kia ora and haere mai.
(hello and welcome).
i have arrived safely in new zealand. i travelled for, oh, approximately 800 million hours, and death seemed like a welcome respite (dude, you get to STRETCH OUT in coffins. i’m just saying.) by the time i landed in auckland.
(if anyone cares, it was a 2 hour flight from albany-detroit, 5 hours from detroit to los angeles, 5 hour layover in LAX, 11 hours from los angeles to fiji, 3 hour layover, 3 hours from fiji to new zealand.)
fiji will get more coverage later…after i’ve spent more than 3 hours there, but these lovely chaps serenaded us as we all went through what is arguably the least efficient transit processing i have ever experienced.
pacific island music has a very distinctive sound and rhythm to it.
i’d arranged to rent a car for the time i’m here, and as the rental guy was going on holiday the day i arrived, he dropped it off at my new flat that morning. my brand new flatmate (with whom at that point i’d only emailed), very kindly agreed to pick me up (all my friends were out of town…it was the new year, after all, which here is full on summer. they’re all at the beach.) his car was running low on petrol, so he decided to drive the rental car. (which, as it turned out, was running low on fuel as well. more on that in a bit.)
so, first thing i did after landing was go buy a new sim card…my old prepay one was 4 years old…didn’t work. i texted him first off, “hey, i’m here…out of customs…i’ll wait outside.” i found out after he found me that he’d never gotten those texts. hooray technology! anyway…get this. he FOUND me, because he saw this:
(only the big one). i said, “wow, that’s awesome that i told you i had a polka dotted suitcase.”
“i’m not sure you did…but i thought to myself, ‘well, of all i know of this girl…she would totally have that suitcase.'” i think that is tremendous.
so, we go to the car, i figured it wouldn’t hurt to give me a day or two to get back into the habit of looking right THEN left before crossing the road, so i said he should drive home. we’d been driving about 2 minutes, and he said the tailpipe had just puffed some grey smoke…if it did it again, i might want to get it looked at. i wasn’t too fussed, to be honest; i’d rented from a guy i know provides cheap, older, but reliable vehicles…i bought a 20 year old beater from him when i lived here in 2004; it ran dependably the whole 6+ months i drove it. well, about 30 seconds later, the engine started making a HORRIBLE grinding noise…he took it out of gear…the noise didn’t stop. he pulled over. noise didn’t stop. he took the key out of the ignition. the noise didn’t stop. by this point, enormous clouds of grey smoke were issuing from the tailpipe.
“i think we should get out of the car. now.” i figured that was probably a good idea, so we clambered out of the car and stood 20 feet away listening to the grinding noise become increasingly high pitched and watching the clouds of smoke obscure the road. we’d just gotten on the motorway, and all the cars were stopped at least 100 meters away…i’m sure they thought the car was going to explode.
apparently the car didn’t want to disappoint, because that is exactly what it did. in a sort of anti-climactic fashion. the noise kept getting higher until POP. a disconcerting noise triggered a flow of brown fluid which seeped from under the hood over the sides of the front of the car. and all was still. so there we sat, on the side of the motorway, eating the reeses peanut butter cups i’d brought for brand-new-flatmate. (they don’t do choc + peanut butter here.)
i called the guy i rented the car from (oh sure, sim was working NOW.), who said he’d get a mechanic over right away. scratched our heads a bit at that one…i mean, i’d just explained the POP and the brown fluid…dunno what a mechanic was gonna do. 3 minutes later he called back and said his mechanic wasn’t answering and could we take a cab. he also expressed how mystified he was by this incident; he’d been driving it a lot lately. you see, someone had returned the vehicle with a full tank of fuel, so he was using it up.
i’m sorry, what now? who rents out a car w/ an empty tank? i mean…have you ever heard of that? i haven’t.
anyway, we caught a $50 taxi into town (i am debating whether i am going to try to get that guy to pay for it or not), and the rest of the day was almost entirely uneventful. also, i am happy to report that the kebab i walked 5kms round trip to procure from my favourite kebab place…was every bit as good as i remembered. heaven in a foil wrapper.