It's been two months since we settled into the sleepy hollow of Napier in the Hawke's Bay region of the North Island, and it's been a bit of a transition from being on the move all the time.
Living in Napier for two months has allowed us time to work jobs that we enjoy, develop friendships with awesome people, and add routine back into our lives.
When we arrived in Napier it was nearing the end of high season, and the city's hostels (and surrounding area), were all full of backpackers working picking blueberries and apples.
After days of searching the city, and researching and calling every hostel in the area, we eventually found a hostel in Hastings, a neighbouring city about 20 minutes away, that had one private room available. We snatched it up, and stayed at the Sleeping Giant Backpackers for a week while we got settled in.
Uschi and I decided to work separate jobs, partially because we knew we needed some time and space to ourselves after so much time travelling together, and partially because our interests vary.
I was smitten with Napier and its Art Deco vibes, so I knew I wanted to work in the city, and as much as I love to complain about it, I missed working in hospitality. I knew that working in a restaurant would be a quick and easy way to meet a lot of people, I'm confident working in that environment, and I knew it would be fun. More fun than picking blueberries that's for sure...
Uschi prefers to spend time outdoors, work with her hands, and wants to learn about gardening, planting, and living self-sustainably.
Through Facebook, she quickly found work with a man called Sam who runs his own gardening business.
I applied and interviewed at a few restaurants in Napier, eventually accepting a job at a popular eatery and bar called Emporium that serves up an array of delicious cocktails, and plays a constant rotation of jazzy music and old movies.
After one week of living in the hostel in Hastings, and after securing jobs, we decided to look for a place to stay long-term that was closer to our places of work, and that housed less people. Although we met some cool people there, the Sleeping Giant hostel was a bit too crowded for our liking.
We stumbled across the name of an (unofficial) hostel called Homestead Homestay, located about a five minute drive from Napier, and decided to check it out. The owner, Robin, is very friendly and accommodating. He runs the business on a large piece of property, and allows people to pitch their tents, park their vans, rent cabins, or stay in rooms in the various houses. The hostel is big, with plenty of green space to relax, both indoor and outdoor kitchens for use, fruit trees all around, and tons of space. What more could we want?
Because there was still a lot of work in the area, there were many backpackers around. The days were a whirlwind of meeting new people and saying goodbye to those who were moving on. There were always people coming and going.
We spent our days working, cooking, spending time with new friends, and exploring the area.
Friday nights were for Cru Bar, a hole-in-the-wall bar in Hastings that attracts tons of backpackers on Friday nights with the promise of free food and cheap beer.
We would indulge in free (veggie) burgers, buy $5 jugs of beer, play pool, and dance our faces off.
Weekends were for exploring.
One of my favourite afternoons was spent at Te Mata Peak, which, in my opinion, is one of the most gorgeous points of interest in the area - a definite must see! (especially at sunset)
We also made sure to check out a few beaches in the area, and although most are quite wild, rocky, and dangerous to swim at, there are a few sandy beaches in the area - the most noteworthy being Ocean Beach.
We shared many amazing meals, enjoyed barbecues, parties, and movie nights.
Staying at Homestead Homestay was an amazing experience which led to many friendships with people we hope to see again.
Napier itself gave us a much needed moment of pause.
Pause to breathe. Pause to reassess. Pause to figure out our next move.
I don't know where we'll go from here.
Life is a journey, and in the uncertain moments all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and follow whichever path feels right, even if we don't know where it leads.