I have been asked a lot of questions lately of what I’m up to. So as I get confused when answering them to you all individually, it seems easier to write a post about it.
After I came back from Korea last March, I wanted to explore the backcountry trails around my home in Brooklyn. For two months, I hiked in the Abel Tasman, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes, until my hip got tired of the 15 kg bag and muddy trails. It really hurt and took some time to heal.
Mt. Ruapehu had offered me a position as a ski instructor from June until October. It is New Zealand’s biggest snow resort and it would have been a great opportunity for me to gain more teaching experience. I turned it down though.
The idea of spending a winter on the North Island didn’t seem that appealing to me at the time, neither was the idea of being on skis the whole season.
Since I came to New Zealand, I had never skipped a winter. It had proven to be a strain on my relationship. We both weren’t very good handling the long distance relationship. So I stayed home for a winter without snow except for a short trip south to Wanaka to pass my level 2 exam. I have been looking forward to this moment since I crashed in Japan two years ago.
Unfortunately, I had a harsh winter. It was in particular very difficult for me to find work, which I partly blame on me, self sabotaging myself.
I was in desperate need for money this winter for my New Zealand residency application. It has a price tag of $2000. My only income this winter was from working part-time on an egg farm: $500 per month. By the end of September I was so broke, my dinners consisted of a can of beans mixed with a can of tomatoes (it’s not as bad as it sounds though, try it).
I did make it to Wanaka for my level 2 snowboard exam in September. My car blew up halfway so I had to hitchhike the rest of the road.
I failed the exam as well.
And our cat died.
I was so broke that my friends, Brendan and Marika, who hosted me in Wanaka bought me sushi for lunch and provided me with sandwiches so I wouldn’t starve.
I am forever grateful to them for doing that.
When I came back from Wanaka, I kicked myself in the butt and with a sparkle and a boom I found a job at a hops farm. I have been slowly climbing out of my financial pit I dug for myself this winter by working hard. I am happy to say I payed off a big part of my debts.
The job involved me planting, digging and driving around on a tractor. It’s been deeply satisfying to get my hands dirty. Working outside means I have been baking so much in the sun, I feel as sexy as a caramel creme brûlée top.
I still have two weeks left of work here at the hops farm. After that I will be driving to Hanmer Springs for a relaxing weekend, soaking in hot tubs. It’s going to involve a lovely dinner with me wearing some high heeled shoes and red lipstick. Which is a superb prospect after all the farm labor and mud I fought through the past months.
After this weekend of awesome, I am off to Christchurch to see some friends for two days until I fly to Seoul. Which is where I will spend the winter, working for the Phoenix Park foreigner snow school.
At the moment, I am pre-planning the winter. This means thinking about what I want to achieve for the next three months. I am determined to pass my level 2 snowboard exam next July in New Zealand. The biggest challenge was my freestyle, so you’ll find me in the park this winter.
I am very excited to see my friends again and make a whole lotta new ones! It’s winter Olympic year and guess what? Our resort is hosting the Freeski and Freestyle snowboard events. This means more awesomeness and more red lipstick.
I am going to make more videos this season as I have upgraded my camera gear. My snowboard gear got upgraded too, excited to go out and rip it up.
The Future after the Future
After Korea, the plan is to fly back south to New Zealand for the hops harvest. I will be loaded with cash and spending it on getting avalanche trained and a flash car, a Mazda Roadster. Convertible and bright red. The rest of the money will be towards snow chains since I will be driving it up the ski hill.
I am also going back home to Belgium in October 2018. Yes, my European friends and family, I am coming home. The separation has been too long and I have missed you. Looking forward to biking, eating frietjes and going pootjebaden as only Belgians can.