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Freeee at last!

It really is incredible. When you are are going to go hiking, you usually can leave some stuff back at the hostel and pick it up when you get back. That way you travel with a light pack. It’s a little more complicated for me though, seeing as I will be hiking and traveling for about 3 weeks and am just going to leave my stuff here in Christchurch in the mean time. So I made decisions. I shaved off about 20 pounds worth of stuff from my pack and put it into storage. That means that I could be traveling with about 20 pounds less worth of crap. If I can live on what I’ll have for three weeks, I could probably for another year and a half. But what am I leaving behind? Walking shoes (I’ll just be wearing my hiking boots and flip flops), a few shirts (I can wash the ones I have more frequently), mate (the tea I got from Argentina – of which I still have a kilo left), my CD’s (can’t LIVE without those on long bus trips), my Chinese books (I’m trying to see if I can just mail them to the American Express office in China and pick them up when I get there, and some other miscellaneous crap that I don’t REALLY need. But I do. Ah the joys of traveling. You live in a backpack. It’s your home. Do we really need all the junk we have in our houses? Nope. Yeah it’s nice to have a cup of coffee in the morning you just ground fresh, and it’s nice to be able to flip on the TV and sit stare mindlessly for hours, but is it really necessary? Nope.

Speaking of which, I sense a change in my way of thinking since I left the US. I don’t know what exactly to which I should attribute this change, but I like it. How am I thinking differently? I feel more free. “Yeah, jackass”, you might say, “you’re free to do whatever the hell you want – maybe that’s why”, but I mean free in a difference sense. Unlike yourselves, I haven’t been a slave to radio, TV, commercials, magazines and tons of other forms of media that tell us how to think, what’s cool, what’s beautiful, what’s fun, and on what we should spend our money. I travel around with dirty and stinky backpackers and I am no exception. Status isn’t important as you meet new people every day and no one cares, nor can afford, the “latest and greatest” of anything. You talk to all sorts of people just to talk to them. You make friends with whom you would never normally even talk. You live and sleep and eat next to complete strangers in sometimes filthy facilities. And you don’t care. And you laugh all day and night. And you have a blast.

And so what’s the changes have I noticed? Well, most of the people that know me know that I am normally a pretty confident guy. Well now, I notice that I am even more so. What else? I have been finding girls attractive who I would normally not find that attractive. I’ve asked myself why. Well, I don’t see impossibly beautiful girls running around the TV all day selling makeup, clothes, video games, cars, soda, electronics, their souls, etc… I also no longer have a subscription to Maxim (which my mom calls the filth magazine due to the high quantity of beautiful girls contained therein). I only see real people all day. It changes everything. And I only watched things like Discovery Channel and CNN all day. But the commercials are all the same on all channels. They brainwash the mind. I can remember reading in Psychology Today that college professors have a much higher bachelor rate than people in other professions. Why? They attributed it to the fact that the professors are around young and pretty girls all day and when it comes time to be with someone with whom they could actually relate and with whom they could have a relationship, they don’t find them attractive. After all, older women aren’t naive and innocent dressed up 18-20 year old girls.

I guess it’s kind of like that, except for the fact that the girls who I saw on TV only existed on TV. At least the professors have a CHANCE of hooking up with a college girl. I would only have a chance if my date spent about 4 hours in an airbrush studio.

So I’m free.

So what am I up to? No much. Wandering around Christchurch. It’s a beautiful city and I really like it. It has a little river that runs down the middle of it with ducks and trees and stuff and benches all along it. There are old restored colonial buildings everywhere and even free buses! Today I took a tour of a commercial brewery and enjoyed that as well. The final portion of the tour included (of course) beer sampling and as the tour guide kept giving me beers (I think she ended up giving me about seven), I spoke with a few people in the group and untaught them the garbage the tour guide told them. She really didn’t have a clue. But hey, with a spinning head by the time I left, I couldn’t complain. I then went to the museum, botanical gardens, and art gallery before heading back to the hostel (starving) and cooking dinner. Pasta. Can’t beat it.

I leave for Greymouth tomorrow via a really scenic train ride, supposedly among the seven greatest in the world, through the middle of the South Island. From there I will hitch hike up to the north and do a few 3-6 day hikes before heading south and doing a few more. Then I’ll check out the glaciers.

Then? I don’t know. Australia, I guess.