21. Te Anau

Friday, March 3: Warm & sunny with a few light showers

Steamer’s Backpackers

Breakfast was meant to be two rounds of cheese sandwiches (toasted) but the cookout people donated all of the remains of their fried eggs, bacon, baked beans and hash browns. I helped myself to some bacon & a fried egg for the odd end piece of toast that couldn’t be used for the sandwiches.

Washing had to be addressed urgently this morning and about the only thing I forgot was the spiderman suit. In any case I was finished so early, and the weather promised some rain, that I could identify a clothes line with some pegs on it and hang the stuff up to dry before the weather delivered. The (Maytag) washing machine set at “colours” and “warm” made a dent on the mud on the trousers (not so much on the shirt, though) and nothing smells as bad as it once did. The boots in the meantime required hand soap from the facilities and a couple of rinses to clear, and that will hopefully be enough to convince a cobbler to repair them.

Everything set to dry I took off for the library and some reasonable internet after all the internets in the motor camp failed miserably last night. First of all sent out a message to Mike (my host in Dunedin) about whether he could recommend a cobbler, then Alice (SARS) had to be urgently contacted about a lecture next week. Manage to agree with her on the Students’ Union for Tuesday of next week and sent her some more info on the talk (Skeptics’ Dilemma) and she seemed very content.

Bank business had to be finished and iTunes wanted to be updated (without downloading the other half of the internet) and that extended the hour that was allowed in the library a little bit. When that was done there was a little shopping to be attended to (ham, butter, shampoo, shower gel) then back to the motor camp for lunch (fried ham sandwiches).

Checking the laundry I ran into Peter putting up his washed clothes, except that he had bought some clothes pegs from the reception. My stuff had been slightly rearranged by someone and wasn’t quite dry, so I had to leave it up for a while.

Diary writing had to be caught up with, which was combined with trying to find the best place for the boots to dry. As I was writing a gent (Russ) that I had seen & greeted a couple of times commented on my “homework”. Turned out he too was an English teacher (somewhere in Asia), lives in Caroline Springs, obviously one of Melbourne’s newer suburbs, and we exchanged some details, discussed the sense of university fees, and the quality of German engineering. He had first seen us yesterday returning from the Dusky on the boat.

Had an apple. A bout of rain caused me to collect the clothes off the line. Then some basic internet checking had to be done in Luxmore Lounge, but not before the one staff member had completed his duty of vacuuming crumbs off the lounge floor. I took the chairs off the table for him when he was finished and wiped the table surface, for which I was given a thumbs up.

Nelson seems to be OK now, although the hostess is expecting another guest for a tango weekend. Time was moving on and getting close to dinner so I sent off a spot OK and headed into town. The Fat Duck looked very full and was no longer offering lamb shanks, and I was reluctant about returning to the same pub as last night, so I eventually settled on fish’n’chips at the takeaway next to the service station (blue cod battered, minimum chips, $10) and spent the waiting time buying a six pack of Boundary Road’s Golden Lager to compensate.

Back here reheated the meal in the microwave and was just chowing down when Peter turned up in the kitchen and “invited” me for a kilo or so of green lipped mussels with all & sundry, including white wine. I had to decline the meal but while I was finishing mine & he cooked his, we joked around a little & I sort of agreed that I would have some wine with him & perhaps share some ice cream. I concluded by saying I would reserve a table, went off to retrieve the diary and my computer so that I would have something to do while he chowed down on his mussels, and returned a few minutes later.

One table in the dining had two opposing seats free, the other two being occupied by two Japanese women, Shoko and Mika, whose English was not quite the best, but anyhow. They were sharing a pizza, but before they could finish, Peter was there with his mussels, grated parmesan, chopped parsley, bread and yoghurt, and invited the girls (and me) to help him finish off the lot. The rest may not yet be quite history. Mika was taking the Milford Track in a day or two’s time, and after the meal and a half was over I offered to show her some pictures of the track, and this led to all & sundry & a nice evening was had by all.

The luck factor is very much the opportunity you seize. This may well turn out to be the pivot of this trip and it certainly deserves to be.