After 4 times of driving past people hitch hiking and feeling utterly culpable that in a month or so, that could be me with my thumb out and grinning away positively, I made a pledge to myself that the next one I saw I would pick up.
This day has finally happened.
I had just spent the entire morning from 5am to 1pm getting up and ready bright and early to hike the Tongariro Alpine trail, commonly identified through the eminence it has claimed from Lord of the Rings films…. I am no avid fan, yet having embarked on the expedition across the realm of “Mordor” and also having been to the uniquely, magical Hobbiton…I’ve been converted and now have an undesirable lust to watch all of the films back to back.
Emerald green lakes of Mordor
Having smashed the trek in just about 5 hours and a half my first visit was favourably to a shower, so I ventured back to the back-packers hostel, where I had paid to sleep in the car park the night before, to get myself feeling more human again and also charge my phone so I had the ability to google maps my next destination.
Gisborne was on the agenda…
However, it appeared to be quite the effort to get to, resulting in a 5 and a half hour drive away, so I decided to head slightly under it to Napier which was within the East coastline of Hawkes Bay.
I re-charged my energy levels with a greasy full calorie packed burger just before heading off on route to a new place to call home for the night.
I was so rushed in the morning as my GPS took me the incorrect route to the crossing starts car park, resulting in a shuttle FULL of people waiting impatiently, and most probably tetchily as it was 6.30am, all for me, who was 10minutes late.
So, I completed the whole trek on a packet of 5 raw, gluten free cacao balls, half a bag of BBQ crisps and half a cartoon of apple juice.
I earnt that burger and my god did it feel like a triumph!
On route to Napier I had to swing by the entrance of the crossing start, where I had earlier parked my car before I began the route.
At the end of the orange road work cones I saw a guy with his thumb out.
He was super smiley and appeared really friendly, standing above the road work sign that said “thank you”, as he pointed to it nodding with reassurance, I couldn’t help but over-ride the voice of my concerned mother in my head telling me “he may look nice, but he could still kill you”, so I decided it was time I picked a hitch hiker up, I had been telling myself I would do it, so there is no better time than the present.
I pulled over, driving past where he was standing, triggering me to accidently brake a little too forcefully, and the fact I clumsily didn’t lock the seating back into place, meant the slight bunny hop of the car caused the back seats to collapse chaotically, sending everything in the boot forwards onto the seating behind me.
I was suddenly in panic with how messy my car was and how much shit I was carrying within it, as I started to fling water bottles, sun cream tubes, leggings, pants, shoes, and my rucksack all onto the newly formed untidy pile in the back, as I was doing so I could see he was nearly wishing he had never thumbs me up.
His name was Ollie, a smiley Australian who lived in Melbourne. He was over for a couple of weeks hitch hiking and freedom camping whilst waiting for his friends to join him in Napier the next few following days, and taking the odd detour to check out the local vineyards as he was a wine connoisseur, but for today, he was only heading to Turangi, which was a 20-minute drive down the road.
He apologised if he smelt as he had literally just come off down from the track, and I told him not to worry, but as the silence dropped I couldn’t help for a second wonder if he could smell the onions that I just ate in my burger or the sweet chili sauce that I spilt down my top whilst ravenously devouring said burger.
I hadn’t had anyone in my car except the friends I had stayed with along the way for my travels.
How my car looks 99.9 percent of the time.
So I hadn’t needed to consider the smell of my car, whether that was the food that had been slightly over cooked by the 24 degrees heat in a locked-up car, or the damp scent from my trekking boots. These where not attractive smells for anyone, but I hadn’t been thinking about anyone else, so all of a sudden, I was immeasurably aware that these familiar scents to me maybe insulting to a fellow passenger’s nostrils.
Regardless of the above, I think we both realised that we never smell as good as we wish to on the road, and so the conversation continued, and we got to know quite a lot about one another for the short-lived duration, we chatted about where we were both from, travelling and all other odds and sods. He actually lived in Tunbridge wells which is where I’m from for 2 years and Brighton for one year, the world is so small, I came all of this way to escape that life and little comprehensions make me conscious that you can’t ever discharge your past, nor your roots quite that effortlessly.
Since that day, I have also encountered in my first experience as a hitch hiker.
It was the day when I also got my first tattoo, a day for newly accomplished to do’s that I can now tick off my life list.
You get a huge rush of adrenaline when you hitch hike, as well as feeling like a complete wolly with your thumb pointing so positively to the sky for the first 10 minutes, then you just can’t help but stare at the people faces in the cars as they sympathetically smile and pass on by with all the space in the world for you and your bags. But we were lucky, we had only been waiting 20 minutes and then a girl turned her car around and pulled up to the side of the road we’re we were and asking where we were heading to.
She said she would take us back to the campsite as she’s only heading home so it’s not too much out of her way. Her name was Shamaio and her younger cousin destiny was in the passenger seat. They asked us were we were from and why we chose New Zealand, what our countries are like etc. I showed them my new tattoos as I was still super buzzy off the high I got of having them and then Destiny said she had to take a picture for her snapchat as her mum wouldn’t believe that they picked up hitch hikers. It was their first time picking someone up as it was mine being picked up, I was going to make a joke saying we popped each-others cherry’s, but I really didn’t want to be kicked out the car and deemed as a weirdo, so I decided that comment would stay in my mind, for once I thought before I spoke.
The thing about hitch hiking is, people fear it and you.
But why when you have no idea, as the hitcher who you’re going to be dealt with, and with your life messily crammed into your bag, I think we become the more vulnerable of the two out of the situation.
Sometimes, it’s all down to having a little faith and just hoping that destiny will provide you with good people to meet along the way. Besides, when things go wrong travelling, after the initial shock is over of the matter, you are provided with a brand new story to keep.
Say yes to hitch hikers, well…the ones that you see in broad daylight and look genuine that is, any creepy ones… maybe push on the pedals past, but the majority of them, they break up your day and infuse you with companionship on the long or short drives ahead. You get to exploit and explore story telling skills, whilst listening to some first-hand ingenuous adventures.