Monday, October 08, 2007

10/8/07 9:20pm

Cambridge Hotel, Wellington, NZ

Somebody, and I can’t look up who as there’s no internet here, said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, the cure for spending a week in suburbia was to try a hostel when I got to Rotorua. After all, if I got a single it would be a bed in a room with little else – which is what I had at Aspen House (a hotel) in Auckland. That was okay, so maybe it could be good.



The bus, 4 hours from Auckland, arrived conveniently at the tourist information center in Rotorua. I got in line, and when it was my turn asked for a recommendation of a hostel to stay in. I’d given Lonely Planet a browse on the way down, but nothing had particularly stood out.

Apparently it is against some kind of law for the info people to actually, specifically recommend one single place. I’d ask, and she’d say, well, there’s this this and this which was enormously helpful. In the end I settled for a place called Cactus Jack’s.

That should’ve been my first clue. And my first warning. But noooo, I was going to try something and be braaaave.

At first the room seemed okay. For a “theme” hostel, though, the room didn’t try very hard. The most “cowboy” it got was the untrimmed, un-sanded wood nailed around the mirror. Around the rest of the hostel were cutesy murals of vaguely Mexican things.

Lonely Planet says “although [the rooms are] older, they’re well kept.” For the first few hours I would’ve added “…ish.” The wall was scuffed and needed repainting. The sheets didn’t match, but that doesn’t really matter. The shelf/drawers were small and one of the drawer pulls was broken.

I tried to plug in my computer to the one outlet in the room, and the outlet immediately started crackling. And not in a good way. I tried once more, just for fun, and it was crackling again. Since my computer battery was almost completely drained, this left me without a computer.

Fine. So I turned on the one light in the room (though admittedly it was small enough that just an overhead light was enough, though a desk lamp would’ve been appreciated) and spent the evening reading (A Spot of Bother) and knitting. I started to notice that they didn’t stress too hard about cleaning the carpet. I also found that it was getting cold. And no wonder —there were no heaters in the room.

I know there were no heaters (and that it wasn’t in-floor heating) because there were heaters in the hallway. Heaters. In the hallway. Not in the room. Why, why did they ever think that was a good idea?

I went to bed early and slept in all my clothes because I was so cold. It was fairly noisy, but not too bad after about midnight or so.

I told the guy at the front desk that my electrical outlet wasn’t working, and he promised to call an electrician. When I checked up on it later he said the electrician wouldn’t come out on a Saturday, so I was out of luck. Splendid.

The bathroom that I was lucky enough to pick in the morning had a tub/shower combination, painted bright-but-fading colors. Despite the very warm hot water pipe running along the wall, the shower never got past lukewarm.

And then there was the fact that none of the bathrooms had sinks, and none of the sinks (the few there were) had soap, which made me more than a little concerned about the hygiene of everyone around me. And very concerned with where I put my toothbrush.

That evening, when I was sitting in bed, NOT reading since I’d lost my book (and I was only about 40 pages from the end!), but listening to music and knitting, it became clear that they hadn’t washed the duvet in a while, and that someone before me had had what I can only hope was a mild cold.

Went to bed early again, since I had to be up at 7 to catch the bus to Wellington (also because I am apparently an old lady). At 1:30am I woke to someone banging and pounding on the hostel door. See, after around 8pm the front door gets locked, and the keys have a code on the back to let you in. And this putz couldn’t figure out how to make it work, and figured that wailing on the door was the best way to go.

Some kind soul (my kindness ends at 10pm) let him in about fifteen minutes later.

I eventually went back to sleep until 3:30am when some hideous assholes decided to watch rugby. This being NZ and right before the rugby championships some of the games end up being at odd times. I can only guess this was one of those occasions.

But the tv was on loud. And they were yelling. And it was early. And I didn’t do anything, because the idea of getting up and yelling at them made me nervous. After about a half hour someone opened their door and told them to “shut the fuck up.” He’s my hero.

The next morning the shower was blessedly hot. Small victories.


grace said...

Well, at least you're on some kind of an adventure!

Kevin said...

Ah, yes. Crappy motels and hostels do provide endless amounts of fun. Just be glad you didn't find any special stains on the sheets.

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