Ralph Waldo Emerson

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life is Thoroughly Excellent.

I could not have imagined a better series of days or kinder, more hospitable people. The Guy Fawkes holiday turned out to be a pyro maniac’s dream: a whole weekend of fireworks randomly going off all over the city. I spent mine with Pete and Elaine, a couple which had come through the restaurant a few weeks back. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t even remember what they looked like. I just looked in my journal where I write down my contacts and saw “Come stay with us in Christchurch!” written under their names. I didn’t remember not liking them, so thought it was worth a shot.
So, Saturday afternoon a friendly woman shot up to my backpackers in a royal blue mini cooper at the scheduled time, said “Kari! Jump on in” and so I did. Before I knew it we were flying through the lovely countryside, passing quaint farms as we chatted away. The place we got to was anything but quaint. A gated drive flanked by statues of lions opened up to a very new, very modern home complete with purebred Doberman. I walked in the house and her 10 and 11-year-old girls grabbed my hands and gave me a tour of the indoor pool, movie room, 6 bedrooms and 6½ baths. As they demonstrated the fingerprint activated front door and magnetized doorframes, I realized Tekapo was a very long way away.
But the best part was definitely the 11 acres that surrounded the house. We bounded around on their trampoline (yes! Another trampoline!), went sailing through the air on their flying fox (a machine, not a mammal), fed their horses, rode their scooters, explored their various forts, went for a hay ride, drove a tractor, found a mama duck and her nest, swam in the pool, met Pete’s 3 kids, had dinner, greeted friends and family, drank a lot (the adults anyhow), set off fireworks and as they all partied on I struggled into Elaine’s massage room/my room and collapsed. Kiwis have endurance, my lord.
Monday morning we said our goodbyes, dropped the girls off at school and then Elaine returned me to my backpackers before speeding off in her hot little car. Some people have got this life thing down.
I had one more night in Christchurch before I was set to leave for a peninsula to the southeast called Akaroa so I spent the day exploring the museum, botanic gardens and art galleries. Absolutely gorgeous—made me fall in love with Christchurch. As did the further fireworks displays on the pier that night with a group of lively Germans and Dutch from my hostel.
And now I’m here on said peninsula at a place called Le Bon Bay Backpackers. I had seen the signs for the place in a couple of other hostels and heard nothing but sterling reports about people’s experiences there. The little town nearby was once a French settlement, and so the whole place is full of cheesy yet appealing wannabe French restaurants, hotels and businesses. The hostel owners told me to wait for them between Le Touriste Shoppe and Le Bon CafĂ©. Oui oui.
When the Norwegian manager, Masha, pulled up she informed me that just that morning not only had the owner’s mother had died, but two of their workers had had to leave and that their other worker, a young Japanese girl named Uri, was a sweet girl but a terrible worker. This was made somewhat awkward by the fact that she sat directly behind us.
And yet when Masha offered me a job in exchange for my accommodation and meals, I was very happy to say yes. I liked this woman in spite of her brassy social ineptness and Uri seemed like she needed a friend. Seeing the hostel sealed the deal—it’s a charming, warm place with chickens, cows, a pond, a great vegetable garden and…yes…a trampoline!! The owners and their children are really sweet and will definitely need a hand for the next week or so, so I’m more than willing to help out. Plus, they’re excellent chefs and so I’ll be getting to learn a lot as I help them prepare the lunches, coffees and immaculate dinners the hostel is famous for. The nearby beach (complete with green lipped mussels and nesting penguin), hiking trails and the guitar in the common room aren’t too shabby either. So looks like things are going more than okay. In fact, it would be tough to be any happier than I am right now :)


Brian said...

Hey Kari! Sounds like you're really finding the dream adventure you set out for. Wish you the best in your new situation! I wanted to end with an inside joke, but it's late and I've got nothing.

Mom said...

Wow! Green lipped mussels, hum. Are they really green? How does one know? A nesting penguin! Now I'm jealous. I had it contained til you mentioned the Penguin and now it's over, I'm buying my ticket right now.

adam said...

ah, yes. the excellent adventure continues. dude, i just spent two days editing some boring corporate video, and now i read your blog. i totally should have quit my jobs and came to new zealand with you (i was invited, right? i might be imagining that).
ok, talk to ya soon.