Jan. 25 – Auckland, cont.
I dragged the packs in and looked for a spot to chain them up. "Take nothing for granted, be totally aware, and keep your money belt on you at all times," is what I was told. But as I started to reach for my retractable safety cable with combination lock – conveniently packed in the front pocket of the extension pack – I saw that everyone else’s bags were lying all over the floor, and half of them were open and overflowing out of open zippers. Personal items were on the dresser, and clothes and towels hung from the upper bunks.
I decided there was no way I was locking up with this casual crowd. Just because I was a rookie, didn’t mean I had to look like one. Just go with the flow. I left the big pack at the foot of the bed and threw the other two up to the top bunk.
As I climbed up I noticed that the person on the top bunk to my right was naked except for some bikini underwear. I immediately averted my eyes. Then I looked back again, to see if I saw what I thought I saw. Geez, this girl was sleeping naked! Almost. No one told me that travelers sleep naked in the dorm rooms.
I put the pack with my computer, guidebooks, maps, notes, Kleenex and cough drops up by my head. Next I took off my shoes and got out my sleeping sheet. I knew I could’ve made one by sewing up two sides of a regular sheet, but I had been lazy and went out and bought one with a handy packing bag to go with it.
I looked around to see how many others were in the room. At least four of the other bunks had sleepers in them. But the room was dark, and I couldn’t really see the people in them or whether or not they were clothed. There was no way I was nuding up, that was for sure. But wait, what was I going to wear? My clothes were in the big backpack down at the bottom of the bunk. And what was that smell? My shoes! I took off my jeans as quickly and quietly as I could, not wanting to wake the others. And not wanting to be seen in my underwear, I got under the sheet. I left my shirt on, bra and all. Then I smothered my shoes with my jeans and put the extension pack on top of it. I didn’t want anyone to smell the ripe odor coming from my direction.
I nestled myself into a comfortable position and thought about how long it’d been since I’d slept in a room with seven other people. Horse camp when I was 14? It’s quite different at 29. Lying there, I wondered how long I would have to be on the road before I would get used to it. I dreaded morning and the thought of idle chitchat with the other hostelgoers. And would that girl put some clothes on before I got up? I hoped so.
I desperately wanted to fall asleep. But I was afraid. I was scared that if I fell asleep, I’d start to snore.
A friend had told me not to worry and that it wouldn’t be the first or the last time someone snored in a hostel. "They’ll just shake the bed or tell you to roll over," he said. What a first impression! "Good morning, yes, that was me snoring last night, and how did you sleep?" I couldn’t take it. The night before I left I went and bought some Breathe Right strips. Only after I bought them did I realize that I had bought the wrong size. Who knew they came in different sizes? It makes perfect sense of course, but I didn’t think about it, or read the box carefully. Now I had size-large Breathe Right strips in my toiletry kit, to fit a size-small nose.
Just as I was thinking about cutting the large strips in half and retaping them in a smaller size, I heard it. Through my clogged-up ears the snorer came in loud and clear; I think it was the naked girl. As if contagious, a second one started up. Breathe, snort, whistle, whistle. If I started, I wouldn’t be the only one. That reality comforted me, and I gave in to the sandman.