The Quiet Traveller: Day 21 – Rangitata

At Mount Cook, there was nothing there, and it was therefore glorious. At the next stop, Rangitata Rafting Lodge, there was nothing there, but it wasn’t exactly glorious.

This single night stop was so those who had signed up for the white water rafting could throw themselves down a furious stream of H2O. For everyone else however, this meant a lot of waiting around. The location was pleasant enough and isolated away from the nearest town – we were instructed to buy provisions on the way in.

In a certain twist of irony, I found myself missing the hustle and bustle of the city. At least in the city there are restorative niches and escape routes from people; out in the sticks I was stuck with strangers I had only just met. Which is fine, but not when you’re starting to get tired of people.

What surprised me the most about the accommodation was the triple decker beds. That’s right, TRIPLE bunk beds. Unfortunately being one of the last ones in, I ended up in a corner on the top bunk, with my face engaging in pleasantries with the ceiling. However, I soon discovered that this was actually quite a nice experience, as I was so high up it was like my own private area away from the street level below me. It’s always nice when something unexpectedly lends itself to your introvert tendencies.

I spent most of the day reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in anything. But then I always recommend all Bill Bryson’s books, so then who am I to say?

Whilst reading on the Lodge veranda, I noticed some new Brits who had recently joined the bus sitting on a bench further down the entrance path. How did I know they were Brits? Shirts off. Bucket hats. Stella. Fags. The traditional exports of Her Maj’s islands. In general the people on this bus were not quite as fun or interesting as the last. But hey, I wasn’t going to see them again so I decided to just get on with it.

I chatted with Cookie (the driver) for a bit, and discovered that he joined Stray as a driver simply because it was offered as an opportunity to him and he thought ‘why not?’. Apart from the fact that NZ is a lot sunnier than Donegal, I believed him. The opportunity arose and he took it. Being a driver seems like a stressful job at times, given that you have to shepherd an ever-changing flock of often smelly and sweaty tourists who never seem to be on time. But on the other hand, the view out the office window is unbeatable. And sometimes you get to join in the activities. And the beverages.

There wasn’t really a lot going on at Rangitata. But I had noticed that my note-taking was getting much better. It was becoming a habit, and I was learning to memorise useful observations in a much more effective manner than the first few weeks. And much like cocaine, the habit was rather addictive. First I did a line. And then another. And then before I knew it, I had a full notebook. Don’t do sentences kids.

(The featured image is from the journey to Mount Cook – that’s how boring Rangitata was – I didn’t take any pictures)


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