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Friday, May 02, 2008

Hitchhiking in New Zealand

Allow me to cut out a large chunk of my time here, about 3 weeks or so, and skip to what has happened just recently. For the past 3 weeks, I have been traveling around the South Island of New Zealand in a camper van with a bunch of Texans. I will definitely get back to our many adventures....but I feel inclined to reveal my amazing hitchhiking excursion of today.

I had to get to this job possibility in the town called Katikati. There I wanted to work for a few weeks picking fruit on a Kiwi Orchard. The van full of Texans dropped me off on the side of the highway 25. I said my goodbyes to everyone, Tyler included, who has been my travel companion up to this point and after scarfing down my fish and chips on the side of the road, I got to the serious business of waving my thumb up in the air. I also had this nifty sign, I made from cardboard and magic marker..."Going to Katikati". With the name of the town darkened to emphasize my destination.

Not more than 10 minutes maybe of standing. A car slows down and it is this lady. She's smiling very brightly. I get in and she tells me that she's only going 15 minutes in my direction and then I have to turn off. She's actually going to Auckland. We talk that short ways. She seemed really excited about picking up hitchhikers. And we talked about New Zealand and America. She was raised not far from that area. And was telling me all about it. She was now a masseuse or a body worker. Really nice. She must've been in her late 30's. She dropped me off at where my route turns off from hers, and gives me some cherry cocunut cake that she had with her. I thank her and she drives off.

Then, I wait and wait. Many cars are passing by. I start to strategize my position. I figure out that more people can see me, my sign, and my thumb if I take all my luggage with me to the median just after their turn off. Eventually, after maybe 20 minutes, this old worker's truck ambles off the road. The driver peers through his window, I seasoned blue collar worker calls over to me. And grab my luggage and start trying to cram it into the back of his truck. But my progress is hindered by these logs, or almost half a small tree portruding up from his cab. I finally get my bags into the back, hoping that they are secure enough that they don't flying off the back. (The truck hardly had any sides to it.)

This fellow tells me that he can take me about half way there until our routes separate. He had this hook nose along with this large mustache. And with his long hair flowing out of his baseball cap, he looked like this old officer from the Indian Wars like Colonel Custard or something like that. His Kiwi accent was think. I could hardly understand half of what he said. He kept talking about this car show that was going on in that region of NZ. It was the Beach Hop. And hundreds of old vintage automobiles come from all around for it. Australia and America. All that day, I had been seeing these classic cars revving up and down the streets. None of them stopping for me though. I asked him, if he was into old cars and I remember him saying,and this is probably the quote of the day. "I like me cars, mate...But". And then he went on to say how if he was going to pump that much money into vehicles he would pump it into vehicles that could be used. A typically good ole boy. Here in New Zealand; back in Alabama, they're all the same. I recall him rolling his own cigarettes as he drove. We arrived in the town of Whangamata; where the Beach Hop was taking place and the traffic became abnormally thick. All these cars from the 50's and before were sparkling in the sunshine.
Colonel Custard was enjoying the cars and the girls that walked by, but not so much the traffic and him being a local, he drove on this back road and winded up near this little grocery store where he dropped me off.

He dropped me off on Achilles Ave. I stood there for maybe another 15 minutes until this lady drives up with this blue mustang. While placing my luggage in her car, I notice the name "Sandra Goudie" painted on either side of her car. I ask her if this was she. She said yes. She's Sandra Goudie, member of the Parliament. I mention to her that I had a friend that worked int the New Zealand Parliament. I gave her the name of the person that she worked for and she told me that she was the opposition to that party. For Sandra Goudie was of the Nationalist Party, not of the Labour Party. I asked her to give me a run down of the difference. She said that the Nationalist Party was about helping people, BUT only if they are willing to help themselves and not use the government as a crutch. To spend wisely. She said that the Labour Party has no concept of money. You see, the Labour Party is in power in New Zealand and the Nationalists are their fierce opponents. The Prime Minister is apart of the Labour Party. And Sandra Goudie, had alot of negative things to say about her. She said that she had married a gay guy for completely political reasons. Funny. I remember my short visit to the Beehive Parliament in Wellington, where I saw many of the members retorting to one another in sharp witticisms until the Speaker would call, "Order, Order". It was interesting to note that I could have very well heard Sandra down in the pit slamming the existing power of New Zealand in her chair. Sandra was the department head of internal affairs, like citizenship and passports,and a bunch of other random things that I can't really remember.

Sandra was on her way to a convention in Waihi. (About 15 minutes from my destination) Her district was the Coromandel region and she made the rounds going to every possible meeting in the area. Then after talking a bit she invites me to go with her to the convention. It's supposed to be some sort of Art meeting. She had an extra ticket. I couldn't turn down such a invitation, it would be like being invited by a member of our Congress someplace.
So we arrive in the town of Waihi and everywhere we go, she introduces herself and everyone recognizes her. We walk into an art display and I start talking at length with the artist. Later, she buys me a mince pie and some raspberry tea at a cafe. She orders a sandwhich and a milk shake and swallows it down in seconds. Everything she did was very rapid. On our drive she was riding the bumper of the car in front of her as we ranged the rolling hills. Talking about how inconsiderate the person was in front of us, not pulling over to let the faster car go. I was going to accompany her to the big performance that evening and then she would drive me to Katikati but we had lots of down time so she took me early to Katikati. She even checked out the boss that I was to work for...making sure he was a good employer. She gave me her contact info as well as 3 other guys to call if I have problems at work. I thanked her and that was the last I have seen of Parliament Member Sandra Goudie.


Blogger ПАПА said...

My... we never know with whom our paths will cross especially when riding ones thumb. Sandra was born in 1952 and narrowly won her seat in 2002. She retained her seat in 2005 by winning with a margin of over 10,000 votes..so she must be doing something right (other than giving you a lift and some cake) She was a farmer in prior life and gained national attention in an ILLEGAL protest by taking a chainsaw to a mangrove patch without a resource consent in Sept 2005. Looks like you two have something in common..ha, ha.. I hope she didnt have her chainsaw in the trunk! I would use that card she gave you and maybe get a good job in Parliment..I dont think your going to really like the fruit picking gig (at least you wont go hungry!

8:18 PM  
Anonymous the author said...

Well, she had this toy chainsaw in the backseat of her car...on the back dash where everyone can see it. I asked her what did it symbolize, she said something about cutting mangroves down. I didn't really understand but after I read this wikipedia article, I understood.

Well, my first day of fruit picking was yesterday. I can't really see myself doing it for a lifetime. But it's bearable for the time being. Oh and then when it rains, we don't work...like today.

12:50 AM  
Blogger ПАПА said...

I imagine after a few days or weeks of fruit harvesting youre gonna wish you were walking into one of those air conditioned Walgreens stores! Good luck and be careful..you were right about NZ not having many dangerous animals..just watch out for the humans..they can be a very dangerous species in any country!

8:01 PM  

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