Wednesday, October 12 (Day 41)
Turangi – Tauri – Hamilton – Raglan
It’s all about timing. Life I mean. That’s one of the conclusions I have reached during this trip with all the thousands of hours to contemplate. You walk into a bar a minute earlier or later and that is the difference perhaps between you meeting the person of your dreams or ending up in a fight. Life really is like that. Every single decision we make has consequences. Every single thing we do changes the collective future of the world.
A small rather insignificant case in point was my decision last night to put off buying an online bus ticket from Turangi to Hamilton for five minutes while I made a cup of tea. When I came back to book the ticket, the bus was full. The other coach operator is full so now I have no way of reaching Raglan today…unless I hitch.
I got up at 7 this morning in hope that the low front sitting over the North Island had gone and I could do the Tongariro Crossing. But it just hasn’t stopped raining for a couple of days. Literally, it hasn’t stopped for two minutes in the past 48 hours.
And so I am abandoning this one-horse town and I am going to stand by the BP petrol station, in the rain, and try to hitch a lift. Again, I decide to have one more cup of tea to put off the unwanted task. And, again, it is all about the timing, because as I boil the kettle and get chatting to the lady who is making breakfast in the kitchen, I tell her how I am about to start trying to hitch north, and she offers me a lift.
“We are headed north in a few minutes. You can come with us if you want.”
And so, two decisions about having a cup of tea were the difference between three possible outcomes involving me catching a bus, trying to hitch a lift from a petrol station and, as it has finally turned out, getting a lift with the lovely Cristina and her sweet daughter Rose. They are from Wellington and are headed to Coromandel to take advantage of the school holidays ahead of Rose’s upcoming school exams.
I like Road Movies; this simple genre of film where a stranger is picked up by somebody and during the course of their car or truck journey they begin to chat and discover things about each other’s lives. That is what this feels like. I don’t know why exactly, but Cristina and I both begin to tell each other ‘our stories’, in great detail, over the course of the next three hours. She tells me things she has apparently never told anybody before, or at least not her daughter. I tell both of them stuff about things that have happened to me in the past year that I haven’t really told anybody, certainly not in such warts ‘n all detail anyway. Cristina is 54 but looks more like 45. I guess it is partly because she is still so pretty but I think it is more because she simply exudes happy, positive energy. You could call her a hippie, I reckon; a hippie with class. We stop off a couple of times for snacks and coffee and each stop brings a kind of relief with it that the journey will consequently last longer.
When we do finally reach Tauri, which is a small town on a crossroads between national highways 1&5, it is time for me to jump out. Cristina suggests I journey further with them. It would add an hour to my journey and leave me slightly further away from Hamilton than I am now. If it wasn’t for the fact that I need to make it to dreary Hamilton in time for the only Raglan-bound bus of the day, I’d happily make my journey longer and more complicated than it needs to be. I sort of half wish they asked me to continue the journey with them all the way to Coromandel. Cristina is definitely the kind of lady you want to sit up late with, drinking a bottle of wine, and putting the world to rights.
As I take my rucksack from the boot and cross the road to begin hitching, Cristina stops, winds down the window and leaves me with some final advice about what she thinks I should do with my uncertain future. I am sad to see her and Rose drive off into the distance. And the funny thing is, I think they feel the same way too.
The lorry drivers obviously don’t think I am very pretty because at least two dozen have passed me without stopping and offering me a ride. I feel a bit ridiculous trying to hitch. Don’t I just look like somebody who is too tight to pay for buses?
As I begin to lose hope of making it to Raglan in time for my connection, an Inter City bus looms up on the horizon with a spare seat on board. I make it to Hamilton in plenty of time, and reach Raglan by late afternoon.
George-Michael are already here and have just returned from a spot of surfing. Josh, Max and all the others working at the backpackers seem pleased to see me back here again. This tiny corner of New Zealand feels a little bit like home, and I have positive emotions about being back here in the midst of this wild, three-day storm. Time for a Jacuzzi, sauna and reflections on my earlier conversations with my guru for the day, Cristina.