Backpacker Lifestyle

Things That Are Cool About This Particular Hostel In Queenstown In Which I Am Staying Until Saturday:

–Fast, free internet
–Lots of cool movies
–Nice couches and drink coasters
–Crunchie bar on the pillows when I checked in
–That’s right, I said pillows: two pillows! Bliss to someone who prefers to sleep with at least four, all the better to make a bed fort with
–Awesome kitchen: two microwaves, fantastic cutting board, and SHARP KNIVES
–Owner is also a paramedic and comes in from his other job in the evenings still in his paramedic uniform, which came in handy when I cut my finger on the abovementioned SHARP KNIVES
–Silly friendly Malamute called Cocco

Things That Are Weird About This Particular Hostel In Queenstown In Which I Am Staying Until Saturday:

–One of the showers is physically behind the reception desk
–The other shower’s control thing is outside the shower itself, so you have to open the door and lean around it if you want to make the water hotter or colder
–All the powerpoints are basically directly underneath the ceiling, so I had to ask one of the boys in my room to plug my phone in for me this evening
–Basically invisible from the street, so I walk past it every single time without seeing it
–Mattresses the thickness and consistency of one of those rice seaweed crackers

What I’ve Planned To Do In Queenstown:

–Get a birthday massage, courtesy of my mom, who feels a little sorry for me that I have to spend my birthday alone.
–Go out at least one night.
–Continue to avoid anything resembling bungy jumping.

What I’ve Done In Queenstown:

–Got a massage
–Got lost
–IMed with Sylvia
–Emailed my mom a lot
–Written postcards to Lydia and to Mat, both of whom I was with the last time I was in Queenstown and both of whom I miss like the very dickens
–Gone to the top of one of the mountains via gondola and texted everyone I know about how I was at the top of a mountain, and that I’d got there via gondola
–tasted some fudge at the sweet shop
–made five days’ worth of pasta with veggies
–Had an uncomfortable discussion about the Seabed and Foreshore stuff
–Totally effed up my back from the seaweed-rice cracker-mattress

What I Plan To Do In Queenstown In My Remaining Time Here:

–Go for a walk on the Ben Lomond Track
–Go for a walk around the peninsula
–Go for at least one night out
–Go for ice cream

Books I Have Read Since I Left Wellington:

–Diary Of A Manhattan Call Girl by Tracy Quan (bought at the Courtenay Place Arty Bees)
Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood (Mom brought it over when she came to visit last year)
Good In Bed and In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner (also bought at Arty Bees)
–some book about someone who doesn’t tell her son who his father is but instead watches Seven Samurai with him all the time so he’ll have male role models, by someone I don’t remember (borrowed from Alice)
Emma by Jane Austen (Arty Bees!)
–book of short stories by Irwin Shaw (book exchange in Kaikoura)
The Hungry Years by William Leith (book exchange in Kaikoura)
Possession by A.S. Byatt (used bookstore in Kaikoura because I’d already read all the books at the hostel)

Tee Shirts With Which I Am Backpacking:

–green Fat Freddy’s Drop octopus shirt, as seen in the iconic Wandering Eye video, because I am totally a groupie and also I totally know the girl who designed the shirt, long story
–plain black tee from the Warehouse
–purple v-neck from Old Navy that I brought with me from the States which is a bit too big now but which I hang onto in case I do anything requiring the use of an old shirt
–purple shirt with yellow horse on the front that Alice gave me in exchange for some butterfly sequin jandals I got at the Number One Shoe Warehouse buy-two-get-one-free-sale
–gray Supermaggie octopus shirt
–pink rainbow shirt with a picture of two robots talking on the phone (currently wearing)

Things I Make For Dinner A Lot:

–pasta with feta cheese, broccoli, olives, and sundried tomatoes
–pasta with mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomato paste, and ricotta cheese
–pasta with onions, zucchini, and four different colors of peppers (currently eating)
–pasta with chickpeas, onions, and spinach
–veggie couscous with apricots, sultanas, and feta cheese

Ingredients People Laugh At Me For Traveling With But Then Get Jealous About When My Food Turns Out Yummy:

–my own olive oil
–my own tea
–my own pepper grinder
–my own garlic
–my own honey

Sentences I Have Said Repeatedly When Having The American Conversation:

“I grew up in Miami, went to university in Southern California, and then lived in Seattle for about seven years before I came out here.”
“Well, all my friends and family have passports so I don’t really know about that ‘fifteen-percent’ statistic.”
“I have never been to the Grand Canyon or to Vegas.”
“Yeah, you pay a co-pay on top of what gets deducted from your paycheck.”
“I wasn’t able to vote in the primaries but I would support either Obama or Clinton as a Democratic candidate.”

Things I Am Looking Forward To Doing In The South Island:

–my birthday Milford Sound dive
–bragging that I got one of the $1 fares on the Naked Bus (I totally did, from Te Anau to Milford. One dollar!)
–kayaking in the Abel Tasman with Alice in a couple of weeks
–figuring out what exactly else I’m going to do

People I Am Missing Right Now:

–You, especially you


  1. Why is it called the Naked Bus?

    Happy Unbirthday!

  2. I got really tired of Backpacker Conversations. Our caving instructor encouraged us to skip all the typical “how long are you here for” type questions and instead delve into the “if you had to lose one, would you rather lose your big toe or a finger?” type questions.

    Good luck on fun and interesting conversations! I know you’ll have no problem.

  3. Happy Birthday!

    That other book is The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt.

  4. I am thrilled we will see you soon. I know you are longing already to be back at your second home, but we are longing for you here. *hugs*

  5. What’s the Seabed and Foreshore stuff?

    Hurry home!

  6. (And Happy Birthday, of course!)

  7. Happy Birthday to you!!!!!!!

  8. I dreamed about you last night, but I also dreamed I was Lisa Simpson with a fever and I was being attacked by cats and the occasional bear, so don’t take it too much to heart.

    Nonetheless, your return to the land of the passportless is eagerly anticipated. (About that – just the border with Canada is 5,500 miles long – for people in the middle of the country, there’s a lot of ground to cover just to get to the edge of the US. I don’t think “insular” is the right term. I know the same argument applies to Canada and Russia, but the bulk of Canada’s population is down by the border with the US, and I betcha relatively few Russians have travelled internationally either. Besides, until recently you didn’t even need a passport to go to Canada or Mexico.)

    Happy birthday, gorgeous!

  9. happy birthday, girl! glad to hear you’re having a good time and all. :)

  10. Happy Birthday!

  11. Hi Chiara

    Great to see you got one of $1 fares – we sell dozens every day, and it’s good to know they are appreciated :-)

    BTW “naked” refers to us stripping out the costs you don’t need – you just get a cheap bus ride.

    Enjoy the rest of your trip round NZ

    (disclaimer: I work for, NZ’s low cost long distance bus network)

  12. Surely it’s not your birthday until the 19th? Or have I got that completely wrong?? If I HAVE missed it then I am truly sorry, if not have a great time and tell us all about your antics soon!

    p.s. Hope to be seeing Mara soon (in the next couple of weeks while she’s in the UK!)