Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thumbs Up.

I realize that this is going to be the post that drives my parents insane. As if climbing Mount Adams didn't drive them insane enough - even though my mother is certain she has psychic powers and can tell when I'm struggling subsequently transporting powers to me. True story: While we were attempting our summit, I struggled mentally at a few different sections. Later, while recounting the feat to my mother she quickly asked what time these particular hurdles occurred. It just so happens it was in the exact moment she felt something. And she projected strength to me and BOOM! Shit is happening! Thanks Mama. You rule.

Apparently, hitchhiking is just as accepted in the south island of New Zealand as a hipster is on Capitol Hill, Seattle. I was reluctant at first and luckily I didn't even have to stick my thumb out to make it happen. There I was, walking along with two bags of groceries hanging from my grip when it started raining. I had just begun the long three mile walk to the house we were originally staying in when we first arrived here in Queenstown. Simply put, a little truck pulled over with a "normal" looking guy driving and he said, "Get In! Where you goin'?" With a little exhange of information we were off and on our way. A plumber by trade. We chatted small talk. Where are you from and yadda yadda. He dropped me off at the turn-off for our neighborhood and it was up to me to finish the last small leg of the journey. I couldn't believe it. One minute I was walking in the rain feeling like I was a Sahara dessert away from my destination, the next I was just a few steps from home. AND I was able to chat with a local! Pretty fun, actually.

On another occasion Tyson and I - once again bags of groceries in-hand - popped our thumbs out in hopes of a lift. Several cars zoomed right on by and I thought to myself, 'I don't think this is going to happen.' Then, magic. A Subaru station wagon pulled up and the cutest gal motioned for us to get in. Quickly I noticed that she was actually a mom with her roughly three-year old little girl in the back carseat. I actually had to squeeze OVER her daughter to get to the middle seat as both window seats were occupied. This woman was amazing. She was warm and funny, and immediately started telling us stories of she and her husband back before they put down roots. Back when they traveled and were "gypsies" (as she called) and therefore she totally understood what it was like to stand at the side of the road hoping for some gracious soul. She was a kiwi, but she and her husband had lived in both London and Spain for several years working before returning to the south island. Her curious daughter studied me before finally asking me where I was from. Then she asked where Tyson was from. We started talking. I asked her her name. Anouk. Adorable name. We talked about her lunch and her lunch containers. She asked if Tyson and I were going to the same place. Then if we lived together. The mother dropped us off expressing how lovely it was to have met us. I told her she had a very inquisitive, little daughter and she confirmed that Anouk would be wild with questions about us just as soon as the car pulled away. Seriously, what fun!

We finished walking up the street and I couldn't stop thinking about what a great experience hitching is. Its like getting a teeny snapshot of someone's life during the few moments where they are good-natured enough to take a risk and pick you up. I've never ridden with anyone who wasn't interesting in some way. Maybe that's due to my inquisitive nature, but still, everyone has something to share it seems.

So far I've had the privaledge of riding around with the following people:

A yound lad on his way to see his girlfriend. His car was literally the dirtiest car I've ever ridden in and I had to scrape the seat to sit down. We gave him a beer for his generosity.

A mom and her daughter, Anouk.

A young woman of whom I didn't even signal with a thumb. She simply pulled over wondering if I needed a lift.

A plumber. Again, no thumb necessary.

A woman in her sixties who was off to a quilting class with her friends.

A real estate man in his sixties who was clearly very well off and on his way to play some golf.

And, business man whose grown kids lived in both Australia and the States. When I asked if he misses them he said that he visits quite often. But then mentioned that the real highlight of his upcoming visit to his son was going to be catching the ACDC rock concert. Ha.


kristi said...

Are you kidding me. I am always amazed by your experiences. the boldness. your free spirit. courage. but hitchhiking?!? really!?!? Sounds like it is defintely a different experience than in the states. Once again you have managed to put yourself out there and it has provided you a wealth of experience. you are rich my friend!

suzie said...

I was nervous just reading this post! fun though.. I can't imagine hitchhiking OR picking up a hitchhiker! Especially with my kiddos in the car! Little Anouk sounds adorable!! Even though we live coasts apart when you are in Seattle.. I miss you more knowing you are in NZ!

suzie said...

I was nervous just reading this post! fun though.. I can't imagine hitchhiking OR picking up a hitchhiker! Especially with my kiddos in the car! Little Anouk sounds adorable!! Even though we live coasts apart when you are in Seattle.. I miss you more knowing you are in NZ!

TheGumballMachine said...

i have a funny hitchhiker story, one fellow i picked up on the way to the gorge in ellesnburg...ask me about it when you get home! hitchhiking is so exhilarating! you never know who or what but thankfully it's all worked out! bring a sharp stick with you when you go the grocery store just in case... (!)
although I'd feel much safer hhing in NZ or OZ then i would even capitol hill here in seattle! love it lady!