Christmas dinners, horses and singing minstrels.

Trip Start Oct 28, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Monday, December 27, 2004

Now most college students leave their frat houses for the winter holidays and Molly and I have always wondered if they were ever missing something being away for the month of December. With that in mind, we booked three nights at The Palace which indeed was a frat house for backpackers.

The Palace was run by Dave, a mid forties ex-hippie, and his early twenties son, Steve, who both seemed more interested in having a good time rather than running a business. Their old two story main house sat on top of a hill overlooking downtown Nelson and was surrounded by equally old buildings that served as the "smoking shed" and several two person "love shacks." We stayed in the main house and shared our first story room aptly named "Rembrandt" because the walls were covered in the artist's paintings with two english guys named Matt and Jeremy. Jeremy, as it turns out, traveled a bit with Mike in Fiji and they randomly met on the streets in Nelson and randomly were already set up in beds next to one another. Crazy. Matt was traveling with two others that were shacked up in a private room so we became quick friends with him. We each had our own bed (no bunks), were given free breakfast, treated to cakes and pastries each afternoon, and were serenaded by the singing minstrels everywhere we went. (The minstrels consisted of Carlos, a mexican with a guitar, Phillipe, a tall Columbian who was always searching for his book and hated Christmas, Andres, a short fellow from Barcelona who walked around like he was always looking for someone, and two others who really didn't do much other than sing. We thought they only knew Bob Marley's Natty Dreads but turns out they knew a few others and sang everywhere they went.)

We arrived to The Palace two days before Christmas, took much need showers and went out to a most fantastic dinner at the request of Mr. Bill McGinty. Even being oceans away he still knows how to show us a good time.

Sleeping that night was a bit of a problem. Like any frat house, I suppose, there is usually lots of drinking and lots of loud boys. Turns out that the majority of the 50 guest at the Palace were of the male gender and despite the many language barriers they still sang and carried on until the early hours of the morning. Plus, outside our window was the hot tub (with a sign that read, "no naked bodies") which housed guests at all hours of the day and night. This night in particular they were in there until 6am.

Christmas Eve came and brought bad weather along with it so we weren't able to go to the beach as it is a traditional Kiwi destination. We spent the day putzing around and by mid afternoon were drinking and playing card games on the back porch. Mike had bought a Christmas tape and played it on the main sound system through out the afternoon which produced a whole lot of bad singing and put the minstrels out of business for a couple of hours. Although Matt did teach us a great english drinking song that took a bit of precedent over the carols at times. It went like this: "I love horses. Best of all the animals. I love horses. They're my friends."

Continuing with the Christmas spirit, we gathered the entire hostel and walked to the town square and joined the rest of the Nelson community in singing Christmas carols for an hour or so.

Christmas morning was a bit different than usual but nice, nonetheless. We sat around our 12 inch plastic christmas tree and opened the little gifts we got each other and drank a fantastic fruit punch that Steve had made. Molly, Matt and I pretty much laid around the room for the morning and I ended up sewing up a hole Matt had put in his jeans days before. As I was doing that the singing minstrels came in to find Phillipes missing book and noticed that I was sewing. They each started pointing out their own holes in their pants and Andres instantly took off his pants and handed them to me to sew a button back on. The singing minstrels left singing, minus one pair of pants and still without a book. Matt stepped as my "pimp" and not only found me pants to sew but also demanded a drink as payment. Well done.

Throughout the day we started hanging out with Danni, the first american we have met since October. Danni and Molly and I decided that Christmas would not be complete without mashed potatos and spent the day compiling ingredients and peeling potatos. We made our potatos, tried to make a dessert which turned out to be a complete mess (sponge cake with icing and jelly and an icing man on top), and spilt lots of red wine all before we were called out for dinner. Dinner was this amazing spread of ham, four turkeys, all types of salads, three kinds of potatos, vegetables, etc. We all were so excited to say the least. The whole hostel came together and we sat around on the back porch and ate many plates full of food. The mashed potatos became our secret hidden stash but were definetly a crowd pleaser towards the end of the meal. We had all had plenty of coctails so everyone was in a good mood and were all ready for bed by the end of it.

And as an added bonus, we got to spend Boxing Day at the Palace as well. Matt and Molly and I were moving quite slowly and ended up spending our day seeing a movie and just laying around. Traditionaly Boxing Day is a day in which homeowners box up their left over Christmas food and gifts and give them to their slaves. We thought maybe we'd have an outpouring of "boxes" from you all back home but no such luck. I guess it's a good thing that you think of our new status of living in a van higher than that of a house staff.

The Palace was great fun but we're glad to be leaving. A lot of fun was had at the frat house but I think we'll go back to our traditional Chirstmas next year.

oh, Phillipe finally found his book...turns out some girl kept stealing it while he was asleep.
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