Sunday, March 22, 2009

taming the beast

i decided to face my fears and do some wrong-side-of-the-road driving. so i arranged to relocate a car from wellington to auckland, for budget rentals. the arrangement was this: three nights, for days, 900 kilometers and after that they charge 30 cents per km, all i have to pay for is gas. oh excuse me - petrol! so i was to have my car from sunday to wednesday, and i planned to drive to taupo, then the cormandal peninsula, then over to auckland. figured it would all be well marked and i could figure it out. went to pick up my car yesterday morning and after the preliminary paperwork/identification/credit card etc the man at the desk explained to me apoligetically that since i was relocating a car i had no choice to the type of car and then he went to fetch it and pull it around to the front.
and it was a minivan.
a powder blue minivan. the most un -mini vehicle i had every witnessed in my life. i look small in this car. but what choice did i have? i had booked accomadations along the way, had a bus to catch thrusday morning in auckland, i needed to drive and this was the car i was delt. so with much trepidation, i eased the behemouth beast out onto the road, busy with sunday market and italian festival traffic, and made my tentative way towards the highway-excuse me i meant moterway! it 's fairly easy to find everything, signage is quite sufficient, and i was headed to the blueberry farm in upper hutt first, to say bye to mary and bettianne (and hopefully score some berries) and i found my way without much of a hastle, having done the drive as a passenger several times i was fairly certain of the direction and terraine. mary named to car patty and we had a lovely good laugh about the absurdity of her scale. and the idea of me negociating this monster around-on the wrong side too!
but after staying too long on the farm (hard to say goodbye) and looking up directions, i realized it was a five hour drive to taupo and i would be arriving well after dark and with no small amount of terror i took off again. the route i was given by google maps led me down akwatera road, a tiny one lane through the most jungly terrain, on mountains, with amazing veiws. if only i had the time to look at the scenery instead of wincing everytime another car sped past a breakneck speed, disregarding entirely that my car was far too wide to be allowed and really was unpassable but maybe not.
it was wonderful to have my own mobility though, and after an hour of winding and worry, i emerged onto sh1 and sped into two hours of the most amazing clouds and sunset ever. i couldn't help pulling over and thank god, the view was breathtaking:

and as the sun went down and i began to worry of ever reaching taupo, i switched on my lights and trusted in the straightness of the road and the superior quality of new zealand signage and made my way accompanied by the most random selection of radio ever. first backstreet boys, then 'maggie may' the some motown. a gloriously odd selection. and i made it safe and sound, after a bit of searching, to the hidden hostel. and parked my wide load (a 23 point turn!) and as i let myself into my room i realized that i hadn't worried for hours, almost at all really, about being on the wrong side of the road, just about getting lost. and that in the dark, and unfarmiliar country, i had made it from point a to point b. i can check that off my list now and look forward to three more days of comfortable comraderie with patty, otherwise know as the beast.

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