Sunday, 23 March 2008

Glaciers and Soup

I've decided the best way to spur ideas for the blog is to choose a random picture from my travels, and go on to tell a story around it... Wouldn't you know, the first picture I come across really had nothing at all to do with me anyways. But I can spin a story around it. Here's the pic:
In it, you see a glacier (yes, all that dirty-looking ice is apparently a glacier, one I only ever saw from far, far above while skydiving.) being attacked with some sort of sharp implement in order to make passable stairs. My story actually begins a few days before this....

After our arrival in New Zealand, we decided to travel on a bus tour, which meant travelling and living in close quarters with a lot of people, many of whom we made friends with. For instance this picture of us all standing around a couple of rare but massive Kauri trees:

Being in close quarters is fun, but dangerous, especially when there's a few with colds. On a bus tour, you travel beside each other, eat with each other, sleep in the same rooms, do the same activities. And as such, you share germs. About a week and a half after starting the tour, I was starting to notice (and trying to ignore) the fact that I was getting sick. Sniffling a bit. Plugged nose at night. Starting to cough at night. Can't breathe at night. Shoot, definitely have a cold. I wasn't deathly ill, and so I wasn't about to miss any activities. At the same time, it was a great excuse to leave the bar early when people were just starting to get drunk.
People feel sorry for you, instead of telling you to stay, they tell you you look like death and really ought to go to bed. Or something to that effect, anyways. And so I enjoyed my days, and endured my nights. And slowly the cold pulled me down a bit, as colds tend to do, making me feel less like enjoying my days and more like extending my nights. But I fought it. And tried to do everything I wanted to do. And so the night we arrived in Franz Josef and were hearing the speil about how great it was to climb the glacier, how many options they had and all the gear that you could borrow/rent from them.... I looked around the room at the drenched people returning from their 8 hour hikes, looked out at the rain steadily coming down.... and I made the difficult decision that my health would come first this time. Okay, to be honest, I knew very well that my endurance for climbing sucks, and it would be a hard climb. So I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of an eight hour climb, but heck I wanted to see the glacier!
I think the hardest thing about that decision was the thought that I would be "missing out." Because that is one of the things I hate the most, when I miss out on things that I know others are enjoying, and I could have enjoyed right along with them. But the reality was I was sick, I had poor endurance for climbing, and it had been raining steadily for the past few days and it was very likely continue raining. So I sucked up my pride, threw it away, and decided not to go along with everyone else. Instead, I decided to make the most of my day off.
I slept in. (until about 8:30am? not that late, but later than the rest of the group).
I showered. (I'd say it was a leisurely shower, but they had timed buttons. You push, you get 20-30 seconds of spray. You lather up, you spray again.)
I walked to the shops nearby. (extremely small town, I could have walked laps around it that day if I had the energy)
I searched for a cash machine, had to ask directions.
I bought a few things, including ingredients. (if you know me well, I bet you can guess where this is going)
I went back to the hostel and started making... soup.
Mmmm. Homemade chicken vegetable soup, completely from scratch. Nothing better when you're under the weather, even if you have to make it yourself. (yes, I'm a big soup fan, summer/winter, sick/well, doesn't matter. I love soup)
Let it simmer.
I phoned my cousin in Canada.
I used the internet.
I read for a bit.
I napped.
I finished making the soup.
Everyone got back, not drenched (beautiful, clear day), slightly exhausted, fairly sweaty. They went in the hot tub, showered, and then a bunch of us shared the soup. It was pronounced good, and not a drop was left over. (we had to force the last of it on the 16 year old travelling on the bus who was shopping for himself for the first time. He had no idea what to buy for meal preps and ended up with a nasty combo we couldn't in all conscience let him suffer with.)

I heard stories later about the climb. They were bused to a spot in/near the rainforest, which they walked through to get to the glacier.
Here they started climbing in a pre-determined spot where there were semi-permanent steps carved out. (Glaciers are constantly melting and moving, so the steps need some fixing up every day) The guides led them along the glacier, no set paths, and they traveled over crevasses, through holes in the ice, in narrow cracks,

and generally spent a lot of time staring at the butt of the guide when he was leaning over chipping steps into difficult to climb areas. Or so say the girls who thought the guide was hot. Sounds like they enjoyed themselves. I wish I could have gone for the experience and for being a part of the group. But I know that that day, staying back and having a day to myself for the first time in months, I was refreshed. So it was a good decision. It was a soup day.

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