This morning I woke up to an empty room; all three of my roommates cleared out before 8:00am, leaving nothing behind but their stripped beds and a pair of red ribbed towels (I think those belonged to the American girls... oops). I got dressed and went out into the kitchen to have some breakfast (nutella on toast) and met a young couple from Toronto, who were eating a decidedly healthier breakfast of museli, grapefruit, and tea. They are living and teaching in Australia for a year, and have come over to New Zealand for the summer holidays; today they were headed out to go kayaking up in Abel Tasman. They certainly picked a wonderful day for it; the skies were bright blue and clear, and a gentle breeze assured that it would not get too hot out on the water.
After breakfast I sat in front of my computer for an hour or so, figuring out busses and bookings for when I go do the Milford Track in February (I know it's almost three weeks away, but seeing as I'm doing it by myself without anyone to help me plan, I want to make sure I have all my ducks in order). I booked the hostel in Te Anau for the nights of the 3rd and 7th (the day before I start and the day I finish the track), and also booked the Intercity bus (Queenstown - Te Anau, and then Te Anau - Christchurch for the way back). It is a relief to know that things are falling into place; now all I can do is worry about the usual things, like where I'm going to put the rest of my stuff while I am walking the track, and buy some more supplies (I still need to buy bandages, blister pads, sports tape... I just *know* what is going to happen to my feet!).
Lunch was decidedly more healthy than breakfast: a sandwich with cucumber and orange pepper and cheese, a sliced tomato, and half a can of pickled beets. Feeling energised, I slathered on two layers of sunscreen, and then went out to the shed to select a bike and helmet. And then I was off, riding down Vanguard St, heading for SH6, which would take me onto Wakefield Quay, eventually ending up at Tahunanui Beach.
It's afternoons like today, when the sun is shining brightly (and intensely as always) and I walk barefoot across the sands, letting the waves (which by the way, were bath-tub water warm to my Canadian Ocean-seasoned feet), lap over my toes, that I feel like I am cheating somewhat by having summer twice; it feels surreal to know it is the middle of January and I am in the middle of summer, sporting a t-shirt and capri pants. Tahunanui Beach is gorgeous; I got there just before low tide, and the long stretches of sand were dotted with all sorts of beachgoers; families with young children, splashing gleefully in the shallow waves, older boys and girls chasing each other and swimming in the deeper waters, teenagers playing games with nerf balls and lying baking in the sun (some were very dark brown indeed... skin cancer, people, skin cancer!), and surfers (old-school, kite, and sail varieties) catchin' a wave (or breath of wind).
I chose to walk a long length of the beach (it's huge), then settled down in the not-so-dry sand to read. I must have either sat there longer than I intended to, or misjudged how quickly the tide comes in: one minute I looked behind me and there was a good ten metres between me and the water; the next minute, it was rushing up, and nearly caught me! I scrambled to my feet as quickly as I could; while I don't mind getting a little wet, my camera was in my left pants pocket (and I've had enough problems with my camera over the past few days without adding "waterlogged at the beach" to the list).
By 4:30pm the skies were starting to cloud over somewhat, and I walked back along the beach, brushed the sand off my feet as best I could, donned my shoes, and hopped across the highway to a gelato shop; my one treat for the day was two scoops of coffee-flavoured gelato in a waffle cone (the waffle cone tasted like gingerbread! I wasn't expecting that, but it was delicious). Then it was back on the bike, and I wandered my lazy way back to The Bug Backpackers. Perhaps a little too lazy; I ended up turning up Rutherford St. instead of Vanguard St, and momentarily got lost!
One fun part of today was riding my bike in downtown Nelson and getting mistaken for a local; I was waiting at a light when the couple in the car beside me rolled down their window and asked me for directions on how to get to the Nelson Girls' College. It was too bad that I couldn't help them, but for a moment there I had a brief thrill of knowing that I looked like a Kiwi (don't worry, I still love Canada. Mais oui, je suis Canadienne! It's just nice to not always stick out like a tourist).
Back at the hostel, I had tea with Judy and Gary, the two Canadians from Jasper that I met yesterday, and their two new American friends (who happen to be my roommates tonight!), Bryan and De, who are from Iowa (I think). I can definitely hear their American Mid-West accent... sometimes it amazes me how different their speech can sound to my British Columbian ears.
For dinner tonight I had my second cob of corn (still delicious, mom!), and then made stir-fry, and managed to burn myself with splatter of hot oil (ouch). Afterward I talked to Gary and Judy some more, had a shower, and phoned Howard and Rosemarie, my WWOOFing hosts; instead of my taking the bus to Richmond tomorrow, they're coming into Nelson to shop, and they'll pick me up on the way back! Excellent, I saved a $4 bus fare, and I don't have to worry about trying to get downtown with all of my stuff.
Now I am off to bed; tomorrow a new adventure begins... my second (well, technically my third, but Mary wasn't at home in Granity and I didn't really do much) WWOOFing experience. Wish me luck, and goodnight!