Notorious Bob. Bob the Brummie. Already a legend. Poor Bob,
it wasn't his fault perhaps, but he managed both to depress and alienate every living
creature he ever encountered. His voice carried that strange Midlands mix of threat
and misery wherever he chose to take it:
"Going up the hill then? In those boots?" (You fool)
"Might as well get on the bus then, I suppose." (Or just stab ourselves in the eye, what difference does any of it make?)
One night, in his coup de grace, Bob managed to close all the windows of his
eight-bed dorm before snoring and farting the night away to his hearts content.
By the time he woke up a vengeful dorm-mate had managed to scrawl "dickhead" on his
forehead in indelible ink. He wore it a day before he found out.
I was rather chuffed to figure out not one, but two whole new groups of mates within four hours
of arriving in Wanaka. Only problem, that meant two whole Christmas dinners:
Christmas Dinner No.1 (with the lads in Holly's Hostel 1pm):
Chicken Ham, peas beer, beer, beer, wine.
Topic of conversation inc.: "Another beer, mate?"
Game of Life. Noone knew the rules, had to make 'em up. Everyone ended up
ridiculously rich and passed out on the floor.
Christmas Dinner No.2 (with Inge and Marloes in the Purple Cow 5pm):
Fruit salad, Cheese, 3 lbs of chocolate ice cream, wine, wine.
Topic of conversation inc.: "More ice cream? My bottom is getting fat! (that was me) Oh, all right, then."
thoughtful. Marloes: fun-loving, adventurous. Devastating laugh.
Jasper the gigantic Swede who thought he was the reincarnation of William Wallace.
Food and mulled wine, a day of eating, drinking and talking,
looking out at the perfect sun-filled summer's day, the distant snow-covered mountains
and glittering Lake Wanaka. Troy who brought down his secret alcohol stash too soon:
a bottle of Bailey's. He had to spend the rest of the night repeating that he was not,
in fact, gay.
Other travellers' Christmasses:
Carolyn in Queenstown: "bbq was really good. excellent food.
after the bbq my insane roomates a few stragglers and i all went swimming in
the freezing lake! we looked like the biggest group of morons ever i think"
Jo in Napier: "football drunk in the rain had to be the highlight :-)"
Sabine: "We have here in the Black Forest
about 15 cm snow
and it is cold!"
Emma: "It is
absolutely freezing here (-3 the other night) so I am
of course insainly jealous. "
Richard: "why are you standing like a "rubber grip" action man? Have you papped your
`God save thee, ancient Mariner !
From the fiends, that plague thee thus !--
Why look'st thou so ?'--With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.
I have seen
the ALBATROSS. I came to Dunedin, the Scottish capital of New Zealand (though it looks
more like Birkenhead than Glasgow. Greenock at best. Maybe Peebles). The thing to do
here is a nature trek along the Otago peninsula: Hooker's sea lions, yellow-eyed penguin,
and the only mainland colony in the world of the Royal Albatross. The albatross! Six feet
across, they leave the land and circle the southern world for seven years before
touching land again to court and mate. They are a stunning sight.
Christmas and the New Year are slow times for a traveller, it is hard to get
moving, to get things done. You have a lot of time to ponder, to reflect on the year
or dream of the darkness or warmth of home. You miss your old friends, family,
old haunts. I have been fortunate in my new friends and the sunny lakes and mountains.
I'll leave the last word to Kristy, from Vancouver:
Kristy: "...I hope you are
having a a wonderful christmas this year, one that you will most likely
remember for the rest of your life! how could you forget - spending or
celebrating the new year, a new life in the beautiful New Zealand..."