Finding shelter in Nelson
When we arrived in Nelson we bought tickets for the water taxi leaving the next day to get us to the Able Tasman hike. Then we went lugged our big packs to the library to use the wifi and figure out a place to stay.
When the day comes that you are traveling and don't know where you will sleep that night, you become a backpacker. No longer are you just on vacation but you are now a seasoned backpacker. It's not a pleasent time in your travels but it happens and you need to be prepared. My advice, don't stress. The worst that could happen is you layer in more clothes and sleep under the stars with your pack as a pillow. That doesn't sound to awful.
Alicia called hostels with her Skype minutes while I put in couch surfing requests.
We spent way to much time at the library doing this but we weren't prepared to land in Nelson just yet, either.
As we did our research on a bench in the hallway just outside the Libary's main doors, a man who looked homeless walked by us. He pointed at the card to one of the hostels we were looking at and said that's a really good place! He looked like he might actually live there now that he brought that to our attention!
Then he told us he owned it and tried to sell us on it with the price, free wifi, and other key points. He even offered us a ride there as he was headed back to "The Palace" backpackers. We politely declined the ride but told him we'd consider it, we just needed to do some figuring out.
I wanted to get us in on couch surfing more then anything but I realized we'd have to wait for my request to reach these people and for them to respond.
Alicia and I decided to take a break from our researched we were starting to get irritable and head to a farmers market. They were almost closed when we arrived but we just wanted to see it. A man at a produce stand gave us both an apple from his farm and asked us if we did any wwoofing (willing workers on organic farms) I told him I hadn't but I had thought about it several times. He said he was looking for people but that his work was pretty hard. I thought to myself, oh please, just because I'm a girl!? I'm a hard worker!
We moved on to the countdown grocery store. Are backpacks were getting heavy on our shoulders and combine with the heat we were starting to get even more frustrated and just ready to find a place.
We decided to go to "the palace" after the grocery store. As we walked out of the parking lot with our packs and a city map a girl came running after us.
The girl spoke broken English but got across to us that she saw us looking at a map with our packs on and that she has a place for us to stay. I didn't really know what to think about this with such little time, we approached a car with a man and a women in it that were friends with the girl. They were all from Chili and living in Nelson now, looking for work.
I didn't feel like it was a great idea but we were all ready in the car headed to their house for $15 each a night. Not a bad deal and it was helping them out but they lived a good walk (and a steep hill!) away from the town center.
We had a shuttle bus pick up at 7am to deliver us to the Able Tasman water taxis, so that was to far of a walk for us.
We arrived to their house and after they showed us our room we closed the door and quickly discussed the situation. Alicia and I went outside where philipe (the man of the house) was hanging clothes out to dry. I had her explain our situation to him and he kindly took us back down the hill and into town.
Off to the backpackers palace we went!
Now that we are out of that place, all I can say is, Dave!
We met a lot of great backpackers at Daves hostel but he was an interesting character. He was/is "Farrell" in kiwi terms. He had told us at the library that he'd give us a deal of $24 a person. His "palace" was a kind of old run down looking Victorian house on a slope in town.
He kept to his promise and was happy to see us, even offered us more of a discount when I offered to make the corn fritters he was trying to figure out a recipe to. Yeah, I know how to work the system!
Alicia jumped in to help and everyone loved them, when we all gathered for a house BBQ a few hours later. Dave joined us and had a few beers.
During dinner Alicia and I sat with some Germans and a couple French girls. We had a great conversation but the highlight was when Alicia and I somehow mentioned French toast and the girls instantly said, what's French toast? Before answering I said, what do you call French toast? They thought this was very funny and needless to say American French toast is very close to the French's French toast.
Somehow after dinner Dave asked us what we smoked. I thought he was joking and I responded with, usually nothing but sometimes crack! He said if you want to join me for some weed ill give you even more of a discount.
What the heck!?
I told him I didn't smoke but maybe Alicia would (looking at her I said, take one for the team - joking of course!)
We followed him to his house (next door to the hostel) and visited with him while he smoked his weed out of a juice bottle and drank some beer.
Alicia was working on getting her hiking water bladder/ pouch unplugged at the nozzle and Dave was really into helping her. He actually grabbed the nozzle at one point, asked if he could have a go at it and before she could answer he was sucking on her mouth peice!
She of course now tells me that she wanted my help but she looked pretty in control so I did my part by getting a photo of this character... Yep, I got him sucking on the hose to her water bladder!
Do you see her smile? She looked fine with the situation, don't you think? ;)
We left when we realized how trashed he was, stumbling into walls and still technically working.
Off to bed we went. "The apartment" was the room we were given and it was another room with a sheet for a door (like we had at Mike's house in Taupo). It was disconnected from the main house and we shared it with a few other backpackers.
When we left for the hike in the morning we gave the morning receptionist $20, our room key and had him lock our packs under the stairs in the main house.
Off to a beautiful day at Able Tasman.
**Stay tuned for a post on Able Tasman.
It was to good to be put in the post that includes Dave!
When we got back into town we went to McDonald's across the street, for free wifi. I told Alicia there was no way I'd stay at that hostel another night! I was going to get us a couch surfing host, and I did! This guy Jay replied to my request and said he'd pick us up from McDonald's in 30min, YES!
We ran back to "the palace" and Alicia went to get our food from the fridge while I went to pay Dave. He was helping a couple when I walked in. I politely stepped to the side of the counter and waited. He knew I was there but never acknowledged me.
I heard him ask the couple if they were from Maylasia and they said no, Hong Kong. Dave kinda laughed and said, Hong Kong! In his best Chinese accent. They weren't impressed and I... couldn't believe what I was hearing.
When Dave returned from showing them their room I said, hi Dave, and he ignored me again. He sat down at the desk and said, you only left me $20! By this time Alicia was with me and she interjected with, yeah because we didn't know what we owed you.
We reminded him of the fritters and he said okay fine $20 each. I gave it to him and he continued to give me more of a cold shoulder as he got our bags and we high tailed it out of there!
Jay picked us up, basically RESCUED us! I told him that too! He was technically our first real couch surfing experience and a great one! We felt right at home and he had a great place that was nice and tidy, we had a room to share and he loves Americans!
We stayed 2 nights with him where we met more of his favorite Americans. He took in 3 others for the first night we were there.
The second day Jay invited us to a river with his friends where they jumped off rocks into the water, we had our first sand fly experience as the swarmed our bodies like Mosquitos! We tossed a rugby ball around and the guys filled me in on some of the rules of the game. We talked sports and decided to pack it up when a few sprinkles started dropping.
The weather in New Zealand changes fast. I've heard people say, oh you don't like the weather now just wait 20min and it'll change. I have found that to be pretty true during my travels. The sprinkles did go away and the sun came back out.
The guys we had gone to the river with invited us to a large outdoor concert that night at a vineyard where some big time NZ artists were playing. So we went home to get ready for the show.
Alicia and I wanted to get some groceries before the show so Jay offered us his car. Alicia jumped on the opportunity to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Seeming how Jay let us borrow his car and the grocery store was just down the road so it was a good first experience.
Let's just say that I now know how my parents felt the first time I was behind the wheel!
There a few scary moments where I thought we might actually hit a parked car or 2! Alicia asked if I'd be willing to drive back and I laughed and told her no way!
The vineyard was aways away from Jay's house but a pretty drive.
The venue set up felt like a concert series at McMenamins Edgefeild in Troutdale Oregon.
We were a little late so we missed the first band. The second was the guy who won Australian idol but is a kiwi and the third band was The Exponents - a band the kiwis went wild for.
Before we found a spot on the lawn to watch the show from Jay bought a bottle of wine and bought some whitebait.
My dad had text me earlier that day and told me to ask a local to show me or give me some whitebait. A kiwi delicassie of little fish that are only in season once a year. They get cooked up whole with a little egg and flour but it's mostly fish you eat.
The whitebait I bought wasn't cooked the proper way but Alicia and I still got to taste it.
Jay didn't really know much about the venue and he mentioned that it was probably inside so I dressed as warm as I could from my pack thinking it was inside. However, it was outside and with the later hours of the evening came a brisk wind chill. I left to go to the bathroom at one point and as I was in the porta potty I ACTUALLY considered just hanging out in there for a bit to stay out of the wind.
Of course I didn't but I couldn't believe I was actually contemplating hanging out in that thing.
I walked around and found a warmer area where the wind was blocked by the house of the vineyard owners. After being away for 30min or so I went to get Jay and Alicia to show them the warm spot I had found.
Because Jay had friends working the show he wasn't interested in leaving early in fact he wanted to stay tell everyone left so he could say hi to his people. Alicia and I went along with it even though we were chilled to the bone.
Since Alicia and Jay shared a bottle of wine at the concert I didn't have much of a choice but to drive them home. So now it was my turn to drive in NZ. I didn't get the privilege of a quick 10 min drive like Alicia had. I got a whopping 45min drive home in the dark!
I did fine driving until we got back into the city and the roundabouts returned. I scared Jay so bad going thru one roundabout that he actually forgot to give me my next turn and we missed it. We did however make it home in one peice. Now Alicia and I can both say we have driven on the wrong side of the road.
I can't wait for jay to visit Portland where I can have him drive a bit.