Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ryan - or - Failing miserably to pull on the other side of the world

How I let this one slip through my fingers is a mystery even to me, with my long history of chronic ineptitude in getting along with the males of the species.

It was on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand. Hiking in NZ is fantastic. There are loads of 3 and 4 day hikes along well-marked trails with huts at roughly 1-day intervals - perfect for the not-terribly-fit, no-sense-of-direction novice like myself. I like walking alone (cos then I can stop for food every, oh, 5 minutes) but then you’ve got the camaraderie of the bunkhouse in the evening. The huts, for some reason, are always well-stocked with ancient copies of National Geographic which always pleases me greatly.

I’d already spotted Ryan the Hot Canadian; he’d given me a cheery ‘hi’ in the bunkhouse which perked me up nicely after two sweaty days of clambering up precipitous mountains. But I spent the evening in the kitchen with three Israeli guys* who were a bit astonished to find a young Irishwoman reading a David Grossman novel.

But the next day Hot Canadian and I ran into each other on the trail, and walked the last few hours of the track out together. And we got on splendidly. We had so much in common. We talked about music, and festivals, and, er, travel. He’d been travelling for longer than I had, which impressed me no end as I’d been on the road for over a year at this point. In Real Life he was some sort of engineer, but when he was in London, he’d worked as a cycle courier.

Oh god.

I have such a fetish for cycle couriers. It all started many years ago when I was working in Philadelphia. To get from my shitty-café-job to my shitty-waitressing-job I had to walk through the south-west corner of the lovely Rittenhouse Square, where all the couriers hang out. They all congregate there throughout the day, with their unbelievably hot bodies, tops unzipped in the humidity. I walked though daily, averting my eyes (it was obscene just how fit they were).

Anyhow, back to Ryan. It seemed that he fancied me too. This is nothing short of a miracle, because I certainly don’t look my most gorgeous best after three days trekking and no shower. When we reached the end of the trail we got chatting to a couple of other guys, who were also planning to politely hitch a ride back to Queenstown with some of the many day-walkers whose cars filled the car-park.

We sat in the sun. Ryan changed his shirt. I nearly fainted.

But then the minibus pulled up, and I panicked. Ryan was camping so wasn’t going all the way into town anyhow. What if I wasn’t able to get a ride back? The minibus was the only public transport. As it was ready to leave I suddenly jumped to my feet – I needed to be on the bus. Ryan looked bewildered and, I think, disappointed, as he carried my bag to the bus. I settled in and he leaned in and kissed me on the cheek (this is not normal backpacker behaviour). His stubble felt soft against my sunburn.

We didn’t even have the chance to exchange emails.

So, just how much of a twat am I?

*These were interesting, considerate late-twenty-something Israelis, not the 21-year-old just-out-of-the-army galloping arrogant arsehole variety who pollute much of the travelling circuit.


  • worthy of the Sunday Times travel section ...

    By Blogger the Beep, at 5:43 PM  

  • Um, thanks Beep.


    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 12:56 PM  

  • You know the bit I mean? It's always the first article I read in the travel section. Someone's (usually unrequited) love affair on a trip abroad. My favourite is the chap who tried very hard to get off with the female mate on a boat only to find that the very burly captian was her husband. Nowhere to run on a boat. Now THAT's embarrassing!

    By Blogger the Beep, at 1:05 PM  

  • Nope. I'm an Observer girl meself.

    *Quick check on internet*


    It's like the Crap Holidays bit in the Observer. Of which more, at some point...

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 2:17 PM  

  • ah shit....that really is too bad. He sounded very promising!

    Hey, I live in Canada, maybe I know him?

    (ha, ha - this is a joke aimed at all the geographically challenged folk [usually from the USA] who think there are only 20 of us and we all live next door to each other and Canada isn't the second biggest chunk of land inside a country on the whole planet)
    sorry, that was a really bad sentence.

    By Blogger Kyahgirl, at 4:31 PM  

  • This post upsets me terribly. Not because of Ryan but because it makes me think about the way I've been brought up to be a total coward. I could never do anything like hiking a trail alone or hooking up with 4 interesting Israelis I hadn't been previously introduced to by an elderly relative or indeed Ryan because of the relentless brainwashing I received as a child that if I did stuff like that (or indeed wore tight trousers) I'd be raped, mugged, murdered, eaten by wolves etc. Sad. Sometimes I do take risks but I rarely enjoy the experience because I get so worried about the outcome. I'm deeply envious at this point.

    By Blogger GreatSheElephant, at 10:40 AM  

  • Are you sure you don't know him Kyah? Name's Ryan, he's a bit of a fox...

    GSE, the bravery of the lone traveller is a bit of a myth.

    The backpacker trail is the easiest place in the world to meet people. As for safety, well I spent most of my twenties gallivanting round the world, all by myself, and my only mishap was I had cash stolen from my wallet in Sydney. By an English girl.

    This is a sad story from my point of view, but because In Real Life I am loud and obnoxious (um, I mean sarky), but when it comes to boys, I come over all shy and pathetic. Hopeless.

    By Blogger Spinsterella, at 11:37 AM  

  • i soo know what you mean. i just saw someone i really like in the kitchen at work, and despite the fact that everyone here knows me as a complete hard arse,i found that my hands were shaking while talking to him.

    By Blogger Kirses, at 1:44 PM  

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