Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The youth hostel that I'm staying at is very well organized, and very big!

It occupies most of a multi-storey office-block, 10 stories high! As well as rooms for 1, 2, 4 or 8 people to sleep in, there's a laundry room, 2 TV rooms, a large kitchen (that closes at midnight), a job centre, a travel agency… and even an internet café!

The view from my room.

The rooms all have lockers under the beds, although I initially seemed to be the only one in my (8-person) room really using it. The lockers require a padlock to secure. I brought two padlocks with me, plus several others which I got free with my new rucksack! This is handy, as so much of my time has been spent out and about.

The hostel's “free barbeques” (for which you have to buy a $2 drink) happen quite often, although they are really only good for sausage sandwiches. Wednesday evening is Free Pizza Night at the nightclub downstairs, due to some sponsorship deal with Pizza Hut.

There is also a Free Food shelf in the kitchen where people leave food that they are not taking with them. Otherwise I have to get something from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Subway or the New World supermarket up in Ponsonby.

The food is variable, depending upon where I get it.

Thanks to new friend Steve on reception, after three weeks I moved out of 8-person room 610 overlooking Queen Street, and into the 4-person windowless room 704.

This is because I am now voluntarily helping the hostel out for 15 hours a week, so they've kindly stopped charging me for staying here, so long as I take one of their worst rooms.

Really, it's a cupboard. Big enough for 2 bunks, but an absolute squeeze with 4, and nigh on impossible when you also factor in 4 travellers' luggage and a fridge.

Anyway, the upside is that this has absolutely slashed my living costs, helped along by the fact that I seem to be living almost entirely off of free food as well lately! People keep leaving what they don't eat behind when they move on - you know, half a loaf of perfectly good bread, three quarters of a packet of breakfast cereal, entire sealed 3 litre bottles of orange juice, that sort of thing. When you're the one cleaning out their rooms after they've gone, you find all sorts of stuff. (of course, you also find discarded condoms, plastic genitalia and books like Buddhism For Dummies, but that's not worth going into here)

Anyway, the housekeeping gig has not turned out to be that taxing so far – on my first day all I had to do was keep feeding the single washing machine and single tumble-dryer linen from 500 beds for 3 hours, and make two new friends – Leanne in the office, and a Korean guy called Tiger.

That was two weeks ago, and as I've found myself increasingly hanging-out with a group of Chileans, Koreans and others, I've had to wonder how my life has turned around so much in the past year that I'm now roughing it with a bunch of foreign immigrants. Oh yeah, because despite my legal visa, I sort of am one too now...

There are a lot of people here at the hostel who don't speak very good English. As a result, a lot of my day now seems to be getting spent teaching them. One of them wants to start paying me. I pointed out that I couldn't because on my visitors visa this would technically be illegal, but I reckon I could cheekily ask him to do my laundry or something instead... :)


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