Monday, January 01, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Ever since I first found out that Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun, I knew I had to spend New Year's Eve there. Besides the novelty factor and bragging rights, Gisborne would be an ideal spot because thousands (supposedly) of young people flock there each 31 December for a giant party on the beach. What's not awesome about that? Check out the picture below--that's the campsite (I believe it's usually just a big sports field) near the beach. There was another huge campsite just outside town too.

Strike one. About a week before we left, we started calling around to hostels. Granted, this was probably a bit late, and we were told that we didn't have any chance of finding a place to stay. No problem, we figured. We were planning to be up late partying anyway, and would probably even stay up to watch the sunrise. If/when we finally decided to sleep, we could camp out on the beach or in the car. All part of the experience, right? The pictures below are of the beach where all the magic happens (obviously, these were taken when the magic was not in progress).

Strike two. A few days before we left, Sarah pointed out that the weather forecast called for rain in Gisborne. Hmm... that's not really ideal for an outdoor party, but whatever. As we were leaving Auckland the rain was pretty strong, but as we got closer to Gisborne, it let up and we even got some sunny skies as we drove along the Bay of Plenty. By the time we arrived, it was not exactly the warm beach party weather we were hoping for, but the rain had stopped. We were all set for a great night. We walked around the town for a little while, met some people who invited us to hang out at their campsite, and had a lovely dinner.
Strike three. Just as we were headed over to the beach, Sarah pulled over to the side of the road and got out of the car. "I don't feel very well," she said. "Just give me a minute, and I'll be fine." But after a few minutes of fresh air, she was not fine and needed to find a bathroom. Of course the only bathrooms available were porta-potties, which don't really do much to aid nausea, so we drove over to one of the hostels. Just after we got out of the bathroom, a woman who was probably the manager came and asked who we were, what we were doing there, etc. We explained the situation to her, but she was clearly not in the New Year's spirit and made us leave. By now it was pouring down rain, and poor Sarah was still very nauseous. we tried another hostel, where this time the people were much nicer. Sarah ran to the bathroom while I waited in the lounge.
And we're out. That's where we spent the next three hours or so. Sarah in the bathroom puking up Thai food; me in the lounge watching the Crowded House farewell concert from 1996. And that's how we welcomed in 2007.
(As a side note, I was really surprised by the low quality of New Year's Eve TV. At home I am always in front of a TV at midnight. Even though most people only tune in for that last minute, there are all kinds of countdowns leading up to midnight. In New Zealand, nothing. I was at least hoping that C4 (the NZ equivalent of MTV) would have the 100 greatest videos of the year or something with the DJs live at midnight. But no, after Crowded House finished, it switched to Robbie Williams Live in Berlin (from who knows when), leaving Dr. 90120 to take over as the best thing on TV. I guess that's what happens when people spend New Year's outdoors.)
Anyway, Sarah finally felt okay enough to leave the hostel, and we slept for about three hours in the car. We were hoping to catch the sunrise as some sort of consolation prize, but it was still pouring in the morning. The good news was that Sarah was no longer ill. Still, after brushing our teeth in McDonald's and about 20 minutes of sightseeing, we were more than ready to leave.
At least we can say we were some of the first people in the world to welcome in the new year. We'll just leave out the part about how we did the welcoming.


Linda said...

Well, that is just crummy. I had visions of you frolicking on the beach, meeting fun and interesting people, and generally living it up. You might as well have been at home with your boring, old parents.

esl said...

Or hanging out with your eternally sleepy friend who headed to bed after the ball drop and another round of cold medicine!

Adrian C. said...

It is still a story to tell in the future. Not many of us on this side of the world have any story from New Years. Still too bad your friend got sick.

Jaya Lakshminarayanan said...

Definitely a better story than mine; I watched Garrison Keillor on PBS and then went to bed. But for New Year's Day I went with some friends to the Boston Vegetarian Society dinner (and felt like a heretic in my wool coat--they're pretty hardcore.) Yummy--and it all stayed down. :)