Today was a day composed of odd little scenes. At times it seemed we were heading for an undesirable outcome, then circumstances turned and everything came up Milhouse. I guess I had this odd notion in my head that travel on the road would be more of an overarching adventure and less a cluster of vignettes.
Last night was a difficult one to sleep through. Thankfully the endless swarms of flies were trapped outside the inner sanctum of our tent. Instead they roamed the layer between our safe seclusion and the awning. Winds blustered, we could hear them blowing through the trees around us. A few beats later the sides of the tent would creak and bow, the walls bending in on us. A second later they’d snap back to normal, as if nothing had happened. None of us slept well, but still somehow we all woke up later than intended. We boned up, packed out and GTFO.
In our haste to escape, we forgot to grab breakfast. Spying a small cafe en route, we stopped in. I’d been dreaming of another small bakery, as I’d found in Matamata. Enormous filled rolls and slices for cheap as. Sadly, I’m still yet to find their like on this Roadchip. Settling for my overpriced chicken sandwich and totally fine mocha, I went to the bathroom. When I came back, the table was seemingly vacated. Drat, Roadchip over. Truly though, everyone had run outside for the appearance of a kea. Known as “the clown of the mountains”, they’re clever little birds who seem closer to canine than canary. We all marveled as it hopped around, keeping our food close. Some patrons had just sat down as it hopped over to them. They laughed and turned their heads, it seized opportunity. Darting in, it grabbed a butter sachet and flew across the road, hiding under a van. As the rest of the cafe collectively lost its shit, this little canary tore off the seal and dug into its prized butter, stains all over its beak.
We’d arrived at our Fox Glacier hostel with the intention of hiking up to see the glacier itself. Thing is, the weather was all kinds of shit. Bucketing down, we sat around glumly in our Ivory Tower (the literal name of the hostel) wondering what to do. There was a hot tub, a sauna, board games, etc. We could watch a movie, sit around and hang out. Or we could go hike to the glacier with minimal (or none in my case) wet weather gear. It was a nice little hike, but due to the rain, there were gushing streams impeding our progress. It became like a game, hopping over stones to clear the streams. We were human Froggers, heading towards a large icy shelf. As with the rest of the countryside, the natural formations were gorgeous. Waterfalls, a rushing river, smooth stones as far as the eye could see. We climbed to the top (even with the few “no stopping 400m” signs cracking the whip behind us), looked for a couple of minutes, took some photos and began our descent, pretty glad to have made the trek.
While we were eating dinner, a bounteous spread of cheeses and dips, plus salad, a commotion was going on outside. A bunch of European bros were working out, doing push ups, dips and whatnot on the picnic tables. No harm done, but some of the form was pretty dodgy. A few of them grabbed a table and flipped it upside down while the other one lay underneath. Bench presses with a literal bench and table. An elderly Asian man came over, took off his jacket, lay down and took a turn bench pressing. He then challenged a Eurobro to an arm wrestle, which he sadly lost despite our internal cheering. I liked his moxie,
In the background, another scene unfolded. A group of tourists were borrowing some bikes to take out, but it quickly became apparent that they possibly had never seen a bike before, let alone ridden one. They struggled to get on top of the seat and refused the help of the staff member woefully trailing them and obviously worrying about the condition of the bikes upon their return. One of the tourists had their helmet on backwards and was never corrected. All that was missing was the Benny Hill music. As if to justify our disbelief and hysterical laughter, one of them fell off as he started to bike away. He walked his bike out of our line of sight and we cackled uproariously. I snorted whiskey and ginger beer out of my nose.
Alternating between uneventful and overly eventful, it was at most times unexpected. Oh Kea, you didn’t just steal that butter, you stole our hearts.