Greetings to all of those who thought we had fallen off the planet, or simply forgotten to contact you! We did not. To be honest, Ben probably did just forget, or decided otherwise. But I have pulled through! On our third day (fourth technically, more on that later) and 50th hour of work at Lochmara for this week (yes, you read that correctly) I can finally say that I have had a chance to take a breath. Sitting on the end of our boat dock I am delighting myself in sunshine and the sound of water lapping on shore, if only for the next hour. We must return to work for the dinner shift.
We arrived in New Zealand last Friday, landing in Wellington on the second shortest runway I have ever seen, next to the Lukla, Nepal airport on the Everest Trek. Wedged cozily between the hills and ocean, ocean, and more ocean, the runway was probably about a half mile long. We spent three days in Wellington, pretty much just sleeping in our posh hotel room (splurge) and eating foods of various ethnicities. NZers do asian food RIGHT.
Then on Monday morning we hopped the early ferry to Picton, a beautiful three hour ride across some of the world’s deadliest waters. We had gone to the “Wellington Museum of City and Sea” the day before and perhaps spent a little too much time lingering in the “ferry disasters” section. Nonetheless, we had clear skies over the Cook Strait and all was well! When we arrived in Picton, we realized that we had altogether TOO MUCH STUFF when we tried to haul a** from the ferry terminal to our water taxi. I know we are moving for a year, and we don’t really have that much at all, but trying to walk briskly for a quarter mile carrying 100+lbs of bags is hard, no matter how you do it.
At the taxi dock we met Shayne, husband of our Lochmara owner and manager, Louise. He drives the taxi and pretty much whatever else Louise tells him to do (his own words). We did not meet Louise until a bit later at the lodge, but she was just as warm and welcoming as Shayne, with the addition of a hearty hug. They have two daughters, 10-year-old-red-headed Meg, and another one that I haven’t met yet, but that Meg describes as “a TEENager” whilst rolling her eyes. Ha!
Upon arriving at the lodge, we noticed it was a little busy…alright, it was slightly busy, but FAR too busy to be handled by two people. Erica and John are the Front of House Manager and Chef, respectively, and had pretty much been working by themselves since the day they opened, two weeks ago. Neither had had a day off, and they had been working 13+ hours a day- so Ben and I jumped right in! Jumped at first, and then were asked to work all meals for the next three days, so that they could have a few days off. Though they are both still around (I mean, we don’t REALLY know what we are doing yet) to answer questions, but they at least get a little time to themselves. Luckily it hasn’t been too busy for the past two days, so we have been getting into it alright. Though I feel as though I have a bit more on my plate right now than I can chew, I am getting it (evidently Erica thought that I managed a restaurant before…. Er, no. I found this out yesterday and quickly corrected her. I have managed a Front Desk. And worked in a restaurant for 3 months. Kind of different.) I am a bit puzzled about being the Art Co-ordinator…as no one has told me anything about this yet, and that is supposed to be my primary job… but I am guessing help in the café/restaurant is more crucial right now. If they don’t talk to me about it in the next week, I’m going to demand some answers.
On the up side, I have effectively learned to make coffee! Yes, everyone in NZ drinks espresso drinks, and thus I have been thrown head first into Barista-ville. I think they are pretty good. I mean… pretty good as I have only been making them for three days. However, two hours after learning how to use the machine, foam the milk, the differences between the drinks, yadda yadda, this guy comes in and orders two Flat Whites (NZ thing) and 2 lattes. I make them as best I can. He comes in later to tell me that they tasted “just fine” and that he owns the coffee company! Thank the good lord I did not know that before making them.
Though we have not seen much of the grounds besides in the darkness, I can say this: we are living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. And I am pretty sure that is not because we just got here. We have had 5 bluebird days since arriving, so that probably helps, but imagine this: a Costa Rican rain forest where there are no snakes, no predators, on the ocean, where the temperature is between 60-70 and perfect humidity. Yes. That is it.
The lodge itself sits on a tiny bay in the Queen Charlotte Sound, and is built on a steep hillside. In addition to the café and 14 rooms, a winding network of trails takes you through the forest to different coves- a lizard rehabilitation center, a bird rehabilitation center, an art studio, a spa/bath house, a vegetable garden, a hammock ‘observatory’, and a glow worm (!) gully . All the while, each path and every nook and cranny of this place is filled with sculptures. Sculptures carved into trees, popping out of moss, blocking your path, and creating a sense of wonder pretty much everywhere you turn. Our cottage is just a 10 minute walk from the lodge, and sits just above the water. Though it is a bit of a hike up and down from the lodge, it is a nice workout, and at night (which is most of the free time we have had here so far) glow worms pop out of dark areas all along the path. Seriously, I had only seen those on Planet Earth, and they are just as nuts in real life. I heard today that when the algae blooms, it creates phosphorescence in the water. Whhhhhaaaaat?
Now I must head back to work. For all those curious about our communiqué while out here… we only get one free hour of internet per week… otherwise it is crazy expensive. So I think I may get a landline, or a cell number. I will find out more on our day off this week (Sunday) when we go into town and buy more food. Living on ramen noodles is just not enough right now!