If there's not a picture of the place online, it's because it's sketchy and they don't want you to know the truth.
The hotel we stayed at in Dunedin, NZ? It falls into this category.
Now before we dive right into this experience, let's back up a little.
When I went with a large group of students to NZ, we spent the first six weeks in Auckland.
Here, we had our own rooms located in the heart one of the greatest cities I've been to. We had Wifi that would occasionally log us off so we'd have to put in the password again, and we would complain about it. We had one tiny fridge that fit barely any of our food. We'd complain about it. There was no A/C. We complained about it.
Oh, how innocent we were.
At the end of the six weeks, we moved to the southern part of New Zealand to Dunedin. And I mean south.
I mean, look how close NZ is to Antartica. Look at it!
It's close. And it's cold.
We woke up at probably around 3ish a.m.? I can't remember - all I remember is it was TOO early to function, and I hadn't gotten to bed till midnight, so I was one cranky, little redhead.
It was chaos loading everything onto the bus. We had to drag two large suitcases and one carrying bag up a steep, steep, STEEP hill.
Here, allow me to show you, thanks to google street view.
See the bottom of the hill? Now find the SECOND bottom of the hill. Found it? Yup. All of us had to hike up that with two large suitcases and a backpack/purse.
I was hating my life.
I dragged up suitcases with a backpack slung over my shoulders. Thanks to the heaviness of my backpack, the steepness of the hill, and the angle I was holding my suitcases at, I couldn't feel my arms or fingers - and I wasn't even halfway up the hill.
One of my three water bottles (I loose water bottles like a champ, so I just kept a bunch of cheap plastic ones on me at all times) fell out of the side of my backpack and roll down to the very, very bottom of the hill.
I stared at it and pathetically said, "Noooo."
"You have to leave it behind! Go on without it!" yelled one of my friends who was also struggling to drag up his suitcases, as he had grabbed an extra one to help out.
By the time I reached the top, I was sweating profusely, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't seem to catch my breath.
Everyone else seemed to be in the same shape as I was.
We were already behind schedule as we all loaded the bus. From this moment to getting to our hotel in Dunedin, this is all that took place:
-My friend lost her phone and threw up multiple times
-My sweet, sweet professor didn't take into account that there were 26 of us who had to check TWO bags before getting on the flight.
-This left us literally running to our terminal right as they were seating people, and being the last ones to board.
-I didn't sleep a wink
-We got to the airport starving, and had to wait at LEAST an hour for our bus to come pick us up.
- I realized I left two of my water bottles in Auckland, and the other one slid to it's death.
-It was pouring rain.
By the time we pulled up to our hotel, everyone was tired, hungry, exhausted, and . . . well at least I was cranky.
We were all looking out the window to get a glimpse of our new home, when one girl said one thing that altered ALL of our views of the place.
"It looks like an orphanage!" she yelled.
And. It. Did.
Suddenly "a hard knock life" was running through my head.
Everyone laughed and started yelling various comments in agreement. I tried to keep a positive attitude about it, but let's be real here. I was going off of just a few hours of sleep, so everything was just obnoxious in my eyes.
We were dumped off to wait for our rooms to be ready in the dimly lit dining area that looked like it hadn't been renovated since the 1800's. Even the tables looked original.
(these pictures are courteous of the hotel's website, so naturally it looks MUCH brighter and better than it was. The exposure has to be SO high on this.)
You know what it reminded me of?
A VERY classy version of this room in Oliver Twist.
At the end of the dining hall was the entrance to the backpackers room: the room the students would be staying in for the next ten days (or 14? I think 10. I don't remember honestly.)
. . . . yeah the exposure was definitely brought up on this.
Okay so see that arch? See how it's all "open?"
Bull crap. It was filled with the most random junk. Like, chairs and stuff.
Oh and that brown door? See that brown door? You know what was above it that ISN'T pictured here? A painting of a woman's face that looked like a tree trunk . . . and she had blue hair.
". . . this place is haunted," someone said.
This is where I would meet my death. I was sure of it.
Two hours later, our rooms were finally ready.
I was with a group of eight girls. I chose for us to stay in "door number one."
Bad. BAD. Decision. I mean, the other room wasn't great either, but holy crap.
I felt like . . . guys I can't describe to you what this was like. DIS.GUS.TING.
And NATURALLY the website doesn't picture the hell hole that is hidden in the back of the hotel.
Here - maybe this video will do it justice:
So, yeah. We found ourselves living in a haunted orphanage with a fridge that sounded exactly like a jack hammer, a community bathroom, and drug dealers for neighbors.
Us, and the professor whose family's room had mold growing in it were not very happy. The professor who had the newly remodeled room? He couldn't care less. And we rarely saw him anyway.
Psh. I don't respect people who act 14 when they're in their late 50's.
Wow okay, sorry. Sassy Carmen just broke out of her control room. Let's get back to the story.
Within a few days, I had adjusted to my newfound reality of being an orphan, sleeping in what looked like an over-sized closet turned into a jail cell with a door and window that didn't lock properly, and WiFi that only worked for about 20 minutes once every 4 hours (even though they said it should work for one full hour every four hours), and actually started do enjoy being in the town despite the chaos around me.
The drug dealers turned out to be super kind and chill, and we became friends with them. We'd swap stories, share meals next to the jack-hammer fridge, and share a mirror while brushing our teeth in the community bathroom.
Probably four days after we moved in, they moved out and were replaced with the man we dubbed the one and only . . . Orange Shirt Guy.
Orange shirt guy got his name because he wore the same BRIGHT, BLINDING, BRIGHTER THAN A CONSTRUCTION CONE, ORANGE SHIRT (Caps lock emphasizes how bright it was) every. Single. Day.
Orange Shirt Guy first approached me in the evening while I was sitting at the table in the Oliver Twist room, right before our class had scripture study. We shook hands and he sat across from me as I was busy doing . . . something. I don't know what. Doesn't matter. I asked where he was from and he told me Alaska, and was born in Pennsylvania. I told him that I lived for a while in upstate New York, and he asked why. When I told him it was for a religious mission, he said, "What religion?"
"Church of Jesus Christ of--"
"So you're Mormon."
Oh boy. I knew where this was going. His tone and eyes said it all.
"Yes," I said.
He gave a long sigh, and began doing my very favorite activity: explaining to me why my beliefs are wrong, bad, and what I ACTUALLY believe.
As you've been able to tell from my previous posts, this really irks me . . . and happens a freakish amount in my life. But anyway. I politely said that we all have different beliefs, and that that's okay, and I'm sure we could find a common ground.
But he wasn't having that. He then began to say things that didn't make much sense, like . . . at all. I sat there, only half listening to what I "actually believe" because his sentences weren't complete or made any logical sense at all. I began to wonder if he was drunk, but there were no other signs that he was.
Finally he said something about New York and I jumped back in and said, "SO YEAH I LIVED THERE AND ONE TIME I DROVE THROUGH PENNSYLVANIA WHILE I WAS THERE HOW FUNNY IS THAT!"
My friend came to my rescue at that time and grabbed me. I said goodbye, he went off about the Mormon church, and (my personal favorite) said, "Hey - don't talk to my friend I came with. He's like, super horny and is just here to have sex with girls. He'll say the same thing about me, but really it's all him."
"Uh huuuuh . . . kthanksnicetomeetyoubye!"
and I sat down at the table where we were having scripture study.
"He got in an argument with one of us earlier over the same thing. He's not all there," my friend said.
"Yeah, that makes sense," I said.
After scripture study, I did NOT want to take a shower in the community bathroom, so I used a private shower in one of the hotel rooms.
On my way back, I walked back to my room with my wet hair, T shirt, no bra, basketball shorts . . . right past Orange Shirt guy, who abruptly winked at me and said, "Hey beautiful."
After running into my room, climbing on top of my jail cell bed, I camped out there and was determined NOT to leave the room, because Orange Shirt Guy was camping out in the hallway and pacing back and forth.
No where was safe.
And that's when I realized . . . I had to brush my teeth.
So what did I do?
I climbed out the window,
ran to the front of the orphanage - I mean hotel -
and used the public woman's restroom in the lobby of the hotel to brush my teeth. After doing so, I ran back to my bedroom window, and climbed back through.
(This is why I don't want bathrooms to combine genders. The female restroom is my escape from men . . . specifically men like Orange Shirt Guy.)
Now. Orange Shirt Guy took camp in the kitchen with the jack-hammer fridge, when my friend (who we will call Jason, though that is not his name) walked in there and struck up a conversation with Orange Shirt Guy.
No, Jason. NO. DON'T BE FRIENDLY. STOP.
The following are messages I sent to my friend, mostly to keep myself updated of what the heck was going on with Orange Shirt Guy:
Drug Dealers moved out and was replaced by an anti-Mormon
He keeps hitting on us
This includes him talking to us, insulting the church, prefacing that he doesn't drink while driving, and talking about how horny he and his friends are.
Later he winked at me on my way back from the shower. And called me beautiful.
My hair was wet and I was in a T shirt and basketball shorts. There was NO way I looked good.
I then had to brush my teeth, but the thought of me sharing a sink with him scared me to the point of where I climbed out our window and ran to the entrance to use a different bathroom.
I can't be sure, but I think I prefer the drug dealers.
At this point, one of my friends came into the room.
"Did you see Jason is talking to Orange Shirt Guy? He just told me he was here to have sex with girls!" she said.
He has now told us he is here to have sex with girls.
Based on various actions, we are all about 70 percent sure that he has some sort of mental disorder.
Another friend came in.
"Guys, I was outside in the dining room, and you know how that door leading here has a window in it? His friend stood by that window, started doing some sort of body roll, and began unbuttoning his shirt!"
"I think his friend is high. Earlier I saw him just staring at the door laughing."
His friend belly danced for a girl here.
And then he unbuttoned his shirt while doing here.
Thanks to our paper-thin walls and door, we all quietly sat and listened to Jason's conversation with Orange Shirt Guy.
We are now all listening to this guy talk and wondering to ourselves how we got into this situation.
He just said, "Jesus was crucified on a tree FIRST . . . and the tree had NO BIRDS NESTS."
A friend walked into the room.
"Guys - Orange Shirt Guy's friend just DOWSED himself in ax cologne and he was like, laughing uncontrollably to himself. It seriously smells like a middle school gym out there."
"Yeah we think that guy's high."
His friend doused himself in ax while laughing hysterically. As we speak, we can now smell it as it seeps slowly into our room.
"Oh, that smells AWFUL." said one of my friends, burying her face in a pillow.
A friend walked into the room.
"Guys. Guess what Orange Shirt Guy's friend was doing."
My friend has now stumbled upon the belly-dancing guy leaning against one of the bathroom stalls door. Just leaning there, not doing anything.
We were then all quiet as we continued to pick up pieces of Orange Shirt Guy's conversations.
"If you work for Jesus, can they steal from you? No. I work for Jesus, and do I let people steal from me? No. I don't."
"You know how God manifested himself to me? He manifested himself to me by giving my friend breast cancer."
"ALL GOVERNMENTS ARE OF THE DEVIL. ALL."
"I own 20 guns."
"Oh, dear goodness," I said. "He's the last person I want to own a gun. Let alone 20."
"I wouldn't worry about it. Half the thing the guy says doesn't make sense."
We listened once again. We heard Jason say, "Yeah" like a New Zealander (which drove all of us nuts), to which Orange Shirt guy responded saying, "What's with the accent, man? How long have you been here?"
We all had to cover our mouths to stop ourselves from laughing out loud.
We kept listening, when Orange Shirt Guy began bashing the church once again. Before he could get his whole response out, someone opened the jack-hammer fridge, filling the room with nothing but the sound of a construction sight.
"A hero we didn't expect," said one of my friends.
At this point, a girl in our room pushed herself off her bed and walked into the bathroom. A few minutes later, we hear Jason yell:
"OH! YOU NEEDED ME?! GREAT! I'LL COME TO YOUR GUYS ROOM! BYE!"
"Hey, I have some files I want to show you later," said Orange Shirt Guy. "Some videos and stuff. I want to show them to you later, okay?"
They returned to our room, and Jason slammed the door shut behind him, resting his back against it.
"That. Dude. Is. CRAZY. I don't know HOW he's allowed to leave the country on his own. HE'S INSANE. THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING MENTALLY WRONG WITH HIM."
He stayed a few moments as we filled him in on everything we saw his friend do, and determined that we would now have to enable the buddy system when going anywhere in the hotel.
Two girls accompanied Jason back to his room as he swung the door open yelling, "So there I am, two dead bicyclists, all my fault-."
And the door closed as we filled our room with laughter.
The next day came and we informed our professor who stayed in the moldy room of the events. He told us to make sure to always have a buddy when going anywhere in the haunted hotel, and to avoid using the community bathroom at all costs (which we were already under direction to do).
Later that day, we returned to the hotel after being out for a while. We were almost at the dining room area, when I heard:
"Heyyyy Carmeeeeeennnn," in a flirtatious voice.
I stopped and looked over my shoulder to see Orange Shirt Guy sitting on a couch the same orange shirt.
Why, oh why, did he remember my name?! Why did I even tell it to him?
I turned back around an said shyly, ". . .Hey."
"THAT'S ALL I GET?!" he hissed angrily.
We walked through the dining hall, where High Guy sat at the piano playing the same tune over, and over, and over again.
I didn't really register it, until I walked into my room where one of my friends was already sitting on her bed.
"Ugh, I'm gonna KILL that guy. He seriously wont stop playing that stupid tune! He's been playing it for FOREVER!"
"What song is it anyway?" I asked.
Orange Shirt Guy's weird friend is playing the same tune on the piano over, and over, and over again.
I've never heard the song before, but according to my roommates, the lyrics say, "So let us get drunk, so let us have fun, so let us go out and roam free." It seems pretty fitting for this whole situation.
Later that day, Orange Shirt Guy came up to every single one of us asking where Jason was. Well we knew better than to send Orange Shirt Guy Jason's way, so we kept saying we weren't sure. Cause in reality, the majority of us weren't . . . 100 percent sure . . . where he was . . . maybe just like, 98 percent sure.
Though this didn't work out real well. He chewed out a lot of us for lying.
We kept Jason updated through texts where Orange Shirt Guy was and that he was looking for him. Jason pulled a me, and climbed out the window of his room to go brush his teeth or just leave the hotel in general.
So instead of tracking down Jason, he presented US with what he wanted to show Jason - more Anti-Mormon material. Just what EVERY member likes to see and hear. Cause who doesn't like being chewed out for something they hold sacred?
We were grateful when the day came that Orange Shirt Guy and High Guy left. Finally, we were free!!
. . . . until some friends saw him outside a bar NOT wearing an orange shirt, and he recognized them, and proceeded to present them with more anti-Mormon material which drove one of my friends to tears.
Needless to say, he was not missed. At all.
I learned a lot from this experience:
Especially if that guy wears the same orange shirt for at least 3 days in a row.
Sometimes, It's okay to be rude.
There is great power in running away and avoiding situations, and I excel at it.
Everything truly does make a good story later.
Have an awkward day everyone, and if anyone disrespects you, run away.