Paddling the Nile
The first ever paddle down the Blue Nile from source to sea. 5,000km through wild rapids, war zones, crocodile and hippo infested waters, disease, terrorists, guns, arrests; the works...
Newly married amongst the neon glow and dumpling vendors as we bumble our way trying to figure out the world's most populous nation at this exciting time in it's history...
The Great Canadian Bike Trek
23 years old and naive, I set off in the middle of Canada's barbaric winter perched on a woolskin seat-cover peddling solo from one side of Canada to the other...
'Tis the changing of seasons in Vancouver, the gradual transition from the long, hot days of summer, to the crisp, clear days of autumn (fall in Canadian), said by some to be the most enchanting time of the year in this year-round scenic paradise. The leaves on the native trees, abundant in the tree lined neighbourhoods, are slowly changing from their traditional shades of green to deep, rich burgundy, fiery red and stunning gold, before they float down on their peaceful journey to join their dry, brown brothers littering the pavements below.
Like the leaves are leaving their branches, my flatmates are leaving the flat, to return to the families with memories and photos of a far away place. In less than a week, our fun-filled house of four became a fun-filled house of two. First to go was Nico, my buddy from Berlin, followed by Red's long-lost, ball-scratching, Turkish Brother, Chuck.
I got on very well with them both, and will miss them, especially the English second language Turk, who apart from being a bloody good guy, provided translation services for those who could not understand my strange dialect of English. I plan to visit them during my travels of Continental Europe next Century, when I finish up in North America.
McCracken the Melbourne MadMan is the next to go.
I am keeping up my tradition of living with foreigners and are looking for a place at Kitsilano Beach with a Scotsman, Tipu. Tipu is your typical top Scotsman who has just finished his 18 month AIESEC thing in Montreal, has got permanent residency and is now working in a well paying job in North Vancouver. Kits Beach is one of the 'young and happening' neighbourhoods, with heaps of cafes, pubs and of course, sun, sand and sea.
Although I am still standing out like a tourist, I am learning a few of the local secrets: which buses go where, what shops rip you off, and which restaurants give you the runs (which I unfortunately found out the hard way after a day of clenched cheeks and wet undies). I have myself a local pub - Malones, which is a nice little brick-walled establishment next to work, where a few of the Net Nanny crew sometimes go after work. It reminds me a lot of the pub on Elle McBeal - Bar the annoying singer.
Work is treating me very well; I am getting on great with everyone. Last week our five-strong marketing department squeezed into a 1986 Saab family wagon and journeyed to the outer suburbs to redeem a meal voucher that we had won on the radio a few weeks earlier. Fine red wine helped wash down the tenderest steak that I have ever had in my gob. While eating twice as much as everyone else, in half the time, I taught my fellow acquaintances some of the finer examples of kiwi table manners.
I am not too sure what work has in store for me in the future, because it looks like there could be some big changes. Some new VP of marketing has come into the picture, and seems to be changing things around a bit.
A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to take a ferry ride over to the breathtaking Vancouver Island, to visit the Olde English Capital of Victoria (host of the 1994 Commonwealth games). I saw many of the lovely sights on offer, but my main reason for this excursion was to attend the bi-annual Western Region AIESEC conference.
The 3-day conference was a ball, in which I made friends and sampled liquor from all corners of Canada and the world. During the first evening of the conference, myself and a few other zealous foreigners performed the traditional Maori Haka - with some minor adjustments.
After hearing the haka so many times in NZ, I was very familiar with the words, but it struck me, when I got here, that I only knew the actions up to tenata tangata. After some quick creativity from my team of tourists, with some Zulu and German beer dancing influences, we performed a spectacular exhibition including groin grabs and chest slaps. It may not have been identical to the ritual practiced by brave Maori warriors for so many years, but it was loud, in time and the crowd seemed to love it. We topped off the extravaganza with a hyped up, 90's version of Waltzing Matilda, with McCracken on lead vocals.
The last afternoon of the weekend was dedicated to presentations from the non-Canadians among us. Although I hadn't prepared a PowerPoint display like the few before me, I made do with the traditional technique of paper and felt tips. My presentation got off to a loud start, with the room echoing to the sound of a bellowing crowd chanting "Shag the sheep, shag, shag the sheep", followed later on, by random cries of "baaa". My display seemed to go down well; I got some laughs and educated everyone on some of the mysteries of Aoteroa. I topped off my presentation with a nerve-racking, yet harmonic, first verse of the New Zealand National anthem to the 180-strong audience.
Festivities are all sorted out for me. I have invested in a Halloween costume, after testing out numerous varieties on unsuspecting consumers in the department store that I purchased it from. We have been invited to a Halloween do, but I am very keen to get some trick or treating experience under my belt.
Vancouver, Washington, USA, across the Columbia River from Portland Oregon, has secured the position for Christmas on my December itinerary. After making phone contact with Jerri Beeman - proud mother of my long lost mate Mark Schiller (alias Gripper, the ball-bearing ball boy), I have negotiated a feast of pumpkin pie, among many other things, to help celebrate to birth of Christ. I can't wait for the reuniting with my blood brother, who I have not seen since an emotional airport farewell in 1993.