Friday, 27th, May, 2011.
Sarah woke my up with a kiss on the forehead before she left, I will not see her again for another month. I fell back asleep instantly and woke up again when my alarm went off. I finished off my packing and when it was time I lugged my luggage out to the drive way and waited for Maggie to pick me up. She arrived a few minutes later in her friend’s car and we drove to the bus stop. Maggie is getting the same bus as me today as she is making her way back to Auckland, then from their back to mainland China.
Maggie and I got on the bus and sat behind a tall girl with short brown hair.We quickly left Te Puke behind, rushing along the roads. Hills and fields on either side, evergreen trees causing the whole view to be saturated in deep green. The woman in front turned around and started a conversation. She sounded like a kiwi but said she was from Holland. I was very impressed, she had only been here for 3 years studying graphic design and she already had a real kiwi accent.
As we approached Rotorua the instantly identifiably smell of sulfur entered our nostrils ” I am afraid it’s not the sulfur you can smell, I had some eggs for lunch” the big bus driver said loudly to the passengers. Rotorua is a volcano area and has thermal springs, the whole place has the unfortunate smell of rotten eggs forever lingering.
The Rotorua bus stop was a tall wooden building and Maggie myself and Anny the dutch girl dropped our luggage off in the lockers and went for a walk to the sulfur springs. We had 3 hours to wait for our next bus and we walked around the muddy winding paths next to a large lake. The water was a murky white and concentrated gusts of sulphur wafted around. A large line of trees caught our attention, amidst the ever green trees their fiery red leafs were the only real indication of the season change. We came to an area with a low wooden fence sectioning off a gray muddy area, the sound of boiling liquid plopped and bubbled, steam hissed out of the ground, small pools of water boiled lazily in the prehistoric landscape.
Anny spoke of her frustration about New Zealand ”you know dutch people are very logical and I find so much of the structure of New Zealand to be unorganised, it makes me so angry and I cannot do anything about it as it’s not my country” she said as she noticeably worked herself up. I asked her exactly what it was about NZ that was disorganised and she just said ”all of it”
Anny went off to check about her bus and I bought Maggie and I some small pies from a shop which boasted the 1st place winner prize from this years pie making competition. Maggie and I sat outside the bus stop soaking our feet in the shallow pool of thermal water. It was a little paddling pool with benches all around. Sitting eating our pies warming our feet I thought what a wonderful way this was to travel. Maggie and I parted ways as she got on her bus to Auckland and I got on mine to Ohakune. Anny was going to Wellington to a party and was on the same bus as me.
I slumped, chatted with Anny and watched the world go by. Mountains, winding roads, an abundance of deep green, dense forests with a hint of menace lined much of the road. The tightly packed dark forest looked like they might have held some shady secrets, or that they were the sort of place to hide your own.
I didn’t pay attention to the stops we made and I missed my connection. ” when are we arriving at Ohakune?” I asked the bus driver when we stopped at a small road side restaurant ” you missed your connection bro, it was back there, didn’t you know?” the bus driver sneered at me like I was an idiot. ”listen here you fat ugly fuck, I didn’t ask for your attitude, I just want to know where we are” I said to him in my head as I smiled and got off the bus. I stood by the side of the road trying to hitch hike back in the right direction. One of the passengers a large gruff man sidled up to me by the road ” you have to look them straight in the eye and smile, don’t break their gaze, its only as they pass you that they decide to pick you up” he said
I tried this out and even though it didn’t work instantly I could see people held in my gaze become uncomfortable and they tried to look away. It was getting dark, the bus had left and according to the owner of the road side resturant there were not any taxis at all. So I intensified my hitch hiking, thrusting my thumb out beautifully, gave my most winning smile, eyes searching for the face in the next car coming round the bend. ”it worked, the blue car stopped!” I ran over and saw a pretty blond girl driving the old car, a mattress and a whole pile of bags and shopping packed in the back.
She was going through Ohakune so I fetched my bags and squeezed into the front seat. I cannot remember her name but I remember she was from Switzerland, I remember because she is the first Swiss person I have met in NZ. She has been traveling around NZ for 4 months and was visiting a friend in the national park just past Ohakune. She was a ski and snow boarding instructor in Switzerland and she spoke about the mountains in NZ with more than a hint of disdain. ”for me its a little bit boring, I like good powder”.
I asked if Switzerland was the country were everyone has a military rifle in each house hold. She nodded and voiced her disapprovment (disapprovment isnt actualy a word)”it doesnt make sence anymore, this was old Switzerland, people want to be independent and have the right to defend themselfs” Iasked if Switzerland had much gun crime, she shook her head. Later I checked up and according to a BBC article the Swiss have such a low gun crime rate they don’t even keep the statistics. Which for an ultra organised country such a Switzerland I am very surprised.
The woman was a typical looking traveler, short shaggy blond hair. Loose organic looking cloths, bangles and bracelets and jewelry and a pierced nose. It was just such a contrast to see this stereotypical looking hippy traveler and then hear this straight logical woman speaking in the almost bored thick swiss accent. Like opening a fashion magazine and finding that the inside contained the assembly instructions to a clock.
She dropped me off in Ohakune just outside the BBH hostel I was going to stay in. As I was taking my bags out of the boot of the car I noticed in one of the open shopping bags a pack of condoms. I gave a little titter for some reason. ”how embarressing” I thought to myself, then I thought ”what an English thing to think”. I shut the boot thanked the girl and went to check in.
The BBH was a small clean block of buildings, the nice man at the front desk gave me a single room for the price of a shared room which I was very pleased about. After setting my bags down and exploring my room for a moment I went out to town to establish my dominion over it. I went to the New World supermarket and looked at the notice board, I took down all the adverts for accommodation and a few adverts for jobs which I could send my friends back in Te puke.
I saw a notice put up by Sebastian the Argentinian man, he had come back down to Ohakune a few weeks ago to apply for another job. His notice was advertising his services as a bar staff. I looked at it for a moment, musing about the way peoples paths cross, I found it fascinating that in the same place but in another time Sebastian had been where I was standing now. How I would have been back in Te puke at that time but now our positions were reversed. How a Dinosauria had possible walked over the very spot I was standing millions of years ago and how in the distant future when our planet has been drawn into the embrace of the sun this very space will return to being a vacuum in the great vast emptiness of the universe.
I set about buying food for dinner tonight. I was acutely aware that Sarah wasnt here at this time. I wondered what I should cook. The voices and questions of all my friends from Te puke echoed in my ears. ”so when you are alone in your new job without Sarah what will you eat?” I have been asked this question more times than I can remember by my work mates in Trevelyan pack house. I am worried, why do people think I cannot cook?, I can cook, maybe not as good as Sarah but I can still make a healthy vaguely tasty dish.
I have a powerful ability to make people worry about me.
I walked around Ohakune, not so much a sleepy village as more of a completely comatose village. so dead, just waiting for the ski season to give it the kiss of life, to wake it up, to breathe money and people into its veins.
I walked back to the hostel after shopping and after cooking a bowl of tinned mushroom soup with toast and a salad I wolfed it all down and watched TV. The day was drawing to a close. I felt alone, I was in a new place. A lot was unknown and needed to be sorted out. A mixture of dreadful anticipation and unbridled excitement surged and churned inside my heart at the prospect of laying the foundations for this next new life on my own.