Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Once again in Greymouth

I woke up this morning at 6am (ugh), just to make sure I had everything (I still can't find my cotton drawstring bag!) and was leaving Mary's house in an acceptable state for when she got home later today. At 8:45am I was at the end of the driveway waiting for the shuttle bus to Westport, and Paul very kindly came out to wait with me and keep me company (and to make sure the bus stopped!). I picked up Sammy (the male cat) to say goodbye at an inopportune moment when a rooster crowed loudly across the street, causing him to panic and scratch wildly for escape; as such, I have three deep scratches on my upper right arm, and a shirt with bloodstains that needed to be soaked when I got into Greymouth (everything's all fine now: the shirt is clean and my arm has been sterilized and bandaged).

I got into Westport around 9:20am, and after storing my luggage at the Intercity bus stop I wandered around town, and found the local library (I love librarires), which kept me occupied until 10:45am, when I went back to wait for the bus. I sat there and read an article about New Zealand's Railway system that Peter Lofthouse printed out for me; it was fun to read about the railways and rail organisations, as now I have visited a lot of them and/or am familiar enough with the geography of New Zealand to know exactly what sort of regions are being described. New Zealand really is becoming a second home.

The bus from Westport to Greymouth originally started its journey in Nelson, and as such took its 40-minute lunch break at 11:55am at Paparoa National Park, were I visited the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and blowholes for the second time (see this blog entry for details). I didn't mind being there again; it was an unexpected bonus to visit the site for the second time, and take pictures of all the fascinating rock formations on a sunny day instead of the cloudy visit I had back on November 10th. I was also able to get a few shots of the stunning West Coast scenery from the bus that I wasn't able to get when I was on the Stray Bus travelling over the same highway.

I arrived in Greymouth at 1:15pm, and walked up to Noah's Ark Backpackers (I'm in the Sheep room again. Hallelujah!). The rest of my day has been mainly research and e-mails; I e-mailed Mary to thank her for letting me stay in her house, I e-mailed a man from Tai Poutini Polytechnic enquiring about the textbooks used to teach the Steam School course (which then bounced back saying his e-mail doesn't exist, so I called and left a message on his voicemail instead), and then I went to the library, grabbed a road map of New Zealand, and sat there with my WWOOFing book looking up the location of potential hosts in the Nelson area.

After the library closed I was walking down the street and I passed by a crafts store; I went in and a very nice saleslady helped me pick out three balls of yarn and a set of knitting needles so I can start my very first knitting project. (Ah, Ms. Lang, you'd be so proud of me; give me some info and I could pick up some NZ wool for you. :-)

A brief stop at the Countdown bought me some grocery supplies for dinner; I got condensed tomato soup with the intent of eating it with the bread I made at Mary's house. However, about two bites in, I had to concede that no matter what I do, that bread is always going to taste awful (I think the yeast was fermented or something). Tomorrow morning will be my last-ditch effort of slathering it in nutella; failing that, I'm throwing it out.

As I sat in the dining room after dinner, e-mailing potential WWOOFing hosts, who walked in but Selma Hofstra! I met her way back in Auckland at my IEP Work Exchange orientation; it was so nice to see a familiar face. She has a friend visiting from the Netherlands, and they are touring the South Island together; they are off to Franz Josef Glacier tomorrow. We sat around talking and enjoyed some free fish (the type escapes me now) and wine offered to us by a fellow backpacker.

Tomorrow I am going up to Shantytown to see if I can't find out more about purchasing those Steam School textbooks; hopefully tomorrow night I'll be able to post in here with some answers.

This is an addendum, although it really shouldn't be: Fay passed away this morning. I am sad and upset, and yet I understand that she is no longer suffering, and from talking to her as much as I did when I was staying with them I know that she was accepting of death and well-prepared for it. I still wish I could have been up in Napier with Stefan and Frank to say goodbye; I suppose I can comfort myself somewhat by hoping that my presence there this December with them provided her with a memorable Christmas and New Year's, and gave her some enjoyment; I know I certainly had a good time at their house. Thank you, Fay, for being a quasi-Grandma to me. I'll miss you.


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