New Zealand – Business Trip Of Terror!

New Zealand was my first eastern hemisphere country and my first country south of the equator. As soon as I arrived at my hotel, I checked to see if toilet flushed in the opposite direction. It did not. WTF! That’s when I realized that my whole world was a big fat lie! I was in Rotorua, not known as the Paris of the Pacific, on a huge international business conference for BMG Music. The conference was organized by a lunatic British expat with a death wish. Everyday started with meetings and ended with an event resulting in someone going to the hospital. I LOVED IT, mostly because I was never the one going to the hospital, though I did nearly drown,

White water rafting was one such event.

The Japanese guy mentioned at the end of the videoclip was rushed to the hospital with water-filled lungs. He boarded our bus thinking he was going golfing. It was funny watching his face when he got off the bus with his god bag and was handed a helmet and life-preserver. He must have wondered if this was some form of Maori golf. Giving truth to the stereotypical Japanese character of not questioning orders, he never said a word, at least not in English, nor resisted, and just kind of followed the herd to the river. He was in the group ahead of mine, which also flipped going over the 23-foot falls. He was found an hour later, face down and purple. The rest of this story is either hilarious or horrifying, depending on your personality, and I’m saving for another post, or a book, whichever comes first.

Travel Tip: You don’t have to pose for every picture. Sometimes you should just enjoy the moment. That said, this photo of me is one of my favorites ever taken! I love how everyone but me seem to be focused on not dying.  Thank god for other people, right?

Raft pose

I learned a lot about myself that day. I literally did everything wrong. I only had 3 rules to follow, and I followed NONE. After I jumped from the raft, I was caught in the whirlpool of the cascading waters of the falls. As I tried to swim away, I would get pulled back, forced under, float to the top, and do it all over again.

Whenever people drown, someone always says, “I’m not sure what happened, he/she was a really strong swimmer.” But being a strong swimmer has nothing to do with it. People don’t drown from swimming, they drown from not swimming. It’s not like running. If you stop running, you’re standing, but when you stop swimming, your drowning.

The point is that if you should ever find yourself in a raft with me, or in a life or death situation with me, you are literally on your own. I’m clearly not going to obey the rules and I’m probably going to risk our lives for something stupid, like a funny photo.

What to Expect In New Zealand: Near death experiences, smelly sulfur geysers, bad ass Maori welcome dinners, lots of lamb dinners and an