Whanganui (pron ‘funganooey’)

Saying I wasn't excited to go on the Whanganui river excursion was an understatement. I didn't even care enough to learn how to pronounce Whanganui (the name of the river we would be spending the next 48 hours on.) My instructor Karlee had to correct me when I called it the "wanguhnooey", when its actually pronounced "funganooey."

I was feeling particularly homesick. I was, as we call it on program, 'hangry' (a mixture of hungriness and tiredness causing anger and stress in an individual.) I was not excited to lose cell connection either. That meant I couldn't contact my loved ones back home. At that point, more than anything, I just wanted to go home. But I put on a happy face and went along.

Once I finally turned off my phone and placed it into the plastic barrel, I began to feel more present and less connected to my phone and more to the place around me. As we were drifting down past the cascading waterfalls and gazing at the majestic cliffs I began to realize where I was.

Even though one 11 hour paddling day with rapids was grueling, my teammates helped me through the difficult time more than they could ever know. Our group had a wonderful time cooking our meal in the rain after a long day. The beef stew and ramen were, as they say, primo!

As the trip was coming to a close, we had the chance to explore caves with knee deep mud pools in which I covered my face with the goop. I then proceeded to wash the dried mud off of my face in a waterfall - no big deal - just typical New Zealand.

I like to think this is a metaphor for how I was feeling before and after the canoe expedition. I was missing people from back home and not really being present and appreciating where I was. But this trip really helped me wash my brain a bit, and reflect, and made me realize that I am in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

And at the same time it made me appreciate my loved ones even more. Amazing trips on the Whanganui have a tendency to do that.

~ Griffin

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Author Griffin Richter Posted