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this is cupcake weather, time to turn on the heater or grab someone

in a whaling biggie.

Did I ever tell you about the time I fell in love in New Zealand? No? Well here goes.

I went on my infamous (its the only cool place I’ve traveled to besides Puerto Vallarta & its all I talk about) New Zealand trip in the summer of 2009… well it was winter there, but I didn’t care.  I guess when you put it down in black and white, I went because of a boy… but I think deep down I just wanted to use love as an excuse to get out in the world and be irrational for once in my life about something so huge.  Like flying 7000 miles across the ocean for a month of romance in a foreign country.

ANYWAY, I went during my summer, which was their freezing-cold winter. Looking back on it all I can remember were nights of cuddling, me begging for the boy to turn on the heater even though it would cost so much money, lots of wine, spending short afternoons bundled up in my peacoat, scarf, my bright pink hair all frizzy from the rain, and some sightseeing when we could pry ourselves away from all the gross cuddling. We even did the obligatory tearful goodbye at the airport. I remember crying for the majority of my first layover flight to Auckland and not giving a crap at the people staring at me like I was some sort of flying-phobic. It was a great trip. I’ll always have New Zealand.

I think if I would have stayed I would have been happy, granted a little lonely with out my friends or family, but I would have been able to keep up the lie that is the person you become when you are away from your natural element. In New Zealand I was loveydovey-lets eat healthy-and go on photo trips every single day-drinking lattes at Coffee Culture-and saying Sweet As constantly-Valerie. She was fun, she wasn’t me, but she was sweet.

When I landed reality hit. Once again I was drink iced coffee with shots-work her buns off at work for little pay-living at home eating fast food all the time-fast driving-sailor mouth swearing-vodka swirling with friends-hobbyist photographer-Valerie. She’s cool too, but she wasn’t who I wanted to be at that time (a lot has changed but its mostly sub-surface changes now cause I still love my iced coffee and vodka…ew not together you sickos).

My story doesn’t really have a “happy ending,” unlike all the movies I grew up watching. In the long run it didn’t end up working out, he didn’t want to move back home (hes from here which is how we knew each other), and I wasn’t in a position to just up and leave everything behind for only a chance at real love, which lets be honest, wouldn’t really be love if I had to give up my family and friends. Not to mention the fact that obtaining a New Zealand visa is a PAIN. IN. THE. ASS. and the only other place I wanted to be is Spain…and THAT sure as hell wasn’t going to happen. A couple Christmas vacations together later it finally set in that it would never work out with us and I gave up on that wanna-be movie romance. He wasn’t the one and its okay. At least I got a great memory out of it all.

snowangels in July... weird, right?

Looking back on it, I feel like I was so innocent giving into idea of a romantic meet up somewhere I’ve never been, giving into that kind of foolish hopeless romantic thinking, and for once romanticism didn’t really come back to bite me in the ass as bad as it had before. At the time I thought I was an adult making adult decisions, now I just see it as a cop out to be reckless and enjoy my life for once instead of planning everything and worrying about every single detail…which to be honest was a great feeling finally letting go and losing control of my life for a minute, being swept up in the moment.

The few huge things I took from the trip were the fact that I could make things happen like this. Like  make cross-world travel happen for lil’ ole me. Granted it might have been for the wrong reasons, or at least portrayed that way, but hell, I frickin went to NEW ZEALAND. I had never done anything so determined in my LIFE. I also learned things about who I wanted to be…its nice being that person when you are traveling, nothing really gets under your skin and you take it all as part of the adventure, and I’ve been trying to apply this mentality to my life here stateside. This is life, it really is an adventure and I have to learn to take things in stride. So maybe there’s a blizzard and you cant drive down from Christchurch to Dunedin to see the penguins which just so happen to be sorta out of season… there’s still stuff to enjoy locally. So maybe I didn’t take classes this semester or last or before that, at least I’m still planning on going back. Right? Who knows.

Right now 26 year old Valerie thinks she’s stopping to smell the roses, but who knows…27 year old Valerie might think that 26 year old Val is just wasting her precious time being a naive brat. That is the beauty of being an over-thinker, hindsight really is 20/20…and I’ll be sure to over-analyze everything once its past me. For now though, I’m okay with creating great memories like my trip to New Zealand. :)

but could you not fall in love here? southern alps and endless vineyards
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Travel Tuesday: my first AllBlacks match

Italy vs New Zealand, 2009

One of the cool things about traveling and staying somewhere an extended amount of time with some locals is getting to experience things that make them…a local. When I was in NZ I had the very lucky opportunity to experience my first rugby match, and of all the teams to see the AllBlacks are the best.

Kiwis love their rugby. Kids start playing at a very young age, much the way Mexicans have their kids in soccer before they can form complete sentences. I’ve never seen so many small children with mullets. What? Did I not mention how on the south island at least mullets are all the rage for mens hairdos? Especially amongst the rugby crowd. I had never seen a mullet look so sexy until I went to that match, those rugby players are H O T T I E S, it helps that theyre pummeling eachother in a very hockey-like fashion, and lets be real, that appeals to some kind of primal instinct in women.

ANYWAY. For being my first match ever live, I loved it. Rugby reminded me of the best of all the American sports. The heckling of baseball, hockey fights, soccer agility and skill, brute force of football. Rugby really is the best of all sports and after that match I realized why those kiwis love it so darn much. I think it helps that the AllBlacks really know how to put on a pregame performance. They flew in some important dude with a FRIGGIN HELICOPTER before the game. They always open with The Haka, which is by itself the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen a group of grown men do in unison, and its a great throwback to the heritage of the people on these islands. And then to add a sense of intimidation a ginormous AB flag/banner thing is flown over an entire section of the stadium, putting hundreds of seats and people in total pitch black darkness for a couple seconds. What a way to kick off a game.

I’d write about the actual game but I know nothing of sports except that in rugby they move forward to score a try but can only pass the ball thing backwards…I’m not a sports-writer guys, cut me some slack. They did however kick some Italian arse, but that was expected, they are the best team aside from South Africa after all.

All in all, I’m really glad that even though it was freezin-balls cold in NZ while I was there, and that infamous Aotearoa weather kept me from getting to travel more while I was there, that I was still able to carve out some time to enjoy the national pastime of Kiwis.

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travel tuesday; dux de lux

Dux Cafe, Christchurch, New Zealand (this was the most delicious beer I had during my trip)

I could really go for one of these right about now. Tomorrow is going to be 97 degrees. Barf. Cold beer is needed.

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Travel Tuesday: Lyttelton Timeball Station

I’ve been a little out of the loop about the status of ChCh (Christhchurch) since the big earthquake earlier this spring, the whole Japan tsunami/nuclear crisis kind of took over all media outlets and I failed to see that the Lyttelton Timeball Station is being demolished! It was one of FIVE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD still working, its so sad! I’m really glad I got to visit such an iconic landmark before it was destroyed though.

So in honor of poor little Lyttelton’s timeball, I give you my pictures from my visit…

I visited NZ in the dead of winter so when we made it over to Lyttelton it was cold, a little damp and the groundskeepers were taking the opportunity to fix some things on the lawn in front of the timeball station, so needless to say my shots were kind of limited, but it was really cool to see and read all the plaques about it and the view from up there is amazing. I just hope whatever they put in its place commemorates what a cool and historical site it was and I hope Lyttelton doesn’t loose any of its identity, cause its actually a really cool little port town, I just wish I had gone during the busy season.

Sometime in my life I’d like to make it back to New Zealand, but hopefully during warmer weather, I definitely underestimated how cold a country could get being so close to Antarctica, haha makes all the difference in the world. I’m very grateful however that I was able to get a looksee before this all happened. So long Timeball, its been real yo.