Of Beaches and Birthdays

Note: This covers roughly the 5th of Feburary

Beach

After having another big sleep in (I think jetlag is still accounting for this). We get up and are fed again (Empanadas I think) and are taken down to one of the beaches near La Serena. The weather is lovely, and the beach is very nice, but because the water was unusually warm, there were hundreds of jellyfish floating around. Most were dead, but there were a couple of live ones, and one of them managed to sting one of our cousins on the back of the leg. Nothing dangerous, but enough to itch annoyingly.

Paulinas Birthday

Caaake

That night was our cousin Paulina’s 27th birthday. For celebrations there were to be drinks and nibbles at one of our other extended cousin Laura’s, house. We met a bunch of people who seemed to remember us from when we last saw them. (I might have been either 6 or 16 at the time, I don’t remember which). There were a couple of people who spoke some English, but they were quickly distracted. After several drinks (which just kept on coming), it became very hard to try and follow the multiple conversations going on at once. In the end I just gave up and started taking photos.

Santiago arrival

We get a shuttle to Cristi’s apartment from the airport through some truly chaotic and frightening traffic at high speed. The parts of Santiago we see are very beautiful, and we see a couple of the style of small street-side market that I remember from last time.

We arrive at the apartment building, and attempt to talk to the doorman to get up to the room. We spend a few hours at Cristi’s relaxing, checking internet etc, and then our Uncle Jose, Aunt Lucia and cousin Paulina arrive, and we pack into a car, at this point it’s about 10pm, and drive 5 hours north to La Serena. I’m still really blocked up with my head cold, which has become quite unpleasant by now. I sleep on and off for much of the trip, which is down a 4 lane highway. There are many trucks, often pulled over to the side of the road as the drivers sleep. There was the obligatory group of people sat in the back of a pickup truck covered only in a tarp, barreling down the motorway at 120km/h.

Woke up today finally at 2pm. What an epic sleep. Sharing a room with Fran, I feel sorry for her, because of my freight train snoring. Almost immediately after having breakfast, we wander off into town for lunch. It’s at this point I remember that in Chile, everyone has a massive lunch. I stuff my face with chicken and chips and salad until I am beyond full.

Santiago
View from Cristi's apartment in Santiago

We hang out at the house for a bit, and then Paulina’s friends turn up, who have just been at a camping festival of some sort. One of them is wearing a Metallica t-shirt and notices that Fran is wearing an Opeth one, which she had borrowed from me. Opeth then gets played on his iPhone via a small speaker. Reactions are mixed 🙂

The talkative one of the two speaks very good English. We wander into town around 8pm, and visit the squares and see some of the nice buildings. One of the them is the “lovers square” and sure enough there are several couples sitting there making out. We find a small market and caramelised Papaya is found, along with peanuts coated in some sort of herb+chili powder, which is very tasty.

After another market (one which I remember from last time) we visit the supermarket for some beer, which is very cheap. LIke $5 for a six-pack of Heineken cheap.
Come back to the house and talk in a group, mainly in English. It’s a bit embarrassing how little Spanish we are using, and Fran especially seems quite happy to prattle away in English. Will try and make a really good effort to use more Spanish tomorrow.

The journey really begins

Not quite gone yet

After the Barrytown adventure, we eventually got Fran all packed up and ready (a massive ordeal that she’d probably be upset with me over, if I detailed here), and we made our way up to Auckland to see our parents before heading off to Chile.

I had a couple of days to kill up there (Fran only had one, as she flew out the day before me), and we had a couple of free tickets we’d managed to score to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which was having it’s first year in Auckland. It seemed quite odd to me, as it started in Melbourne, by the people who ran the St Jerome’s bar, and actually took place in the laneways in the city. Some things to note:

  • St Jeromes itself has now shut down, because Myers wanted to use the building
  • This year’s laneway in Melbourne isn’t being held in the laneways anymore either, because of crowd problems last year, where lots of people couldn’t see the main acts, because they had been put in the very small and narrow Lt Londsdale Street
  • I am dissapointed about this, because my new apartment has a big balcony overlooking Lt Londsale Street, and I would have to got an awesome view of it for free

Laneways itself was alright, held in the plaza above the Brittomart complex in downtown Auckland, and wasn’t too crowded. We got there pretty late, and saw the 3Ds, Echo and the Bunnymen, and sat and listened to much of Florence & The Machine, who seemed quite excitable. We’d heard the Dirty Three on the radio on the way into town, and that seemed like enough for us so we went home.

Flight

Airports are funny places. I got all checked in and sorted fairly easily, after my loving parents just dropped me off at the door (after doing the long goodbye thing with Fran the day before), I got some lunch and pretty much then had to wait for my flight to board. I love the announcements that the planes are waiting for passenger so-and-so, and that EVERYONE is waiting for THEM. Even when said in a quite flat tone, it somehow manages to be completely condecending at the same time…

I wasn’t expecting much from the plane, as LAN Chile isn’t that known as a fancy airline, but this was an Airbus A340, and it was fairly new, at a guess. It had inflight entertainment units in the seat backs, which I was not expecting. All of the announcements in were repeated in English, which I was very grateful for, because it was at this point, I realised just how little Spanish I comprehended when spoken at full speed. Mental note: Watch the Destinos language DVDs at some point during the flight….

The inflight music selection was surprisingly good, from Metallica to Leonard Cohen to Gotan Project, as well as the usual chart hits. I watched “It might get loud” documentary featuring Jack White, Jimmy Page and the Edge from U2. Basically it’s where somebody put those guys all in a room, with their guitars, and they play a bit, and talk about guitars and talk about their musical backgrounds and stuff. Jimmy Page is a total gentleman, Jack White is the coolest man alive and The Edge is a total douche who still can’t play a guitar to save his douche-y life.

When the whole cabin is dark, and you turn on the reading light, it’s like you are lit up by the fire of a thousand suns. I didn’t read much during the middle segment of the flight.

Even for such a big plane, the bathrooms are tiny. I have no idea how people are supposed to fuck in those things.

Descening through 36,000 ft with massively blocked up ears from your persistent headcold isn’t much fun either.

I finally arrive in Santiago after 11 hours or so in the air, and after managing to negotiate my way through immigration and customs (even having accidentally not received and thus not filled out the immigration form), I come through to the arrivals area, and am greeted by Fran, who has spent about 30 hours in the air by this stage, and had been waiting for me for 6 hours in Santiago airport already. The news of the day is that her luggage is lost somewhere in Los Angeles airport because she was the only person on the American Airlines flight code, and everyone else was on LAN Chile.

Ah the joys…

Soundday / Barrytown

So for our last day in fair Christchurch before Fran and I headed off on our grand South American adventure, there were two things to take care of: Soundday and an overnight trip to Barrytown.

Soundday

Sleepy Age
Josh from Sleepy Age

This was one of those big gigs put on in Hagley Park, by Fabel Music / RDU / City Council. There were a whole bunch of act including P-Money, Don McGlashan etc, but we were there pretty much for Sleepy Age, who were one of the first acts. We had been allocated a number of backstage passes, but as per the usual story there weren’t as many as there was supposed to be, so we did the old trick of sending someone out with two passes, and bringing someone in, and then using that pass for the next person. Once you are backstage and it looks like you’re supposed to be there, nobody ever asks any questions 😉

Once backstage, there was a variety of food, watermelons, egg and bacon sandwiches, beer, red bulls etc. This was very welcome at 10 in the morning, as I’d had very little sleep the night before (hur hur), and even less to eat.

Will being buddies with Don McGlashin
Will being buddies with Don McGlashan

Sleepy Age played an excellent set, and I managed to get some decent photos and a bit more video (which will have to wait before it can be uploaded)

We hung around for a bit longer – it was a nice sunny day, and frankly very pleasant just sitting around, but the later bands were quite boring so we decided to leave, and pick up the rental people mover that we had hired for the purpose of going to Barrytown.

Barrytown

The idea behind the Barrytown roadtrip was to see F in Math and The Show Is The Rainbow play the community hall there. It seems like an odd place for a gig, and it is, but other big bands have played there, like Trans Am (who I saw there with Dan G and Marc) and Shellac etc. Bang Bang Eche were also supposed to play, but Zach ended up having to do something else that weekend instead.

There was a bunch of people who had said they were keen to come, and some of them couldn’t make it in the end, but we managed to get Fionn, Netta, Hollan, T’Nealle, Fran and myself all in the people mover by about 8pm. By this point we were already about 2 hours behind schedule if we were to make it to Barrytown before the acts started. To top this off, supposedly it had been arranged back at CALH, that we were to be bringing the PA for the gig, but had never been entirely confirmed.

It’s probably about 11:30pm by the time we finally arrive in Barrytown, seemingly not quite as lost as we thought we were… and the hall is completely shut, and there’s just a bunch of people drinking outside the pub. Oh, looks like the plan has gone completely awry. A couple of people check inside the pub to see what’s going on, and Darren (aka TSITR) is there just having drinks while a busload of German backpackers are in the middle of a pimps and ho’s night. It turns out that a) the promoter of the gig did nothing at all, so the hall wasn’t open, and nobody knew about the gig, and b) we were supposed to be bringing the PA!

Luckily we had borrowed a very small PA and thrown it in the back of the people mover. So it looked like the show could go ahead! Oh, wait, no microphone. Damn. Still the Barrytown pub looked like a fun place to have a drink. Along with Darren, F in Math was there, along with Polka Dot Dot Dot (for some reason). A bit later on (and after spending $10 on wedges, chips AND a jug of beer), the barman rocks up with a mircophone, which apparently he’d found by phoning up all his mates to see if they had one. The show was ON!

Darren
Darren Keen aka The Show is the Rainbow, doing his thing

Darren played, and then F in Math, only about 3 songs each, the backpackers didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it was spectacular.

Fionn and T’Nealle jumped on Facebook on the PC in the bar(!) and invited everyone they knew to the Polka Dot Dot Dot show that had just been organised about 30 minutes prior.

We all wandered down to the beach at about 2am, as it was still wonderfully warm out (probably about 20 degrees still) and hung out there for quite a while.

As Netta had work the next morning, we had to head right back to Christchurch without sleeping, and it was my job to drive the return leg, despite having been up for ages by this point, and not really slept the night before. Oh dear.

None of us had really eaten anything either, aside from the wedges, but very much to our surprise and delight, Greymouth has a 24-hour bakery called the “Do Duck In” which had delicious pies and pastries, which we gratefully shoved into our eager faces at about 3:30am.

The drive back was uneventful, aside from that the crazy Japanese CD player would only play 2 discs from all the ones we had, and both happened to be Australian country bands, and that I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at the wheel at least twice, depite stopping a few times for quick power naps. Frankly, we’re probably lucky to all still be alive…

Campus

I was originally going to write heaps about Campus A Low Hum, but it’s now two weeks later, sitting in a room in South America, and the details are a little fuzzy.

Arrival

Campus started out wet. It had been raining fairly heavily all of the day before, and this continued for much of the first day. Pitching a tent in the rain, is not fun. Also cellphone reception, typcially for Camp, was about nil, so getting hold of people to find out where they were (we had arrived a bit later in the day) was impossible. It turns out that it would have been useful if we had, as the others had managed to steal a couple of the dorm rooms that seemed unoccupied, even though they were apparently all sold out.

Band

Went and saw some bands at that point, DZ (from Brisbane) were particuarly good, and I caught the end of Bandicoot, all of whom looked like they were 12. Turns out they are 15, so I wasn’t too far off.

Some of the bands were playing down the deep end of an emptied out swimming pool. Great idea, and good for getting a decent view, but unless the room was packed, the acoustics were terrible.

First night dramas

So on the first night, pretty much everyone got over-eager on the drunky water (and whatever else), and it was pretty messy. At some point in the evening I found myself in the Renegade Room, with a band that was just about to start. By a few seconds into the first song, everyone was on stage jumping about, I found myself operating the high-hat pedal, while myself and a few others worked the hat cymbal…. I didn’t see it myself – there was too much chaos, but apparently midway through that song, the guitar player collapsed unconcious from having had waay too much to drink earlier, while the rest of the band played on, not aware of what was happening.

Once we realised what had happened, we’d put him in the recovery position, worked out that he wasn’t dead, and went for help. We found one of the people on the gate, who radioed for the medics to come. When they arrived, we got the guy onto a blanket (as the next band was setting up around him) and moved him outside. During this, he threw up on Fran’s hand. Awesome.

So we wait around for the ambulance to show up from Whanganui, which takes ages, and they finally take him away. Apparently at this stage, Fran decides she’d had enough playing grown-up, and wants to go have some fun. She goes to the gym stage, and is there for about 10 minutes before she decides she’s tired and wants to go to bed. She turns around to tell Netta this, and some monstrous fool at that very moment throws a monitor speaker wedge down on her foot. I come on the scene I guess a couple of minutes later, as Fran is sitting outside with her foot up, looking very hurt, and somewhat pissed off. So myself, Josh, and a bit later, D-Rad, carry Fran over to the Camp office, where we wait again with the medics, this time for an ambulance for Fran, and this time one coming from Palmerston North. It arrives finally (around 3am by this point) and takes Fran away. I think I headed to bed myself then.

Fran
Fran, post hospital adventure

It turns out that Fran waits for something like 7 hours in Palmerston North hospital to even get seen by a doctor, who then proclaims: “Well I’m not an expert in reading x-rays, but I think you’re foot is not broken”. It seems to me that the one thing an emergency room doctor should be good at, is reading fucking x-rays. Mental Note: Never ever get hurt anywhere near Palmerston North.

I slept fairly well that night, I think it was due to how much I’d had to drink. The following night I laid awake for hours, sober (which was the problem right there), trying to sleep through everyone partying it up around me. Turns out we’d mistakenly camped in the ‘party’ zone instead of the quiet zone.

There was a roller disco in the gym on the second night, that’s pretty much the only thing I remember now.

Physical exertion

On the third morning I wake up, and hear music and sounds coming from the gym building (which was next to the camp area) so I pop in to have a look. Dan Deacon (one of the acts) is hosting a Physical Education session/class with probably a couple hundred campers. Fran is watching from the side (still on crutches) so I go to look. There is an interpretive dance off. Then everyone is called to go to one side of the gym (me included), and one person from each side is picked to sprint from one end of the gym to the other and back, and then tag somebody. They both then have to sprint back and forth, tagging someone, so eventually everyone is sprinting back and forth at once. I got tagged third. FML.

Birthday

Cake
Birthday cake. Totally masculine in every way

As Zach was turning 21, and I was turning 30, we decided to have a combined 51st birthday party in one of the dorm rooms. There was cake, Bratz cake, and very shoddily made Long Island Ice Teas. We were even joined by Darren aka The Show Is The Rainbow for cake and drinks, and tales of how he messed his knee up during a show. At some point Zach and I bundled up DZ in a room and talked at them for ages about Nethack. Good times.

Bands on the last day

The last night of Camp is usually the best for seeing bands, and this one was no exception. Earlier in the afternoon, Sleepy Age played in the Renegade Room, well received by all. I got some HD video of one of the songs and put it up on youtube:

Gaywire also played, who are an 80’s metal band (in the truest sense of the word) from Lower Hutt. They were really awesome, and everyone was getting really into it. I think half the crowd were enjoying it for it’s super sense of deep irony (goddamn hipsters), and the others were enjoying it becuase it was just damned good music. I fell into the later group. I also ended up stage diving during their set, still wearing my full suit (I was planning on going to the Camp prom later, but didn’t end up staying for that because it was a bit lame, and I ended up seeing other stuff).

Die! Die! Die! were also awesome, which I found surprising because the other couple of times I had seen them I had decided they really weren’t my cup of tea at all.

The end

We had to leave quite early on the last day, to catch our flight back to Christchurch, and DZ ended up grabbing a ride with us. Both of them managed to sleep the entire drive back into Wellington, waking up pretty much just as we were getting to the airport, lucky sods.