Friday, 22 November 2013

Eat, Pray, Camp: an urban myth part one



Urban Camp Mum. It sounded grand, way beyond glamp-ing. Camping in a city. In a backbackers.  Downright glamp-urb-orous.

The first night was hell. Friday night just off Courtney Place, Wellington.  What would you expect? Loud music. Sirens. Corporate binge drinkers staggering from work to bar to car.

And far far below the fifth floor, occupied by our school group, partied a mélange of international travellers. Brought together by the promise of getting high on cheap booze. Beer, vodka and Jager bombs. Yours for less than a large flat white. “At Wellington’s #1 party bar!! The basement.”

I slept at first. Tired after our three hour Jet Star transit in Auckland Airport and a doughy $5.00 Dominos pizza. Munched, sitting on slabs of concrete at the arse end of Te Papa, in a stiff, straight off the harbour breeze.

But then alas I woke to the sound of awful non descript possibly never been near the very bottom of the American Top 40 music charts. Ever. It was 1am. Surely, the basement only have a license until 2am? I mean there were signs in the stairwell suggesting guests be courteous to fellow sleepers by quieting down by 9pm. Not.

I re-tweeted some blog posts to @MumsnetBloggers in the UK. They’d be up. And they were. I got a re-tweet. Not front page but even so. And sore eyes. I worried I was disturbing my roommates. My sheet tent was stuffy.

2.20am, the music droned on. As did the rowdy revellers clomping up the stone stairwell.  Our fire-stop door was on permanent OPEN. Due to the staff failing to think its fixing a first world potential ACC liability insurance coroners report type problem for 39 school children and their six adult minders. Should something inconvenient like a fire break out.

The mattress was too lumpy. I longed for a pee. But I hung on. Hacked off that my industrial strength earplugs did NOT work. Nor the pillow wrapped over my sweaty head.

Finally the music stopped and the traffic slowed. The wind whistled through the permanently open window above my bunk. I drifted off to dreamland. Until 39, 13 year olds started cheerily banging on doors at 6.

Bleary eyed, I grabbed my spong-bag and headed for the communal bathroom. The first toilet was decorated with what could have been muddy footprints on the white plastic seat but was more likely partially digested Yager bombs.

I dabbed my Bobbi Brown under eye -brightener over the cushions that had formed beneath my eyes. The brightener was too bright, Bobbi, it made me look like a clown. With crag. Cripes I’d frighten the children. I slapped more on.

Next thing, this Rubenesque red head walked in wrapped in a bed sheet, clutching a water bottle. She tossed her bed hair mane and entered the (clean) cubicle and took a slash. Sighing theatrically. Next, she grappled with her bottle, eventually ripped the top off then struggled to refill it in the small hairy basin.

I watched her out of the corner of my brightened eye. Did she cop off with one of those exotic dark haired men. The ones who’d offered to share the tiny lift with the other camp mum and I the day before? Or was it just a night out with the girls? Whatever it was, I imagined she was heading back to her bunkette to rest that weary auburn head.

I snuck over the road to Deluxe for caffeine. Two large trim flat whites to go for teach and I. My tidy group of 12 crowded around a small breakfast table. I sculled my coffee. The only immediate affect was that I didn’t feel like breakfast.  Good value I suppose. It cost $5.00.

I cleaned my teeth. Tied my laces and packed my 6 inch veg subway. Keen for a walk down Courtney Place onto Lambton Quay to catch the cable car up to the Planetarium. The school had booked a talk. I like stars.

Meanwhile, a girl in my group was stuck down with a migraine. I was to be dorm-side for the day. This was not pretend. The girl looked sick as a dog. She wept in pain.

I discussed when I should call the ambulance with one of the teachers. Seeing stars stage, or wait till she faints?

They gave me her medical sheet and said; do what you’d do for your own child.

My patient was stoic. Charming. Sweet. She knew the drill. She said crying helped to bring on the vomit, which brought on the sleep. The calm.

I asked her if she wanted to ring her mum. No point she said.  It happened like clock work. After the first vom, she told me how she’d ended up in hospital last year with a huge needle in the crook of her arm. She wasn’t allowed to leave until the drip bag was empty. She’d fainted that time. And vomited endlessly.

I crossed my fingers behind my back.

I was released at 2pm. I bolted to the bus stop and waited for number 23. 39 happy teenagers crowded the aisles. Ahh.

This may be my last school camp. You might find me wrapped in a bed sheet, a dishevilled siren in a backpackers in Greece. Kidding. I’m not looking for anymore eat pray love camp adventures. I’ll be at home.

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