Middle Earth Day 32: Whitianga

After managing the best sleep in my tent palace, I got back on the trail and walked to the necessary hitchhiking spot. While stopping at a viewpoint, a couple of locals asked if I was going to Fitti (pronounced like the rapper 50 Cent). Yes, I was going to Fitti (otherwise known as Whitianga) and yes, that is the most ridiculous pronunciation of a Maori named town that I have come across. They also told me that I was hitchhiking today just to save a mere three dollars. Absurd, but that wasn’t going to stop me now. It was a long, sweaty walk to start the morning with my life strapped to my back. By now, I have learned to check my ego and self-respect aside; I can be a bloody mess in this heat. I got picked up by two women that would drop me off at the ferry landing. Little did I know, a baby was sitting next to me in the back seat. Thank God though that I didn’t carelessly toss my daypack to my side. Of all the hitchhiking situations I have run across, this one was the most surprising for how much faith they had in me to do no harm. After crossing to Whitianga on the ferry, I got some almighty Wi-Fi at the library. The rest of the day was quite relaxed with no gallivanting adventures. I checked into my hostel and met the cutest, friendliest old woman running reception as the owner. We were chatting away as I kept asking her questions about where all the worthwhile spots in Whitianga could be found. After staring down leeks for awhile at the market, I finally decided to use them in my cooking; they ended up being perfect aromatic blend of onion and garlic. While eating supper, the German guy that I met in Rotorua during our visit to Wai-o-tapu got my attention. How bizarre is it to be running into people hours away from where you first met? In New Zealand, with the relatively limited number of people on the islands and people following similar routes, these things tend to happen and make you realize how small the world can be. Since I had done nothing noteworthy to this point in the day, I began walking to the beachfront. Along the way, I heard my name called and in that direction I saw the Indian guy that I met while at Cathedral Cove a couple days prior. He was right, we would meet again. We made plans to get together at a bar with the two Dutch boys I met along with the Indian. Even though the sun was setting behind me, shoreside, the sky and horizon just above Mercury Bay absorbed the right amount of light and displayed a wild assortment of smeared and intertwined light blues, purples, and pinks. With that light hitting off and reflecting from the water, I sat on a bench relaxed by this stunning and mind-bending sight. The light continued to fade away to darkness as new bright specs sprung up into the panorama above me but I stayed still as the only constant. Again, I wanted this moment to last, not ready to accept that I would be leaving New Zealand quite shortly, weeks after my decision to extend my journey. Soon, I found myself at a Whitianga bar talking with the Indian. He has been a local for the last couple years and knew everyone here, like any small town that shrinks that much further as the days follow along. He offered me a couple slices of his pizza. I had a tough time accepting since I felt like such a cheap S.O.B. but he wouldn’t tolerate any such excuse. When the Dutch boys showed up, they went to get beers and I again told him that I wouldn’t be buying any drinks until Asia since I needed to make sure my money would last. Some may think that I should say yes to all the opportunities that knock on my doorstep but for matters like this I need to be wise in how I spend my money. To allow a long adventure like this to become a possibility some sacrifices need to be made, worthwhile ones that will allow me to see things that no beer can conjure. Easily pitied, I was offered a drink. I am not playing some game, people have just been that nice and welcoming. Whitianga has no night scene to speak of but we talked for a while before I needed to call it a night.

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