After five days in New Zealand, I am now on the plane back to Argentina. My time in New Zealand really flew past during the race around to try and catch up with as many people as possible.
Met at the airport at midnight by Walter and Gail, we managed to stuff the large amounts of luggage into his car and returned back for a quick catch-up that lasted until 2am.The next day was a work day, so it was not easy to get up too early.
Catching Walter by surprise with the camera.
The next day I went along to work with Walter. Well, if truth be known, I slept in while Walter went to work, and then when he returned for breakfast I joined him in the return. At the office I caught up with Gail again, and met Leanne, on the desk across from Gail’s, where I spent a lot of time.
Journey to Snells Beach
Saturday morning saw me traveling up to Snells Beach. A train took me to Auckland city, where I felt compelled to track down my favourite old Indian Curry house for a delicious meal. A bus from here took me up to the outer limits of Auckland city on the north-side, where I planned to try hitch-hiking.
Auckland city as seen from the harbour bridge.
When the bus driver heard that I wanted to hitch, he told me that I was in the wrong place, and needed to walk over to the other main road, which was a 20 minute walk from where the bus stop was. The bus was empty however, and when the driver realised that, he told me to stay aboard and drove me over to the main road, stopping amidst all of the traffic so I could get off. Nice guy.
On the bus heading north.
Once on the main road, I had to walk a fair way before there was room for cars to stop, where they could pick me up. On the way I passed a bus stop with someone waiting. He told me that he was waiting for the bus that would take me even further north, to a much better position for hitch-hiking, and that it was coming shortly. So I waited.
Finally at Waiwera, home to the famous hot-pools, and the place where all roads north join into one, I stood on the side of the road and stuck out my thumb. Within two minutes a driver had stopped and offered me a ride.
The beach that I used to visit almost every day. Snells Beach.
Riding with a Killer Dog
Looking into the white coupe car with sports seats and a huge lump in the bonnet, I discover that the passenger seat is already occupied by a young pitbull pup which is reluctant to surrender his position. Eventually he does, after physically thrown into the back seat, and I take his place.
No sooner had we started our journey than the driver asked me if I had any "cones" or "weed." To his disappointment, I told him that I was fresh out of them. Perhaps it was my Bolivian bag that suggested to him that I may have walked in those circles.
As the journey continues, I learn that his young pitbull has a destiny of tearing people apart. The driver’s idea is to train him up so that he can leave his car open and the keys in it, and let the dog guard it. There is still a lot of training yet however, as the dog slinked over onto my lap during the drive for a cuddle.
Conversation ran more or less in staccato fashion, between loud bouts of Bob Marley. Initially it was rap, but on my suggestion we moved onto Bob. There was great pride in the volume of the stereo and I was given the full blast level so I would know just how good it was. It was so loud that the pain no longer came from my ears but from my entire head. On getting out I discovered that half of the back seat was occupied by one gigantic speaker.
Jonny and Hayley.
Meeting Friends in Unusual Places
Finally, I was in Warkworth. Heading up to some of the places where I remembered my friends used to live, I guess it should not have been surprising that after three years they were no longer there. So I continued through the town to the road that leads to Snells Beach and waited for a ride.
Cars were not coming along this road so readily, and as the evening pressed on with fading light levels, the cold was increasingly harder to ignore. Unsure of what to do, I stuck it out a little longer. Then to my surprise, there was a voice calling my name from behind me. When I spun around, it was an old friend, Eric, and his wife.
Steve and Angela.
Eric normally lived in another part of New Zealand, and although I had wanted to catch up with him, it would not have been possible. Now I was in the car with him. He told me that he was not planning on stopping for the guy that was hitch-hiking as the car was very full, but as they passed by, he realised that it was me. How thankful I was. Both for the ride, and for the chance to catch up during the short trip.
Frank and June.
In Snells Beach I catch up with some of my dear friends during the evening and the following morning, then turn and head back down to Auckland again. This time I get a ride down to Waiwera and take the bus from there all the way to the city. Another train ride and I am back at Walter’s place again.
Brenda’s place, where I stayed.
Last Days in NZ
The remaining time I have in New Zealand is spent hanging around the office with Walter, having fun with the staff and chatting about all sorts of things… as you do. One of the highlights of this time was enjoying dinner with Leanne, a time of much laughter and candid conversations. After dinner she presented a bottle of liqueur which Walter identified as being Austrian. A golden yellow, the bottle also contained myriads of flakes of gold that would float around for ages after shaking it, although you could not taste or feel them while drinking it.
Austrian liqueur with gold flecks all through it.
Tuesday is a day for finalising everything and saying goodbye to my new friends in the office. In the evening, at 10pm, after farwelling Walter, I climb aboard the plane that will take me to Argentina. When I arrive there, it will be 7pm on the same day. I gain three hours even after a 13hr flight. Nice.
Flying from New Zealand to Argentina.