Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Steam Train, Day Five: Greymouth to Westport (Sick: Day One)

Well, nothing like waking up in the morning and feeling like one is going to puke... and then getting on a train and actually puking (mercifully, in the carriage bathroom in private, not at a table in a cafeteria on a ferry with several dozen strangers watching). I'm not sure what's wrong with me; a good candidate is the sandwich I ate last night contained funky meat or cheese or honey mustard sauce. Or maybe it was the tomatoes, or lettuce, or pickles. Anything, really. The end result is the same: I have been very sick all day long, with no energy, an upset stomach, nausea, and a constant headache. Ugh.

Happy sheep figurines in the Sheep Room

As a result of this I did not particularly enjoy the train today, nor did I choose to join the rest of the tour group when they took the bus up to Denniston, an old coal-mining ghost town 26km from Westport, where recent conservation work is restoring the steep cable car incline the coal cars were once lowered down. You can read about Denniston as I did here and here.

An old coal rail cart on display

This morning the train left Greymouth at 8:00am, and I was put in charge of selling souvenirs in the A passenger carriage to all the new passengers who had joined us for the day trip from Greymouth to Westport. As a result, I was only able to participate in one of the three photo stops today, as I couldn't leave the souvenir table unattended. This was likely a good thing, as I was not really feeling well enough to be moving around; people kept cracking jokes as they walked past the souvenir table that I needed to stop sleeping, when in reality it was all I could do not to conk out entirely and sleep drooling all over the mugs and hats and pins (which I'm sure would have really helped their sales...). The photo stop I did participate in, however, was highly amusing; we stopped at Mawheraiti, and when the train came charging toward us the sheep in the paddock in front of us went ballistic and scattered pell-mell in front of our camera lenses, so I have a grin-inducing shot of Jb 1236 chasing sheep across the verdant pasture fields.

Run sheep, run!

Honeybees had made a hive inside the old Reefton station

I'm not sure what's in those barrels. A precarious place to sit!

The scenery from Greymouth to Westport was strikingly similar to BC in many ways; the paddocks, the blue sky, the mountains in the distance, covered in trees; as a result I didn't take many pictures because it felt so much like home!

Yes, NZ masquerading as British Columbia again...

The one shot I was able to take of the Buller Gorge

Just before Westport the train was held up: the hoodlums, the local Scouts and Brownies (dressed in cowboy hats and neckerchiefs, wielding toy pistols, and calling themselves "The Rockinghorse Roundup Gang") collecting money for children with cancer. In return they gave us baked cookies/rum balls or some kind (just looking at them made my poor stomach turn) but I am sure they are quite delicious.

When we arrived in Westport I dragged myself to Bazil's Hostel with Alan, and flopped down on the bed and haven't really moved since, graciously declining Allan and Gary and Jean's offer (who are also staying in the hostel) to go in for a rental car to drive us up to Denniston to join the group. Instead I slept on and off through the afternoon, punctuated by Westport's community clock, which chimes every fifteen minutes and announces the hours on the hour (I quite like it). I am going to try to force down an apple and some water, and then call it a night... I have to be back on the train again tomorrow, and I'd like to be in something of a better condition. Wish me luck...


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