Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hitchhiking Through New Zealand

Cathedral Cove - Coromandel, New Zealand
If you guessed, I was in New Zealand - you're right. I gave you three clues to guess my location.

In the last post, I stated, Here's your hint: It's a "humanly riddle", solved by the final conquest of the earthly frontier.

"Humanly Riddle" is an anagram, meaning that if you rearrange the letters you get a new word or words. For instance, "Pat" can change to "Tap." In this case, "Humanly Riddle" can change to "Edmund Hillary." 

If that was difficult for you to figure out - "final conquest of the earthly frontier" refers to Hillary's conquest of Mount Everest. Edmund Hillary was the first man (along with Tenzing) to scale Mount Everest - the final piece of land at the time that had not met human conquest. How does Edmund Hillary tell you I'm in New Zealand? Because he's a Kiwi and a New Zealander of course. 

Your other clue was earlier in the post - I told you I was at the "Edge of the World," which New Zealand is commonly referred too. This is my second home. 

I flew once again on my miles, but as a result, I had a very difficult trip to New Zealand. I had a layover in both Honolulu and Brisbane, Australia. My layover in Honolulu wasn't so bad, since it was only an hour and half, but in Brisbane, it was quite challenging. I had to wait at the airport for 12 hours - four of which, I used by falling asleep on the airport seats. That's the problem with using miles - you can get what you need, but not always what you want.

The first few days, I spent at the top of the North Island. A german guy and I found a cave up there. We entered it and it went about 12 feet underground. It was dark and black in there. You can't see anything without a flashlight. But at the top of the cave, there are glow worms - which produce bioluminescent mucus, which means spit that glows in the dark. Might sound disgusting, but when you turn off your flashlights, the top of the cave looks like a constellation of stars with all the twinkling lights produced.

We trudged through the icy waters and it eventually came up passed my chest. It hurt the most when it went to your waist, because the icy water definitely freezes the groin area, which brings pain. It was still worth it, because we could see the cave spikes on the ceiling and spikes coming up from underneath the ground.

The german spotted a crayfish, and I grabbed it. We ate it later. Too bad we couldn't find more. I spotted a blind eel in the cave. It swam away from me.

Afterwards, we laid outside on the grass and baked in the sun. We needed to warm up because we were shivering from being in the frosty and icy caves for too long. 

I stayed at a hostel - and the hostel used to the city prison. The owner of the hostel converted the prison into a backpacker's hostel, which I found to be quite the creative touch. There were plants everywhere - and the place had a good vibe to it, rather than the dark vibe of a jail. 

Finally, after my time up North, I hitchhiked back down to Auckland to catch my flight to Wellington. It took me five minutes to get my first ride. Then, it took me 45 minutes to get my next ride

I liked the guy who picked me up - who was a New Zealander, who was born in Zimbabwe. I couldn't have asked for a better hitch. The guy was a smuggler - who brought out the wealth of Zimbabwe, during his revolution. He told me his war stories and how much he knew about the world.

He then taught me about diamonds, since his brother was a diamond miner in Zambia. It was all quite fascinating. Then he told me he was barely literate and didn't learn to read until just a few years ago. He was 68.

He said he tried to read when he was 31, and attended an adult school in London. But the urchin teenagers (street kids) made fun of him every day, and he told them to stop. When they didn't stop, he brought a fan belt from his car to adult school and he whipped the street kids to teach them a lesson. Then he threatened to whip the teacher too for not stopping the bullying.

When he told me this, I started laughing. And he said, "Served them right - what I did to them. Those kids were bigger than me - so they thought they can just pick on me. So, I let 'em have it." The police got him and threw him in jail that day, but when he asked for his lawyer - they were tired of him, and let him out. In the end, he got kicked out of adult school.

It was a good ride, and I was very glad he gave me a two hour ride into Auckland. There, I met my former Judo master. She bought a restaurant and turned into a place that reminded me of place out of Seoul, Korea. We hadn't seen each other in six years.

For my arrival, she brought out fresh and raw scallops, raw pieces of fish, and boiled pieces of pork belly. The food was fresh and tasted very good. I could see why she was doing well in her business. We caught up, as best as we could, in the short time that we had. It wasn't many hours and the time went by fast.

Then, I had to leave to the airport - where I caught my flight back into my second home - Wellington. There, my former roommate FX picked me up. I took him to eat Indian food, and we caught up, again, as best we could. He prepared a spare room for me. 

We drank a couple glasses of ruby wine, and talked about our travels and our future travels. I was home.

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