Friday, 29th, April, 2011. We met David, the man from Korea, Fabio, the man from Malaysia and Jerry, the man from Germany outside the ANZ bank in Te puke at 8:00. They are all friends at Trevelyan pack house who by chance have interviews at the Mt Ruapehu ski slops at the same time as me. We have borrowed Robbie’s (the man from Hong Kong) car and we are driving the three hours down south together to save money.
Packed 5 in the car we took off. Fabio driving, Jerry in the front seat and Sarah David and myself squashed in the back. I have been thinking about how much detail I should go into when talking about the drive down. How much do you really want to hear? If you’re anything like me you will thing that like salt, scenery descriptions should come in short smatterings otherwise the proverbial dish will be compromised. Should I described the different trees? The various hills and small mountains? Well let me do it briefly so you get a simple picture.
For one although autumn here has none of the vivid reds yellows or browns one gets in the UK or (or as I hear and see in pictures) in Canada. This is due I believe to the fact that in this part of NZ most of the trees are of the pine variety “ zay are all like ziz all zi year round” German Jerry said when I pointed this out to him. The smooth hills which you could imagine Frodo and the hobbits trexing across rolled past in such numbers that the beauty of the landscape grew to the degree when it slips from interest to indifference. As we continued and drove the craggy peaks of Mt Ruapehu grew bigger and bigger, beside it Mt Ngauruhoe, which was used as mount Doom in the Lord of the rings films. “In German zi translation is called the mountain of fortune” Jerry said to me. Both very unimaginative names if you ask me “Mt Doom”.
Winding roads lead around Mt Ruapehu, around to the town of Ohakune where we are having our interview. On arrival we found it to be a small village with a few closed bars, a few restaurants and not much else. We checked into our BBH, Station Lodge, which was next to the train station. A large spacious house. The land lady, a tired woman with a red faced screaming baby in one hand briefly showed us round before giving us our keys.
After settling in Sarah and I walked to the Powderhorn lodge which is where I was to have my interview the next day. It was late afternoon, tired from the 3 hour drive we walked sleepily down the dead town. Closed bars and hotels, all unused for the off season lull. The town is supposed to have about 1500people off season and then it rises to over 6000 in the peak time. The locals which consisted of a group of teenagers (why were they not in school?) sitting oykishly on a bench gave us a stabbing look as if to say “we don’t take kindly to outsiders”. The streets were virtually empty.
The powderhorn is a large wooden hotel “it’s just like a hotel on an alps’ resort” I thought to myself as I looked up at the wooden balcony’s and thick timber beams and pillars, in front a view of green forested hills and beyond the snow caped mountain. Sarah and I entered, next to the check in booth where two women sitting at a table filled with forms. They were the receptionists for the Mt Ruapehu ski resort, they greeted us and after some brief chit chat I told them that I would be attending the interview tomorrow and even thought my wife had dent secured one herself could she talk to anyone about getting a job?. The two women instantly knew who I was from our email conversations and said that because we had arrived a day before there were still some positions open for the kitchen jobs and that Sarah was more than welcome to come back at the same time as me tomorrow and have an interview as well. We thanked them both and taking a leaflet with information about work we left and walked back to the BBH.
We felt so relieved that Sarah was in with a chance of getting a job, on first arriving in Ohakune I was mildly concerned with how small and dead it was and that trying to find a job there would be a fruitless task. The stress of the uncontrollable was lessened and our future plans became more tangible.
The evening was interesting. The BBH had a hot tub which myself and Sebastian lounged in for over an hour, the temperature was 40 degrees and we periodically had to get out and recover from the heat. We talked about how the world could and should be a better place, how money is crazy and evil and about Sebastian’s car crashed today. He had been driving from Te puke with his girlfriend Kala as they also had an interview tomorrow and he was going too fast, went into the dirt track on the side of the road, a stone blew out the tire and he crashed into the woody verge.
Only a tire and the door need replacing but he was understandably annoyed. After the hot tub which took several hours of rest to recover from we all played on the play station 3 in one of the BBHs rooms. The play station had the motion sensor wand which in response to a camera above the TV allowed you to move around your computer game character on the screen by moving your own wand controller. While playing a game which involved waving a sword around I saw an opening to slash my opponent, a large tattooed Maori ma with a double headed axe and I made a horizontal attack with such might that my right arm became dislocated for a moment. The sickening crunch as it popped out and that aching feeling as the ball grinded back into its proper place. After this I decided to take it easy and sat down in the main eating area were most of the back packers in the hostel were watching the royal wedding on TV.
I tried to watch but the tedium of the event became too much and the austere reportage of the event was beyond a farce. The solemn commentary as the adoring British public cheered as William and Harry rode to the wedding in their car. The back of the car with the window going up to the roof of the made it look like they were riding in a hearse. A black hearse with a window so that standers by could peep in at the pair.
I wondered why so many people, mainly international backpackers only one of them English had so much interest in the whole thing. “Oh it’s like a Cinderella wedding, it’s so nice” one of the Chinese tourists said on the TV. Agreed that it was a feast for the eyes but for me my eyes fast become full and I easily go from hungry interest to resentful indigestion when it comes to visual feasts.
While we watched the wedding Sebastian and Kala came in and sat down next to me in the kitchen, they had cooked a chicken drum stick and onion roast. They offered me a leg and while I ate it a Kiwi came and sat next to us. He was a tall blond long haired chap “can I have one?” he instantly asked Sebastian. Sebastian being the kind person he was also gave this stranger a leg, he ate it and then continued to pick about in the baking tray with his fingers, eating the onion and another leg. Sebastian and I exchanging amused looks. The gannet showed no signs of desisting so Sebastian tactfully transferred the rest of the roast into his own plastic container and shut the lid. As the wedding dragged on and I commented to Sebastian that the Queen looked like a dumpy banana in her dress Sebastian began voicing his dislike for the Royal family. To my surprise an Argentineans man stood up and began heatedly defending the royal family and telling Sebastian to shut up.
I went to bed, tired, warm and worried about my arm. It only takes one moment of thoughtless arm thrashing and me poor weak shoulders can fail. On the other hand I was so happy about the interview tomorrow, nervous but happy. I had a good feeling, the sort of feeling that I couldn’t fail, that this new place was already my home and that I would enjoy living here. Bring on tomorrow and the interview.