First day back at The Mount

Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The day began badly when I tripped up getting into the airport shuttle bus - you could tell that I'd only had 3 hours sleep! Thankfully it was still dark so noone could see my maroon coloured cheeks. I was on autopilot, but I managed to get myself to Auckland without any more hiccups. There, I had to catch an altogether smaller plane for my transfer to Mount Maunganui, with just 2 aisles and 16 seats.

Claudine had kindly offered to pick me up from the airport at 8.30am, and it was nice to see her again - had it really been 6 months? We chatted and reminisced on the short journey to Pacific Coast Lodge, and I began to feel a little bit nervous about returning to the place where I'd stayed for so long previously. They say that you shouldn't go back to the same place twice as it won't be the same second time round, but I wasn't thinking like that really - I was looking forward to seeing Murray, Heather and keiko.

Walking through the kitchen was bizarre as I obviously didn't recognise anyone - when I was last here, I virtually knew every person in the hostel! Still, I was given a warm welcome by Murray when I reached Reception, and he shook my hand and said "really good to see you." I was glad to see that he looked well, as he's had some heart problems since my departure.

As it was so early, my room wasn't ready so I dumped my backpack and went to the supermarket with Claudine. On our return, we saw keiko who casually said hi to Claudine before shrieking wildly when she saw me - what a nice welcome! I gave her a hug and we talked briefly about what's been happening. Apparently Kazu is still working in Auckland and has a Kiwi girlfriend, whereas Shinya is living in a nearby flat. I already knew this as I keep in touch with them via text messages, but it was strange checking into my old room to find that they weren't there.

While Claudine used the internet, I went upstairs to see if Murray's video collection had improved over time. There were a couple of new additions, but all the old 'favourites' were still there, e.g. Termination Man, Bruiser and the overplayed Love Actually. Determined to make some new friends, I got talking to an Australian girl called Ali who had been working in a seafood factory for the last 10 weeks. Suddenly, I was the newcomer amongst the long stayers! I asked her if there were any vacancies as I really need a job, but I plan to head to Northland in January so I wasn't that interested (besides, I've been there, done that...and got the seafood t-shirt!).

Later in the day, I had a game of pool with Chris and Wim (short for William), a couple of BUNACers from Newcastle. They were travelling with 3 others, and all 5 of them had been working in a nearby jam factory for the last couple of months. I never knew that Mount Maunganui was home to such a diverse range of factories! If I'd known about them, I may have switched allegiance from the kiwifruit packhouse back in May!

This travelling lark has improved my ability to make new friends a hundred fold, and I played table tennis in the afternoon with a German guy called Andre. I soon got into the swing of things, despite a 6 month absence, and duely won 6-2. We would have plenty more practice in the proceeding days, at table tennis and pool. Andre was my games partner until he left a couple of days before Christmas, as he was heading down to Napier to meet some friends.

Spurred on by 2 cans of Red Bull, my first day back at The Mount was turning out to be a busy one. My new friends and me went to the playing fields early evening for a game of football. A couple of Japanese guys, Yusuke and Sohei, also came along, and we became good friends in the lead up to Christmas. Yusuke spoke the better English and had a good sense of humour, as did Sohei who claimed to be a Japanese ninja!

We played football in the blazing heat for just short of an hour, and anyone would think that we'd run the London Marathon - we were all shattered! So it was back to the hostel for a shower, a couple of beers...and an early night. It was good to be back, but I was drained after such a long day.
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