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Definitely Out There

Live from Prince Albert

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 21 February 2013 | Views [264]

It's hard to believe I've only been in New Zealand for a day.

Gabe and I have already manage to hitchhike from Christchurch up to Nelson, today we make the last push for Takaka. Hitchhiking is a new experience for me, but Gabe's an old hand. Our first ride just outside of the Christchurch airport was a Korean Catholic who spoke almost no English and dropped us off 5 minutes down the road. From there we caught a ride with a construction worker who'd blown off work, spent 3 hours failing to catch a ride, then met an electrician who referred to us as "spanky boys" who let us off in just the right spot and time to catch a ride from a polygamous tour bus driver.

The hills of Nelson

That was the magic - along with one other backpacker/woofer he took us through winding trail passes between soaring mountains, past wineries and sheep pastures, through coastal towns rimmed with barking seals. When he let us off an old woman in a grocery store parking lot scooped us up. The only word to describe her was "firecracker". Hailing from Wales, she seemed stuck in the 1950's. "Have you been to Christchurch? It looks like Manchester after the Jerries were done with it," then as a car cut her off, "Kraut!" As a young woman she'd "learned" to ride a motorcycle by taking it up to 100 MPH. Later, pregnant with her first child, she'd borrowed a friend's sports car to see if she could break the speeding record a visiting race car driver had set on a local motorway; "I got up to 140 and I didn't even get caught!"

After her we caught rides with a hostel owner, a proud English ex-pat (who revealed that New Zealand has only one native mammal, the bat), and a priest before arriving in Nelson. Nelson in many ways reminds me of Portland, though perhaps it would be more correct to say Portland is reminiscent of New Zealand. Someday, many years from now, if I can break through the immigration barrier, I think I'd like to live here.

The view from Prince Albert

Tags: characters, first day, hitchhike, on the road

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