Don’t Go Hiking in Fiordland with a Sprained Ankle
It’s now officially been over a month since I moved into my flat and Dunedin, and I still can’t quite wrap my head around how quickly it all is going by! I also can’t believe that it took me a month to travel outside of Dunedin, but there’s just so much to get used to and do around campus that I really don’t feel too guilty about it.
Last weekend, one of my flatmates, Jenny, and I went with the University of Otago’s Tramping Club to their Fiordland trip. Jenny is from Colorado and leads a lot of trips back home, so she signed up to be a leader while here in New Zealand. Naturally, I signed up for her trip and was really excited for a fun weekend in one of New Zealand’s most spectacular tracts of land. Our group was assigned the Routeburn track, which is not supposed to be difficult, but still yields some incredible views.
However, with me being me, there was no way that everything could go off without a hitch. I somehow managed to sprain my ankle the day before I left (I’m blaming a combination of wearing flip-flops in the rain and slipping around with going to kickboxing that evening and kicking incorrectly). I went to the university health center on Friday before we left and they gave me a wrap and some ibuprofen. Now, a normal person would have decided (and rightly so) to stay home and sit this one out. But, since I’m only here one semester, I decided I could tough it out for one weekend and be minimally impaired. I mean, a sprained ankle is no big deal, right? WRONG.
For whatever reason, the relative ease and minimal pain that I was walking around Dunedin in led me to think that I could hike with it, especially since the Routeburn considered to be a relatively easy track. What I wasn’t factoring in was how much the rest of your body has to compensate for one injury. My ankle, which was basically useless, transferred a lot of extra stress onto my hip so that by the time we were back home, I was worse off than when I left. I went through the hike Saturday (slowly, but we did it) decently, but then Sunday I could not made it back without the atrocious amount of ibuprofen that I took (probably damaging my liver more than if I had been home for St. Patrick’s Day…just kidding!). I also must say that I owe Jenny a huge thank you for sticking with me throughout both days and keeping me from giving up (she only had to threaten to beat me with a stick about half a dozen times). I should also mention that I woke up on Friday with the cold that went around the flat (of course, I couldn’t have had it earlier in the week like everyone else), and that combined with the higher elevation took a bit of a toll as well.
But anyway, enough about that! The moral of the story is don’t go on a massive hike unless you’re uninjured. Everyone else in the group was saying that they were impressed that I went and that they wouldn’t have gone if they were me, but they (and I) would have been right not to go (as my kiwihost, Mike, said, “A normal person, not Meghann, who actually has common sense, would have known to stay home).But, that being said, I am so happy that I went because it was gorgeous and I was able to take probably the best and most striking pictures that I have since I arrived in New Zealand. We were right among the mountains and the Fiordland has waterfalls EVERYWHERE. If any of you ever make it there, bring the tiniest water bottle you own because there are streams and water probably every at least every 30 feet and that water tastes better than any bottled or purified water you can drink. It’s a beautiful and untamed region that really fits the picture exactly of what many Americans envision when they think New Zealand.
I also must sing the praises of the Tramping Club while discussing the trip. Everyone I met this past weekend could not have been nicer or more enthused about being out and meeting new people. Our group specifically had seven people, including Jenny and myself. We had another leader, who was a Kiwi, another American, a guy from Spain, and then two more Kiwis. There were 78 people on the trip total, so I certainly cannot speak for everyone, but I would assume that the majority of people would all fit that easy-going but adventurous classification.
Let’s see…classes are going well, though the workload is starting to pile up and I actually already turned in my first essay for New Zealand Christianity. It was more challenging than I expected, not only because it was the first of the semester and I am a bit rusty, but because a fact-based, history essay is not quite what I am accustomed to. I also have been on the tour of Dunedin’s best coffee places with my kiwihost, Mike. They have much better coffee here than we do back in the States. It’s also quite different just in the approach that people tend to take to their coffee drinking. Unlike in the States, where people tend to order a giant coffee and then gulp it down while in transit to somewhere else, most people seem to approach coffee drinking as kind of an experience in itself. The cups are smaller and people tend to drink it in the cafes rather than chugging it down and running. The locations themselves are also much cuter than the cookie-cutter generic Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts that we have at the end of every block.
And now, I have some Kiwi lingo to share for any who are curious. Now that I’ve been here for awhile, I think I’ve picked up on most of their different terms for things. For example, Kiwis never say that they ‘want’ to do something or would ‘like’ to do whatever. Instead, they’re ‘keen’ on going somewhere or doing something. You also don’t wait in a line in New Zealand; it’s called a queue. Garbage is rubbish (which, for some reason, still always makes me want to laugh and I don’t know why). They also don’t throw things away; you ‘chuck’ it (which I think is more fun to say). And you don’t have ‘lots’ of something; you would have ‘heaps’ of it. And, perhaps the one that seems the most foreign to me, is calling a jacket a ‘jumper’. Because when I hear jumper, I think of that overall skirt-type item of clothing that little girls wear. I also can’t see to adjust to calling fries ‘chips’ or cookies “biscuits”. But that’s about it. Except that I should probably say that it’s not only Canadians who say ‘eh’ frequently. It’s definitely a Kiwi thing too.
Anyway, that’s about all I have to report for now! But I have some exciting adventures planned over the next few weeks, and hopefully now that I’ve gotten a cold and an injury out of the way, I’m now home free!