After myriad international airports Nelson is a novelty. I leave the plane and walk into the main terminal building, following the tiny throng. I keep following them somewhat confused as we exit the main building and commence standing in the car park outside. I walk back inside the terminal to read the signs to make sure I haven’t misread the directions to ‘Baggage Claim.’ Baggage Claim and Exit nestle adjacent to each on the sign so thinking lack of sleep is fogging my brain I retrace my footsteps and this time wander around a bit looking for a door to baggage claim. As I walk Nelsonians ahead of me complain how horrendously busy it is. 30-50 people if that mill around in the main building and I wonder what constitutes carnage. In London this amount of people would constitute a school class. After my third trip back outside I realise that there are people standing there with empty luggage trolleys and I stand expectantly with them. At that point a man pulls up in a luggage cart pulling 2 trailers behind him. The waiting passengers walk up and help themselves. It makes a change from the rigorous security of LAX who would lay you down on the X-Ray belts given half the chance.
The air in Nelson is the first thing you notice when you step off the plane. It’s so fresh and crisp that you feel like you lost an Extra Strong Mint eating contest. The sunlight gives everything the quality you get when you have a new pair of contacts or glasses. Everything sparkles strongly. Karen walks towards me and we embrace as if we were just standing on a street corner in London. It feels perfectly normal for me to be here. Our friendship always has resumed where we left off regardless of the distance.
Nelson is a city (still can’t get used to calling something that feels so small a city) on the edge of a sweeping bay, that is tucked in by mountains at the rear. Keen to show me around, Karen drives me to the beach to walk her dog. We drive past wooden clapperboard fronted bungalows (though they are just called houses here). The beach is deserted apart from a few dog walkers and devoid of human involvement apart from a cafe and a small basic fun park set a way back from it. This is a beach as nature intended. Just sea, sand, shells and piles of driftwood scattered by bored dogs that couldn’t be bothered to carry them or play fetch anymore. The sea stretches for miles and because of the long low sky and long cloud quality that I am learning is particular to NZ the horizon and the sea are indistinguishable. The edges of my issue dissolve.
That evening we went to a little cafe that was showcasing unsigned bands. 6 singers and musicians played live music on violin, guitar and keyboard for hours whilst I sipped Chai Latte. The whole feel of the place was not too dissimilar to Inspiral Lounge in Camden. I took the singers details. One of the girls sung like Duffy and one of their songs would work beautifully on a movie soundtrack. If you are so interested look up Matt Langley and Hana Fahy on Myspace and Facebook.