After the first week in New Zealand, things got better. The weather improved. I got used to hostel dorms, I even got used to book accommodation and transport in advance. More important, I finally fall in love with New Zealand.
Since I am traveling alone, I have fallen for all the countries I have visited. Either I chose very well, or I am more sensitive and open… In any case, every time I leave a country I feel I am leaving a small part of myself behind, that I would love to come back one day, to discover more. At the same time, I could not have stayed longer, since I yearn too much to discover new places, to move on with this trip in which I am experimenting and learning so much.
My round the world trip will be 11 months long, so month number 6 was the middle one. Only half way in my sabbatical leave, and so many things had already happened!
On the 6th month of travel I tested my limits, by doing two things that I really wanted to try but which scared me: hitchhiking and a serious alpine hiking. And something I did not expect happened… I got (some kind of) bed bugs! In New Zealand, of all places!
These are the reflections of my sixth month of solo travel, with a summary of the places I visited, the best moments I had and what’s next.
(Some kind of) Bed bugs in New Zealand
It happened the day I moved from National Park to Rotorua. I woke up with some small red dots on my hands, arms, neck and cleavage. Itchy red dots that did not look like mosquito bites (in addition, there were far too many). An allergy? Some insects from the Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
I did not want to think about bed bugs. I mean, I had traveled four months in Asia, staying in places which were only “more or less” clean, and I never had any problem. Surely there were no bed bugs in New Zealand, it must be something else!
The itchiness was increasing, and with it my worries, so I finally went to a pharmacy in Rotorua. They looked at me, discussed between them, asked me if I had any known allergy, if I was backpacking and staying in dorms…
They told me that it was probably scabies that I had got in some hostel dorm during the last two weeks. I had to apply a lotion all over my body and wash all my clothes, including the towel and bedsheets. I did so and in a few days the red dots disappeared for good.
Testing my limits
When I was a teenager the word “hitchhiking” was imprinted in my head next to “dangerous”. As I started reading travel blogs and meeting long term travelers, however, my perception changed. There is a lot of people who hitchhike, not only to save money, but as a way to interact with locals. In Malaysia I met two solo female travelers who hitchhiked, and in New Zealand there were plenty of people!
So it was in Kaikoura, New Zealand, where the right occasion came for me to try. And it was fine! I got rides from a woman and her old mother, a mother and small kid, and a funny truck driver.
After that… have I tried again? Well, not yet. I have realized that I am very shy and independent so it is difficult for me to ask for help (a ride). If it is a walkable distance, I prefer to walk. If there is public transport, I prefer to pay. But if I ever need to go to a place which is difficult to reach… why not? Taking care, of course, in which car I enter!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
It is no secret that I am not a fit person. I walk a lot, yes, but that is it. In addition (I think I did not tell you yet) I have a small problem in my back so I cannot carry a lot of weight (which is part of the reason why I travel with hand luggage only) and walking 5 or 6 hours per day tends to be my limit.
So, question: how on earth would I do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of my dreams? That would be about 6-7 hours walking (up and down the mountains) and I would have to carry food and water.
Answer: with a lot of motivation, walking at my own speed (it was good that I was alone, so nobody would have to wait for me) and taking a 10min rest every hour. And I did it! (the day after I hurt all over though).
- New Zealand, South island: Mt Cook, lake Pukaki & lake Tekapo, Christchurch, Banks Peninsula, Kaikoura, Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park.
- New Zealand, North island: Wellington, Tongariro National Park, Rotorua, Tauranga & Mount Manganui and Auckland.
- South island: Banks Peninsula and Abel Tasman National Park.
- North island: Tongariro National Park and Rotorua.
- Christchurch: discover its moving story of creativity and hope.
- Banks peninsula: see the stars of the south hemisphere.
- Kaikoura: hitchhike and get a ride on a truck.
- Abel Tasman National Park: have a pleasant walk in breathtaking scenery.
- Tongariro National Park: test my limits in a challenging hike in unreal, stunning scenery.
I am four months late in the blog… sorry!
After New Zealand I went to South America! Some quick updates:
- month 7: Chile, visiting friends in Santiago and Patagonia.
- month 8: Chile, traveling alone from Patagonia to Santiago, passing by Argentina for a few days.
- month 9: for a change, I went two weeks to Canada for a family holiday! After that I went back to Santiago and travelled to the north of Chile.
- month 10: I have been all this month in Bolivia.
You can also get the latest updates of my trip by following the facebook page.