Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Voyages by Bus: Day 1 (Richmond to Christchurch)

Once again I am on the road... and leaving Howard and Rosemarie's was really difficult for me. I get so used to my creature comforts of routine, having the same place to sleep every night, and a sense of relaxation and belonging; it's hard to uproot and head out for more adventure. It didn't feel right to not spend part of today gardening, playing some sort of word game, watching Knight Rider, and discussing something like whether an anti-gravity machine would disobey the laws of Newtonian and/or Einsteinium physics. As a result I was a sad and quiet form of myself after saying goodbye to Howard at the bus stop in Richmond and heading into Nelson (although I did manage a smile for the transport truck ahead of the bus, whose back door read "You are following a delivery of STUFF to a store near you." Ah, I love it when people tell it like it is).

After arriving in Nelson at 8:50am I caught the 9:15am Intercity bus to Picton. About half an hour into the ride, my cell phone rang; it was my mom, calling to talk to me about ordering my bridesmaid's dress for Michelle's wedding. She got out about three words and then the bus promptly plunged into a dead zone from which we did not emerge until arriving in Blenheim almost two hours later. (She called again around 12pm my time, and we got things straightened out.) The bus got me into the Interislander Ferry Terminal around 11:45am, and I spent another hour sitting in the shade waiting for the 1:00pm Intercity bus to arrive. I met two boys, one from the San Juan Islands, and the other from upstate New York, and we sat and chatted. By about five minutes in Mr. Upstate New York was rubbing me the wrong way; he was going on about how is is a "big proponent of mixing all the animal species of the world together, and letting them have it out; you know, survival of the fittest?" and how he believes "the kiwi is a stupid animal, we shouldn't be trying to protect it. What a dumb mascot." American tourists making arrogant statements like that are the very reason the rest of the world scorns citizens of the United States of America... why can't they see that?

The bus ride from Picton to Christchurch took about six hours, including a half hour food stop in Kaikoura. I ended up going to Cooper's Catch, the same fish and chips joint I went to when I was on the Stray Bus staying at the Adelphi Lodge... still as tasty as ever, although I had a much smaller portion today than I did on November 25th; my stomach isn't letting me eat very much these days. Back on the bus, I met Kayla, a girl from Tampa, Fl, who was also going to Christchurch and staying at the YHA, like me. We went to the Pak 'N Save to buy tomorrow's breakfast and salad for dinner, and it turns out we are also both catching the same bus to Queenstown tomorrow morning, so we're going to rendez-vous for breakfast at 7:45am and then walk over to the bus terminal together... and we'll both be staying at Base Queenstown tomorrow night as well. It's nice to have a quasi-travel buddy.

Booking accommodation for Christchurch was a bit tricky; as a result of the big aftershock earthquake on Boxing Day, Base Christchurch hostel is closed (we drove past it today on the bus; the entire front of the old building is covered in scaffolding), and as a result all the Kiwi Experience and Stray Bus passengers who would normally stay there are filling up the other hostels in town, making it difficult for the rest of us to secure beds. I had to book a twin room (significantly more expensive than a dorm bed), but I'm going to look at the silver lining; I'm in a small, private room, and I can get a decent night's sleep before herding myself onto a bus for another full day of travelling tomorrow.

I miss my room in Hope, with all the stars outside my window... right now the closest I have to a window is a skylight, and it's opaque, so I can't see any hint of the night sky. It will be nice to get back into the country again in a few days. Goodnight!


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