Lost and Found

The day went well, for a while. I had to get up incredibly early to catch the Intercity bus from Franz Joseph to Fox Glacier village, but the ride was beautiful, even if I was half awake. At some point last night, I realized my Lonely Planet guidebook and a couple of favorite maps (tucked inside the covers) were missing. I had it before Okarito, I knew, so I wondered where I might have left it by accident? My guidebook contained lots of wonderful notes and was well-thumbed and annotated, including comments and *** ratings penned in the margins by my friend Ann from Antarctica, on the flight from the Ice. Sigh. Let it go, I told myself.

Part of me was surprised that anyone would have swiped it. It had been cut in half with a pocketknife and the cover reattached with duct tape, creating a very rare “South Island Only” Edition. Still, the loss left me feeling a bit discombobulated, and without my notes.

Wandering through town, I found first that the sole local hostel was FULL, and then found the local shuttle bus (takes folks closer to Fox Glacier) was sitting empty on the main street. I asked the driver if I might have time to catch the shuttle out to Fox, hike out to the glacier, hike back, and catch the late morning Atomic Shuttle down to Queenstown? He said “Aye” — he’d make sure. I got on, and he drove me — just me — out to the glacier, and told me exactly when he’d return to bring me back from the carpark to town. I power-hiked out to meet the glacier, hiked back down, and sure enough my driver had returned for me, as promised!

I was ready and waiting for the bus. But it never stopped. I’m not sure if the bus driver had a visual impairment, or if he was distracted by the heavy traffic and did not see me jumping up and down and waving my hand with money in it, but no luck. The bus headed down to Queenstown without me.

I wept for a while, very frustrated (and with adrenaline still pumping around inside from my fast hike out to the glacier and the impact of the ice-carved impressive terrain). I resigned myself to spending the night in Fox after all.

Franz Joseph Glacier:
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