorts and a t-shirt throughout the WHOLE winter (He might be 50 but his joie de vivre makes him seem 30, hence I came up with 40). Anyways..
As we made this beautiful drive and left behind a village after a village, I realized- that’s it. There’s no way back. No changing my mind now.
We finally reached my new home. I met my flatmates in our cute little kitchen/ living room. A common area with books and posters left behind by all the other weirdos, who once decided to settle on this Alpine Fault frequently shaken by earthquakes.
Angry keas (an alpine parrot), tapping the dirty windows outside, were matching my mood.
It was perfect.
Days went by. The job was super easy. Although one could reach several ski fields in less than an hour’s drive, winter is a very quite time in the Pass unlike the crazy, busy summer.
But of course these ski fields weren’t everyone’s cuppa. Those were not the big boys like Queenstown or Wanaka.
In the case of Temple Basin you had to literally earn it. First, make a one hour hike up a steep, icy hill. Then learn how to use a nutcracker to get up a rope tow without jamming your fingers, hoping to dear god you won’t let go somewhere in the middle, still facing the mountain, but your skis taking you down where you came from. But if you do get up, well good luck to committing to these beautiful lines of fresh pow if you bloody dare..Last time I skied was gazillion years ago in Italy. I loved it. But never got around to do it again. So I was shit. But the dreamy Temple Basin ski patrol crew were always there to help you out. Hi boys!
Little by little I progressed a little. Like a little. I also met this Ozzie chick who encouraged me to tackle a meaner slop. It was so much fun. The conditions were prime. For a moment I felt like a pro.
Just getting up there was something. Barely touched lines, with all these bad-ass snowboarders totally high on the uniqueness of the Basin.
And then one day the weather was dodgy. My mean slope was icy. I couldn’t see anything. I was too tense and therefore inevitably took a fall.
I thought I broke something. But I’ve had a pretty couch-potato life up until now, I don’t know how it feels to break a bone?!
I didn’t. There was something wrong with the knee but it wasn’t broken. I tried to ski again, only to take another roller coaster down the hill leaving my poles and skis behind.
A few minutes later two guys from the ski patrol were there for my rescue. Yesss.
We knew there is but two ways to get down- your own two legs or a helicopter. I had one leg and a risk to break both of them for reaaal, should I decide to hop down the icy, steep hill on my own. Remember? You had to climb one hour to get to the actual ski field! No vehicles!
I also had only one sexy spring skiing left in New Zealand. Getting a heli would be the end of it. NO MORE skiing in New Zealand EVAH.
But shit happens. I was a shitty skier and I over did it. No one but myself to blame.
So then the heli from Christchurch flew in. And as my body got transported in it, one of the patrollers confessed: ‘I love my job’. Oooook Mr Sexy Ski Patroller. Maybe not the most appropriate time for a confession like this? But I get it.
These guys were living the dream. Those were the Jesuses of the Temple, with their beard’y mountaineer looks and nothing but a quest to chase the endless winter or the waves in summer.
I, on the other hand, got a heli ride through one of the most beautiful parts of NZ- the Arthur’s Pass National Park. Thank you NZ for taking care of them lousy skiers! I’ll never forget soaking in the beauty of the mountains and the valleys from the bird’s eye view.
At the hospital, I got diagnosed with some weird tendon injury something, something. I still don’t know what it means but it sucks. Now and then my sister makes fun of my soft tissue issues, just to make sure I don’t feel too sorry for myself. So I man up, cause I’m supposed to be the older one.
And sometimes things happen for a reason. I guess I was meant to jump in or rather crawl in a truck with Steve again. This time no more as a depressed I-hate-people ‘vagabonder’. Instead as a pissed off cripple with two crutches soon to become Arthur’s Pass one and only limping waitress.
And then Steve, as Steve does. Made me see this whole endeavor for what it really was- a great story to remember. Amen, Steve. Amen.