Trip Across the Country
Trip Start Jun 03, 2010
129Trip End Feb 04, 2012
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I started just out of Wanaka, where I was unpleasantly surprised to find another hitchhiker. He was an older guy who suggested I stand ahead of him on the road so I'd have a better chance of getting picked up. By some stroke of devine luck, the first car to stop was going all the way to Christchurch, sparing me having to car-hop past the many possible turnoffs. By a further stroke of devine luck, he lived in the same suburb that I was going to (there are about half an hour's worth of suburbs surrounding central Christchurch), and by some infinitely more devine stroke of luck, he lived around the corner from where I was going. He even gave me the choice of taking the inland route past the lakes or the coastal route. Having never been either way, I let him decide. We went by the lakes, Tekapu being one of them. I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to be stunned by the beauty of New Zealand countryside. Deep blue lakes backed by green hills, with the snow-topped mountains behind under a bright clear blue sky. Driving anywhere in New Zealand takes you through incredible scenery. It's funny to think that this is just some people's commute. Anyway, we got to Christchurch in about four hours, and he dropped me at the doorstep of Alex's mum's house. You'll remember Alex from my first month in New Zealand last year. I worked for him at his B&B in Riwaka. I met his mum there, and she offered me her spare bed if ever I was in Christchurch.
I wasn't expecting how much I enjoyed my time with Mary. We chatted over a cup of tea, then shared dinner, then dessert, then hot chocolate and cookies, with never a lag in conversation. I don't remember all that we talked about, I just remember feeling so comfortable and happy to have her company. I think the feeling was mutual. One thing that struck me was realizing how much she seemed affected by the earthquake. We talked about it quite a bit, and she showed me pictures of before and after. It was the first time I realized what a beautiful city Christchurch had been, and I regretted not being able to see it before it got destroyed. Mary's house wasn't damaged significantly, but her neighbor's chimney fell through the roof.
In the morning, we had breakfast together, then she drove me out to the motorway so I would be in a good spot for hitching. As we passed through the city, Mary pointed out earthquake damage all around. We passed Hagley Park, and she showed me the daffodils that the park is famous for. She pulled over at the hitch point, and both of us were reluctant to end the conversation. I thanked her for everything, and told her how much I had enjoyed staying with her. I was legitimately sad that I had to go, wishing I had more time to spend in Christchurch with her. It was such an unexpected emotional response. But I had to move on. I was on a schedule for the first time in almost forever.
I got picked up quickly and brough about 15 minutes further out of town, where I waited close to half an hour for my next ride. This guy passed me, debated picking me up, then u-turned to come get me. I should have bought a lotto ticket that day, because this guy was going straight to Nelson (over six hours away). Real nice guy, conversation was easy. His car started leaking oil halfway there, and I decided to stick around for the hour it took him to fix it rather than finding a new ride. He drove to a nice spot by the river to do the repair so that I'd have a nice place to wait. He had a gold panning pan out in his trunk, so I gave that a go. No luck. The repair went smoothly, and we were back on the road and in Nelson in no time. He dropped me off at my old Milton St. Takeaway, where I was meeting my old bosses, Clare and Blue, to stay with them for the night. I wanted to invite him for a beer or something, but I knew he was on his way to see a sick friend, and I felt awkward about asking him, so I didn't. Then I felt bad for not being able to say thanks any stronger than just saying it. But off he went, and I headed into the takeaway.