It’s a Wednesday morning when I have to leave the Tatahi Lodge, my wonderful co-workers and my Italian Lover. I have some tears in the corner of my eyes, and I’m going to Thames, South-West of the Coromandel Peninsula, where I’m thinking of hiking the Pinnacles Track before going Northland, in Paihia for another HelpX mission.
While driving me there, the owner of the Tatahi Lodge, Debbie, tells me about her “mixed feelings” about Thames that she thinks is a “really weird” city. She drops me off at the Getaway Backpackers, where I met Greg, the owner, and some mute Russian guy who’s sharing the dorm with me. Except for those two people and some foodie girl I quickly met in the kitchen, I’m all by myself here. The feeling is strange, I’m oscillating between ‘Finally alone’ and ‘Where the hell are my friends?’ I’m feeling like I should have stayed in Hahei, and listened to Debbie’s warning. I don’t know yet how much I should have had listened to her…
Because Greg just tells me that if I want to go to the Pinnacles, I have to book the shuttle bus and it only drives there if there are at least two people in it. Otherwise, it’s 70$NZ the ride. Okay, well, seems like my plan is just falling apart… Nobody in this hostel wants to come with me, and I just have to pray that some random backpacker is willing to hike those bloody Pinnacles in the next two days. So, I’m posting desperate posts on Facebook’s pages like ‘Backpacking New Zealand’ or ‘French people in New Zealand’ and so on. As I’m doing this, I get an email from my HelpX host in Paihia: he doesn’t need me anymore. Okay, well, now I’m feeling lonely as hell and completely helpless as all my after-Hahei plan is scattering its ashes into the wind of Thames. I miss the Tatahi Lodge team, I miss my family, and I wish I could hug my best friend Cynthia Kaiser and tell her how lost I’m feeling right now.
As I’m eating a whole pack of TimTams by myself out of frustration, I get a message from some girl called Anaïs, that I actually just met the night before me departing from Hahei, at the Purangi Winery. She’s travelling the Coromandel and would love to hike the Pinnacles with me (ALLELUIA!) I’ll learn afterwards that the Italian Lover actually suggested her to hike the Pinnacles when she asked him what things to do while in the region. New Zealand, this land of coincidences and serendipity… Okay so that’s settled, Friday will be the Pinnacles days. And since Anaïs has a car, I’m saying goodbye with relief to the overpriced shuttle-bus. I can finally relax and enjoy the city while waiting for Anaïs’ arrival the next day.
However, this feeling of deep and blue loneliness hold on me even the day after. That’s my first ‘down’ moment since I left Strasbourg. I’m hiding myself in a bird hut, a little cabin dedicated for birdwatching, and I write. I write down in my travel journal about how I feel. Then I take a deep breath, put some music in my ears, and try my best to get my shit together by walking a nice walkway along the shore. I stumble upon a cricket field, a tiny train station, mangroves, factories, farmlands… At the end of my big roundtrip around the town, I make a nice stop at The Wharf café and enjoy a delicious salmon bagel. On my way to the library, when I intended to enjoy some free Wi-Fi, I step by the municipal pool… Well. I change my plans, get my swimming suit and go for a good swim. It has now been almost two months since I went swimming for the last time, and I forgot how I loved it and it could relax me.
I come back to the hostel just in time to welcome Anaïs. We go out in the city centre looking for something to eat for dinner and get to know a bit each other in the meantime. Now, it’s a good time to clarify that in New Zealand, after nightfall, streets are empty, everything close and a town like Thames quickly looks like a Ghost Town. Seriously, it’s not even 20:00 yet and we already met two completely drunk and wasted guys… The third one is kind enough to touch himself and show us his penis while he’s talking to us and mumbling insanities. We’re half scared, half giggling while running away, and finally come to find an open Indian restaurant.
The end of the evening spent at the hostel is also epic, for we discover an awful kiwi real-tv show called The Bogans and we fail to watch the VHS of The Lord of The Ring. You read it right. A VHS tape with a VCR. But the VHS is in a bad state, and Gandalf is blurry.
Anyway, Thames, between my first ‘down’ moments and all of those weird adventures, I’m only wishing for one thing: let’s just get out of here.
LET’S GO THERE! :
Gateway Backpackers (BBH), Thames.