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My name is James and Im a 24 year old from Denver, Colorado USA. Ever since I was very young Ive been traveling. Whether it was camping trips with my parents, chugging along the greater US with my grandparents in their RV, road trips with friends, or flying to other countries with my family, I eventually inherited a mean hunger to explore new places. In 2008, when my brother and his wife left the US to live in Australia, I saved up enough money to take a month off from work and go see them. That trip, before now, was the longest I had ever been away from my home country; and I loved it. I knew I wanted to do something big after that, but I just didnt know what. I loved Australia and the people there and thought about going back for an extended amount of time. It wasnt until mid-2010 when my vision of a lengthy overseas experience really came into perspective. My brother had just moved to Dunedin, NZ so his wife could obtain her masters at Uni. My parents called me one day to ask if I would be interested in checking out New Zealand with them - of course I was. Instead of following their original plan of 3 weeks abroad, I seized the opportunity to capitalize on this once in a lifetime chance and put things in motion. After quitting my job, selling my car, and obtaining a work visa, I said farewell to my friends and greater family back home and boarded a flight to Auckland.
I have never been truly alone in another country. Usually I have friends or family for an initial web of support and some would say Im not the most extroverted individual. It was time to put everything to the test. When my plane touched down in New Zealand I was excited but nervious. Where would I go? What would I do? Will I be able to handle this? I stayed in Auckland for a couple days with the plan to somehow make it to Dunedin to watch over my brothers house while he was away. I knew I wanted to find a job within a few weeks so I didnt have to spend all of my saved money. But, how was I going to get this accomplished? After meeting a fellow American in Auckland, I decided to follow him down to Queenstown, soak up that scene for a few days, and then bus down to Dunedin. It turns out that this was the cheapest way, at the time, to get to Dunners anyways. I had a good time in Queenstown, but then again how couldnt I? The people in the hostile there, Nomads, were so nice. It was impossible to not meet new travelers who were eager to explore the city as well. I was very happy at the time that I had made it to the south island, met some cool people, and had already seen some amazing sights. Hell, the plane ride alone into Queenstown was so cool! Seeing the lakes, rivers, mountains, and open land through my tiny airplane window made me so excited to see more. Now, to make it down to Dunedin and find a job: how would I do this? Enter miracle bus ride.
Boarding the bus, I was excited to get a chance to see rural New Zealand. Coming from Denver which has a metropolitan area with about the same population as the country here, I was used to seeing big buildings, concrete, and cars. Now I was finally getting away from that and enjoying the endless scenery on my route. No one really talked on the bus, and being a bit introverted I didnt really make any effort to either. It didnt matter though, I was content with what I was seeing out of the bus windows which was enough for me. We cruised along for a bit and eventually pulled into Cromwell where the passengers going to Dunedin and the like were required to switch over to a different bus. No big deal. I stepped out for a cigarette and took my time outdoors in the middle of an area that I was wholly unfamiliar with. After five minutes, to the best of my knowledge I extinguised my cigarette and went and sat in one of the last 2 seats at the back of the bus. One spot was left, and the last passenger boarded, asking me if it was ok to take the seat next to me. Of course. What happened next had to have been fate.
"Mate! Youre on fire!!" I turned to the guy, with a dumbfounded look, and then looked down. What the hell! My shorts were smoking! I jumped off the bus, right past the driver who was explaining to everyone where we were headed, and put the blaze out. Super embarrassed, I reentered the bus but to my astonishment no one really reacted except for the 3 other people in the back, who no doubt were all laughing. I said something stupid and pulled out a book to try to escape the ridiculous reality of what had just happened. Impossible. After a couple of minutes I just burst out laughing and the guy next to me did too. Soon enough were we joking about the incident and eventually started talking about other stuff as the bus rolled on. Man, how freaking crazy to have done that! It turns out this guy was a kiwi tradesman who had just finished up a 6 week stint in Queenstown and was headed back home. Anyways after a good couple hours on the road, Pretorian (name change request per the individual), told me that he had a mate who was picking him up in Dunedin and could drop me off at my Bros place. Nice! Soon enough the bus came into Dunedin and we were off.
Halfway to my destination Pretorian suggests we grab a crate of beers and go to his place to tell his mates about the bus ride. Sounds awesome to me, I had nothing going on and was ready to meet some other locals here in Dunners. Plus youve got to admit what happened on the bus was damned entertaining. Come to find out, my brothers place is only four blocks from Pretorians! Sweet as! I drop my stuff off and head over to his place. We all have a good time and tell the story of how I came to be in their lounge that night. Good times. I go home that night satisfied that a dumb mistake turned out to be a good thing. As time goes by I stay in touch with the mighty Pretorian and we continue to hang out and have plenty of laughs.
A couple weeks go by and I am ready to leave Dunedin to venture off for work. As Im looking online at bus fares, etc I get a text that says, "Mate. Just hooked, lined, and sinkered this client who is keen on me hiring a couple people for work. Want a job?" No way! I shut my laptop and jumped for joy. I had never thought I would come to New Zealand and learn a trade, but now I was getting ready for a painting gig that was to begin in a couple of days. How cool is that?! Work was great and after a few weeks I was starting to get a hang of things. To seal the deal, and to keep up with the apparent stroke of luck i was having, Pretorian just had a mate move out and wanted to know if I wanted to live in his girlfriends and his flat. Rent was cheap, and the flatmates were super cool! Heck yeah! It just couldnt have turned out any better for me. I had accomplished all of my initial goals and it felt good.
I guess the moral of this story is, even when you stress about something or get down, the solution to your problems could be sitting right next to you. It really pays to talk to everyone you can because they can help open up doors for you and give you really great advice. I am forever grateful for what Pretorian and his girlfriend have done for me. Living at the flat has been such a good time and an awesome way to spend the first few months of my New Zealand adventure. Not to mention, Ive also learned how to prep and paint houses as an added bonus. With only a couple weeks of work left, Im now thinking ahead to what my next move will be. I cant imagine it going as smoothly as this one did, but then again you really never know. Cheers!
Submitted by: James Sprecher Date submitted: 20/03/2011 11:10:39 p.m.