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lightning round

So much to say, so little time to say it! In the past three weeks, I…

Visited Queenstown with Moni – Drove his car, The Beast (twin turbo engine, sports shift, v6, responsive and oh so smooth on the corners), south through the Canterbury Plains and the barren, imposing Lindis Pass. Wandered about the town, which is the adventure tourist mecca of the South Island – all overpriced jetboat rides, partying backpackers, skydiving, and high-energy, super trendy pubs. Rode the gondola to the top of a mountain to see fantastic views of the town, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables Mts. Drove around the lake through patchy rain and gorgeous, intermittent rays of sunshine, checked out a fantastic art house movie theater and had drinks in a warm, dimly lit wine cellar complete with fireplace.

Resigned from the Godley! Immediately after which, all of my plans for jobs and travel in the next months fell through, leaving me stressed and stuck and (with gritted teeth and swallowed pride) asking the Godley for my job back. Managed to get three extra days of work after my official last day (one of which was Easter Monday = double pay!), but then, out of the wreckage of my plans came an ideal job offer for the ski season: cleaning and reception work at an upscale backpackers in Methven in exchange for a free single room and a free ski pass to Mt. Hutt, the highest (and one of the best) ski field in NZ. The work is day on/day off, leaving me three or four days a week to be on the snow. Nights will be spent waitressing at the nearby Methven Resort Hotel, which will provide me with the cash I’ll need for food, petrol, etc. Hallelujah!

Spent two weeks traveling back and forth between Tekapo and Methven, sussing out the jobs, the town, and organizing ski equipment. Quite a laid-back two weeks, though, with much of my time in Tekapo spent at Moni’s place. I ended up moving out of my flat and across the driveway to Moni’s – he was the only one I really wanted to see in town anyway (Anja had left for a two week holiday with her Dad), and it would save me having to pay $70/week rent. Great fun cooking together, listening to music, drinking, arguing over who would sleep in the bed and who would take the floor, and discussing the business/finance plan for Moni’s dream of opening his own restaurant. On a couple of evenings, John and Mary (our landlords) invited us over for a bbq and dinner. I was talked into making apple pie, Moni roasted a chicken, John prepared fresh field mushrooms he’d found, and we sat up talking books and tramping late into the nights. Another time, John treated me to a ride in his tiny white Mazda MX5 sports convertible – oh, man.

Spent some quality time with Dr. Gonzo…he failed his warrant of fitness. 1) rusted exhaust pipe; 2) rear seat belts didn’t lock. Exhaust pipe, okay, I knew that was coming. Seat belts? Horribly expensive. In an attempt to save money, I put on the mechanic’s hat, and got up close and personal with the backseat of my car. Unbolted the seat, took out the belts, and went on a hunt for new ones, only to be told (after I’d visited three wrecking lots with no luck) that the seat belts were fine – the mechanic who performed the WOF had done the wrong test. Several cuts and a few scraped knuckles later, the Doc was bolted back together, and I went to confront the original mechanic. In a moment of triumph that left me grinning and clicking my heels all the way home, I plead my case: not only did I get the new warrant, but I stood up for myself and got my $40 inspection fee refunded! Take that, car mechanics who think women don’t know anything about cars and can be taken advantage of!!

Turned 23! Moni took me to Christchurch for a couple of days to celebrate. About three hours north of Tekapo, on the coast, Christchurch is the third largest city in the country (the biggest on the South Island), and is very English in its environs. Class-tastic birthday: dressed up (new shoes!) for a delicious dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Sushi, sake, and fish, lamb and veggies that the chef prepared right in front of us, the grilling and seasoning more like dancing than cooking. I even got a bday fruit platter with a candle in it! Also made the most of the trip to the big city with time spent in the art gallery, botanical garden, and took a white-knuckled (but fun) drive over the Lyttleton Hills, to the southeast of the city.

And now, off again! I’ve got a month before my winter jobs start, and I’m hoping to make the most of the time. Today I’m heading to the west coast, through the alps, then south to the glaciers, rainforest, and fjords. It’s been six months, one week, and three days. I’m officially half-way through!

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