"And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home."
Wendell Berry

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I don't know where to start. It's only been a couple days, but I feel like I've been gone for months already. Actual travel details are pretty boring, so I'll spare you. The trip over can be summed up thus: slept for 20 hours, arrived at hostel, slept for another 5.

Now when I'm awake, I feel like I'm sleepwalking, so Auckland's taken on a twinge of the surreal. Rather than fight jetlag, I've just been keeping ridiculous hours, going to bed around 8pm and waking up at 4am. I have barely spoken to anyone in three days. Though I can fake being gregarious fairly well for short periods of time, when left to my own devices I realize I don't actually like to talk all that much, especially to strangers, and I worry a bit about just turning into a total hermit while on the road. I imagine I'll get over it when I start to get lonely.

As long as hostels are cheap, I don't care too much about the accomodations, but staying in them has made me feel like a washed up old lady. Since most of the Western world encourages a gap year after high school, almost all of my comrades are 18-20. Let's just say I've had a glimpse of popov flashbacks from freshman year and woke up this morning to my ceiling shaking in time to drunken moaning. Ah, youth! It's been interesting. Today is rainy, so I'm inside booking stuff and catching up on some work. Looks like I'll be down to the South Island by later this week.

Biggest surprises so far have been how capable and confident I feel (starting off in an English speaking country definitely helps, and with a little patience, most everything feels manageable), and how annoying loading and unloading my backpack has already become. It seems every time I get the thing done up, I need something that's buried right in the middle. I need to come up with a better system, or else ditch half of my stuff.

Also, despite the complexity of this trip, I've already started to realize I won't be able to sustain constantly being on the move for long. I've never visited any of these countries, so my tendency is to want to see everything I can, but I think it's probably necessary for me to find a home base in each place, instead, even if it means I miss a lot of the "must-sees." A Kiwi told me that "Auckland is the armpit of the country!" I don't know if I buy that, since it's still pretty gorgeous, but it made me laugh because that is exactly what my dad says about Ohio.Auckland has everything you could need, but I think I might need a base in greener (literally) pastures. Goal: find a sheep farm.

Yesterday I took a ferry to Waiheke Island ("Wa HEH keh," according to the Kiwi who corrected my "Wehiki"...and then asked me to accompany him home). Waiheke looks like Hawaii (or what I imagine Hawaii looks like, based on 5 seasons of LOST) crossed with Italy: imposing cliffs, rolling, vibrant greenery, tropical plants, turquoise water, and lots of vineyards. I spent the day reading in the sun, reapplying sunscreen religiously to combat the ozone hole (Kiwis have the highest skin cancer rates in the world), and sampling wine at the vineyards. Definitely a nice day to recoup. Also, it's true that New Zealanders are the nicest people on the planet. I asked a girl manning an ice cream booth in the middle of nowhere if I could find internet anywhere nearby, and she offered up her laptop.

I'm reading On The Road, which is both contributing to my excitement and vague homesickness (teared up when I heard that awful Kid Rock song about Northern Michigan--ha!). Kerouac feels very appropriate, regardless. "I wasn't scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost. I was halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future."
More to come, I'm sure...


  1. Jill, about the Hermit Vagabond Life: During my two-week solo trip to Australia a couple of years ago, I basically didn't talk to anyone (aside from ordering coffee and watery beer) for the entire 15 days. By the end of the trip, I felt like I had become autistic or something. Even interacting with the airport staff felt weird. So, just be careful.

    I'm so excited to follow this blog and read about your adventures!


  2. "...or what I imagine Hawaii looks like, based on 5 seasons of LOST." Amazing.

    I miss you already.

    Watch out! Don't get sucked into the international Popov dimension!

  3. Omg, Jill! So jealous!
    But wow--you are kick ass to just up and solo-tour the world. I will certainly be following your progress.

    Say hi to the hobbits for me in NZ!

  4. Hello, Jill! Congrats on your marathon! You used to send me packages from Andrea when you worked at L,B. :) I got here from Alvina's blog, and wow, what an amazing trip you're going to have! and what a great place to start! I don't know how much time you'll have in NZ but am happy to offer suggestions if you like. Enjoy your time with the Kiwis.

    yamshu at yahoo