Groundhog Days in Westport

We didn’t get to Franz Joseph on New Year’s Eve. We stopped at the DOC camp at Lake Paringa and liked it so stayed there the night. We managed a swim in the lake before the sun went down. Midnight came very quietly, most of the camp were asleep. Next morning was still fine and we headed north. We visited Lake Mathieson for some reflections but the mountains were clouding over by that stage. We had a fun day playing tourists and eventually parked for the night beside the road south of Barrytown. This was beside the sea and we watched the sun into the sea – a nice way to end the day.

Next day we had a walk around the pancake rocks at Punakaiki. The blowholes were almost blowing – except it was low tide. There was a stupid tourist woman who insisted on balancing on all the guard rails, either hanging her head over the drops or standing on top of the rails or walking along them. The signs said not to cross the barriers. I don’t think they anticipated idiots using them as a balance beam!

We finally pulled into Westport and checked in with the motels and moved in ready to take over the next morning. And take over we did next morning as the owners headed south for their well-earned break.  So began 19 days straight working. We’re not complaining, it’s what motel people do. Except at the end we drove away. Most motel owners carry on and work another 19 days. And another. You get the picture… Westport was busy. It always is and the tourist trade just adds on top of the usual corporate guests. So we were  flat out – both working 12 hour days.

Each day follows the same routine. Check the guests out who are leaving; sort out the cleaning staff; strip the linen and rubbish from the units; make some of the beds; start washing all the linen other than the sheets; process on-line bookings; deal with phone bookings; check each of the cleaned units; start checking in arriving guests; dry and fold all the linen; iron pillowcases; make up Continental Breakfasts for the next morning; sort out cleaning staff; make and eat tea; deal with on-line bookings; collapse in a heap approximately 14 hours after starting. The next day is the same, more or less.

After a while it started feeling like the movie Groundhog Day. Where Bill Murray gets stuck in a loop where each morning he wakes up and restarts the day before. He gets better at anticipating what is going to happen. So did we. We got a bit more organised each day. We would have been cruising except the computer had a meltdown – a slow sort of meltdown. Motels are very dependent on computers for managing bookings and receiving on-line bookings. So it was interesting spending a day without a computer. Just like the old days… When it was all sorted out the computer downloaded 108 emails that had probably already been downloaded and dealt with. But to be sure meant wading back and double-checking them all. So that took care of any feeling of being on top of things.

In the end we were tuckered out and happy to have the owners return and free us from our Groundhog routines. We’d enjoyed our time there and met lots of lovely and/or interesting people. But we were ready for some serious relaxing. We were heading for Nelson but the first day we got as far as Murchison and decided that was far enough – all of an hour and a half from Westport. We had an afternoon sleep and set the pattern for the next few days.

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