Sunday, December 9, 2007

If It's Wednesday, This Must Be Taupo

I was now at a hostel called the YHA Taupo ($50)

Taupo is small town on a massive lake. The scenery inspired me and I went running for the first time in 5 days. (my sciatica was still active but much better. )

One thing worth noting: On these bus tours, the crowd on the bus changes constantly, which has its good and bad points. If you meet a group you don't like, you may only be stuck with them for a couple of nights. If you meet a group you like, you may split up and not see them again.

My bus group at this point was on the young side, big drinkers, and I didn't really bond with them.

The cast:
- Brother and sister from Brazil
Most of us thought they were a couple until they each started hitting on other people.
- The untouchables
Two very attractive women, who were nice enough but none of the guys really had a shot with them.
- The Irish girls
Fun, loud, hard drinking, not so attractive. Capable of a serious conversation when separated from the group.
- English fireman
Life of the party. Looked older than the girls, but bless his heart, he had them all going. He was very funny and a nice guy. And he could drink a lot.
- Korean girl
I'm think I'm developing a thing for Asians. Not really part of the group. Unclear who she socialized with. Her English was marginal, which meant she came across as aloof and lacking in social skills. We obviously had a lot in common.
- Bus driver
Loved driving big rigs like trucks and buses. He'd been doing it for 11 years. He was also a big drinker. He and the English guy got along famously.

A Night Out

The bus driver told us about a restaurant that would offer us a discount. The Korean girl had not decided to show up at my door in her lingerie, so I was free for the evening.

I went to the restaurant. The group (everyone but the Korean girl and bus driver) went and sat in the back of the restaurant at a big table. I didn't feel that comfortable around the group, so I joined the driver who was sitting at the bar. (The Korean girl didn't come out with us.) He talked about trucks, buses, differentials, transmissions, how some rigs have 18 gears and some have less. I listened. At least I was not sitting there by myself. I was thinking of suggesting we join the group when he suggested it first.

At the dinner table, I spoke to one of the Irish girls and she said the following about why divorce is so low in Ireland:
- people marry late, typically in late 20's.
- they usually marry someone they've been dating for more than 5 years
- by law to divorce someone, you have to be separated for 7 years.

Other useful information I picked up during dinner:
- women who wear g-strings can use a single pair for 6 days. (apparently, you use a different corner of the g-string each day. Then turn it inside out and repeat.)
- Australians and New Zealanders seem to suffer from some sexual confusion. The men call each other "cunts." Women are often referred to as "mate" by business and service personnel. For example, our bus driver often said things to the girls like "Can I help you with that suitcase, mate."

After dinner, the group went to a bar next store. I followed. The DJ was playing hip hop. I don't like hip hop. The group went out on the dance floor and danced together. I followed. Each guy in the group danced into the center of the group and performed some macho feat. The bus driver did a one-armed push-up and a one-legged squat. Impressive. The fireman put a pack of cigarettes on the ground, stood and spread his legs, and bent over and grabbed the cigarette pack with his mouth. I did nothing. It was time for me to move on.

I circulated and started talking to a couple from San Diego. The guy and I spoke about the Red Sox and Patriots. The girl had a nose ring that made her look like a bull. She got bored with us and went to the bathroom. In passing, the guy mentioned that she was his "kind of girlfriend" and that their relationship was on it's way out. I got the impression she wasn't aware of this development. I find it interesting how people (including me) will disclose these kinds of personal details to complete strangers.

The girlfriend came back. The three of us hung out for a while. She is one of the first girls with a nose ring that I've ever found attractive. I kept that information to myself and went home.

The Next Day

We were back on the bus and some bonding had apparently taken place the night before. The fireman and the Brazillian girl were now an item. Her brother was making the moves on one of the Irish girls, but it wasn't going so well. Apparently, he's 16. The girl is in her late 20's and very conservative. At least I wasn't the only one going empty handed.

High Speed Powerboats ($89)

I signed up for a jet boat ride, one of New Zealand's well-known adventure activities. The boats have huge engines and can hit speeds of about 50 miles an hour. They can ride in water a shallow as 4 to 5 inches. The highpoint of the ride is when the driver spins the boat around in a 360 degree turn. Everyone gets wet. The Korean girl, one of the Irish girls, and I were the only ones who signed up for this. The ride was fun but not all it was hyped up to be. After the ride, I was hanging around the restaurant overlooking the river. The Korean girl came in and sat down at a table nearby. She asked me to sit with her. We chit-chatted. She said she had quit her corporate job because had turned her into a workaholic and an alcoholic. She sounded like a partier. She sounded available. She sounded interesting.