Each week, Sir Toby's likes to share a travel experience from one of our guests. This week, we share a story about hitchhiking in New Zealand.
October 2009 – Auckland, capital city of New Zealand.
My mother came to visit me in New Zealand for two and a half months. She had never traveled by a plane before, she couldn’t speak any other language, and she got herself through one and a half hours of security check because no one really understood what she was doing her. She was a small blondie with a big backpack, not talking and looking like she was lost.
They checked her finances, and searched her backpack for traces of drugs, and put all of her underwear on a table in front of an embarrassed security guy, before they let her continue on her way.
I laughed at her because she looked like Alice in Wonderland, first time being outside of Europe, and everything being new to her. We left Auckland with help of a friend.
First time my mother and I hitchhiked together, a small van stopped. It was full of mattresses, all the way up to the roof, with no space for a backpack, let alone for a person. She looked at me as if asking if I was kidding, and I guess I got this weird expression on my face, because we started laughing like crazy, with her almost not being able to breathe.
She did, however, push her backpacks in, and then climbed into the van. I followed, but it took some time for me to start talking to the driver, because I couldn’t stop laughing. When I finally calmed and started conversation, I looked back to see my mother squeezed between mattresses, already sleeping.
I will never forget that moment.
People liked the idea of us travelling together. She also liked the direct contact with locals, even without using the language.
We traveled in the direction of Northland. On the way there, we stopped to ask to erect a tent in a local family’s garden. We never did, though, because a man came to us and said that his family wanted us to come under the roof with them. This was first time my mom got invited to a house of locals. She was stunned by the experience, by a new and very modern house and a great dinner.
Next day we continued our journey, only to get stuck on a road north of Northland. Fortunately, Jack came to get us on his way to work. We understood each other really easy, Jack and I, like we were friends for many years. Later, on his way back from work, he arrived again and offered to take us for a sightseeing trip. We accepted, of course.
We visited top of the peninsula, and that’s where I realized, there’s no way we could have hitchhiked there. There are no cars there, no traffic at all. Jack waited in the car while we were sightseeing, gave us his ID, so we could trust him, and showed where sand dunes were, so my mom and me raced to get there.
Jack invited us to his house after, where we had dinner with his wife Jenny. He was like a child in an old body, with beautiful soul, unbelievably kind and opened to us. They both treated us like we were their own family, even calling my mum “mumcha”, and Jack continued doing sightseeing trips with us!
We felt really good with them, but my mom couldn’t understand what was going on and why were they so nice to us. Two days after we were supposed to continue our travels, but what happened? We cried like little children, Jack, my mom and I. We couldn’t understand what was going on.
Eventually we did continue, but only until my mom got tired and said she would like to rest. I was afraid of this point, knowing my hitchhiking rhythm.
But somebody called me. His name was Pita and first time I met him, it was several days ago and 300 km away, in central part of North Island. He said that his house was behind the hill we were standing next to, and invited us to come. But it wasn’t a house; it was a small hotel resort on the beach, owned by him and his wife Dale.
They invited us to stay there for as long as we wanted, and they treated us like good friend. We offered to help in the kitchen and with cleaning. Finally my mom got her perfect holiday, I thought, in a hotel on a beautiful beach, just the way she always wanted.
But after a week she said to me: Come to hitchhike!