New Zealand Notebook 6 – Settling in Wellington

After a bad start, on Sunday morning I decide to switch accommodation before giving up on Wellington. Trek Global is 10 minutes away and has long term guests, usually a good indication of a place that’s decent. I like the location and layout. People seem friendly too.
A guy wearing a t-shirt advertising an Irish bar in Montevideo is preparing a meal. His name is Gaston and he’s an intelligent and charming Uruguayan. He and his friends liked Ireland so much from working in that bar that they came over on a tour of Ireland in 2012.
He speaks about his trip fondly though adds, ‘I had to save up for such a long long time to afford it.’
I get to talk about Buenos Aires and South American culture with him and he offers me a sweet expensive biscuit akin to the Argentine/Uruguayan delicacy ‘alfajores.’ I really enjoy the evening in his company but I still have this feeling of being in limbo over whether to stay or not.
I need a job soon, my funds will last another week max and then I’m skint. Gaston says I’ll find something easy in ‘hospo’ (hospitality). Wellington has a big dining, coffee and socialising culture.
Next day, after a walk along Oriental Parade, a lovely stretch around the Wellington Harbour, I decide to chance making a commitment and book for a longer term stay.
*
I’ve to switch rooms and wait for a few hours for housekeeping to be done. I hang out in the chill-out lounge with a couple of Brits, we watch bad TV movies and Jeremy Kyle. The show sparks an anecdote from the woman sitting beside –Mandy from Nottingham- about a night she had out in Essex.
She said she visited friends there and they had to go the beauticians at 4pm – where they got their hair, make up, tan and nails done. At 8pm, they went to a different friend’s house to drink champagne and then went to a bar for 9pm. They took seats because their high heels hurt their feet. They waited in the bar untilmidnight and went home.
‘They do that every week,’ she says and frowns at the memory.
*
My new room is a 6 bed dorm and there is good space in presses to unpack. For the first time in five weeks, I am not living out of my bag.
I can unpack!
This is incredibly exciting and I’ve never been happier to fold, organise and put away my clothes.
My new roommates introduce themselves and I’m immediately at ease with Ella, who is also from Nottingham. She’s lovely and has hilarious stories from university and travelling New Zealand. She’s got recruitment company interviews and gives me a contact to send my CV.
Another roommate I really like is Jacob from South Korea. He spent months working in a factory in Blenheim, slashing open 10,000 mussels a day.
‘Did it teach you anything?’ I ask.
‘Patience, maybe.’
He’s studying English in a Wellington language college.
On Wednesday, I go to Newtown, a quirky suburb outside of the city and browse through the charity shop bookcases, pick up 3 Bill Bryson books for 6 dollars. I get a phone call from Lucy in a recruitment company for an interview the next day.
*
Me and Jacob go down the Harbour and check out installations in shipping containers as part of the New Zealand Festival. Jacob isn’t totally convinced by the wacky art pieces, such as two men drinking beer in a bath, or two ‘scientists’ using tweezers to pull separate hairs from a pile, or big television screens reflecting back our images in CCTV style footage.
Walking away from an installation with people shovelling dirt into a block, Jacob informs me that he thinks the piece was ‘complete rubbish.’
I laugh and he then adds, ‘I just learned the phrase “complete rubbish” in school today. I am happy that I can use it.’
*
My interview with Lucy is fun but as we discuss the prospects, I realise that I don’t want to work in an office environment so Lucy gives me a heads up on different Irish bars in Wellington. I join a gym and go out on the Friday night with Ella, Tulley from Australia and Sarah from the States.
On Saturday, a vegan German girl, Nina, moves into the dorm and shows me pictures of all the baked goods she makes, verification that vegans aren’t restricted to fruit and veg. I promise to have a more open mind to vegan food after our conversation. A new young Dutch girl, Djetska, moves in too.
Sarah from Sydney is in her mid thirties and reading a book on mindfulness. I ask her how she finds the practice.
‘I believe persistence is the key with it. Keep trying to be mindful. Some day, it’ll just happen naturally.’
Us 5 women in the room chat about everything and anything and there’s the distinct feeling of a sleepover. It’s a nice evening with lots of laughter, shared stories and chocolate.
Jacob has gone on a 50km round trip hike to see seals. His legs are sore.
‘What was it like?’ I ask.
‘It was good but one of the seals was very belligerent.’
*
On Sunday, me and Ella take a stroll to the fresh food markets and stock up on veg. Then we go to the Newtown Festival which has many random stalls. Live music stages with jazz, salsa, Balkan gypsy brass and pop music are scattered around the streets. There’s a great buzz in the place and I try some vegan sausages for the first time. They’re tastier than expected.
We meet a friend of Ella’s for a pint after the festival and walking home to the hostel, I’m a lot happier, more settled and determined to find a hospo job in the coming days.

Sarah, Tulley, Ella and I in Residence
Sarah, Tulley, Ella and I in Residence
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