The Quiet Traveller: Day 20 – Mount Cook

Today I was supposed to be leaving Queenstown for a more relaxed place. But it wouldn’t let me go without one last adrenaline rush. Although this one was definitely not wanted.

The night was spent at an Irish pub, a given due to the small gaggle of Irish within the group. After a number of beverages, we decided to get a change of scenery, attempting and failing to get into several packed bars before encountering what seemed to be a fairly acceptable drinking establishment. Alas, this venture was not to be.

I was refused entry without a single reason being given. Now to be clear, I had consumed beverages. But I was also possibly the most sober person of the whole group. This development of events did not make me angry, but gave me a severe case of the baffles. ‘But why?’ ran through my head. To be fair I had attempted to enter with a much more drunk member of the group, and this may have alarmed the security guards.

But still. Maybe it was just my face. Yeah, that was it. My violent, troublemaking, come and have go at me face, which says nothing but ‘fight me bitch’.

So that was the night’s events. Come morning, I had a massive panic when I realised I had lost my passport.

This resulted in me checking with reception, then them telling me to see if the police station had it. I hastily scribbled a note to my sleeping roommates to tell them to contact me if they found it, and then sprinted off, backpack in tow towards where I thought the police station was.

Bottom of note I left to roommates – observe very appropriate QOTD.

Huffing and puffing, I reached the police station. And my heart dropped. The police station was closed for this weekend specifically. Typical, I thought, absolutely bloody typical. Dejected, yet waddling rapidly like a two legged camel, I made it back to the bus just in time before departure and took a seat. I was really rather angry with myself.

About 20 mins later, I decided to check my bag one last time in desperation. I had been googling lost passport procedures whilst the bus was in wifi range, and the reading didn’t make for good thoughts. I had flights to catch and new lands to explore. But this could not be done without a passport. Running my hand through the back panel in the main compartment one last time, I encountered a small purple rectangle, and a wave of relief hit me like a tsunami made of trains.

I had a feeling that I had taken the passport home with me, because I’m surprisingly good at not losing things (until Day 68, naturally, the last day). It turned out that I had stuffed the passport into my backpack, not really paying attention, and had inadvertently stuffed it into a secret compartment that I didn’t even know about, hence why I couldn’t locate it.

Nice one Simon, you’ve played yourself.

Returning to non-panic based events, today we were headed to Mount Cook, NZ’s highest mountain. The bus was a fresh mix of people, having said goodbye for now to a number of new friends (they would pop up again later), but the same driver. It was slightly strange starting again with new people, but I had done it before so I could do it again.

Our accommodation for the night was near the base of the mountain, situated on a glorious mountain plain in the middle of nowhere. I was placed in a room with a Dutch guy named Ezra, who claimed his brother was a famous Dutch athlete, and a Swiss guy named Elias. Both were friendly enough, and I was saddened to hear Ezra had had his hiking equipment nicked at a previous hostel (by a Belgian apparently). You’ve got to be the filthiest of vermin to steal from a fellow traveller. (Disclaimer: not all Belgians are tent grabbing psychopaths).

Seeing as Ezra fancied himself as a bit of a pro hiker, I decided to whack out my walking shoes and announced I was going on a ‘hike’. By the term ‘hike’, I mean I managed to walk 500m or so and stop at a well positioned bench for some note-taking and biscuit consumption. A little while later Ezra and an unknown girl passed me by on a hike, and when they greeted me I pointed vaguely to a hillside bush where I had stumbled around aimlessly for a bit, as to prove my hiking expertise. I was in the Scouts I’ll have you know.

This is what I was looking for.

Hiking-game repping aside, the location was truly beautiful. It was almost like a savannah, with the long grass rustling in the light wind and the vast expanse of nothingness stretching out for miles. All that existed was the accommodation buildings, the single road, and the grasslands. Mount Cook loomed in the distance, cloaked mysteriously in mist. Unfortunately, this was only a one night stop, so exploration opportunities were limited. I would to love return one day.

Why is the colour brown always used for tourist signs?

Climbing into bed that night, I thought about the panic-stricken morning that had taken place. I realised that it wasn’t the burden of the problem itself that was digging at me – it was the anger at myself for having got into the situation . But then I thought some more, realised that was a stupid thought to have, decided to forgive myself for a change, and then wrote it all down because it’s actually a pretty funny story looking back.

I was indeed finding myself on this trip. And my passport.



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