The countdown has started. I have a little bit more of two weeks left here in New Zealand. This is the end of my last road trip, I’m leaving Flo for good this time.
We’re in Auckland. Auckland all over again. Auckland, my city of arrival. Auckland, the city of unforgettable encounters. Rainy Auckland, boring Auckland. You’ve seen nothing of New Zealand if you’re staying in Auckland, and yet, while travelling North Island, Auckland is where all the roads are leading to. I’m leaving Auckland with relief every time and yet I keep coming back there.
I’m leaving Flo on the Auckland Ferry Wharf because this time Alessio is the one leaving the country. Remember Alessio, my Italian Lover I met at the beginning of my adventures? We stayed in touch all along our ways, living different adventures in different parts of New Zealand, catching up sometimes. He’s finally got his Working Holiday Visa for Australia and we decided to spend a few days together before his departure. We choose to spend two night on Waiheke Island, at Hekerua Backpackers, a super cosy & friendly backpacker with its huge veranda, its huge chimney and its huge pool…
I’ve already been to Waiheke Island when I first arrived in New Zealand. It’s a quiet little island 30minutes on ferry far from Auckland. An island famous for its beaches, its nature and wineries. It seems like the perfect place for our goodbyes. Except that it’s raining. A lot. Our exploration of the island becomes limited, we finally choose to shelter ourselves at the Batch Winey for a tasting and spend the night playing the New Zealand version of Trivial Pursuit. As a matter of fact this one is pretty bloody hard, especially of you don’t have a clue about past politicians, sportsmen and famous people on this side of the world. I won, but I still can’t really find out how.
We talk a lot. I’m completely stressed out for a while now, especially since I’m spending most of my time saying goodbye. I can tell that I’m jealous of Alessio’s adventure in Australia. I really CAN’T see myself coming back to France AT ALL. I’m not ready yet. He’s sweet Alessio. He’s also genuinely stressed out, but he keeps making me trust in my own bravery.
HERE’S AUCKLAND WITH THE FLU AND I JUST CAN’T GET OVER YOU
Back in Auckland (again!), I find myself sick. But REALLY sick. The kind of sickness when you can’t even get up properly out of your bunker bed at the YHA because you feel like your body isn’t able to support yourself anymore. And you would most probably fail anyway if you ever tried to. I decide to settle down and spend my whole day in bed. I was planning on leaving Auckland today to go to my next HelpX in Beach Haven, North Auckland, but I decide to postpone my departure to the day after.
Alessio came to rescue me. He’s giving me paracetamol, cooking me loads of veggies, warming me up and, let’s say this, he’s completely taking care of me. Because I’m so dazed with sickness that I can’t even think properly. Moreover, his thermometer displays 37°, then 38°, and when I reach 39° he drags me to the doctor.
The icing on the cake is that on the same day I have to go to another hostel because the YHA is fully booked. I let you imagine me dragging all of my stuff half out of consciousness (Alessio is taking care of Monster). Anyway, I wasn’t on top of the world when I reached the K Road City Travellers Backpackers.
The lady doctor is formal: since I can’t get better all by myself, I need antibiotics. I could have guessed it actually, but I made the mistake of getting rid of all my medicine some time ago to light my backpack. The drug is really efficient, and I get back on my feet really quickly. Finally, after almost 12 months travelling, I get to use my ACS’s Globe PVT travel insurance. I can now tell you that it’s simple and quick. You just have to send by mail or email a specific form and all your invoices and they pay you back very quickly.
I spent 4 days in bed in Auckland in total, shivering, sleeping, and completely dazed. Once more, my thankfulness is infinite towards Alessio who spent his last days in New Zealand taking care of my ugly sick face. Back then, I fully realised how lucky I was to meet him on my journey.
I can read on his face the fear about this brand new Australian adventure. And I’m envying him so much. Alessio. The one who’s trying to get rid of his dependence on others but who’s always finding a way to travel with loads of people because that’s under his skin, you know, this sociability, this ability to make people feel comfortable in his presence. He’s so full of empathy, sympathy, and true kindness. It’s hard for me to imagine that I’m going to be so far away from him now, for he was the one always rescuing me, always answering my phone calls, although I hate phone calls. I promise myself to keep sending him pictures of the sky, even though I know that the clouds in France are not as crazy as in New Zealand.
When I leave him at the bus stop, I think about how unlikely it was, though, this romance with an Italian Lover. It makes me smile. Coincidences are full of pleasant surprises.
HELPX AT A TRUMPET DIVA HOUSE
Since I’m feeling much better, I’m taking the bus to Beach Haven and my last (but one) HelpX. I’m going to help Edwina, a trumpet diva who’s going to host me and feed me for a week. I’m meeting there the other helpers, Isabell and Christian, a lovely young German couple, and Walid, a Tunisian guy with fascinating eyes. Edwina has also two sons, Kane and Byron as well as a fat cat called Cindy.
Edwina is living in a 3 million NZ$, which is overlying Beach Haven bay. Her house is built upside down on the hill, the garage is on the top floor, while the rooms are in the basement. This house is so unbelievable and HUGE. I don’t even talk about the terrace which is also huge and very pretty indeed.
Edwina used to live abroad for a long time for her job, so this is why the house needs a little clean up and she’s hiring helpers to help her make this house a comfortable place to live again.
Soon enough I’m going to be the painting girl. First, I’m painting some yellow bands on the ground so the cars won’t park there on the slope and risk to break the glass fence (which happened before). Then, I’m painting the windows and doors edges. Polishing the wooden front door. Painting some other yellow lines on the outside stairs so they can be seen at night time. Anyway, I’m doing well with the painting thing now. Except when the cat is stepping on it, and I have to follow her footprints with some detergent to wipe it off.
As for the HelpX itself, when I’m saying Edwina is a trumpet diva, well, I could insist heavily on the word ‘diva’, you see. Edwina is moody, capricious, temperamental and has anger issues. She can start yelling without any particular reason, except that she’s obviously upset with not getting exactly what she wants whenever she wants. The worst part is, most of the time we have to guess what she wants. It’s very disturbing for us, helpers. Especially when she can be such a lovely woman sometimes, welcoming and funny. It’s hot and cold all the time, and I just don’t want to get sick again.
Edwina is a diva, she plays the trumpet marvellously. And when she also starts singing in this pub on Ponsonby Street in Auckland, it’s like the time just froze. But all the weed she’s smoking doesn’t help her calming down, she has such anger issues and even sometimes behaves like we were her little slaves/maids. One time, she even text us while we were watching a movie, to tell us that we must start cooking, she’s getting hungry. And if possible, faster the better and for everybody (4 helpers, Edwina and her two sons and sometimes even for her guests!).
In order to escape Edwina’s anger, I explore the surroundings thanks to Geocaching. I find myself on several isolated beaches, with enchanting sceneries. With the other helpers and Byron, we even go to the Asian Night Market in Glenfield to enjoy a lot of Asian food. I’m more than happy to be able to eat again okonomiyaki and Japanese crêpes.
This HelpX could have been a serious Hell in 3D if it wasn’t for Isabell, Christian, Walid and Byron. I’m leaving Beach Haven with relief on that Sunday morning, but wait! Not so fast… Edwina dropped me at the wrong bus station. Actually, I decided to use what was left on my Intercity Pass and take the bus towards Russel, Northland. Edwina dropped me in the wrong place and I don’t even realise it right away (probably because I’m always keen to trust people so blindly…!) At some point, I don’t know why but something is bugging me. I ask a lady bus driver if this place is indeed the Intercity bus stop.
« – No, the Intercity Bus stop is one stop further. What time is your bus departing anyway?
– Heuuu. 7 minutes.
– Oh, well on foot it’s taking about 20 minutes…
-Ah…(this is when I’m starting to freak out)
– You know what? Come on board, I’m taking you there. I’m going to make a little detour on my route for you.
– Seriouslyyyyyyy??? I’m going to love you forever and ever Madam! »
When I told you about the genuine kiwi kindness… Here’s how a Maori lady bus driver made me feel forever thankful for this country.
It’s late at night when I reach Paihia. It’s already dark outside. I settle on the ferry leading me to Russel. I’m patting dogs, chatting with French people, this ferry boat is full of happy people. Locals ask me if I’m hiking the Te Araroa Trail, which is going throughout New Zealand from North to South. Maybe Monster is still way too big to be just a regular backpack.
I’m going out at the rear of the boat, breathing Paihia’s sea breeze for the fourth time. The stars are shy tonight, but I’m feeling good. I’m living my very last moments in New Zealand.
LET’S GO THERE! :
HEKERUA BACKPACKER, 11 Hekerua Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke Island
BATCH WINERY, 129 Carsons Rd, Waiheke Island
YHA AUCKLAND, 5 Turner Street Auckland
K ROAD CITY TRAVELLERS BACKPACKER, 146 Karangahape Rd, Auckland
ASIAN NIGHT MARKET GLENFIELD, Glenfield Mall Sunday 5:30-11:30pm
LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT THAT: